CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Gavin Johnstone, Falkirk Community Trust

Category: Meet our Members

The following is a guest blog by Gavin Johnstone as part of our focus on members: 

My name is Gavin Johnstone and I work for Falkirk Community Trust as a community hub librarian.   This means that I am responsible for four of Falkirk’s eight libraries.  I have worked in the public library sector since March 2009.  Before that I had periods working as a library assistant in a university library and as document controller in the oil industry.  I also spent seven years working at the National Library of Scotland (NLS) in Edinburgh, working initially as a cataloguing assistant before taking up the post of curator (with responsibility for Gaelic language material) and then becoming an assistant team leader for the serials department.  While working at the NLS I participated in their Chartership programme, this was a great opportunity and I managed to secure chartered status in 2006.

By 2009 I had a young family and decided that the daily commute from Stirling to Edinburgh was impacting on the time I could spend with them.  With that in mind I started looking for work closer to home.  It was at this point that the hard work I had put into securing my Chartership paid off.  Falkirk were looking for a librarian to work in their library support team and holding your Chartership was an essential requirement for the post.  I had never worked in the public library sector but was attracted to the idea doing so; I liked the idea that they are open to everyone.  Back in 2001 I had written my dissertation on ‘The New Public Library and Its Role in Preventing Social Exclusion’ as I was interested in the part libraries play in communities.  My application was successful and I have loved working in public libraries ever since.  I was initially responsible for the mobile library service as well as back office duties such as cataloguing, classification and administration of the library management system.

As a community hub librarian I lead my teams in developing the libraries as vibrant parts of the community.  As community hubs we are creating a welcoming environment for people and organisations to meet and interact, and of course offering quality material for customers to borrow.   I’ve also had the opportunity to work on interesting projects such as Minecraft as Tool for Digital Inclusion and the rollout of Code Clubs across libraries in Falkirk.  A large part of my job involves people management; I’m responsible for 28 staff over the four sites.  This is an aspect I enjoy and I have spent a lot of time developing my management skills, gaining relevant qualifications from the Institute of Leadership and Management.

I would say that continuing professional development has played a large part in my career, I have always pushed myself to get involved in things and look for ways to develop my skills and learn new ones.  It’s easy to push these things to the side and I’m pleased that I have managed to keep motivating myself to do them.  I’ve been involved in the Cilips Central Branch for over 10 years now and am currently serving on the committee as secretary.  I have also managed to secure my Chartership Revalidation twice, this has been a good way to sit down and realise just how much I’ve achieved.  I would urge everyone to do this,  I think it is really effective way of helping us realise just how much good we librarians do and what a difference we make.