Sue Pemberton, Continuing Education Librarian, to Retire


After twelve and half years as Continuing Education Librarian, Sue Pemberton has announced her retirement in March, 2018. Her time at Rewley House is the culmination of a career of nearly forty years working in libraries.

Being the Continuing Education librarian is a broad remit because, unlike many of the Bodleian Libraries which are specialist libraries, the Continuing Education Library covers most subjects. This is a reflection of the diverse range of courses offered by the Department.

Said Sue: ‘Weekly classes and summer schools tend to be quite specific, prompting small collections of books on many topics. Sometimes the Continuing Education library holds the only copy in the Bodleian Libraries.’ She speaks glowingly of  her library staff, observing that ‘they need to be knowledgeable about information sources in all subjects.’

And there are other benefits in working with such a broad collection. ‘One of my interests is Garden History,’ said Sue, ‘and as this subject is taught at the Department, it’s been a great joy to be able to order books I wish to read myself!’

Expanded services for patrons

During Sue’s time at the Continuing Education Library, patron services have evolved and developed.

‘Availability of electronic books and journals has increased rapidly which is a great service to our part time, distance learners,’ she said, adding that the range of digitised, freely available resources has also improved, for instance, to allow anyone to view priceless manuscripts in the Bodleian Library.

The Continuing Education Library has become much more integrated with the other Bodleian Libraries during Sue’s tenure. Continuing Education students are now encouraged to make full use of the collections and to tap into the expertise of specialist staff.

Over the course of her time in the Department, Sue has collected a few light-hearted anecdotes. She remembers one patron who phoned in to say, ‘I’ve got a book to return, can I email it to you?’

And then there was the patron who shouted across the Library from one of the PCs: ‘Who was it who came over from France for the Battle of Hastings?’


Professor Jonathan Michie, Director of the Department for Continuing Education, speaks glowingly of Sue’s time here.

‘Sue Pemberton has been an inspirational leader of the library provision at Rewley House, serving admirably a wonderfully diverse student population across all ages, backgrounds and disciplinary areas,’ said Professor Michie. ‘At the start of each academic year I invite the newly-elected student sabbatical officers to Rewley House, to explain how we fit into the University, and one of them said, “Oh yes, I know – when I was doing my degree, I came to the Rewley House library to revise, because it has the nicest atmosphere!”.’

Said Sue, ‘Throughout my time here I have greatly enjoyed working with some truly inspirational students and it’s very rewarding to see people gain in confidence and skills as they navigate the sometimes baffling array of information resources.’

‘I’ve enjoyed working with such an innovative, lively and developing Department and with my wonderful, hard-working library team. I wish the Library and Oxford Continuing Education every success for the future,’ Sue said, adding, ‘Perhaps in retirement I’ll have time to come back and do some courses!’

Published 6 February 2018