I am a sixth form student from Hawarden High School studying Mathematics, History, English Language and Media Studies. After having started my year 12 syllabus in History studying British Prime Ministers and already gaining a strong interest in William Gladstone and his work, I immediately thought of Gladstone’s Library as an apt location for work experience as it's just a few minutes down the road from where I live and has an abundance of literary works which link into the British Parliamentary Reform I have been studying. I had previously been on work experience at another local organisation which had taught me a great deal about the different systems of a functioning library and the job tasks of a librarian. Therefore, when the opportunity came up to gain experience in Marketing at Gladstone’s Library, I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to start.
Monday, 11th July
On my first day at the Library, I was welcomed by a number of friendly faces and shown to the Gladstone Room where I waited before meeting Director of Collections and Research Louisa Yates, who I had originally contacted in view of gaining a placement at the Library, and Beth, one of the interns who gave me a brief tour and introduced me to the system used for lending and returning books.
Not soon after this I met Marketing Manager Amy Sumner, who was going to be my main point of contact during my time at the Library. Amy gave me an introductory talk to her role at the Library. I was slightly nervous at first as I didn’t have a great deal of experience in Marketing, but Amy made me feel very welcome and explained everything so I wasn’t left confused by anything.
I soon got to work with my first task, which was to conduct some research on the speakers who would be attending the Gladfest literary festival in September. Information on some of the authors was easier to come by than others, but I had fun finding out about the different writers and even looking into some of their works. Around midday I attended one of the Glimpse tours which are held for the public at a number of different times during the day to allow people to have a look inside the Reading Rooms, which are otherwise accessible by Friends and Readers only.
After lunch, Amy explained my next task which was to do some desk research on the shortlist for the Library's 2017 Writers in Residence programme. As with my morning task, I had fun reading into the different works of the authors who had been chosen and making a mental note of which I should put on my reading list for the summer. At around 4pm I began my project, which was to write a diary entry on my day at Gladstone’s Library.
Tuesday, 12th July
Starting my second day I was a lot more familiar with my surroundings and I sat down with Amy to start the day's tasks. I was given an introduction to Public Relations (PR) and writing press releases. I hadn’t previously realised that you needed to take into account whether press releases would need to be tailored to local or national journalists, so I found this very useful and set to work writing a press release on the Gladfest Young People’s programme. Amy also showed me a number of different releases that been put together for past news and events as I had a better idea of the layout and relevent information to include. I also looked at the existing resources that had been distributed concerning the young people’s activities and used them as a reference.
After finishing my press release and making some corrections, I put together a package of leaflets from the store room to send off to the London Library who had recently partnered with Gladstone's Library to create a mutually beneficial offer for their members. This was just another example of how the marketing team generates interest and awareness of the Library.
After learning a bit more about health and safety at Gladstone’s Library and what to do in case of an emergency, I started one of my last tasks of the day which was to compile a distribution list to send my press release out to. I also learned how to find email addresses for the correct contacts at various newspapers, magazines and websites.
Wednesday, 13th July
On my third day at Gladstone’s Library, I was given an introduction to social media and how it is used to generate awareness of the events and activities at the Library. Amy showed me a scheduling software, ‘Hootsuite’, which allows users to upload posts to be sent out on social media channels at specific times throughout the day, when people browsing social media may be more likely to see the posts.
I then used the site to create half a dozen posts to be sent out from the Library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts that evening. When writing the posts, I used different hashtags, website links and images to make the posts more interesting and eye-catching as I was told that the more interesting a post looks the more interaction it is likely to receive. I also acknowledged that the different posts I was writing applied to different audiences of varying demographics, so when choosing a time for the posts to be uploaded I thought of who would actually be reading it at that time.
After lunch, Amy went over some of the posts I had created and gave me some tips on how to improve them to make them more effective. We then talked about image usage rights. I had actually used an image taken straight from Google on one of my Facebook posts, so I learnt about what can happen if you use another person’s image without their permission and about how to avoid this by using alternative search methods.
I finished off the day doing some research on local events, attendees of which may be interested in the facilities the Library has to offer.
Thursday, 14th July
I started my penultimate day by writing a few lines on my favourite book to go towards Beth’s blog that she was working on about favourite reads of the Gladstone’s Library team. I then collected leaflets and flyers advertising Gladfest from Amy and went into the village to distribute them to the local shops. This didn’t take too long and it was nice talking to some of the shop owners briefly. I got back to the Library relatively quickly after and started my next task.
Amy showed me a new website, Campaign Monitor, which the Library uses to send out newsletters to its database of subscribers. The website also stores various lists containing email addresses for certain categories of people, i.e. Readers or Friends of the Library. My task was to add new subscribers to the main subscription list which Amy would then send out information to.
As another job, I went round the Library and restocked any leaflets, flyers and posters which were running out. Then, I started some research to find websites which listed events in different areas, specifically ones surrounding Flintshire. I also collected their contact details so that Amy would be able to get in touch with them to list events at Gladstone's Library in the coming months.
Friday, 15th July
Starting my final day of work experience, I noted down the number of tickets which had been sold for Gladfest over the past fortnight.
I was then given an introduction to the Gladstone’s Library website and how to create and edit pages on the site. Amy then showed me how to upload a blog, and how the post can be edited and arranged to the way you would like it to look. This was useful as I was told I would later be uploading my project work, this blog, onto the site.
After this, I went onto Google Trends, a site which can be used to find out how popular different search terms are. This is an important SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tool that the Library uses to ensure it appears near to the top of the page on Google. The more popular the term you use (for example ‘restaurant’, rather than ‘food & drink’), the more likely it is that people will find your website.
My last main task was to finish off my project work and upload it to the website, which was a lovely way to finish off my time at the Library. This would also be great experience for creating and editing websites in the future.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Gladstone’s Library and it has taught me an awful lot. Having never tried Marketing before, I can now say that I enjoy it very much and will look into getting more experience in the future thanks to Amy. Work experience here has been very engaging and welcoming, from the first email I sent to Louisa asking about a placement to doing different tasks with Amy and learning an abundance of new skills. I would to love to come back to the Library one day, even if it is just to become a reader to do some research for History!
By Work Experience student, Niamh Yale-Helms