Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Library Day in the Life: day two

I arrive at about 8.20am and begin by checking my emails and flagging any from which actions arise. I’ve been sent the agenda for the departmental programme meeting I’m attending tomorrow; I’ve been given a small “Library” slot on the agenda, which is great as I’m hoping to be able to demonstrate Box of Broadcasts (BoB), an online television streaming tool which will launch in our institution at the end of the month, and which should be really useful for the department I support. Just before we open at 8.45, I pop upstairs to the computer area to check that everything is up and running; one of my colleagues has already gone round and switched everything on, and I make sure that the paper trays in the printers are full. 

My colleague who works with me on journals passes me a renewal reminder that we’ve received from a publisher, for a title for which we’ve cancelled the subscription due to being granted access to it as part of a new bundle deal. I email our subscription agent (we purchase as many subscriptions as possible through our agent, rather than direct from the publishers) and ask them to contact the publisher on our behalf to explain that we will not be renewing.

We have our fortnightly team meeting this morning, so I read the minutes from the last meeting, which I wasn’t able to attend, as well as the agenda for this one. We talk about any issues that we’re dealing with at the moment, and report from our specific areas. I then email a colleague about editing the cataloguing slips for AV material, read the agenda that has just come through for the cross-campus journals group meeting next week (and make the all-important meeting drinks choice!), and then have another look at BoB; I’m already familiar with it, but I go through the crib sheet that my line manager used when demonstrating it to staff last week, to check that I can do a quick but effective demo if I get the chance tomorrow. I’m a bit nervous at the prospect of standing up and presenting to academic staff, so I want to be sure I know what I’m doing!

Working across several different areas, I have lots of different tasks to do, and I have to be organised in order to ensure that I don’t miss anything; I find lists can be very helpful. I’ve got quite a few flagged emails sitting in my inbox, and notes in my Outlook calendar, so I start sorting them out, making a list of AV tasks that need to be done fairly soon, and a list of things to take to the next cross-campus multimedia operations meeting in a few weeks’ time. 

At 10am, it’s time for the team meeting. We discuss some matters arising from the previous meeting, but it’s quite a short one, as there isn’t much from our respective areas that needs to be raised with the team. After a coffee break, I carry out a Return to Work discussion with one of the people who I line manage, who was off sick yesterday. Being so new to line management, I’ve never done one of these before, but I think I conduct the discussion successfully, checking that my colleague is well enough to be back at work, and ensuring that I fill out all of the necessary paperwork.

When I return to the office, the Radio Times is waiting for me. Every week I go through it and select up to ten programmes or films to be recorded via our off-air recording service. I look for things like documentaries relating to the subject areas we support at this campus, and films which might be difficult or expensive to get hold of commercially. I’ve made a list of VHS stock that we still have on the shelves, and I’m looking to replace these with DVDs where possible, so I always check to see if any of those are being shown; one of them is. I make it through most of the schedules before hunger gets the better of me, and I decide it’s time for lunch!

After lunch I finish selecting programmes and pass my list to my colleague who inputs the requests. I then receive a package of DVDs created from off-air VHS recordings from another campus; I’m expecting these, but one title is missing, and one of the titles I’ve been sent isn’t one that we asked for, so I email the relevant colleague at that campus to try to sort out the mystery!

It’s then time for my shift on the enquiry desk, from 2pm until 4pm. The library is fairly busy and I deal with a number of enquiries over the two hours; a student phones about the dissertations held in the library, a couple of users ask me about where our scanner is, and I answer questions about inter-library loans and forgotten library PINS. I try to fix a photocopier that is misbehaving, give out holds, open our viewing room for a group of students who want to watch a DVD, and issue a book to a member of library staff from another campus who deliberately has a massive fine on their record in the name of a service-related experiment (long story!). When I’m not answering queries, I reply to a question from a member of academic staff about off-air recording, deal with some book orders from another, follow up on the journal access problem I was contacted about yesterday, classify some DVDs and some books for the subject I support (most of our book stock is purchased shelf-ready, but we always check the shelf-mark to ensure that it fits our shelves, and to shorten it if there are six or more numbers after the decimal point), and look at re-classifying a book that was classified into an odd section. I add subject headings and added names for the DVDs and books, check the shelf-marks of the books, and give shelf-marks to the DVDs. I will then pass these on to some of my colleagues for cataloguing. I also receive an email explaining the DVD mystery from earlier – hooray! – and read more about a new book which has come through on a mailing list email, which I think I might suggest to my department as a potentially useful one to purchase.

At 4pm I’m back in the office, and enjoy a quick coffee and doughnut (a colleague has brought in lots of yummy treats today), before sending the aforementioned mystery DVD back to the other campus, as instructed. I spend the rest of the afternoon reading about the OCLC catalogue record downloads which we are trialling, in order to work out whether they could be useful for cataloguing AV material. After consideration, I decide that we probably don’t need to use them; our AV catalogue records are usually quite simple and short, and so I don’t think we’ll save any time. I’ll have a chat about it with my line manager tomorrow. I finish my day by checking my emails, looking at my schedule for tomorrow, and adding tasks to it.


  1. BoB is fantastic; I'd not have managed to see half the films from the Contemporary French Cinema module I took last semester without it. Will it not be replacing your current off-air recording service? I don't really know how these things work but the impression I got was that it was basically just a new and improved way of doing that kind of thing.

    Why do I have to sign in with google/LJ/wordpress or something to comment? It means I can't put my name as 'the best sister in the whole wide world' or whatever similar thing it was you put your name as when commenting on my year abroad blog last year! Although I have discovered I apparently have a blogspot account through having to comment with it, which I didn't actually remember.

  2. We're still a bit unsure how BoB will work with the off-air recording service. BoB is great but it does have some downsides - for example, if the person who has selected a programme for recording deletes it from their myBoB, it's gone for everyone, which could be problematic if that's a core film or programme for a module, and we don't have it on a physical disc! There's definitely still a need for buying and recording AV stuff.