Friday, 28 January 2011

Library Day in the Life: day five

The usual start to the day; arrive at 8.15am, check my emails, and then check that everything is switched on and ready for when we open. The member of academic staff who wants a television series recorded every week has responded to my email in which I suggested that Box of Broadcasts would be ideal for this, and is happy to give it a go, which is great. I look through a publisher’s alert that I’ve received, and find a book which I think could be useful for the department I support; I email the library rep, the member of academic staff in the department who acts as the main liaison with the library, to ask if they’d like me to purchase it. 

One of my colleagues then appears with a query about how I’ve classified a new DVD that they’re processing to put out on the shelves; I investigate, and decide to change the shelf-mark. Next, I do some final preparation for the class that a colleague and I are teaching this afternoon; I want to be entirely sure of what I’m doing. I go through the database I’m going to be demonstrating, and in my head I practise what I’m going to say. Once I’ve finished my preparation, my library rep has replied to say that they would like to order the book that I suggested, so I send that through to my Acquisitions colleague.

After a quick coffee, I’m on the enquiry desk from 11am until 12pm. There’s quite a few students in the library, but they don’t appear to need my help – no one asks me anything for the whole hour! I spend it noting my desk shifts for next week in my calendar, responding to some emails, and classifying some DVDs. 

After lunch, it’s time for our teaching session. It’s a 40 minute class for first year students, demonstrating how to search for books and journals, and use a couple of the key databases to locate journal articles. I’m nervous, as this is my first teaching session in this job, and is, I suppose, my first proper class; during my graduate traineeship, I did a bit of teaching, doing things like short demonstrations of the library catalogue or a database, but this was always part of someone else’s broader session. This time, the class is mine and my colleague’s, jointly, so it’s the biggest bit of teaching I’ve done so far in my career. About eight students attend (about the number we were expecting). I don’t think I do very well – the nerves get to me – but my colleague is great, and we keep to time. I feel a bit rubbish about my performance afterwards - my colleague tells me I was fine, but I presume they’re just being nice! – but when I read the feedback from the evaluation forms the students completed, they seem to have found the class useful, informative and relevant, so perhaps I didn’t do too badly after all. I’m sure I’ll improve with practice. There are some more classes coming up in a couple of weeks’ time, and I expect I’ll be going it alone with one of them at least. I do enjoy teaching so I hope I get better at it. If anyone has any tips for controlling nerves when teaching, I’d love to hear them!

I’m on the enquiry desk again from 2pm until 3pm. I don’t get any enquiries, but I do give out some holds. While I’m on the desk, I look at some of the evaluation forms from all of this week’s teaching sessions; my colleague and I have been tasked with summarising the feedback from all of the classes, so we’ve split the forms up between us to summarise, and will create a final summary together later. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with most students saying that they found the sessions informative and useful.

Once I’m off the desk, I make a cup of coffee and then my colleague and I collate our student feedback summaries, which are pretty much identical. After sorting out a couple of AV admin-y tasks, I spend the rest of the afternoon looking at a list of books which a graduate has offered to donate to the library. We do appreciate it when people want to donate material to us – it’s a lovely gesture - but processing donations can be very time-consuming, so we ask for a list and only accept the ones which will be really useful. I look at whether we have any of these books already, and what the subject matter is, to determine their usefulness. There are a few on the list which I think will enhance our collection.

Just before I leave at 4.30pm, a couple of emails come through from our journals subscription agent, concerning access problems I was trying to solve earlier in the week; it looks like at least one of these problems has been sorted out, hooray! I have a quick look at my schedule for Monday, and then head home to start my weekend.

So that has been my week. It’s been fairly representative of the different aspects of my role, and the work that I do, with the exception of evening or Saturday morning enquiry desk shifts; most weeks I will do at least one of these, but we don’t have set days – we all do the same amount of evenings and Saturdays per term, rather than per week, so some weeks I will do more than one, and other weeks, like this one, I’m not rota’d on to do any.

I’ve really enjoyed reading other peoples contributions to Library Day in the Life round six this week; it’s so interesting to have a glimpse into what other people do in their many different jobs. Thank you for reading!

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