Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Library Day in the Life, Round 8: Monday/Tuesday

I’m an academic librarian working in a small campus library of a UK university. I’ve been working here for nearly 15 months now, and it is my first professional post since finishing my MA in 2010. Working in a small campus library, I have a number of responsibilities; I am a subject librarian for Media and Cultural Studies, I look after our journals and AV stock as well as some other acquisitions duties, I line-manage a member of staff, contribute to the management of the library, and work on the enquiry desk, amongst other things. If you want to know more about who I am, what I do and how I got here, feel free to look at my Library Routes post. I’m taking part in Library Day in the Life Round 8 mainly because I’m nosy and like to read about what others get up to! In seriousness, I hope that it might be useful for someone considering a career in LIS work, or LIS students who are trying to decide which path to take. As usual I am going to blog a week rather than a day, as this will be more representative of what I do.

I had the day off on Monday, to use up time accrued from working last Saturday and flexitime, so this time my week starts on Tuesday. I’m on the first enquiry desk shift of the day so I arrive at about 8.10am to make sure everything is switched on and that the library is ready to open when I take my seat at the desk at 8.30. It’s very quiet and I don’t get any enquires during this shift. While I’m on the desk I catch up with emails after having the day off yesterday. I then email round some of my colleagues to suggest that we do something for National Libraries Day which is on Saturday. After that, I do some final preparation for the teaching I am delivering later this morning.  It’s a session for undergraduate History students who are about to carry out group projects for which they need to use electronic resources only. The subject librarian for History has planned the session so I’m going through the various databases to practise the searches and make sure I know what I’m doing.

My desk shift finishes at 10am. After a short coffee break I go through various letters from journals publishers. They are all renewal notices so I check that we have renewed or cancelled through our subscription agent. I do some final preparation for teaching then deliver the session. It goes quite well though I possibly speed through it faster than I should! The feedback from the students and accompanying lecturer is positive though. Teaching finished, it’s time for another hour on the enquiry desk. I deal with a few enquiries on this one; helping students to book a study room using our new booking system, answering questions about inter library loans, and trying to trouble-shoot an IT problem with a disc not playing in a computer. In between enquiries I ask a colleague to help me create some posters for National Libraries Day, do some housekeeping and work through actions from the emails I went through earlier.

At 1pm I am off the desk and it’s lunchtime until 1.50pm, when I make sure that the teaching room is set up OK and that the guest speakers for our 2pm staff development hour have everything that they need. I am a member of the library-wide Staff Development Group and I help one of my colleagues to run the staff development hours at our campus; this is an hour-long informal training event which takes place fortnightly, to ensure that staff manage to take part in staff development on a regular basis. Today we’re hearing from colleagues from elsewhere in the university who work with the international students, supporting all aspects of their experience as a student here. It is really interesting to hear about the things that they offer, and they suggest ways in which library staff can help our international students to settle into university life.

At 3pm I have a quick coffee break then send out an online survey to those who attended the staff development hour, to gain feedback on what they enjoyed about the session and whether they found it useful. We do this after every session and it helps us to plan future sessions. I then spend the rest of the afternoon answering a query from a student who is trying to find material for their dissertation on a couple of television programmes, one of which there hasn’t been much written about. I send them details of databases to use, and explain that they will need to search more broadly. I don’t have much information about their actual research question so I encourage them to get back to me so that I can help further if needed. My colleague whom I asked for help with National Libraries Day stuff also appears to show me the fab posters he’s made – I’m looking forward to putting them up tomorrow!

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