In the long, hot summer of 1977 I wanted to be a stormtrooper. Not Luke, not Han, not the hero fighting with the rebel alliance, but a stormtrooper. The uniform was cool, the blasters were cool and they got to hang out at the Death Star, Mos Eisley and Cloud City. All those places were much more exotic than the Labour Club by the canal at the bottom end of the estate.
I knew exactly what I wanted to be, but I still said yes to Mr Millman that day in class. He was a big man, with a big moustache and a double-chin that wobbled with every word he spoke.
‘A stormtrooper is no job for the likes of you, young Jones,’ said Mr Millman. ‘No, most definitely not.’ He crouched down, looked me in the eye and thought for a long while.
‘Got it,’ he said at last and straightened his kipper tie. ‘What you need to be is a Principal Digital Library Assistant.’
‘What’s that?’ I asked.
‘I don’t really know and I’m not sure anyone else does either,’ said old Mr Millman. He rubbed his chin, scratched his head and thought again. He went to his desk and leafed through a battered copy of the Bumper Book of Exciting Careers.
‘Here we go,’ he said, ‘as a Principal Digital Library Assistant you’ll be responsible for the production of digital content for UCEEL such as exam papers, book chapters and student projects. You’ll organise the digitisation workflow including record keeping, scanning, ocr, image processing, video capture, file conversion and upload. You’ll use software like Photoshop, Finereader, Avid and Dreamweaver.”
‘Do they get a cool armoured uniform?’
Mr Millman shook his head. ‘No, but they do get to wear white gloves sometimes if they’re scanning a fragile book. They also assess the feasibility of external project work for Digital Capture Solutions and provide quotes to potential clients. They do digitisation work for other departments within the University as well as outside institutions, archives, museums and artists. They also look after the administration of the eLibrary team in terms of timesheets, recording leave and weekly absence returns.’
‘Do they hunt down the rebel alliance?’
‘No, but they do have line management responsibilities for the assistants within the team.’
‘What about a blaster?’
‘No blasters either because the Health and Safety Group that you’ll be on wouldn’t allow that kind of thing in the workplace and rightly so.’
‘Do they travel in tie-fighters and imperial star destroyers?’
‘Afraid not, but the 51 bus can be just as exciting. So, what do you think, Jones? Do you want to be a Principal Digital Library Assistant?’
‘Yes, please,’ I said and threw my foolish stormtrooper dreams away.