In Volume 16 we speak with Jacqueline Knee from West Dean College.

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Word of the Week

Using my Ancient History degree here… the word stems from Elysium which was an afterlife concept held by some sects in Ancient Greece. Elysium was a paradise, so expectedly, Elysian means delightful or blissful. You may remember the Elysian Fields appearing in Gladiator!

The Interview

What’s your role in the library?
I’m the assistant librarian, with a special role in developing and promoting digital resources. I love the interactions with the students, but also can’t be happier than when I’m burrowing through help-sheets to resolve a tricky problem with the Library Management System!

What’s great about your library?
Two things – the content – it’s full of fantastic art and conservation books, but also the space – it’s in an old billiards room within a beautiful old house – we even have the original billiard lights over the study desks.

Favourite book?
Hmmm, far too difficult to have only one – but The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins is on the list – it’s a funny-poignant story about a man whose beard doesn’t stop growing. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels and this is a great example.

Favourite magazine?
Crafts – it’s a great way to keep up with contemporary craft practice and showcases the extraordinary talent we have in the UK.

If you could change one thing in the library world, what would it be?
I’d want to tell everyone about the all the fantastic digital resources that are available via their phone, and to get more people using books in public libraries. I see so many banal questions asked on social media sites that could be better answered by looking up the answer in a book!

How do you think libraries are going to change in the next decade?
I think libraries will be in charge of protecting the knowledge that is disappearing – we need to hang onto our books. And they need to be open, friendly community spaces with as few barriers to use as possible.

If you weren’t a librarian, what would you do?
I’d be a full-time artist making automata and stuff out of metal. There’s nothing better than the smell of a metal-workshop.

Which mythological creature would you like to exist?
A talking bird – one that could chat to me about life on a country walk, preferably one with a sense of humour!

Any questions for me?
Who is your favourite artist?

My favourite artist has to be Hokusai, I love his woodblock paintings.

I must say, West Dean’s library sounds very jazzy, especially those old billiard lights… Thank you to Jacqueline for taking part!

Are you a librarian? Would you like to participate? Get in touch with the team at