Readers mine, I live in Scotland once again! Life since May began has been decidedly hectic, when I handed in my notice to Sotheby’s Institute of Art, where I have been the Assistant Librarian since January 2008, within a week of returning from France (the two events are not causally related, merely temporally adjacent). Since leaving work at the end of June, I was packing up and saying “Cheerio, not goodbye!” to the six and half years of my London life, and for just over a week now I have since been living in Scotland once again. I didn’t leave the Institute to work elsewhere in London; I left it as part of a larger change in lifestyle. Having been asking myself the question “where do I want my life to be, in the main?”, for a couple of years now, and the obvious follow-up question, “what then must I do to achieve that?”, moving to Scotland was the first part of the answer. It’s about life, not just about work. London was never a permanent move, I always knew that, and I cannot express how strongly I disagree with Samuel Johnson’s famous quote as given below
when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
There is a significant difference between not wanting to live in London and being tired of it. It’s always accessible, always there, and I’ll never stop visiting it. I’ll never stop missing my friends who live there. But there is so much to do, so much to see, here in Scotland. Besides, I needed to get back before September 18, after which the borders will of course be closed :). I jest, of course, but it’s definitely an interesting year to be in Scotland, and I want to be able to have a say in the future of my country.
The most immediate plan is to finish my CILIP Chartership portfolio, and to write some research papers which are long overdue, before jetting off to Canada for a month-long research trip, something I’ve wanted to do since attending the Ninth International Conference of the Book in 2011. It’s rare to have this amount of time available to go travelling; I had only ten days in Canada on my last visit, and it was very much a research and conference trip – only one day to see some of the city and its environs. While this will be primarily more of the same, I hope that it will be also a wonderful chance to see so much more of what looks to be an interesting city, as well as an unexpected opportunity to do more of the research which I would have loved to have done immediately following the trip, and to visit some of the libraries and collections I never got to see at the time. All of that is a work in progress right now, near the top of my list of Stuff What Needs Organised. Three of the libraries on my list for visiting are the Lillian H Smith Library, which is home to a historic collection of children’s books, as well as, to my immense glee, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy, and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. I went on a fascinating guided tour of this library and saw some collection highlights when last in the city, but the plan now is to find which items are particularly relevant to specific research interests. Lots more ideas are bubbling away in the old cauldron, but suspense is key to maintaining reader curiosity.
Of course, I’m looking to be working in the longer term; I’ve submitted some applications, and have a spreadsheet containing details of vacancies for which I will be applying. I also have to work with web designer friend to finish turning this blog into a fully-fledged website. Following a discussion with a Sotheby’s Institute of Art student just before I left, I have been considering exploring the possibilities of freelance work, as a researcher and/or in the fields of user education and information literacy. I’ve been looking at getting back into volunteering, possibly at my local museum, or possibly back at the Burrell Collection (before it closes for refurbishment) where I used to be a tour guide.
It’s an exciting time. I don’t know what my future will be. I look forward to catching up with family, friends and former colleagues. There is also the recently arrived O’Neillkin to be adored and spoiled at every turn. I will be updating this blog more regularly. I have my online class in Literature of the Country House to finish. I have a swimming pool within five minutes walk of the family seat, and plans to start back at a yoga class that I used to attend last time I was living here. Once I’m working again, there’s a sorely neglected martial arts career to be picked up again. I have cunning plans to insinuate myself back into the local librarian communities; hopefully Glasgow Library Tweet-ups will be on again after the summer.
To all reading this post, here is my current CV. If you are interested in working with me, or hiring me, or just having a chat, please don’t hesitate to contact me as below
I can provide further details and references upon request. I’m also keen to meet or at least talk to librarians who work freelance. It’s an interesting career path about which I know very little. Finally, it would be lovely to catch up with local colleagues and librarians whom I haven’t seen in a long time.
Note: the poem used as the title of this blogpost is The Shortest and Sweetest of Songs by George MacDonald.