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Libraries Week - A day in the life of the Head of a University Library Service Mark Hughes
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Libraries Week - A day in the life of the Head of a University Library Service Mark Hughes


My name is Mark Hughes, and I’m Head of Library Services at Cardiff Metropolitan University. I’ve been here a little over a year now, and absolutely love my job, the people I work with, and community of people we serve.

I work mainly on our Llandaff Campus, but also try to spend regular amounts of time over at the Learning Centre on our other Campus in Cyncoed. A typical day for me starts at around 7.30am, and finish time varies, depending on what is going on across Campus, whether I’m off site for anything, or if I choose to take work away with me.

My job is around managing our library services. My aim is to try to keep us developing and evolving so that when a student, member of staff or member of the public walks in through our doors (physical or virtual), they get the best possible service and help we can provide. That gives me a pretty broad spectrum of things to work across.

In my daily work I mainly deal with 3 groups of people. 1) Our Library staff who work so hard to make our libraries such great places to visit day in, day out. 2) Staff across the University who help and enable us to deliver our services or whom we can help support their students and research. 3) Other Library professionals and organisations across the UK and sometimes wider. On this I am a huge advocate of Libraries working together to solve problems and improve services to our users, so I keep a regular involvement with groups across organisations such as WHELF (Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum), SCONUL (Society of College, National and University Libraries) and JISC. That work can find me doing pieces of work in lots of different places in the UK, and has taken me in recent years to numerous countries across Europe, and even the USA and Canada

Things on my current to do list revolve around developments planned for this year. We’ve been working a lot to improve our library spaces in the last year – aiming to make them more welcoming, comfortable for students to work in, and open for longer. I am planning to do more on this, and we’ll be running some work based on UX (User eXperience) principles to better understand what works and doesn’t in people’s actual experience of using our Library so we can keep on making that better. Alongside that we’ll also be looking at our Digital services using that same UX based approach as that’s an area where technology and people’s expectations are moving so quickly it could be easy to fall behind.

If there’s one thing about my job I’d love to highlight to anyone outside the library world reading this, it’s the sheer variety of work we get involved with and the range of skills you develop in the profession. Talk to a librarian and you are just as likely to find someone expert in technology, data management, academic skills, digital literacy, budgets, people management, workspace design.. you name it.

In short, we are librarians…books are just the beginning.


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