Eating well and speaking volumes

April 14, 2006

Name : Moira Bent. Age: 49. Job: Faculty liaison librarian (science, agriculture and engineering), Newcastle University. Salary: Not enough

Background : I have worked in university libraries for the past 18 years and previously in public and medical libraries in the US and the UK. I have an MA in information management, a BSc in geography and a diploma in librarianship. I am a chartered librarian and a registered practitioner of the Higher Education Academy.

Working hours : My contract states I have flexibility to manage my time within the "hours needed to do the job". In practice, working in a support department where people expect you to be there, it is possible to be flexible only at the edges.

Number of staff you manage/ students you teach : I run a wide variety of information literacy events for staff and students. In the past four months, I delivered 132 teaching hours to a total of 1,965 people.

Interaction : I liaise closely with academic schools, but also with sections such as the Language Centre, Quality in Teaching and Learning, Research Beehive - anyone who will listen really!

Biggest challenge this year : Being awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. I'm going to have to manage my time creatively to allow me to undertake the associated project to an acceptable standard alongside my existing work.

Worst moment : In my first week in the post, a very deaf retired professor refused to believe we had moved his favourite books and bellowed: "I don't think you know what you are talking about."

My office : It's pleasant but I don't spend much time there. My job is about talking to people, so usually I am elsewhere in the library or at meetings in the schools and other sections of the university.

Socialising : I spend a lot of time lunching (part of the job!), so I make good use of the university catering facilities and have many friends among both library and other university staff.

Difficult people : People can potentially be difficult if we don't meet their expectations, perhaps by not being able to afford to subscribe to the resources they would like. I try not to put them into categories and to see each person as an individual.

Best excuse : We found two students who had set a library table with a tablecloth, cutlery and candles tucking into a takeaway meal. They told us: "We don't have a table at home."

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