Friday, 29 January 2010

A day in the life

"A day in the life" is a project where librarians describe their day, or week, via Twitter, blogs or the official wiki. Not only is this a great way for us to see what our colleagues are doing and how they spend their days but it’s a great way for students who are interested in the library profession to see what we really do. Round 4 took place in the week beginning 26th January. I tweeted my week (with decreasing regularity as it wore on) and am drawing it altogether here. Apologies for hi-jacking the blog away from children's literature for the second time (see also a similar posting for another project on Library Routes - how people got into the profession).

My job title is "Reader Services Librarian" at Jordanhill Campus Library, which serves the Education Faculty of the University of Strathclyde. In a smaller library (20+ staff) we all have to do a bit of everything so my work includes lending services, staffing, training, enquiry desk work, subject work for Childhood and Primary Studies and running the Teaching Practice Collections (children's books and media items). This variety is enjoyable, but can sometimes be frustratingly bitty, especially when such a lot seems to be "troubleshooting" - staffing problems, student problems, equipment problems etc. It's rare to sit down to a task and work straight through it and the same things are on my to-do list today as were on Monday. But I guess everyone's job is like this, and at least it keeps us on our toes. So here's my week:

Mondays are often our busiest day and we can also be very short of library assistants because of late night duties, so I find myself on the counter at 9am. The hour passses quickly but I need the next hour back at my desk to catch up on admin tasks: messages left by weekend staff, doing timesheets so they get paid and dealing with today's absences. Not very exciting, but it all has to be done. After coffee I re-read the CV of a potential volunteer who is coming to see me later and think of ideas for what she could do. She wants to study LIS but needs some experience first - I think this is an important way of putting something back into the profession, if that doesn't sound too pious (ok, it probably does). Then the troubleshooting kicks in again with two students referred to me over fines problems and a report of a loose ceiling tile about to fall on someone's head! The Director of Libraries calls to ask me to go on a change management course next week (the university, like everywhere else it seems, is "reshaping" and our campus is closing in 2012), then - finally - before lunch I get to order some books. After lunch, I talk to the volunteer and show her round - she seems very nice and very keen and we agree she will come back the next morning to work. After that I have to sort out some invoices, then the last part of the day is spent on SALCTG (Scottish Academic Libraries Co-operative Training Group) of which I'm Secretary. The workload for this varies, but we have a plenary meeting and a course coming up (and a smaller meeting, of which more on Tuesday) so there's quite a lot to organise at the moment.

I didn't tweet anything on Tuesday morning so guess it was similar to Monday! In the afternoon, I go into town to meet the other West of Scotland SALCTG reps - the main group organises country wide courses, but we organise local events for library assistants, who don't get all that many opportunities to get out of their own workplace. We plan a series of visits and, tentatively, a networking event for Senior Assistants. The meeting takes place over coffee in Waterstones and is very convivial - it's good to catch up with what's happening in everyone else's library. Thanks to flexitime, I go straight home afterwards.

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, so first thing I tweet via @JordanhillLib our children's reading list. The rest of the morning is the usual mix of emails, enquiries and admin and I also read a document sent for comment on web 2.0 in the University as a whole. In the afternoon, I spend some time with a couple of colleagues looking at web 2.0 within the library - we aren't as active as I would like to be for various reasons, but we review where we are and plan an information session for other staff. I finish by adding a post on Shirley Hughes to this blog.

There's a big problem with the overdue programme first thing, the machine has been reghosted and lost all its settings. Our tech person is off, and I have to be talked through what to do by phone - need to make sure the instructions are somewhere accessible in future. I also agonise over a reply to an email from student requesting clemency on fines - she's obviously in some difficulty but has been very casual with regard to bringing her books back on time for years by the look of the number of notes on her file. However, she's happy with the compromise I suggest. In the afternoon, I'm on the Enquiry Desk, which is very quiet - just as well as the network is up and down about three times. Hard to know what to do without it!

Now we're up-to-date! Today has been much the same mix plus a visit from the Director to discuss staffing. I managed to add 3 posts to this blog, not including this one, and only have an hour to go, thanks to the wonders of flexitime again, as I'm off for an early dinner before going to see Imelda May tonight - part of Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival. And then it's the weekend - last weekend I was on call, but this weekend I'm free!

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