Ghosts in the library

A little over 23 years ago I started work at the University of Hull.  It was 1996, I was a multimedia developer, I had just turned 20 and I knew everything (nothing).  It doesn’t feel long ago, yet at the same time it feels like an age. Now I find myself with 2 weeks left until I leave the University on a voluntary redundancy scheme. It’s a huge leap and one that I feel sad and scared about. I’m also excited about the opportunities I hope this will bring. I actually can’t quite figure out if I’m more sad and scared or more excited.  It’s a mix of emotions in the extreme and I’m not good with emotions.

Whilst walking around the library this afternoon it struck me how much change I’ve seen there over the years.  Staff and students coming and going, services changing, technology advances, the building pulled apart and put back together around me whilst I managed Library Services. Happy times,  sad times and something in-between.  So many memories, it feels so loud.  If you’ve ever read or watched Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’, it feels much like that.  Past events have left an imprint and it all exists at once.  You can hear things from years ago, see people, walls or staircases that don’t exist in 2020. “But you have always been the caretaker”.  I find myself working with ghosts, taking advice from them, justifying my actions to them, learning from them.  I think you can work somewhere for too long,   I think perhaps I’ve worked there for too long.  With 2 weeks to go, I feel ever present, but now cast out and not there at all.  It’s a strange existence and not one I like.

I’d always envisaged that I’d leave the University feeling good and leaving a legacy behind in some way, but that’s not the case.  I’m leaving feeling sad (and a little excited) and knowing there is still so much work to do and so much that I could have had an impact on, yet I know I’ve made the right decision.  I don’t want to work with ghosts anymore, I want to work in a library with real people, where I’m not haunted by legacy.  I need to tread a new path, I just have to find it.

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