do with them?"
Yesterday I was nabbed in the library by a worried mother. Her eldest son is, to put it kindly, "a bit of a nerd". He likes to read. He does not care for sport.
At the end of this academic year he will need to make decisions about subjects for a future career.
His parents want him to do maths and science. That is, they say, the way employment lies. He is good at both because he is a high achiever in all areas but they do no interest him as much as English, languages and history.
"And his father says those are just "girl" subjects. Boys do science."
"Has Matt any ideas about what he would like to do later?" I asked.
His mother shrugged and said, "I don't think so - just the usual mad things kids think of like being an archaeologist. He helped out in the other library for work experience but his father says that is not a career for boys. There's no future in it."
"Archaeology needs science as well as history," I told her, "And you know Bob X don't you? He was the university's chief librarian before he retired. I think he would tell you that libraries still have a future and that there are careers to be had in them. There are four men working in this library too."
"Oh yes, Matt liked it but his father said it was a waste of time and really work experience is. It doesn't tell you what the job is like. Matt would be bored before long. No, he has to do something in the sciences. It is just a matter of deciding what. I thought you might have some ideas."
"I'll think about it," I told her.
Matt was at the other end of the library. He had seen us talking.
"Mum been having a go at you about me again?"
"Yeah, they're freaking out because I don't want to do the suicidal five."
He is referring to a particular maths and science combination.
"Do you think I should?" he asked me.
"Not unless you want to - although that is not what your mother would want me to tell you. Any serious ideas about what you would like to do?"
"Yeah. Dad will freak out but it is sensible - at least I think it is. I want to work with old books...the really really old ones. Do you think Dr X would talk to me about doing that?"
"Absolutely. He might not know a lot but he will certainly know people who do. You might need some science for that."
He shrugged, "Yeah, some chemistry I guess but that would be okay if it got me there. Thanks Cat."
He gave me his e-mail so I could send him Dr X's contact details.
Then he loped off with his pile of books. I can imagine him in ten years time. He will be surrounded by those really, really old books - archaeology and librarianship combined.