CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Christine Strachan, Information Services Librarian, North East Scotland College

Category: Blog, Meet our Members

This blog is part of the Meet our Members series, focusing on different CILIPS members and their careers.

Christine Strachan, Information Services Librarian at North East Scotland College. Christine is passionate about helping the students who rely on her professional expertise.

I have been working in libraries since 2004, initially as a library assistant at the University of Aberdeen where I was a student at the time. Back then it was just a job to make money but it has evolved to become a career that I love. A pivotal moment for me was being accepted onto the Bodleian Libraries Graduate Trainee Scheme in 2012. I was immersed in the world of Oxford and its libraries, and that exposed me to the variety of roles in the sector. After a year in the Bodleian English Faculty Library, I went on to take my MSc Information & Library Studies at RGU as a distance learner, whilst continuing to work and progress in my career. I’ve had several jobs and moved around from Aberdeen to London, Oxford and back to Aberdeen, but throughout my career the one thing that has remained constant is my passion for helping students. I love chatting to them, getting to know them, helping them with their research and navigating the murky world of eBooks and databases!

I started in my current post of Information Services Librarian at North East Scotland College in April 2020, right at the beginning of the national lockdown. I am responsible for the management of one of NESCol’s campus libraries in Fraserburgh, but I didn’t realise when I accepted the job that I would spend my first year in post working from home at my kitchen table! With campuses closed and teaching moved online, our library services have had to adapt accordingly. Like most libraries, we’ve been relying much more on digital resources to support teaching and learning, as well as delivering workshops and classes online, but in many ways, this has proven really successful and shown that we can still deliver a quality service to our users without being physically present. Although I manage a small team at Fraserburgh, I am part of a much larger library team that is split across three campuses. Most of the library staff work part-time or term-time, which can make communication of information and ideas challenging. Yet paradoxically, the fact that we are not on campus at the moment has actually brought us closer together, thanks to Microsoft Teams and regular virtual catch-ups, organised by my line manager Jill. She has done a fantastic job of bringing us together as a team, especially in such difficult circumstances.

I’ve found being a member of CILIP a great way to extend my network and it keeps me motivated to keep improving and developing in my profession. A few years ago, I became a chartered librarian and I’m now in the process of preparing my revalidation submission. I always enjoy attending the annual CILIPS conference as I think they make a real effort to represent the variety and diversity of the library profession in Scotland and I’ve always found it to be a friendly and welcoming community. I’m also a member of my local CILIPS branch, which is a brilliant way to meet people in other sectors and to do things like organise events, which I don’t really get to do as part of my day job.

I would encourage anyone who is at the beginning of their library career, or considering getting into the profession, to not be afraid to take risks. I’ve applied for jobs on the other side of the country, upped sticks and moved. I’ve applied for jobs when I didn’t have all the experience that was required and been successful. I’ve also quit jobs because they weren’t making me happy. Although I have failed and been knocked back a good few times, I’ve gained an incredible amount of experience and worked with some genuinely brilliant colleagues who have made me the librarian I am today. Be confident, ambitious and explore beyond your boundaries!

Thanks Christine for sharing this insight into your career’s evolution. To find out more about submitting your own Meet Our Members story, please click here!

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