It's been a while since I last blogged. I hadn't intended to leave it this long, but the past couple of months have just flown by. It seems ages ago that I loaded all of my possessions into a random bloke's van and we trekked over to Bedford on a very cold day, watching in growing horror as snow began to appear on the ground the further east we got! It all turned out OK though, and I'm now settling into my new life here.
I started my new role after the Easter weekend. I'm one of 13 Academic Liaison Librarians supporting staff, students and researchers across the University of Bedfordshire. I'm based at the Bedford campus, responsible for liaison with the departments of Sport & Exercise Science and Physical Education and Sports Studies. And so far I am absolutely loving it! Everyone has been so welcoming and supportive, and I've been encouraged to be proactive and just get stuck in, asking for help as and when I need it, which is probably why I feel like I've been there for a lot longer than I actually have. What's struck me, which I wasn't expecting, is that it's so much easier starting your second professional role than it is your first. Sure, when I started at UWE, straight out of library school, I had plenty of prior work experience, I'd learnt all the theory on my MA, and I was ready to take on the role, but I just didn't have the experience of putting the theory into practice; of the issues and challenges that regularly arise at that level and in that role, and how best to deal with them. Now I do, and I have been able to transfer my skills to my new role. I'm working with a very different subject (which was a bit of a culture shock at first - I didn't even understand some of the words in the module titles and descriptions!), but many of the liaison skills that I need in order to do my job well are the same. I've also been able to bring to my new job the other skills and knowledge I developed in my previous role as an Assistant Librarian at a satellite campus library, where I pretty much did a bit of everything; I am now working in a very focused area (which has taken some getting used to after working on the service desk, emptying book bins, kicking printers etc.), but my knowledge about things like acquisitions processes and systems is useful contextual knowledge to have in my subject role.
I'm really excited about all of the teaching I'm going to be doing, and the opportunities I'll have to support then development of information literacy in various ways, as this is a major interest of mine and it's the main reason I became a librarian. There is lots of support for developing my skills in this area too; I'm planning to start an HE teaching qualification in September, paid for by work, and as I type this, I am on the train to the ARLG Eastern Teach Meet at UEA.
I've also been getting involved in local professional activity; I've joined the CILIP East Members' Network committee as their Social Media Officer, have meandered my way into the organisation of Library Camp East, and next week I'm off to a portfolio-building workshop in Cambridge to talk about surviving Chartership. Again, everyone's been so lovely and welcoming; I am feeling right at home work and LIS-wise.
And my new life in Bedford in general? It seems to be going well too. Bedford is....small. I am a definite city-dweller and have never lived in a town before. It's different. But I've joined the wonderful Bedford Writers' Circle, started playing netball again, joined an am-dram group, found some people to socialise with, and have located some suitable pubs and cafes for writing in, and London is just down the road when I need a break, so I really can't complain.
So now I will be spending the summer preparing for the new academic year at work, and doing lots of fun things whilst also completing the first draft of my novel outside of work. If you're another sports librarian who would like to chat subject support, another local librarian who would like to meet for coffee/cake/wine to chat library stuff, or indeed just another local person who'd like to make a new friend, do get in touch!