Skip navigation

Library & Archives

6 Posts tagged with the 60_second_staff_encounters_l&a tag
0

Hellen Pethers: Reader Services Librarian

 

 

Hellen-Pethers-blog.jpg

 

 

 

 

How long have you worked at the NHM?

 

8 1/2 years, wow that went fast!

 

What were you doing before you came here?

 

I graduated from Brighton University (Library and Information Studies BA Hons) in 2000 and began my professional career at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, by starting as a Library Assistant and progressing to Librarian. I joined the NHM in 2005, so now I've spent 13 years working in the Museum Library environment and love it! I've been fortunate enough to work in two fantastic large museums, in two incredible buildings and with internationally renowned collections. I count myself very lucky!

 

What does your average day look like?


I'm responsible for the day to day management of our Public Reading Room and my office is next to the main enquiry desk. With so many different people making appointments to visit us and contacting us via phone and email, no day is the same nor predictable. I love meeting new people, learning about their research and exchanging a shared love of the natural world.

 

 

 

 

 

We have collections in over 100 locations all over the Museum's South Kensington site and elsewhere, so fetching the material requested by visitors ready for their visit is a constant activity. I manage the Library & Archives blog and Twitter @NHM_Library, and encourage my colleagues to contribute to regular entries such as Item of the Month and behind the scenes project updates. I really enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for our collections and I get the chance to take part in Nature Live talks within the Museum. These have been on William Smith's geological map and on printed zoological ephemera relating to menageries and other oddities.

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?

 

In 8 years I've become rather fond of numerous items in the collections, in particular printed ephemera relating to the weird and wonderful world of menageries and animal shows. But if I really had to pick one, it would be William Hamilton's Campi Phlegrei (1779), because it makes me chuckle thinking about the first time I learnt about it. When I started at the NHM I worked as Assistant Librarian in the Earth Sciences Library, I had just spent the previous 5 years being immersed in the world of Admiral Nelson. So I was almost relieved to start my new job, surrounded by fossils and minerals, seemingly a world away from Horatio! Only to find that in my first week, I was introduced to this wonderful book depicting the different stages of activity of Mount Vesuvius, and only to find that the author William Hamilton was the husband of Admiral Horatio Nelson's mistress Emma! Turns out I can run, but I can't hide!

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?

 

On a beautiful sunny summer's day I love our Wildlife Garden, a little gem in central London. You can sit surrounded by nature, whilst still being aware of the hustle and bustle of London traffic around you. But nothing beats standing by the giant sequoia at the top of the museum, first thing in the morning, as the sun shines through the stained glass windows, across the empty floor of the central hall before the doors open and our visitors fill the building.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


Since working at the NHM I've fallen in love with many animals I didn't even know existed, but I think I would be a dolphin. Family means everything to me, as far as I can see dolphins always look like they are having fun and stick together as a unit, so that's good enough for me!

0

 

How long have you worked at the NHM?

 

17 years.

 

What were you doing before you came here?

 

When I finished my degree in Science Policy I got as job as a trainee Library Assistant in the Library at UCL.  I spent a year at UCL dividing my time between the Medical Sciences Section of the Main Science Library and the Boldero Library in the Middlesex hospital.   I loved the job and was inspired to do a professional library qualification at Sheffield University.  After my Master’s I stayed on to do a PhD at Sheffield looking at the impact of the Internet on the information seeking behaviour of academic researchers.  I then joined the NHM as an Assistant Librarian in the Earth Sciences Library, initially looking after the journals collections and then the books.  I have been the Library’s Collection Manager, working across all subject collections since 2003.Mel-Smith-Library-Collections-Manager.jpg

 

What does your average day look like?

I don’t really have an average day.  My main role is to ensure that the library collections are happy, that they are available to Library users and we acquire appropriate new content that meets our users’ needs.  My team is  responsible for the acquisition and curation of the Modern Library Collections and they get on with the day to day work of looking after the library collections. I spend most of my time on project work which at the moment includes the Library elements of the Museum’s Collections Storage project (CSIP).

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?

