Rachel Daniels

Image - Rachel DanielsGraduated in 1992 with a BLib in History and Information and Library Studies, and stayed on to complete an MLib in 1993.

What do you remember most about your time at Aber?

I was always impressed by the dedication, friendliness, knowledge and experience of our tutors, not just at D.I.L.S but also across the University (in those days you had to do librarianship as a joint honours degree so I chose History.) Sharing the Llanbadarn campus with FE and Welsh Agricultural students was an interesting experience - at university it's pretty common for your food to be "borrowed", but the farming students once took the whole fridge!! My other abiding memories of Aber are ice-cream from the pier, horizontal rain, spectacular sunsets over the sea, meeting some of my best friends, and oh yes, that 1 in 4 hill...

What are you doing now career-wise and how has your Aberystwyth degree helped?

I left Aber after completing a BLib and MLib and knew I didn't really want to have a standard job in a public library (not that there's anything wrong with that - just not for me!), and was looking for something a little different. I had three job interviews - one for a research post at Robert Gordon, one was partly based in a prison (where we actually had to go for the interview...), and one was working Cranfield at the Royal College of Science (now the Defence Academy). I knew I didn't want the research post the minute I got to the interview; they told me I was too young to go to prison; when I got to RMCS I just knew that was the place for me - guns, tanks and men in uniform!
My time at Aber helped me considerably in the interview as they were so interested in my master's thesis topic that they didn't ask me any awkward questions about the armed forces.

So I have now worked very happily for Cranfield University for over 23 years. I started as a library assistant in current awareness and am now Deputy Librarian, looking after the Academic Liaison group. This group is responsible for both staff and student support for teaching and research, so there’s never a dull moment. The library staff are a great crew and make me feel proud on a daily basis. We are also lucky to look after a fantastic group of academics and researchers at Cranfield Defence and Security.

I'm currently responsible for a large project developing the Russian Military Studies Archive, on behalf of the Defence Academy, which has been gathering an increasing number of customers over the last year. This research facility is open to anyone by prior arrangement. My other major interest is developing the alumni library service for Cranfield and encouraging other universities to do the same. A few years ago, along with a colleague, we set up the Alumni Library Forum which advises and supports anyone interested in developing an alumni library service, through an annual free event, discussion list and website. We also try to engage vendors in considering permitting alumni access to their products. We've had some successes over the past few years but there's still a long way to go to convince everyone.
More information on ALF can be found here.

I think Aber certainly helped prepare me for these future roles as it taught us the value of collaborative working and sharing ideas and best practice, and also sticking with something you believe in, even if others don't immediately see the value. I would also say that working with ALF and developing our own alumni library service has actually made me feel more appreciative of my time at Aber.

What advice do you have for a student doing your course now?

Absorb as much as you can from your excellent tutors. Try to get as much practical work experience as possible too. Be prepared for a rapidly changing environment. Think of this as just the very start of your education as in this profession you will never stop learning!