Freshers Weeks (past and present)

I feel like Methuselah when I confess that this is my twenty-fifth fresher’s week in my present job.  When I started here, I would smile fondly at all the bright young things just a decade or so younger than myself, muttering “I was taking my 11-plus when you lot were BORN.”  Hmm. 

Time went by, and the inner commentary changed.   “If I’d been a young mother, I’d have kids your age by now.”  But I hadn’t, and I didn’t.

I won’t bore you with the bits in between then and now.  Suffice to say that I’ve been showing other people’s young adults around the college library all week, and this morning our eldest son left for Cambridge on the 6.50 train, excited and terrified in equal measure at the new adventure ahead of him.  And I went home for tea and toast before work, equally excited and terrified on his behalf, reflecting that it really didn’t seem that long since he was born!   Furthermore, despite having spent 18 years agonizing over whether we were getting this parenting thing right, the end destination suggests that perhaps, on the whole, we have!

The fact that I have seen so many freshers come and go doesn’t make it any better, though.  I know about freshers’ fairs, and pub-crawls, and parties.  The student union rep delegated to remain sober.  The sore heads.  And then the poor things have to learn how to use the IT set-up, get toured around the library, and humour the old librarian by taking a fistful of leaflets that they would rather not read.  Or at least, not this week!

This might explain why my tours have become shorter, chattier, and very much more sympathetic, as the years have gone by!  And I hope someone in Cambridge is as gentle with our own shiny new, keen fresher, as I try to be with the dozens that come my way.


About Karen Mcaulay

Karen McAulay divides her time between librarianship and musicology. 2012-15, was seconded part-time to an AHRC funded project into Scottish fiddle tune collections, contributing bibliographical and musicological data to the Historical Music of Scotland website (blog She's currently researching the University of St Andrews' historic music copyright collection, & was recently awarded an AHRC networking grant to extend this research nationally. As well as speaking on her research specialism, she is also in demand to talk about research skills and her career as a part-time researcher.

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