 

Back to my Earth Sciences days I’ve always liked Sopwith’s Geological Models which are beautiful wooden models of various geological features which can be quite a challenge to put together for a display, as I know to my cost.  Also François Louis Swebach Desfontaines’, mineral prospectus is really unusual and quite stunning.

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?

 

I like the gems exhibition in the Earth Galleries.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?

 

A Meerkat, I like to keep an eye on what’s happening around me.

0

Caroline Catchpole: Archivist Wallace Collection

 

 

Caroline-Catchpole-Blog.jpg

 

How long have you worked at the NHM?


2 years

 

What were you doing before you came here?


I began my archive career at Kew Gardens where I worked for two years, the second year part time whilst I studied for my archival qualification at UCL. I then worked in the archives at Kings College London before coming here.

 

What does your average day look like?


I think one of the reasons I became an Archivist is that no two days are the same which keeps you on your toes! As Archivist for the Wallace Correspondence Project, one thing I can be sure of is that my day will include thinking about and talking about Wallace! My job includes cataloguing Wallace letters into our project’s database, answering enquiries about the project and Wallace. I research the letters and select which ones to tweet about on the NHM L&A Twitter page (@nhm_library )and also which ones to write about for my ‘Letter of the Month’ blog. (Wallace100 blog)

 

Our database of letters includes letters to and from Wallace from repositories around the world, so I’m responsible for talking to these repositories and arranging for their Wallace letters to be scanned and sent to me. I also manage a successful volunteering programme whereby volunteers assist the project by transcribing the letters. I then link the transcriptions to our database so people who use Wallace Letters Online are met most of the time (2,600 out of 4,700 letters are transcribed) with a user-friendly transcription instead of trying to decipher Victorian scrawl.

 

 

I also get to give talks to the public about Wallace and his archive we have here at the museum which is one of my favourite things to do.

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?


A letter that Wallace wrote to Richard Spruce in September 1852 because the story contained in it is so dramatic and life-changing. Wallace left the Amazon in July 1852, but he was shipwrecked when the boat that was taking him back to England caught fire and sank not long into the voyage. He only had time to save a few personal possessions before abandoning ship. The survivors were rescued 10 days later and it was aboard this rescue boat that Wallace composed his 8 page letter to Spruce. In it he details the sinking and the loss of two years’ worth of Amazonian specimens. You can really feel the desolation at having lost his collections – he wrote that his collections would have been the finest in Europe had they survived. Towards the end of the letter you can feel his utter joy at arriving back in the UK after the nightmare voyage home. This letter always makes me wonder as well would his life have taken a different course if he hadn’t lost his collections and diaries and notes from the Amazon?

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?


My favourite public place in the museum is the balcony where the Huxley and Owen statues are and looking back at Central Hall over Dippy, to the Darwin Statue and Wallace portrait. I still get awestruck every time I’m up there. My favourite objects on display are the Blaschka glass models in the Treasures gallery; they are so beautiful and unique. I think it speaks volumes that with all the technology we have today, no-one has been able to reproduce them since they were first made in the nineteenth century.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


A bumblebee. They do such a vital job for our eco-system and are having a bit of a hard time of it at the moment. So at least if I became one, it’d boost the numbers slightly.

0

James Hodgkin: Library Services Manager

James and Megatherium.jpg

 

How long have you worked at the NHM?


8 years


What were you doing before you came here?


My first library job was at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) which was a fascinating mix of nationalities and subjects. That persuaded me to be a librarian so I got a qualification from Loughborough University. My job before NHM was at Oxford University, English Faculty Library. Oxford was a wonderful place to work and live, but I don’t remember getting paid very much. I guess you were privileged to work there and competition for jobs was huge.


What does your average day look like?


I don’t have average days anymore. Since I became a “manager”, anything can be thrown at me and the day job will be working on various projects. This is really interesting and pushes me to keep learning. It is not the usual museum library because of the quantity and quality of the NHM’s scientific research. We are undoubtedly playing catch up but the areas we are developing have far more in common with the university sector. I look after customer services and this also means our external users. We have been getting busier over the last 5 years which is great and it is fascinating to see the variety of visitors from all over the world coming to use our unique collections. We are regarded as a national collection as well as a local library supporting NHM research – this can be a tricky balance to maintain!

