In the continued celebration of Pride Month, we look inwards to our own team for our Ask the Expert blog. Twenty-four-year-old Emily joined the Ultimate Library team in February this year. Starting her journey as an intern and now as the Sales and Marketing Executive, she has had a crash course in library curating. Working mainly on the marketing side of things, she enjoys a creative challenge. She especially enjoys designing bookplates or writing for the Ultimate Library blog.

Emily gained a degree in English and Drama from Queen Mary’s University London. It was here, on the committee of the Shakespeare Society, she gained her first experience of marketing. She has always enjoyed reading since a child and continued this love into her adult life. She believes the weirdest work she has read must be some Arthurian literature in the original Middle English. Living in west London, Emily now dreams of getting a pet cat and finding more room in her flat to expand her growing book collection.

Why did you want to be the Expert of the month?

Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community is very close to my heart. Being bisexual, and only having come out relatively recently, is something that I like to talk about a lot. I love having the privilege to be able to openly speak about my experiences and advocate for my community. Also, I feel that everyone at Ultimate Library has their own unique set of literary interests and this is a lovely opportunity to talk about mine. I am still pretty new to the team, and have never felt anything but welcome to put my interests across in my work. A truly LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace will make you feel comfortable enough to do bold things such as this, something that I have not had the opportunity to do before. Especially during Pride Month, I think that it is almost my responsibility to speak about my experiences and to keep normalising LGBTQ+ experiences in a work context.

A photograph of a large rainbow flat at the London Pride Parade 2019.

What drew you to a job at Ultimate Library?

I have always enjoyed reading and I chose to study English Literature all the way up until degree level. I also tried my hand at some arts marketing while at university and really enjoyed it, especially the designing and learning strategies. This is what inspired me to want a career in marketing, especially marketing something that I love as much as books. What both drew me most to the role and prepared me most, was creating my own blog. Writing articles and reviews helped me find my own voice and was very good practice for writing the blogs here. I was then recommended the internship by my friend Lili who used to work here. Having a good recommendation made all the difference. The short time we both worked here was lovely, it made starting a new job a lot less daunting.

You design all the bookplates and bookmarks for Ultimate Library. How do you go about creating a design and what makes a good bookplate? 

The first place I start when designing is getting an idea of what the client wants in terms of style. I show them examples of different styles and see if anything gels with them. I also get all their branding materials so that the final product is in line with their in-house designs. If I don’t have a clear idea of what style the client would like I try and make a variety. Some with a more image-based design that really fits with their location, some I try and draw on the theme and feel of the client to make something they would enjoy. Bookplates usually have a small amount of text, I try and change this up as well. I bring in new phrases to fit with the client’s language and audience. A good bookmark, in my opinion, doesn’t really have any text on it – just a real sense of place and it has to make me want to take it home. There is a lot of fiddling towards the end of the process, changing one word here, or lightening an image there to make sure that it is perfect.

What would be your ideal Library? Where? What books/subjects, etc?

I think I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to interior design. My ideal library would be wall to wall filled with books and, of course, a rolling library ladder. As for the actual books themselves, I am a big fan of YA and fantasy fiction, especially for escapism. I have spent the last year reading more classic literature. It is something I wasn’t interested in as a teenager, so I very much enjoyed Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. However, my biggest love and something I am already starting to collect in my own library is poetry. I enjoy poetry a lot, on my personal blog I began to write my own poetry to explore that side of creative writing. There would be a huge collection of poetry in my ideal library, ranging from the classics to more modern work.

What are three of your favourite LGBQT+ books?

The cover of the book 'Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda' featuring black text in a speech bubble over an illustration of a mans body, all on a red background.

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I am still a big fan of YA novels so of course, I have to include Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. It was one of the first books wholly about the experience of coming out and learning to have a homosexual relationship that I had ever read, I found it very accurate to the feeling of coming out.

A photograph of the box set of 'The Mortal Instruments' by Cassandra Clare.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Another book or rather a series that I have really enjoyed is the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, I have read every single book in the series from the time I was sixteen. This was the first time I had read a book with an LGBTQ+ character in it, and while it was before I came out, looking back it definitely had an impact on me seeing characters my own age going through the same thoughts and feelings.

The cover of the book 'Regeneration' by Pat Baker, it features yellow and blue text on an illustrated background showing silhouettes of men in army dress.

Regeneration by Pat Baker

Both a book and a play that I very much enjoyed was Regeneration by Pat Baker, following the possibly homosexual relationship between Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon during their time in Craiglockhart Hospital. First World War poetry is some of my favourites and to see a touching relationship such as this is in a time when it was not legal is very emotional. It really puts in perspective how important events like Pride are.