Thursday, 27 January 2011

Library Day in the Life: day four

My day begins in the usual way; arrive at about 8.20am, check my emails, and check that the computers and printers are switched on. I respond to an email about my availability for teaching over the next few weeks, and then it’s time for a shift on the enquiry desk from 8.45 until 10. I receive a few enquiries; loaning out the laptop and digital voice recorder that we have for students with particular access requirements, booking students into the study and viewing rooms, and finding a book for the alternative formats team at the main campus. In between dealing with these, I plan for the update that I’m having with one of the people who I line-manage later, finish classifying all of the urgently-needed books for my subject that we’ve received so far, and look through a publishers’ alert for any potentially useful books to suggest to my department. 

After a coffee break, I have the aforementioned update with one of the people I line-manage. These meetings are supposed to be fairly informal catch-ups that are held monthly. Being so new to line management, I’ve not held one of these before, although I have had appraisal training. I think it goes well; I try to incorporate the good aspects of the line management I receive now and from past managers. My colleague is happy with the objectives that we set for them together.

When I get back to my desk, I start looking at my journals contribution to a forthcoming display that I started yesterday, until a colleague asks if I know anything about EThOS; they are trying to help a student access a theses over the phone, and it looks like the student needs to pay to download one, even though we thought it was open-access. I investigate, and discover how to download for free. My colleague has worked it out too by this point, but I’m glad I looked at it too as it’s good  to know how it works; with the British Library experiencing problems which are affecting the document supply service, we are recommending that students use EThOS to access theses.

I carry on with the journals task I was working on, before taking my lunch break. After lunch, I sit in on a class that one of my colleagues is teaching; a 40 minute session introducing first years to using the catalogue and e-library to find books and journal articles, the same session that another colleague and I will be teaching together tomorrow. I’ve been observing as much teaching as possible over the past few weeks, to ensure that I know what I’m doing when it’s my turn. The class goes well; the students engage and ask questions. Afterwards, I spend some time looking through the evaluation forms that they completed at the end. Their feedback is really positive (my favourite comment: “it was all brillo pads”!), and they seem to have found the class useful.

I then get together with my colleague with whom I am teaching tomorrow, to work out how we’re going to split the session up and talk over any concerns. The session plan is easily divided between us, and we decide on who is doing what fairly quickly. I’m looking forward to doing some teaching!

Next, I look at an email I’ve just received about AV stuff; Box of Broadcasts again, mainly. I’m really confused about the information in it, and ask my line manager, who is really helpful and clarifies things for me; I try to work independently, but I’m still getting to grips with all of the different bits of my job! Once that’s dealt with, I spend some time looking electronic journals access; one simple email prompts me to check something, which uncovers some potential access problems – this task takes me longer than I anticipated! I sort it out as best I can; I’ll need to look at it again closer to the time when I think the problem might arise. I make a cup of coffee and finally get round to reading Philip Pullman’s amazing speech defending libraries (you need to read it if you haven’t already). 

I then do a few AV admin-y tasks and read some meeting minutes that have just been circulated. Next, I type up the notes I made during my update with my line-managee (I think that should be a word – less of a mouthful than “person I line-manage”!) this morning, and send the document to them to check that they agree with what I’ve written.

I end my day by dealing with an email from a member of academic staff in the department I support, who wants a series of programmes recorded and put in the library. I reply, explaining that Box of Broadcasts would be perfect for this – the programmes will be available for students to watch in a much shorter time than they would be if I request it as an off-air recording, and students can watch them at their leisure, in their own time, without having to fight each other for the one DVD copy – and offer to ensure that the programmes are recorded, and to send a direct link to the staff member as soon as they’re available to view. Hopefully they’ll be willing to give it a try. Now it’s 5.10pm and time for me to head home.

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