Jerwood Library Who’s Who: Edith Speller

This is the first in a series of blog posts where individual members of staff at the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts talk about themselves and their work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Jerwood Library

Edith Speller

My name’s Edith Speller, I’m from a small town in north-east Scotland but have lived in England (mainly London) since I was 17, and I currently live and work in my beloved south-east London. I studied Music at Southampton University and Librarianship at City University (London). I’m a bit of a lapsed cellist and bass guitarist – nowadays I enjoy going to concerts and gigs rather than performing at them. I started working in libraries during my summer holidays at university and have never looked back!

I’ve worked in the Jerwood Library since 2007, and my current role is Library Systems and User Education Manager. This is a varied role which includes responsibility for the library’s systems, managing access to online resources, marketing the library and co-ordinating our annual programme of ‘user education’ among other things.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

Something I enjoy about my role is that there isn’t really a ‘typical’ day – what I get up to varies a lot depending on the time of year, current projects on the go and what crops up during the day. Generally I don’t have lots of meetings to attend and I don’t spend a lot of time covering the library desk so I get to manage my own time and juggle priorities.

For example, in the autumn we librarians spend a fair bit of time directly teaching students (this is the mysterious ‘user education’ in my job title) and this takes up a lot of my time. I revise our classes and develop new ones in discussion with library and academic colleagues, brief the other librarians, prepare all the necessary materials and then do my share of teaching as well! We cover things like copyright for musicians, evaluating different sources of information, planning a search for a specific topic or task, accessing and using our online subscriptions, tracking down materials held in other libraries and increasingly we’re asked to cover more general academic skills like referencing as well.

What’s something you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy helping Trinity Laban students, staff and visitors at all different levels, from giving a quick tour to a brand-new undergrad on their first day here, to advising one of Trinity Laban’s governors about the latest research tools to aid them with preparing for a talk on a particular piece of music. A lot of what I do is behind the scenes which means I don’t get to see any immediate impact on students and staff, so when I do get the opportunity to help someone directly it’s all the more satisfying!

Managing the library’s social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) is also good fun as it gives me a chance to respond to student feedback online as well as sharing interesting and useful links we’ve found and promoting library services and collections.

Are there any hidden or little-known aspects of your work you’d like to share?

I spend quite a bit of time trying to make the process of accessing online resources as streamlined as possible for students and staff across both faculties at Trinity Laban. This includes linking up different systems so students/staff don’t have to keep re-entering their logins and so our QuickSearch discovery tool can link directly to specific recordings, scores and articles held in other databases. It’s still not perfect though and I welcome any feedback and ideas about making access more intuitive.

Recently I spent some time experimenting with TL’s new printers/copiers to iron out any initial quirks, write a quick start guide for students, and revise the library’s guidance on producing booklets for programme notes. As a result my phone’s photo gallery is currently full of photos of copier screens and control panels!

Finally, could you tell us something people may not know about you?

I got married in London Zoo – no, there weren’t any animals at the ceremony but the venue (a beautiful former cafe building) overlooked bear and monkey enclosures at the time!

You can contact Edith and the rest of the Jerwood Library team using the contact details on the Trinity Laban website.

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