Kate Halabura, Library Manager at Wandsworth Town Library, takes on our questionnaire.


What is a typical day for you?

There are no typical days for me now!

While the libraries remain closed I am working from home. This work includes carrying out the usual admin tasks that can be performed remotely like book buying, as well as a variety of new and additional things, such as maintaining social media accounts, undertaking training, remote team meetings, and working towards opening the service in the future. On the top of that I record and edit videos of book recommendations and author interviews, and an occasional craft activity – something I had to learn from scratch!

Plus, we are trying to home school a six year old, so loads of reading and playing Lego needs to fit between all of that.

How do you decide which books to order for the library?

As I am obsessed with books and recommending them to library customers, I feel lucky that I am able to buy stock for my branch to complement the selection of books purchased by the acquisition team.

I try to make sure we invest in debut novels as well as old favourites, and I love customer’s suggestions as well. To stay in the loop, I follow literary news via a Bookseller magazine subscription, I follow different publishers, literary agents and authors on social media (in a completely nonstalking way), I subscribe to Netgalley (a website that provides you with eBook previews in exchange for reviews) and I am always open for any proof copies (yes, a heavy hint to any publishers that might read this!).

Often purchasing new or unknown books can be hit and miss, but most often I am buying things that I know our customers will be interested in – or I am able to convince them to try something new!

What was your favourite subject at school and why? 

I really liked both history and Polish (literature studies in particular). I am not sure when I decided I wanted to work as a librarian, but I was always interested in books, in the stories they carry, in their context and in what anchors them into the present.

What are you most excited about in the next 12 months?

I think the coronavirus lockdown has shown everyone that the libraries have a vital role to play in keeping everyone informed, entertained, engaged and healthy. Wandsworth Libraries has continued to offer a Home Delivery Service throughout the lockdown, as well as a busy programme for children and adults. I hope that once we resume our offer, we will continue to deliver digital services for our customers but at the same we will be able to reach out to people who rely on us for social contact, internet access and information.

What surprises you about your job that you didn’t expect?

Recently, I am surprised much I would miss day to day interactions with customers. Also, my persuasion skills I did not know I possessed. I love talking about books, I love recommending books and I am always managing to convince people to borrow more things they originally wanted to.

Favourite books 

Firstly, I just wanted to say this is unfair to ask for only five favourite books. Secondly, my lists always change, depending on mood and what I have read recently. So, at the moment, my favourite books include:

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr.

Plus so many other books! I can’t really choose just five, it is unfair.

Favourite film 

Does a TV series count? I recently watched Good Omens and I really loved it! Also, it is based on a book!

Best sandwich

Freshly prepared BLT, on freshly baked bread, with juicy tomato, crunchy lettuce, crisp, warm bacon, a bit of dripping and not too much mayo.. Oh man, I am hungry now.

Coffee or tea?

I like both, but the one thing I cannot live without is simply tea with lemon and sugar.

My other half is a tea snob, so he says it must be Yorkshire Gold, Yorkshire Strong English Breakfast or Bird and Blend New House Blend (apparently it is a strong Assam with hints of bergamot), but to me any strong tea will do…

Which author, living or dead, would you like to write your biography.

Hmmm, possibly Stephen Fry? He would make it very entertaining but still very meaningful and, as a bonus, he would read it too, as an audiobook!



Kate was born in Szczecin, Poland, where she also studied librarianship.  After she decided to move to London, she spent couple of months working in a bookshop, before starting in  Wandsworth Libraries as a library assistant, over 15 years ago. She now works as a Wandsworth Town Library Manager, reads a lot and worries where to put all her books.

June 24, 2020

10 Things…with Kate Halabura

Kate Halabura, Library Manager at Wandsworth Town Library, takes on our questionnaire.
May 20, 2020

10 Things…with Harriet Tyce

Harriet Tyce, debut author of the Sunday Times bestseller Blood Orange, takes on our questionnaire.
April 24, 2020

10 Things…with Eleni Kyriacou

Eleni Kyriacou, debut author of She Came to Stay, takes on our questionnaire.
February 19, 2020

10 Things…with Abi Daré

New York Times bestselling debut author Abi Daré takes our questionnaire.
January 17, 2020

10 Things…with Nelle Andrew

Literary agent Nelle Andrew takes our questionnaire.
November 27, 2019

10 Things…with Nara Vidal

Nara Vidal, owner of Capitolina Books, takes on our questionnaire.
October 23, 2019

10 Things…with Graeme K Talboys

  Author Graeme K Talboys takes on our questionnaire.
October 9, 2019

Jess Sturman-Coombs reviews Kia Abdullah’s novel “Take It Back”

  Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC and Lonely Planet, and is the founding editor of outdoor travel blog Atlas & Boots, read by 250,000 people a month. Her latest novel, Take It Back, was […]
September 18, 2019

10 Things…with Tim West

All Good Bookshop’s Tim West takes on our questionnaire.
September 4, 2019

Louise Hare reviews Luan Goldie’s novel “Nightingale Point”

Luan Goldie won the Costa Short Story Prize 2017 for her short story “Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns”. Her debut novel “Nightingale Point” was published in July 2019.
August 16, 2019

10 Things…with Peter J Coles

In the first of our new series, MIR ‘s Managing Editor of Content takes on our questionnaire.
July 18, 2019

Beating the Post-MA Motivational Slump – Poetry

Elaine Mary Stabler collates a selection of opportunities for post-grad poets
June 21, 2019

The Bookshop is Dead… Long Live the Bookshop

Carmel Shortall on All Good Bookshop, a co-operative bookshop project in north London
May 16, 2019

Talent Campus 05

Mari Vindis shares her recent experience on Talent Campus