A network for new and aspiring library professionals

Job Shadowing: Catherine & Frank

Catherine Jenkins visited Frank Norman, Head of Library & Information Services at The Francis Crick Institute in July 2018 after finding Frank’s details on our job shadowing page. Both Frank and Catherine have kindly shared their experience of the day:


I am very grateful for the existence of the NLPN list of library personnel willing to welcome new entrants to the profession into their workplaces – it was thanks to this list that I was able to gain insight into what a day in the life of a librarian at a prestigious science institute is like.

CJenkinsI’m very interested in working in a STEM research environment, so the Francis Crick Institute in London was the perfect library-match for me. The Crick has about 100 research labs focused mainly on biomedical sciences but spanning several scientific fields of study. The library service is virtual, with no dedicated space and almost no print collection. This was no barrier to the library still being a hub, though, with its curated book displays on subjects of interest to the Institute’s current cohort of scientists. These temporary displays are installed in the common areas offering focal points for engagement and acting as physical manifestations of the richness of resources available.

Frank Norman was my host for the day, and his friendliness and warmth put me at ease immediately. I was introduced to the rest of the library team and invited to have a brief chat with each team member. We discussed career pathways before I was treated by Patti Biggs to an excellent crash-course in information retrieval using the searching capabilities of PubMed – my copious notes from this session will serve me well in future, I hope!

I attended meetings alongside Frank and observed a demonstration and comparison of different CRIS (Current Research Information Management Systems). The discussion around the pros and cons of investing in each system, and how they could be best aligned with the needs of the Institute, gave me a taste of the informed decision-making necessary in this role, especially when interrogating technology and its potential utility.

I thoroughly enjoyed job-shadowing Frank and feel that I learned so much – especially as I attended a lecture by a guest scientist at the end of the day!

I have kept in touch with Frank and I hope we will continue to cross paths as I look forward to starting a new role in this industry.



I benefited from visiting different library services in the past, but it can be hard to glean much from a short visit. I think the idea of job shadowing is great and I’m very happy to take part in the NLPN scheme. Catherine’s journey into librarianship from working in open access at a publisher is interesting, and I learnt much from her about open access books and book chapters. The information was flowing both ways during her visit.fnjul2017

It is always a pleasure to show visitors the wonderful Crick building. Our library and information service has adapted to the building with its openness, designed for mixing and collaboration. We try to exploit the collaboration spaces on each laboratory floor, as Catherine mentioned, to reach out to the researchers.

The day Catherine visited was quite a varied day, with an interesting lecture by Enrico Coen in the afternoon. But in truth there is always something interesting going on here at the Crick.


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This entry was posted on November 8, 2018 by in Job shadowing and tagged .

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