The reason I wanted to spend my Work Experience at Gladstone’s Library was because I wanted to be surrounded by literature. Gladstone’s Library offered a fantastic chance to be personally enhanced by its vast selection of books and debates whilst advancing my career skills and vocabulary. The Library also provided a prime opportunity to understand the versatility necessary to be a successful employee.
The first day at the Library was a huge surprise to me. The work and preparation for the annual Founder’s Day lecture (this year concerning liberalism and faith) astounded me. Although the creativity and free-flowing atmosphere was evident throughout this first day in Gladstone’s Library, the staff maintained a fast pace of work in order to allow this creativity to flourish. I will remember this because although talent is needed, a hard-working mentality is just as crucial! Another skill I learned on this first day was that of circulation. The library has a clear system and philosophy when it comes to returning books. The successfulness of circulation again reminds me of the organisation and time scheduling needed to maintain a well-run organisation.
On day 2 the focus was very much on maintenance of books. We learned how frequently shelves are checked as well as how to ensure all books are in the correct places. The archive of letters and extracts shown to us was truly astounding. The respect which is accorded to William Gladstone’s legacy was evidenced by the huge stock checks routinely conducted. I was then introduced to the ‘Glimpse’, a short talk on the life of Gladstone and background information on the Library. Other than by staying as a resident, signing up as a Reader (free) or as a Friend (for a small donation), this is the only way the public can access the Reading Rooms. The Glimpse was informative and I learned a huge amount on Gladstone’s love of books as well as his prominence in politics until very late in his life.
Day 3 of my time in Gladstone’s Library was akin to my second, which compliments the magnificent organisation and structure in place here. In the morning I performed a stock check on the archives utilising a thorough and concentrated approach because of the fragility and importance of the documents. This really challenged me but gave me an opportunity to experience working under pressure.
Towards the latter stages of the day I was tasked with covering books with the secure material provided. Before this, I would have said that design and craft was my weakest area but now I have a new attitude and mentality towards it! Overall the day was extremely tough and challenging due to the amount of work but nevertheless an enjoyable experience.
The morning of the fourth day entirely revolved around stock checking. Although it is not the most exciting task in the world, I appreciate it is crucial to the ethos of the library and to maintaining the essence of Gladstone. The training given to me by the interns really helped me to settle in and become more confident.
After lunch we focused on re-shelving and shelving new additions. In the process of this we practiced the skills built up over the course of the week. At the end of the day we performed the 15-minute shutdown to ensure the library was left in the same condition we found it in that morning. Although the jobs performed by staff are not the biggest in the world, they are collectively crucial to the well-being of the library and that’s why I was so pleased to be helping.
The fifth and final day of my time at the Library was filled with mixed emotions. On the positive side, I learnt many different aspects of library structure as well as many life skills. On the contrary I knew that I would miss being part of the team because of the friendliness and welcoming atmosphere from the moment I walked past Reception. My overall time at the Library was unforgettable and I encourage others to become involved to share in the same happiness and knowledge.
The friendly attitude from everyone associated with the Library made it a fantastic working space as well as a memorable and enjoyable experience. The Library oozes history. I have learned amazing facts about Gladstone himself, one of which is that he read over 22,000 books in his life, equivalent to one book every single day! His fascination with literature and the English language is truly amazing and I relate to it as an aspiring writer. It is unbelievable how much one man could be dedicated to something and he is a true role model to me.
My advice to anyone visiting the Library for the first time is to simply relax. The atmosphere of literature, history and creativity gives you a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the Library; whether it be reading about political debates or visiting for lunch, it’s the perfect place to feel enhanced by history. The service, food and hospitality is consistently high in quality and across the board the Library excels in the services they offer. My final statement is to simply thank everyone here for a great experience. It has been perfect and I now know a tremendous amount more about the workplace than I did just a week ago.
“We look forward to the time when the power of love will replace the love of power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace. Nothing that is morally wrong can politically right.”
- William Ewart Gladstone