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Julia Hurst, Enquiries Assistant, Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe)

Category: Meet our Members

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

My name is Julia Hurst and I work as an Enquiries Assistant in SPICe.

SPICe is the Scottish Parliament Information Centre. We provide impartial information, analysis and advice on devolved or reserved matters. SPICe’s services are available only to MSPs, their staff, and Parliament staff. Crucially, all of our work is confidential and impartial.

Around 50 people currently work in SPICe. We’re split into four teams: the Enquiries and Collections Team, and three research teams. I’m part of the Enquiries and Collections Team.

Unsurprisingly the enquiries we receive are wide and varied so every day is different! I’ve recently answered enquiries relating to the number of alcohol-related deaths, parking on pavements and, potential funding sources for community groups. I’ve also just written a blog post for the SPICe blog Spotlight – an FAQ on gulls!

As an Enquiries Assistant, I update content on the MSP pages on the Scottish Parliament website and publish SPICe Fact Sheets. My team is also involved in the production of the annual Scottish Parliament Statistics Volume which provides an in-depth look at the work of the Scottish Parliament during the parliamentary year.

I started my library career after graduating from Lancaster University. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. However, I soon noticed that the job ads I was most drawn to in the University’s Career Service were mostly CILIP graduate trainee positions.

Shortly after this I excitedly took up a 12-month contract as a graduate trainee Library Assistant for a large food manufacturer in 2001 (until then I had no idea that there were libraries in the commercial sector!). Sadly, nine months in there was an organisational restructure and the library was no more. By that point, I had an offer to do a post-graduate M.A. in Library and Information Studies at UCL and decided I wasn’t going to let this put me off!

After completing my M.A. I relocated to Fife (long story) and secured a short-term maternity cover post in ASH Scotland’s Information Service. My original contract was for four months but I ended up staying there for 14 years…

I really enjoyed my roles at ASH Scotland, which mainly involved enquiry and current awareness work, with a bit of cataloguing and classification. It was an exciting time to be in the tobacco control field, so I never felt bored working in such a niche area. I also liked working in the voluntary sector, though the uncertainty over funding was my least favourite part.

I started to feel I needed a change in my working life once my youngest child started school, so I began to look around and I started in this role in 2018.  I’d seen the work of the Scottish Parliament from the outside and was well aware of the high-quality work of SPICe from my time at ASH Scotland so I had always been interested in working here.

I joined CILIP as a student member just at the time it was being established through the merger of the Library Association and Institute of Information Scientists in 2002. I became a Chartered Member in 2012 (while on maternity leave!) CILIP helps keep me up to date with professional issues and in touch with other sectors.

If you’d like to get in touch you can find me on Twitter.

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