Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Liz Harris: RNA Library Liaison

Its great to catch up with Liz Harris and chat about her roll as the RNA’s Library Liaison.

Many thanks for inviting me on the RNA blog today to talk about the post of library liaison, Elaine. I have always loved losing myself in a library so it’s not surprising that I jumped at the chance of being the RNA Libraries’ Liaison when offered the post in June of this year.

From a very early age, full of enthusiasm, but absolutely no know-how, I offered my help every Saturday morning to the librarians in the Finchley Road Central Library. The long-suffering staff used to set the little me in front of the fiction shelves at A and leave me to straighten them up to Z.

Years later, I worked in the Central Camden Library, Swiss Cottage, during my university holidays. Best of all was to work on a Saturday morning until it closed at 1pm, and then start again at 9.30am on the Monday when the library re-opened. It meant that we could read a reserved book over the weekend. We probably shouldn’t have done – but it happened.

Equally good was to work in the Reference Section first thing on a Monday morning. It was before the days of computers, and the crossword enthusiasts would flood in as soon as the doors opened, brows furrowed, a folded Sunday paper under their arm, seeking help from the Reference staff. This gave birth to my lifelong love of cryptic crosswords.

These days, I still enjoy going to the library. I live in a small town in Oxfordshire where there are only 2700 inhabitants, but we have a library. The library’s now run by a scaled-down number of paid staff and by enthusiastic volunteers, but it’s as warm and welcoming as ever. As Erasmus said, ’Your library is your paradise.’ I consider myself very lucky to live so close to such a paradise.

What does the role entail, I hear you ask.

Before June, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, but now I can answer it.

There are two parts to the job:

1)  Every three months, I write a newsletter for the libraries and send it to our library contacts across the country, along with a list of the new releases by RNA members during the previous three months. 

2)  To keep a list of authors throughout the UK who are willing to talk at events organised by libraries. Going into a library to talk to the readers in that area, or to work with them, can be the start of a great relationship between the library and the author, which would be to the benefit of both.

Well, I think that’s it! Again, thank you for inviting me to join you today, Elaine; I’ve enjoyed doing so.

Liz Harris

twitter: @lizharrisauthor
Facebook: Liz Harris

Thank you for the great job you are doing, Liz!

If you would like to contribute to the RNA blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com


angela britnell said...

I'm a huge fan of libraries too, Liz, and couldn't afford my book habit without them! I volunteer at my local library one morning a week and love it there.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I'm so envious of your library, Liz - I used to get huge pleasure being in that environment and wish we had one more local to me.