Please state your name, full job title, and a brief description of what that entails:
Richard Holmes, Faculty Librarian for Social Sciences. The central element of my role is to communicate between the departments in the faculty and the University Library and Collections to ensure we are delivering services and resources that meet their diverse needs. I do this by attending key committees within each department to promote new and impending library developments and to pick up changes that may have an impact on the Library, Special Collections or Museums. I also provide support to enable members of Durham University at all levels of study to get the best out of the wonderful collections available. This can range from answering basic email enquiries, through one-to-one tuition, to delivering research skills classes embedded within teaching programmes. I also have a role in collections development, ensuring the right materials are available when needed to support each department’s teaching and research activities.
How long have you worked in the Library?
Twelve years, which have gone by in a flash.
What’s the most interesting/enjoyable aspect of your job?
I am fortunate in that there are multiple aspects of my role that are interesting, or enjoyable or both. It sounds lame, but the best by far is ‘job satisfaction’. Most people I have helped so far express warm gratitude for the assistance and some explain further how what they have learned will improve their experience of studying or working at Durham. This makes every interaction, and the work that goes on behind it, feel worthwhile.
What was the last film you saw, and what would it rate out of 10?
Inheritance. It was pants! I’d give it 3 out of 10. We were mildly intrigued by the trailer as to what the titular inheritance actually was. We both wished we had abandoned the actual film as soon as that was revealed. The rest was dull and predictable.
If you had unlimited budget, what addition would you make to the Library?
Build another extension or add more floors (either up or down). There is always demand for more space, whether that be for studying at peak times of year, or for more resources and materials. It would be nice to have more of our collections together in one place to facilitate cross-referencing between them.
If you could bring any book character to life, who would it be?
I love the character of ‘Lord Vetinari’ in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. He has some of the best quotes and descriptions in the series. I can’t help but picture him as Monty Burns from ‘the Simpsons’ whenever he features, though, so it would be great to see what he would actually be like ‘in real life’. I’m not sure I would actually want to be governed by him, though.
The library tannoy system has just been turned into a massive karaoke machine. What would you sing to the library?
Seriously, I would not inflict my singing on the library. I’d be arrested for causing distress and, quite possibly, disturbing behaviour. [cough] Don’t Stop me Now [cough] by Queen.
When was the last time you properly laughed?
A day or two ago at most. I have a seven-year-old son who is a born entertainer and absolutely bonkers. He makes me laugh many times almost every single day, but every so often he does or says something that has us all in stitches. I won’t describe his most recent…performance; you ‘had to be there’.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Just one? Gosh! Probably “don’t be an idiot, Son”. Hard to go wrong if you can adhere to that one.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to our Library users?
Invest some time in learning what collections are available and what tools can help you to interact with them the best. You have access to a massive array of knowledge, literature and artefacts during your membership of Durham University; some of it unique. Maximising your use of it will increase your breadth and depth of knowledge, give you more rounded insights, and potentially maximise your grades or research output.
If we want to know more about your role in the Library, where can we find more information? I have a profile page here, although this clearly needs beefing up. For a librarian, this is embarrassingly poorly curated!