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Great Expectations -Ralph Black

A lot of us students had expectations for what London would be like.

For those of us that were avid readers, we envisioned London to be a vast city as majestic as writers tended to portray London. London is a common setting in novels. it is a popular setting, especially for our favorite British writers.

ne of Ralph Black's favorite writers is Jane Austen. Ever since she read Pride & Prejudice in her youth, she has made it one of her dreams to explore the country of one of her favorite writers.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!!!!! So, I might have a problem. Ever since I was young, I’ve had mental images floating in and out of my head about what England would be like. I had an obsession with both the books and the video cassette series “Pride and Prejudice”, along with “Persuasion”, “Sense and Sensibility” and any other Victorian Era book you can think. I remember after reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, I read it six times in six months. Maybe a little overkill, but I didn’t care. It didn’t help that I had seen the series with Colin Firth and developed my first real crush (that one lasted five years, yikes), so of course every time I read it, I pictured him as Darcy and yours truly as Elizabeth. Again, overkill, but if you have seen the scene where he takes a swim to cool off and then emerges in his underclothes, tussled, with the most intense look on his face, then you know my crush existed for a good reason. I mean… look at this:










See? Gorgeous. And that sort of sad, struggling soul that we all want to take care of. Obviously I don’t know how Colin Firth is in real life, but I’m sure he’s a splendid individual. If I see him in England, don’t worry, my fangirling will be quiet and respectful. There was another aspect of England that drew me to it, and that was every authors depiction of the moors (looking at you, Jane Eyre-also if you have not read this, do. I had to look up every other word, but it was amazing. It’s honestly more mystery for some of it than romance!) and the rolling meadows and green hills. Ugh.

I love to take long walks and get lost in nature. I’m not much of a beach gal, but mountains, forests, meadows, any place with abundant green or wild nature I am instantly drawn to. And reading about their strolls in this gorgeous greenery made me want to teleport. (That’s a constant. If anyone ever develops a teleportation device that doesn’t make me smaller,-get it? Willy Wonka shrank Mike Teavee-please holler. Teleporting to the other side of the country so I can see my grandparents more often would make everything better.)


One last thing I’m excited to experience: the people! I love immersing myself into different cultures and getting to know the intricacies of an entirely different world. I just hope they can handle a tourist like me without too much scorn.


Hey. I know it’s not going to be everything that I want it to be, but if it’s different, who knows? Maybe it will be better than what my imagination can create! (Naaahh, my imagination has created horse-butterfly hybrids and gardens in the sky.)  I swear those are prettier than they sound. Anyway! I’m excited! My expectations are really to enjoy myself, and if I Darcy gets thrown in there somewhere, well who am I to complain? I look forward to relaying my tales!


Interview with Jaime McRoberts

-Andrew Vetsch

One of the last attractions we took was a trip to the British Library.

Our tourist was Jaime McRoberts. She was an alum of Stevenson University who had been working at the British Library for 10 years. I conducted an interview for the site.

Can you describe your work here at the British Library?

I am an Arts & Humanities Reference Manager, so I’m responsible for overseeing the relevant subject reading room teams for reference services. So that’s humanities, news media, sound division, and I also oversee the science department because we do not have a manager at the moment. Our reference services are based on providing information services to customers, so answering basic queries as well as research inquiries, connecting users to materials they’d like to see. The main thing we have is desk duties that we do. But I oversee the department, making sure that our services fit the purpose, making sure that people have training opportunities, looking at projects we need to work on a wide range of different projects. So we have some stuff we have like accessibility, systems, and, just in general, making sure that people, if they have any kind of accessibility issue. So if they need to have texted speech on the computers, then that’s something we make sure we need to offer. If they need to have large print formats, then that’s something we need to offer. If they have issues with brightness on the screen, these are all things we all need to make we provide services for. That’s just an example.

I guess we hold meetings. A lot of meetings. Meetings with people, talking about things, discussing things, writing up minutes. We try to work with lots of different departments. So our focus is on customer service. We’re just, like, one part of this service at the library. There’s also the Battle for the Infrastructure, so we have the IT department. They run their services, but they don’t think about the end user. So we have to make sure that we’re the voice of the customers and that make sure that we’re feeding back the means of our customers. So they might say ‘Well, it might be easier if we do it this way’, and we have to say ‘Well, we need you to make it so that actual users will be able to use it, instead of being too technical or too difficult to get through’.

And I also do line management stuff. So I have to manage an approved time sheets, make adjustments, things like that.

What do you like about your job?


I like getting to work with other departments, and getting to have overseeing the work that we’re doing and the direction that we’re taking. For a long time, I was working as a reference librarian, so I just sort of did the job. And now I’m actually in a position where I can shape the job. I can help make sure that we’re going in the right direction, make sure that we’re getting updated skills. A lot of people have been at the library for 30 or more years. I’ve been here for 10 years. Although 10 years seems like a long time, in the grand scheme of the British Library, that’s actually a really short time for some people. So, I like to try to make sure that people are keeping skills and options up to date. I like being able to say ‘Well, this is what we are going to do now because everyone else is doing it’.


What do you dislike about your job?


I dislike how long it takes to get everything done. It takes forever to get anything accomplished here, because, as I was mentioning, some of the culture, it was done this way forever so why would we change it. We also, as our government library, so all the things that we want to do require money and we have none. So a lot of the time, it’s fighting a losing battle.


How did you get to London, instead of a different city?


Well when I studied abroad with my bachelor’s at Stevenson, I came to London for a semester abroad. I like the university I went to in London, I liked the materials I was studying, so I decided to come back and do a Masters.


That’s neat. Do you have any plans for the future?


I don’t have any plans at the moment. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’d like to stay for several more.  

Page design by Andrew Vetsch

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