Original staff member Sue returns to UCLan library to mark 40th anniversary
A former University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) librarian has returned to her first ever place of work more than four decades after she started in celebration of its 40th anniversary.
Sue Dawson, 58, from Penwortham, started working at UCLan’s library in 1977 when she was 17-years-old. She helped to pack thousands of books in anticipation of the move to the new building, greeted Prince Philip who officially opened it in 1979 and even met her husband Ian whilst he was taking out text book during his studies.
“I was a library assistant and dealt with loans, book orders and even student fines” Sue said. “It was an absolute privilege to work there and when I look back we actually offered a lot at the time that was probably considered state-of-the-art.”
Sue, who left the university in 1982 to work for BT, returned to the library for its 40th anniversary celebration this week to see how things had changed four decades later and reminisce with staff and students about the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit.
She said: “Everyone was really excited to have a member of the Royal Family on campus. I actually met Prince Philip and showed him how we issued text books. He was very pleasant and took interest in what I was doing. I was only 18 at the time and it’s certainly a memory that has stayed with me forever.”
During the last 40 years UCLan’s Preston Campus library has undergone massive changes as technology has developed. In today’s library, students have access to hundreds of computers, 300,000 print books and more than 252,000 e-books. When the library first opened in 1979, it housed just six computers, which were only allowed to be operated by a librarian and of course, electronic books didn’t exist.
"Whilst my job wouldn’t even exist in today’s modern library and everything is more technically sophisticated, what’s really nice to see is that the original principles of learning are still very much there 40 years later."
Bob Frost and Fran Robinson, Faculty Librarians at UCLan, helped to organise the 40th anniversary gathering where many staff dressed in 1970s fashion.
Bob said: “It’s certainly a milestone occasion that provides a chance to reflect on what the library has achieved over the last four decades. Over the years it has won awards for innovative advances in making learning materials more accessible and the team has always prided itself on providing the very best service to all students. It’s fantastic to welcome back Sue and listen first-hand what life at UCLan library was like in its infancy.”
Sue returned to the library with her husband Ian and youngest son, 26-year-old Robby, for a tour and to look back on artefacts and old photographs, including one of her with the Duke of Edinburgh.
She added: “It’s wonderful to see this photograph, which brings back some fantastic memories. My husband and two sons all studied here so UCLan has made a huge impact on my family. Whilst my job wouldn’t even exist in today’s modern library and everything is more technically sophisticated, what’s really nice to see is that the original principles of learning are still very much there 40 years later, and books still play a very important part in this.”