Following an extensive recruitment process, rare book specialist, Bronwyn Matthews has been appointed to run the Société Jersiaise Lord Coutanche Library. Her remit includes widening public access to the unique collection of books and journals.
Having recently completed a comprehensive stock take of the collection Bronwyn will be bringing her focus to opening up the Société library both in terms of who can benefit from one of the Island’s foremost collections of resources and also when that access is available to encourage more students.
Bronwyn, who moved from Christchurch, New Zealand, to take up the position, has extensive experience managing rare book collections and promoting their access to the public. With a Masters in Library and Information Science, (MLIS), she spent five years as the Special Collections Librarian at the University of Canterbury. Whilst there she oversaw the care of over 7,000 volumes from the European Rare Books collection. A key element of her role was to facilitate student tutorials and encourage greater use by students, staff and the research community.
With a strong family link to Britain Bronwyn had been looking for a role that might bring her closer to her father’s roots when she found the recruitment notice on Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals’ online noticeboard: ‘The notice immediately caught my eye. My undergraduate degree included French which was an immediate connection and, with a little research, I was soon fascinated by the rich history of the Island. The opportunity to work in situ with the written history of such an intriguing place was too attractive to ignore’.
The sheer number of historically valuable volumes held within the Société collection and the scope of subjects they cover was another reason for Bronwyn wanting to make the move to Jersey: ‘I am excited at the prospect of promoting this great resource to the Island. We have a large and dedicated group of users already and I hope to build on this to encourage wider use of the collection and, ultimately to create digital content which will assist people’s research.
Neil Molyneux, President of the Société Jersiaise, commenting on the appointment, said: ‘It is no surprise that the search for the right person proved so difficult. Our collection requires very specific skills to both manage its access and provide knowledgeable care. We are delighted to have secured Bronwyn for the post and are looking forward to seeing her plans delivered to promote even greater access in the future’.
The Société Jersiaise Lord Coutanche Library is open to members on Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9.30-5 pm and on Tuesday and Thursday 9.30-2pm. Enquiries are welcome.