Tessa will retire in early December after 39 years in the College Library and shares some memories here.

When did you start at Queen’s?

I started working at Queen’s in 1983 as a Library Assistant, when Helen Powell was the Assistant Librarian and R. A. C Parker was the Fellow Librarian. There were at that no time no women on Governing Body.

What did you enjoy the most while working here?

The most enjoyable aspect of my work at Queen’s is the range of tasks that I find myself engaged in. I might find myself digging about in the disaster box counting wellington boots one moment followed by tracking down an obscure article in the British Library on Wyndham Lewis the next.  Every Librarian has an inner detective that needs feeding and it is so satisfying when you hit gold.  A really good day might end with a talk linked to an exhibition in the Library https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/literary-matter-early-modern-england . Margaret Cavendish and her glitter pen and the delicate dried flowers found between the pages of a seventeenth century book will remain with me.

What is your favourite place in College?

The view from the main entrance to the Library up the cloisters can be beautiful and is ever changing depending on the time of year and weather.

What are you up to next?

To use a phrase which is being bandied about now – I am going to take a ‘grey gap year’ in the first instance and then take stock. It’s both daunting and exciting to have time in front of me which isn’t chopped into leave days. I have one long haul trip planned to Australia and Tasmania in February (and then will be paying back my carbon footprint and dealing with the guilt for months) – so after that a gentle trip on a ferry to Lundy Island to see the puffins in April.

I have just embarked on a polar bear challenge to swim, sans neoprene throughout the winter months – for which, if successful, I will receive a sew on badge!  Triumph in this challenge is partly predicated on Thames Water not dumping raw sewage into the Thames – so maybe that will be my grey crusade. I hope to read, to study, to garden, to laugh, to spend time with friends and look back on a life well lived however long that might be.

Every Librarian has an inner detective that needs feeding.

Photo: John Pheasant