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Margaret books top Scottish presidential post

Our Library Services Manager, Margaret Menzies, is to head up the leading professional body in her field next year.

Margaret, who lives and works in Selkirk, was voted in as the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) Vice-President at the end of last year and attended her first board meeting in the new post last Thursday.

The election for Vice-President featured three candidates and was very closely run with only a handful of votes separating the trio. The final count resulted in Margaret receiving most votes and becoming CILIPS Vice-President in 2017 and President in 2018.

Born and brought up in the capital, Margaret graduated from Edinburgh University with a BA degree after finishing secondary education.

Taking up the story she said: “I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a teacher like my mother, or go into bookselling like my father, and my father suggested becoming a librarian, as there wasn’t much money in bookselling. 

“Compared to some other professions, there’s not much money in Librarianship either, but I wanted to do something interesting and worthwhile, so I duly applied for and was offered a place at the College of Librarianship Wales in Aberystwyth to do a post graduate diploma.”

After gaining that credential Margaret  began her career as a trainee librarian with Dunfermline District Council, at the Central Library in Abbot Street.

“I learned a huge amount of practical librarianship that hadn’t been touched at Library school,” she admitted.

“As the Depute Chief Librarian told me in my first week ‘the real learning starts now!’. 

After three years in Dunfermline Margaret  gained her Chartership and was appointed by West Lothian District Council to the post of Branch Librarian in Bathgate where she remained for 18 ‘very happy’ years, as a branch librarian, a Staff and Stock Manager and latterly as an Area Manager, before moving to Scottish Borders Council as Library Services Manager in 2000.

She continued: “During my time at West Lothian, I was extremely fortunate to have senior managers who gave me the opportunity to continue learning and to develop both my management skills and professional skills, and I was sponsored to go back to Aberystwyth University to do a distance learning Master’s degree in Library and Information Management.

“Whilst working with Scottish Borders Council I was also fortunate to take part in the Scottish Borders Council Leaders programme, and to gain a certificate in Public Services Management from Stirling University.

“As a service manager, I have always tried to give library staff the opportunity to gain professional qualifications or extend their professional skills and knowledge, and learn from colleagues in other services across the sector.

“I have always been interested in stock management, quality improvement and staff training and development, and still enjoy the challenges of doing the best we can with the resources we have.”

Looking ahead to her new role Margaret said: “

Anyone who works in a library knows that libraries and library staff can make a difference to people’s lives, and that there are some amazing things happening in Scotland’s libraries every day.   In the current financial climate, decision makers are facing some tough budget decisions, so it’s important that they and the communities we serve are fully informed and  aware of what libraries can and do offer.   CILIP in Scotland are getting ready to launch a campaign called #Libraries matter, and I look forward to doing what I can to help spread the library message, and to  support the membership  during my term of office  as a member of the CILIPS presidential team.”

Commenting on behalf of local charity Live Borders, Chief Executive Ewan Jackson said: “Margaret is a highly respected and valued member of the Live Borders team and I am sure that CILIP in Scotland will benefit greatly from her experience and knowledge as she progresses through her presidential term.”

Outside work Margaret enjoys reading, going to the theatre, city breaks, art galleries and museums, walking holidays and spends most Friday evenings volunteering as a Guide Leader with the 183rd Guide company.