Libraries Gave Us Power
In the last of our profiles for Libraries Week, we spoke with Mark who works in the library at the SRUC Ayr campus.
I’m Mark, bookworm, husband and dad and a self confessed nerd.
How did you become a librarian?
I never harboured any great desire as a child to become involved in libraries, but I always remember feeling at home in my village library. When I moved to Ayrshire 12 years ago, I was looking for a change after years of call centre work, and found myself working in Waterstones. Being surrounded by books all day just felt right, so when I saw that my village library was looking for someone, I jumped at the chance. It proved to be the best thing I could have done.
What would be your advice to students on how best to use the library?
Come on in, the water’s lovely! Seriously though, you’re unlikely to find a group of people keener to help you. Our job is making information available to anyone who wants it; so, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, just ask.
Familiarise yourself with the space, use the resources available and remember: we’re here to help!
What is available in the library that isn’t on Google?
There is so much available through the library that isn’t on Google. The great thing about the internet is that it has democratised access to information. The downside of that however, is that anyone can say anything. What we can give you that Google can’t is a guarantee of the quality of information you’ll be able to access. We have access to academic journals that you would otherwise have to pay for, as well as peer-reviewed papers and books (both online and on the shelves) that cover every topic you might ever need, as well as some you never knew you needed.
What do you like to do outside of your job in the library?
When I’m not at work, I’m a bit of a home bird and spend as much time as I can with my wife, kids and assorted pets. We binge-watch TV boxsets, especially American shows like The Wire, The Good Place and Better Call Saul. I play guitar and can bash out a tune on mandolin, ukulele and harmonica. I love music, and on the rare occasions we do go out it tends to be to go to gigs. I’m, unsurprisingly, a big reader, of both fiction and non-fiction, especially books on music, politics and social history.
Finally, what is your favourite book?
That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child! Do you mean fiction or non-fiction? Modern or classic? For adults or for children?
I love so many books, and am a huge fan of Alasdair Gray, Margaret Atwood, Colson Whitehead, Jenni Fagan, Michel Faber, Maya Angelou, Kurt Vonnegut, Janice Galloway, William McIlvanney and countless others, but if push came to shove, I think my favourite book is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Everything that makes us human is contained within its pages, and it makes its case for the goodness of humanity beautifully. I genuinely believe everyone should read it.