For the love of libraries

We welcome Sue Padgham, our new Librarian at Harlow Carr

Bramhall Learning Centre at RHS Garden Harlow CarrI have been passionate about libraries since the age of 16 when I began working as a library assistant at Liverpool City Libraries. Ten years later I studied to become a professional librarian and became Chartered three years after this. Since then, I have enjoyed a wide variety of professional roles in public libraries, school libraries and in other specialised sectors including the Health & Safety Executive at University of Chester, with the Science & Technology Facilities Council and the Army Foundation College.

Don't judge a book by its cover

I have been responsible for two major library refurbishments including the internal design process and seeing both projects through to a successful conclusion; arranging a number of highly motivational visits from children’s authors to help promote literacy and stimulate an interest in books and reading; delivering the Information Retrieval for Evidence and Research module within the MSc. in Research Methods Programme, at University of Chester; and becoming a mentor for newly qualified library professionals and supporting them through the chartership process.

My last role at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate was an interesting one. It was quite surreal to hear the sound of target practice gun fire as part of your daily routine. I have fond memories of a four day training course that I attended in which I was the only ‘civvy’ amongst army staff. In true army fashion, the culmination of the course involved a very difficult, physical task which nobody expected the ‘little librarian lady’ to do it – but I did. I should have told them never to judge a book by its cover!

The best bits

The interaction with library users and enabling people to source the information they need, in addition to providing a welcoming library environment conducive to reading, study and contemplation. However, even being involved in the most mundane library task still gives me a great deal of job satisfaction, as I remain passionate about all aspects of the work.

The icing on the cake

Sue Padgham, Librarian Lindley Library Harlow CarrI have always been interested in gardening and growing things. As a child I was given a small section of the garden in which to grow the flowers I wanted. I really enjoyed that, but think the results were sometimes disappointing because I focused on what I liked and not the suitability of the soil. I can recall planting peas too, possibly because this was the only vegetable I would eat. Now that I have access to gardening experts and the best gardening advice, I really have no excuse for not producing show stopping flowers every year!

I am still a very keen amateur gardener and enjoy visiting gardens to increase my knowledge of the subject. In my spare time I also enjoy running, yoga and generally keeping fit. More recently, I have been pursuing an interest in stained glass. I am very much the novice but I love working with this medium and experimenting with colours. Having made a few windows I would like to learn how to restore some of the older leaded windows. It always seems such a shame to me when they are taken out of old houses and put in a skip. Perhaps I should take inspiration from the flowers that surround me now and use some of the fabulous colour combinations used by the gardening team at Harlow Carr.

More information


RHS members can borrow from the thousands of gardening books held in the Lindley Libraries.

Even if you are not an RHS member, the RHS Lindley Libraries are open to everyone and provide access to modern collections of books and journals on gardening and related topics. Our heritage collections of rare books, photographs, art and archives are accessible by appointment.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.