07 December 2021
Library Lives: Rebecca Binnington, Hull
‘The most unusual enquiry I’ve ever dealt with? “What do I feed a peacock?”’
We continue our celebration of UK librarians with Rebecca Binnington, Enterprise and IP Librarian for BIPC Humber Partnership’s regional Centre, BIPC Hull, with Hull Libraries. The BIPC is one of 19 around the UK which can help you imagine, start or develop your business.
Where was your local library growing up?
Coalville Library in Leicestershire. It was always a lovely space to browse and read in.
Why did you want to become a librarian?
Hmmm, is this where I admit I didn’t? I was quite adamant I would not be a librarian. After completing my professional qualification at Aberystwyth University, which was a Joint Honours including Library and Information Studies, I meant to go into research or teaching but I needed a break so I took a year to think things through. A Library Assistant role became available in Leicestershire Libraries and as I had the qualification, I went for, and got, the job. From there I went for a librarian’s post and discovered I loved working with the public and local communities: the variety of skills and work on a daily basis was (and still is) incredibly engaging. I’ve not looked back and have worked across many varied areas in public libraries, including prison libraries.
What does your current job involve?
I work across the public library network in Hull. Officially my title is Enterprise and IP Librarian but I’m involved in project work, stock management, business support and community engagement across all ages. A typical day might be organising an event, talking to a customer about applying for a trademark, deciding how best to manage the materials we have in the library and those we have hidden from view in our closed stacks, talking to customers about the books they’ve chosen and what else they might like to read, purchasing stock and visiting schools to promote our services. It’s a very varied job, I’ve probably only covered a fraction of what I actually do…
Do you have a favourite item in your library’s collection?
We have Lloyd’s Registers dating back from 1764. I find them fascinating because Hull was, and still is, a maritime city. I think it’s very apt that we hold shipping registers for a city where the estuary and the sea have been so vital to its cultural development and economic history.
What is the most unusual enquiry you have helped someone with?
To this day it’s one of the first enquiries I got: ‘What do I feed a peacock?’ I was completely flummoxed initially…
What's your favourite thing you can find or do in a library?
I could provide a very long list! I do particularly enjoy working with partners and artists to organise and deliver events. It’s wonderful and challenging working with others but when something is successful you’re able to take a step back and value the time and effort that has built something for the local community to enjoy.
Other than your own, where's your favourite library, or one you would most like to visit?
John Rylands library in Manchester. The building and stock are glorious.
Sum up being a librarian in three words
Different, challenging, fulfilling.
What do you think makes a good librarian?
Someone who’s able to adapt; someone who can engage; someone who can work successfully with others and be passionate about libraries as safe spaces for every member of their local community.
Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with your job
I am a somewhat dishevelled silversmith (though I might be using that term loosely). I’m self-taught and enjoy the designing, problem solving and knowledge that ‘I made this’.
What one thing do you wish people knew about being a librarian that you suspect they don’t?
I don’t get to read any books whilst doing the day job (during working hours – I read a lot in my own time).
Favourite fictional librarian
Evie from The Mummy. Whenever I watch the film and she shouts out ‘I… am a librarian’, I shout ‘hurrah!’
There are too many! I’ll settle on two authors. Anything by N K Jemisin or Brandon Sanderson: sometimes there are writers that come along to genres like fantasy and science fiction and re-write the playbook.
Interview by Ellen Morgan
Rebecca Binnington is Enterprise and IP Librarian for BIPC Humber Partnership’s regional Centre, BIPC Hull, with Hull Libraries. The BIPC is one of 19 around the UK which can help you imagine, start or develop your business.
We’re interviewing people who have professional registration status as a librarian via the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals or who have an academic qualification such as a first degree, a postgraduate diploma or a Master’s degree in library and information studies or librarianship.
Is this you? If you’d like to feature in Library Lives, get in touch with [email protected]
Would you like this to be you? Find out more about becoming a librarian on the CILIP website.