 

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?


I don’t really have much to do with the collections anymore which is a shame so all my favourites will come from my time as an Earth Sciences Librarian. I have a soft spot for William Buckland: a fascinating and slightly bonkers contradiction of a man whose work supported the theory of a biblical flood but was also quite ground breaking in hinting at modern developments in geology and palaeontology. Check out the background image on our twitter page – a beautiful fold-out from Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology (1836).


Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?


Place = Top of the main staircase next to the Giant Sequoia. Object = I love some of the retro galleries like Human Biology. It was a totally different way of designing museum galleries (no specimens!). I think we are moving towards more science and collections on public display which is great. The Polar Bear is my favourite object – huge paws.


If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?


A duck. I love being on or around rivers and canals, they can walk, swim and fly plus they are smart enough to be tame and get fed by humans. Am I also allowed to say they taste good?

0

Sharon Touzel: Bibliographic Librarian

IMG_3340.JPG

 

 

 

 

How long have you worked at the NHM?

 

I began in 2007, so 6 years.

 

What were you doing before you came here?

 

I was studying, and volunteering as an Assistant Archivist at LAARC (the archaeological archives of the Museum of London). The volunteering was great – in one box, a Roman shoe; in the next, a medieval horse skull.

 

What does your average day look like?

 

I might spend time buying books for the Entomology Library, or working on projects with external academic visitors.

Mainly though, I spend a lot of time cataloguing our collections. It’s not a dull job here - today I’ve catalogued an 1870s Austrian sales catalogue, advertising plaster heads & preserved frogs; 1930s newspaper cuttings on a secret journey through Forbidden Arabia; and 1970s reports on the Loch Morar monster. Finding items like these means I always have something to put on our Twitter feed!


If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?

 

The flea etching from Robert Hooke’s Microscopy, or some of our relatively unknown 17th century Dutch art.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?

 

I love the piece of the moon in the Earth Galleries. Walking past it every morning gives me a real kick.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?

 

As an Entomology librarian, it’s tempting to say I’d like to be one of those brain eating parasites which make zombies out of ants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis) . However, I’d probably go for something much more boring, like a domestic cat!

0

Hannah Rausa: Serials Librarian (Technical Services)

IMG_3326a.jpg

 

 

How long have you worked at the NHM?


I started at the NHM Library 10 years ago in May 2003, as an Information Assistant.  I left for a short period to pursue my academic studies, but returned in August 2005.  I have been Serials Librarian for the past four years.

 

What were you doing before you came here?


I was studying for my BSc Geography Degree at University and I also worked as an office secretary in London.  Working at the NHM Library was my first full time job since leaving University. It is such an interesting and unique place to work in, I have continued to work here.

 

What does your average day look like?


An average day for me involves a variety of tasks.  They range from corresponding with our subscription agent and publishers, about our annual subscription orders and newly available content. Reviewing our expenditure forecasts against our budget, investigating alternative ways to access content which may benefit our users and our budget. I also assist staff with serial queries such as finding material on the shelves, tracking down missing issues, and advising on the best way to manage our serial records.  In addition I provide enquiry support on our service desk on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

If you had to pick one favourite from the L&A collections what would it be?


There are so many amazing items to choose from! A personal favourite is Williams Smith’s Geological Map from 1815.  It was the first treasure I unearthed when I started working here. I had the opportunity to handle it and was involved in some public outreach events associated with it, so really got a flavour of the excitement and amazement which it draws from people.

 

Do you have a favourite place or object on display in the Museum?


The Mineral Gallery is a fascinating space and I always discover new things each time I visit there – it is amazing to see what our natural world produces.  The Blue Whale also holds a place in my heart.  Along with the Central Hall it forms a strong memory of my first visit to the NHM when I was a child.  I remember being completely in awe of the size and beauty of the Museum and the Blue Whale.  I purchased a Blue Whale book from the museum shop, which was treasured for many years.

 

If you had to spend the rest of your life as an animal, what would it be and why?

 

Based on my love of the countryside and my belief in the value of family, I think it would have to be a dog, with its pack mentality and outdoor lifestyle.  I would of course need to be homed with a loving and caring human family.