Introducing Our New Staff

Annie in Library and Lianne in archive

New team members Lianne Smith and Annie Dickinson introduce themselves and reflect on their first two months in post.

Lianne Smith, Archivist and Library Manager

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m an archivist who has been working in the sector for about 15 years now, most of which has been spent working in university Special Collections. I spent 10 years at King’s College London, working first as a cataloguing archivist on a couple of externally funded projects, then as the Archives Services Manager. In 2019 I moved to the North West after being appointed Christian Brethren Archivist for the University of Manchester Special Collections, which is when I began to learn more about the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and Education Trust’s amazing work and get to know and work with some of the team members. When the opportunity arose this summer to join the team as their Archivist and Library Manager I jumped at the chance!

What excites you most about your new role as Archivist and Library Manager?


As an archivist, I’m passionate about preserving and providing access to everyone’s history, but this is the first time I’ve worked in an organisation which is dedicated to preserving the histories of individuals and communities from global majority and migrant backgrounds. I especially love the way the Centre works with communities to ensure their stories are told and preserved in their own words and on their own terms, which is a way of collecting I find interesting and refreshing, both from a professional perspective, and from a personal perspective as a person of mixed ethnicity. I’m also really attracted to the Centre’s anti-racist and inclusive values which very much reflect my own.

What do you think will be your biggest challenges?

One challenge is quite practical, in that we re-opened our library desk and face-to-face service in September for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and both the team and the working environment have changed so much over the last 18 months. In a way that’s quite exciting though, because it gives us a chance to build some new ways of working collectively, and to work together to build upon the incredible legacy of the Centre as we move forward into our future. The other main challenge I have is the obvious one of getting to know the collections, which always takes time, but that’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my job so I’m glad for any excuse to spend a bit of time in the archive strongrooms or in the library.

How have you found your first two months?

Well, definitely busy! We’ve re-opened our library desk and have been preparing for Black History Month and the start of the new academic year, so there’s been a lot to get to grips with very quickly. But it’s also been really exciting! Last week we held an event, The Archive Component, which was one of the most thought-provoking and stimulating I’ve been to for a long time – and that’s without even mentioning the amazing food J

Annie Dickinson, Library Assistant

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m originally from Cheltenham in the South West but have lived in Manchester since 2010, so it definitely feels like home! In my last role I worked at the John Rylands Library on Deansgate, on the visitor and reader services teams, and before that was teaching and studying for a postgraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Manchester. I’m passionate about engaging people from diverse backgrounds and communities with libraries and archives and think it’s vital that all histories and cultures are represented and celebrated. Outside of work I can generally be found either out for a run, hike or bike ride, or curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book.

What excites you most about your new role as Library Assistant?


I spend most of my time at the enquiry desk in our Library space on the lower ground floor of Central Library and I’m excited about working in such a lively public space and meeting the local people and communities, students and researchers who use the Centre and its resources. I’m also looking forward to learning more about the Centre’s amazing archive collections and sharing our work and collections at events.

What do you think will be your biggest challenges?

As the first point of contact for the Centre I need to develop in-depth knowledge of our library and archive collections so that I can help everyone who uses our collections find what they are looking for. There’s a lot to learn, but I hope that I can rise to the challenge. On a related note, not getting distracted by all of the fascinating books on the library shelves is proving to be more of a challenge than I anticipated! Finally, working on site in one of the busiest public libraries in the country after eighteen months of on-and-off lockdowns and home-working is taking a little bit of getting used to – not to mention the commute!

How have you found your first two months?

Everyone here has been really lovely in terms of helping me to find my feet and get settled in. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my colleagues and am so inspired by the passion and enthusiasm of the team. At the moment we’re getting ready for Black History Month, one of our busiest times of the year. I’m working on book displays and reading lists and supporting the team in planning a really exciting programme of events!