In the next of our series introducing members of the team who you might meet at our sites or across the University, #DULibIntroducing welcomes Dr Richard Pears who you may meet in your own department if you work or study in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, delivering workshops & inductions or meeting staff and students. Or you may find him doing the same, amongst many other things, at the Bill Bryson Library. Do Say Hello!
Please state your name, full job title, and a brief description of what that entails:
Richard Pears, Faculty Librarian for Arts and Humanities. I have several roles. The first is rather like that of an ambassador, to liaise with academic departments in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, attending Boards of Studies to brief academic staff on Library developments and answer questions, and to gather information that feeds into Library strategy and plans (such as new taught modules or research projects in departments). I also attend Student Staff Consultative Committees to brief students and hear their comments (frequently positive!) about the Library. I also deliver research skills teaching to students from first year undergraduate to PhD, often as part of taught modules or seminars, and I meet students or provide guidance by email to help them locate and use the fantastic library, online and primary source collections. I’ve been involved within the Library and in the wider University in a lot of the work to create new study areas and relocate collections. I’m also the current chair of the University Library and Collections’ Staff Development Group.
How long have you worked in the Library?
Since July 2005. That’s seems like quite a while …
What’s the most interesting/enjoyable aspect of your job?
The variety! Each day is different: I might have meetings in academic departments, be participating in Library and Collections projects, meet new academic colleagues to introduce them to the Library and hear of their research, and there are always emails from academics or students. Although I plan what I am going to do each day, there are always ‘events’ which stir things up, such as students at the Helpdesk needing urgent assistance.
What are you reading at the moment?
I do a lot of historical research and talks outside of work, and at the moment I am reading about treatments of people with mental illness in the eighteenth century (- very unpleasant). I found a manuscript inventory of a 30 year old woman, Margaret Farrington, who had been moved from a very fashionable house in London to lodgings in Newcastle. She must have had a very fine life before she suffered her illness, and I’m trying to reconstruct her life from archive (including Durham!) sources, possibly for an article.
If you could invite one person from history for a cuppa at Small Island Coffee, who would it be?
The architect William Newton (1730-98) who built many country houses in this area and who was the subject of my PhD. You can research someone’s life, but I would love to know what is missing from the records that only they can tell you. Also, it would be fascinating to hear how someone from the past would view the world today.
What was the first record you bought?
What luxury item would you take to a desert island?
The Northumberland Archives, so I can work through all of their uncatalogued archives for my research on country houses. I realise that this is unlikely, so I will settle for a telescope to watch the seas by day and the stars by night.
Tell me a secret about Durham/the Library:
Then it wouldn’t be a secret!
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to our Library users?
Ask! We have superb collections in our libraries, archives and museums, and we have great and knowledgeable staff who will help you, whoever you are, to get the most out of the Library and Collections, but we can only do that if you ask us when you need some assistance, or come to one of our events, or follow our news feeds.
If we want to know more about your role in the Library, where can we find more information?