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Friday, 10 October 2014

2 - Erika Neck, Rhondda Cynon Taff

Our second post is from Erika, who works with mobile libraries in the Rhondda Cynon Taff, in the South Wales Valleys.

Hi, my name is Erika Neck and I am now a Senior Librarian for Mobiles and Community Services. I am based in Rhondda Cynon Taff and our services cover the whole of that area too.

My route in to the library service was later in life. When I left school I did a lot of temp work in various offices, but in 2000 after being made redundant twice in one year, (not fun!) I decided to go to University to get a degree to improve my job prospects. Whilst in University I went to my local library to learn Sign Language, realised that I would like to work in a library.

I was fortunate enough that a part time post became available locally covering Saturdays and evenings so I could continue my studies. Over the next few years I had various opportunities to move around within our branch libraries and loved every minute of it. Every day is different in public library work; you get the unusual requests which require a bit of investigative work to find the information needed and helping people on the computers with applying for jobs and just navigating their way around, whilst some people just like to come in for a chat and to meet people.

I have driven a mobile library for many years and it was whilst doing this that I wanted to get qualified in library studies so I enrolled at Aberystwyth University for my Postgraduate degree through distance learning. This was tough to fit in around work and my life but I eventually qualified this year 2014.

My current role is a recent post into more of a managerial role. I am now responsible for organising our 4 mobile libraries and our housebound and community services. It’s a very challenging and different to the jobs I have been used to as it’s less public facing and more organising staff and liaising with community groups and people with various needs.

A typical day for me starts about 8.30 am when the mobile drivers arrive and I am there in case of any problems with the vehicles or any staffing issues.
9.30 am Once the drivers have gone out for the day I then deal with any correspondence and emails.
10.30 am Go to visit some new Housebound people to arrange to put them onto our service and explain our housebound delivery system to them. This part of the job is great as you can see the relief on people who are too elderly or ill to leave their homes to get books, but still love to read.
12 noon Lunch Time!
1 pm Attendance at a Disability Officer’s Forum to see what advice or assistance the library service can provide to other Council departments. Examples include; explaining our community rooms; attendance at events; providing people with information on groups and activities in our libraries to help those who are socially isolated.
3 pm: Our mobile library drivers are over 2 sites, so I would then drive to our other site to see if they had any problems at the end of their day. Also, due to restructuring we have a new evening and weekend driver and I check to make sure he is OK with what he has to do, and if he
needs any further training or arrange for him to attend courses.
End of day around 5 pm.

I am now a member of CILIP and if anyone is thinking of going into library work of any nature I would say you have to be helpful, friendly, polite and have a positive attitude. Be able to deal with people from all walks of life and if you love variety in your job then you will love public libraries! They are a great place to help people enjoy reading, improve their minds or just to provide a social space to meet new people. The job has gotten more technical and we regularly help people to get online and provide assistance to those who need it to apply for jobs or benefits, but overall I love my job and could never imagine working anywhere else than libraries, in whatever form they are.

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