Hello! This is another overdue introduction. My name is Lauren, I’m 21, from south west London and along with Kat who has already introduced herself, am one of the graduate trainees here at the Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre.
So first a little about me; in July 2015 I graduated from the University of Reading with a First (Hons) in BA Classical Studies after three wonderful years where the amazing people I was surrounded by made up for all the stress and hard work of my course. I actually ended up in tears after leaving my graduation ceremony when I realised that it was over! It was almost enough to make me apply to do a masters in Classics at Reading…even though I had decided months before that although I love Classics, I do not love it enough for a masters. I had also already decided I wanted to look into a career in either the Heritage sector or within information services. After spending the summer in what is probably typical graduate fashion (panicking about having to be a Responsible Adult in between ignoring that I am no longer a student) I somehow found myself in October actually starting to get some interviews. To say I was surprised that I got an interview for this role, let alone actually the role itself, is a bit of an understatement.
All I had heard when telling people I was looking for roles related to museums, archives or libraries was that it was really competitive and that was before we started talking about paid roles for a recent graduate with very little relevant experience and no accredited qualification. When I got the phone call saying I was successful I’m pretty sure my first reaction was to squeak ‘Are you serious?’ at one of our Library & Archive Services managers who had called!
Getting a role at the RCN of all places had some personal significance too – both my parents are mental health nurses and members of the RCN and various other members of my family are nurses, doctors or midwives. When I was about seven or eight I told my mum that I didn’t want to be a nurse or a doctor because I didn’t like blood and that I wanted to be a librarian instead. Apparently I should have paid more attention to eight year old me when I went through a period of being convinced I wanted to be an accountant.
One of the things that appealed to me most about this role was that even at the interview stage the focus was very much on my personal development. I am currently unsure whether I want to pursue a library or archival qualification, and from the outset I’ve been offered opportunities to help me with this decision. In a couple of weeks, Kat and I are going to Edinburgh to visit the RCN library in Scotland and also have a look at the RCN archives which are based in Edinburgh for example. One of the other visits we have lined up is to a library that I’ve been told actually incorporates archives and a library so I’m really looking forward to that too. I’m loving what I’m doing now in a library, but I just know that if I decided to continue with this without having the opportunity to learn a bit more about working in archives that I would always have that ‘what if’ in the back of my mind. The great thing about being here is that we actually have archives I can look at it, so I can explore this!
When I was younger and idolised my local librarian, I thought being a librarian was about making things look tidy, and stamping books with plenty of time to read. I know now after about two months that my idea of what being a librarian was completely wrong. Since being here, it’s become plain that it is so much more than that and a lot of the time tidying shelves is at the bottom of my to-do list! I have already learnt so much from being here, and I can’t wait to learn even more!