Meet Westminster Council’s longest serving staff member:
Jennifer is a Library Assistant at Maida Vale Library and has worked for the council for 46 years.
Having grown up in Weston-super-Mare, Jennifer was working in Bristol Libraries until a friend got a job with Westminster City Council in 1970. Inspired to write “on the off chance” that there might be library work available, she was offered an interview in Marylebone and then a job, returning to Bristol to work out her notice. That done, she moved to London and started work at Mayfair Library the very next day.
While the change from Bristol to London took some getting used to, Jennifer found being in the centre of the capital with all its opportunities really exciting and has never looked back. She soon moved from Mayfair Library to Maida Vale Library and there she has stayed.
“Maida Vale Library is so full of character, it used to be a Methodist Church and has appeared on television in Minder, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em and lots more”.
Of course, working life was quite different 46 years ago. One of the main changes that Jennifer has noticed is a more egalitarian environment:
“I remember how formal it was. There was no calling anyone by their first name, we were all Miss, Mrs or Mr and then our surname”.
And libraries themselves have changed and grown.
“The job has changed significantly from when I first started. Back then it was just books. Now we are a one-stop shop, social centre, we offer pension advice, English classes, toddler groups and we are the only council department where anyone can come and see us.”
Of course there are still books too, and Ruth Rendell, who visited Jennifer’s former workplace of Mayfair in 2013 and lived locally until her death in 2015, is a particular favourite.
“She describes her characters so well and the places she sets her books are ones I know.”
When talking to Jennifer her enthusiasm for her work and workplace is palpable. It’s great to know that the library service can inspire such dedication that we have the longest serving employee in the whole of the council.
“Do I enjoy it? Well I would have to, to stay this long! I love the work, the people, and the environment. I love seeing my regulars and having a chat whilst building relationships within the community.”