FilterLondon, UK Area (UK)
I worked at The British Library (More than 3 years)
Amazing people, strong and cohesive environment, great professionals
Cuts and lack of career progression
I worked at The British Library full-time (More than 3 years)
Endlessly fascinating workplace, with new projects happening all the time and plenty of variety. My own experience was also improved by having a really good boss, so I felt trusted and supported the whole time. Also, the pay and benefits are pretty good, at least by the standards of the culture sector.
The office politics can be tricky. There are some 'us vs them'-type divides between low- and high-grade employees, unions and management, and also between the northern and southern offices. Management does try pretty hard to fix these issues and involve everyone, but hasn't succeeded so far. Also, the workplace culture - like staff development, career progression and succession planning - isn't consistent across the organisation, so whether you have a great work environment or an unhappy one can be a bit of a lottery.
I worked at The British Library (Less than a year)
Steady work with no immediate prospect of redundancy.
Where do I begin? My manager spends FOUR HOURS a day in his office playing with the internet; he does not therefore have any idea what's going on, the running being left to the supervisors. Supervisors are promoted to their rank on the basis of years served NOT talent (dead man's shoes). The supervisors are tetchy with those below them because they've never been trained in how to deal with subordinates, and this creates an atmosphere of blame throwing and alliance building; I've seen colleagues in tears because the supervisor won't talk to them due to personal dislike. A job which ought to be easy is made hard therefore by the office politics. There is NO induction process for new staff, you're just thrown in the deep end. This results (of course) in errors which are punished rather than corrected. Senior management have no idea what's going on. I had a conversation with a senior manager about 'productivity' and she'd never heard the word before! Got out as quickly as I could.
Advice to Management
This is far too labour intensive and needs to become capital intensive instead by mechanisation of the basement process.
I have been working at The British Library full-time (More than 3 years)
The main entrance is beautiful, the collection items are truly incredible and the benefits (pension, season ticket loan, flexible working, holiday) are not bad. Good work/life balance.
Clandestine misogyny, hierarchy-obsessed, flat structures so very little chance of promotion, no social culture, lacking in diversity in all forms (ethnicity, age, socio-economic background, gender, LGBT+) and the cultural homogeny worsens the more senior you look.
Senior roles have been known to go to mediocre middle-aged white men who just so happen to hang out in the pub with those in charge. So many mediocre and wet people in key strategic positions. The organisation aims to be innovative but how can it do this when it take a minimum of four, hour-long meetings just to make one simple decision. Doing simple things is a struggle because this place has such a fetish for process and bureaucracy.
There are policies for everything, from personal development to diversity, but these don't work in practice. The organisation spends more time writing these policies and getting them signed off than actually sorting serious issues rooted in the core.
Young people come in with ideas and enthusiasm but face 'computer says no' culture everywhere, so leave. Leaving behind the same boring spineless personality type. Yes, the organisation is full of people who have worked here for many decades but I honestly think this is because they know they would get fired elsewhere for being as incompetent as they are.
All in all, one massive
I worked at The British Library full-time (Less than a year)
Great place to work, lovely team and a very supportive management. Very interesting building to work in, good hours and holiday entitlement.
Sometimes things get tied up in bureaucracy but such is the nature of working for a large non-departmental public body .
I worked at The British Library full-time (More than 8 years)
Excellent training for staff.
No clear career progression path.Could be stuck in one role for years.
Advice to Management
Do fewer things better.
I worked at The British Library part-time (Less than a year)
The British Library has a lot of great, intelligent people and it is a very relaxed environment. It was a great learning opportunity for anyone who is interested in research or information management.
The work is very slow and not at all demanding. There is hardly an opportunity to work with any large projects or teams much less manage them. The library also has a no reference policy for interns applying to future employers and they are never hiring which defeats the purpose of interning for someone looking for a job in the near future.
Advice to Management
Please stop restructuring everything in the library, it has created an unstable work environment.
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