I worked for the Foundation for Conductive Education for eighteen years and was there as it grew, faltered, grew again and is now struggling to deal with the effects of the economic downturn leading to my redundancy this week.
I was employed to establish, run and maintain a Library that would hold information about Conductive Education that would be available in one place to anyone who wanted to find out more. Initially its basis was Andrew Sutton’s own collection, held in a single but overflowing filing cabinet and this has developed into a unique collection of books, manuscripts, articles, conference papers, conference proceedings, press cuttings, dissertations, videos, CDROMs, DVDs and Internet links – all about Conductive Education.
Over 2,000 of them.
Associate material on educational systems, special education, motor disorders, therapies, child development, psychology, neurology, anatomy, physiology, disability issues, disability experiences, disability fiction, history, has swelled the collection to 8 thousand items.
It has not been easy to bring all this together. There is very little published material on Conductive Education and tracking items down and obtaining copies has been quite a challenge at times, but worth it. Finances have been very limited and donations rather than purchases have been heavily relied on. Resources and equipment have also been minimal and lag far behind the big public and university libraries . There is no security system and items get ’lost’, no self-service photocopying, no self-service issuing and returning system. But its size and set up have also been one of its strengths, enabling ease of access to the material and the librarian.
This library has developed an international reputation and received many visitors not just from the UK but from all over the world, and enquiries, other requests and all sots of problems to be solved come in regularly via email and telephone. Along the way the Library has helped bolster the collections of other Conductive Education institutions around the world.
Initially I was apprehensive about taking this job on but went on to derive great pleasure and satisfaction from building this Library. In the process I learnt a lot about the conductive system, about running a library, publishing a journal and editing books, and most of all, myself. I think I can say these years have been my conductive upbringing. This has only been possible because of the support, knowledge and encouragement of Andrew Sutton. Thank you, Andrew.
But what now? All things must come to an end and my time is up. I want this Library to develop even more, continue to be a worldwide resource and help further the knowledge. At the moment there is no one to hand over to and its future is unknown.
I am sure that I will have more to say. Please continue to watch this space.