A sea view and a flood of visitors

February 10, 2006

Name: Alan Knox

Age: 55

Job: Head of historic collections at Aberdeen University. We manage the university's special libraries and archives and Marischal museum, and provide support to the university's other six internationally important museums and collections.

Salary: Academic-related 5

Background: Degree in zoology, PhD in bird taxonomy, two postdoctoral fellowships, several years working with the bird collections at the Natural History Museum, then at Buckinghamshire County Museum. As with so many careers, I'm progressively getting further from my original subject. I spend most of my time in the arts.

Working hours and conditions: Our security procedures limit flexibility of office hours, but there's a fair bit of evening and weekend work, either at home or at events (including callouts in the wee small hours).

Number of staff you work with: Our team consists of about 18 staff, plus a few on short contracts, invaluable volunteers, trainees and interns. Our staff teach across a wide range of disciplines, from medical history to law.

Biggest challenge this year: Our department was reorganised this year.

How did you solve it? Change often brings benefits, although there may be tears along the way. One of the benefits will be closer alignment with the drive for our new £55 million library.

Worst moment in university life: I got mighty annoyed watching superb CCTV footage of my Palm device being stolen from my office last summer.

What is your office like? Large enough that everyone else wants to use it for meetings. It looks east across the campus playing field towards the sea.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Aberdeen is an overgrown, rather cosmopolitan village: you run into people from the university everywhere -in the shops, theatre, cinemas, restaurants, even up in the Cairngorms.

Best excuses for bad behaviour: "The medication's not working..."

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? Almost everyone. Staff and students from all academic areas beat a path to our door, as well as the public. And we're constantly dealing with the development trust, communications, hospitality services, estates, the principal's office. If they are not using us, we want to know why.

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