This week I will be taking part in the Library Day in the Life Project which aims to encourage awareness of the many different roles that librarians can play within their various institutions. The project will also offer a useful insight into librarianship as a career for those who are thinking about joining the profession. As my job is quite varied, I will be attempting to either blog or tweet each day this week in order to document all the different things that I do – here goes!
Day 1: Monday
I am currently a graduate library trainee and I am based within one of the many Colleges which are part of the Cambridge University College system. Anyone who lives in Cambridge will tell you that there are lots of libraries here and the relationship between them can be tricky to understand for a newcomer, so here’s a bit of contextual information. Each College has its own library which generally caters only for the students who live at that College. As such, the College library’s collection usually incorporates a wide variety of different subjects and it aims to provide copies of all the set texts which are on the undergraduates’ reading lists.
In addition to the College libraries, there are also the Faculty libraries and these have much more comprehensive subject-specific collections, such as for English, Law or Economics. The students can use these libraries when they are doing more in-depth research as they will find a greater number of books here which are directly related to their subject and which may not be held by their College library.
The students may also choose to use the University Library which is a huge legal deposit library that can provide additional copies of texts which they need, as well as lots of extra space for them to study.
I think that Cambridge is a great place to be a librarian because there are so many of us here, which means there is a lot of career support, and being a graduate trainee means that you are given a really good flavour of all the different tasks which librarians do.
This morning I started the day by clearing the tables of books which had been left behind by students – this is a routine task which must be done every morning. Today, however, we had a student helper who had come in to do some shelving in order to pay off a library fine, so it didn’t take as long as usual to get all the books back on the shelves. After this I manned the main office while the Assistant Librarian was at a training session – we are a very small team in our library as there are only the three of us, so my time is usually split between working in my own office and working in the main office where students come to speak to us if they have an enquiry or a problem.
The library was pretty quiet this morning though, so I spent some time following up a recent training session on how to locate e-books by completing a worksheet of practical e-book finding exercises. I discovered, however, that there seems to be some difficulty in accessing certain e-books when using the link within our catalogue record, which means that the only way to access these e-books is by going to the website of the platform which hosts them and accessing them directly from there, which is not ideal. This is something which I will have to follow-up to see if it is a problem which can be fixed.
At 11.00am today we had our weekly team meeting, where we updated each other on our to-do lists (mine is very long!) and agreed our priorities for the week. At the moment one of our main priorities is checking reading lists, as we need to ascertain which books are held by the library and which need to be bought, and also whether any old editions of texts need to be replaced – it is particularly important for subjects like Medicine and Law that the library always holds the latest editions of the required textbooks. We also discussed the preparations for the Library Committee meeting which is happening tomorrow afternoon and for which it is my job to take the minutes.
After completing my e-books exercises, I spent a few minutes before lunch sending some emails, including an email to UCL confirming that I will be attending my library school interview next week (!) and I also registered to attend the Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet event which is happening on 29th March – this is a free, informal meeting of librarians who want to discuss the practice of teaching within the information profession. I have a strong interest in user education and information literacy, so I’m really looking forward to this
After lunch, this afternoon was mostly taken up with checking the reading list for French and compiling a spreadsheet of the books which are not currently in the library – once this is complete, it will be emailed to the Director of Studies who will decide which books should be prioritised and bought – this is because the number of books we can buy depends on the library budget allocation for each individual subject.
At the end of the day I shelved some more books which had been returned by the students and then at home-time I closed up the main office for the evening – the library itself remains open 24 hours a day, but our office is only staffed between 8.30am and 5.00pm. All in all, today was a fairly quiet day, but tomorrow is Library Committee day so I am likely to be much busier!