Poetry Library news

Join The Poetry Library team! | 06-Nov-15

The Poetry Library, home to the world's largest public collection of modern poetry, is looking for a Library Assistant to join our team in providing an informed, efficient and friendly service to all our visitors. As well as books, pamphlets and magazines, The Poetry Library collects poetry on audio, posters, postcards, press cuttings and images of poets.

With excellent communication skills and an interest in or knowledge of poetry, the ideal candidate will have a proven track record of providing excellent customer service. You will be highly organised and have demonstrable accuracy and attention to detail in work when completed. Most importantly you will be excited to utilise your knowledge and skills to ensure that everyone who uses The Poetry Library experiences exceptional customer service every time.   

This is a full-time position, working 160 hours over a four week roster between 11:00am - 8:00pm and includes working every other weekend.

Interview Date: Friday 27th November 2015

Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre is the UK's largest arts centre occupying a 21 acre festival site that sits in the midst of London's most vibrant cultural quarter on the southern bank of the Thames. The site is home to the much loved Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Hayward Gallery, Poetry Library and Arts Council Collection of visual arts as well as all the spaces in between, outdoors and indoors. We have an extraordinary creative and architectural history which began with the 1951 Festival of Britain when the site was the focal point for a nationwide celebration of culture and the arts of all kinds.

Today our artistic policy is designed around a year-round cycle of festivals. Our festivals are based on a range of themes and subjects which span all art forms. They feature music, performance, dance, literature and visual arts and are surrounded by a rich programme of learning and participation. Southbank Centre passionately believes the arts have the power to transform lives.

Our vision is to be the world's most inspiring centre for the arts by making music, visual arts, dance, performance and literature available to all and to create the world's leading festival site offering millions of people the opportunity to enjoy, learn and take part. Diversity and inclusion are vital to all aspects of our activities - from the breadth of our artistic programmes, through attracting audiences from the widest range of communities to the diverse people within our own workforce, we seek to reflect our place as a local, national and global centre for the arts for everyone.

Job Objectives

Our Objectives

  • To offer life enriching encounters between audiences and the world's great and emerging artists in music, visual arts, dance, performance and literature.
  • To enable anyone to experience the excitement of exploring their own creativity and artistry through our far-reaching programme of learning and participation.
  • To welcome the world to the unrivalled visitor experience of our riverside site, with its iconic buildings and history and its continuous sense of festival.
  • To demonstrate successfully that the demanding requirements of art-making can live happily beside commercial entrepreneurship and profit both.

Role objectives

  • In co-operation with all other Southbank Centre staff, to provide a welcoming and efficient service to the public, artists, contractors, consultants and promoters using Southbank Centre.
  • To be an effective member of Poetry Library team whose aim is to provide an informed, efficient and friendly service to all its users.

Main Responsibilities

To ensure the circulation of books and other library materials by

  • Issuing, renewal, reservation and discharge of books
  • Being responsible for the recovery of overdue items
  • Maintaining figures for visitor numbers
  • Being responsible for handling requests for lending stock through the interlibrary loan network 
  • To ensure library materials are accessible by the public by
  • Daily reshelving books and other material, tidying shelves and performing stock checks 
  • Processing items and making them shelf-ready 
  • Carrying out minor repairs on stock
  • Ensuring the successful operation of the book security system 

To assist with the provision of poetry-related information and information related to Southbank Centre by

  • Being familiar with and using as appropriate the library's reference materials including online resources, the library's catalogue, the library's websites and Southbank Centre's website and intranet 
  • Assisting with the provision of current information for users as required by the Assistant Librarians, with particular regard to regular photocopying and mailing of our current awareness lists, and display and filing of leaflets and other ephemera.
  • To refer enquiries as appropriate to the Librarians
To assist with special aspects of library services under the direction of the Librarians, which may include

  • Adding data to
  • Adding data to
  • Looking after one of our special collections such as: images of poets; poetry postcards; poetry posters; audio-visual collection or children's books
  • Working with teachers and groups of children visiting the Poetry Library 
To consistently follow the library's opening and closing procedures so that the library is ready to open each day and is closed properly each evening

To deputise for the Librarians in their absence, and to be capable of taking sole charge of the library for short periods as necessary, and to ensure that users comply with the Library rules

Adding invoices to iFinance for processing and resolving queries relating to supplier invoicing and payments

Any other appropriate duties that may be allocated by the Librarians

Person Specification


  • A proven track record of delivering a high standard of customer service
  • Excellent communication skills
  • A pleasant phone manner
  • Demonstrable accuracy and attention to detail in work completed
  • Highly organised with experience of setting up and maintaining filing systems
  • Competent user of MS Office packages (Word, Excel, Outlook, Access) and the internet
  • Interest in or knowledge of poetry or literature
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to the role that diversity and inclusion play in the activities of the Southbank Centre as a whole and in the work of this particular job.

  • Experience of working in a library
  • Experience of working with and updating websites
  • Interest in working with groups of children

Click here to read more about the role and to apply through Southbank Centre's recruitment website.

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