Trainee Profile: Harriet Lam

Hi, I’m Harriet, one of two trainees from The Courtauld Institute of Art Book Library. Unlike many previous trainees from the Courtauld I don’t have an arts background. I studied English literature at Leeds University, followed by a masters specialising in gothic & postmodern literature, with as many visual art elements as I could get away with. After graduating it took me a year & a bit of working in restaurant kitchens to realise that I actually wanted to work in libraries. Having spent four years studying in libraries but never thinking to get behind the issue desk, I found it difficult to get any work in the academic sector, so opted to go back to school & get my masters in Library & Information Management at MMU. This was an invaluable experience, not least because it finally got me some work at the end of it. It also provided me with a placement at the North West Film Archive, which really got me interested in working in the arts sector; & I made a lot of amazing friends – because as we all know, librarians are the best. Since then I have done various bits & bobs, volunteering in the third sector doing image library / digital asset management systems work, most notably at Médecins Sans Frontières; working Sundays in a public library in Westminster; & doing digitisation work at Birkbeck College as part of the e-services team. 

All of which brings me up to date, to the Courtauld. For me, one of the huge benefits of working here is getting to learn more about art – through reader enquiries, acquisitions work, nosing around in special collections, attending events hosted by the research forum, and working with hugely knowledgeable colleagues in the book library. My general duties include running the internal half of the interlibrary loan service, accessioning purchases & donations, issue desk shifts, managing our monthly new books display, photocopier maintenance… & more. I still have lots more to learn, so I look forward to all the training sessions & library visits in the coming year!

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