The last term of the year has finally come to an end, the students have finished their exams and the library is empty – literally empty. All the books have either been removed or covered with plastic sheeting, the furniture has gone and the office equipment has been packed away into crates.
This is because the library is undergoing renovation work this summer to improve the electrics and the lighting. At the moment the number of plug sockets in the library is inadequate for the number of students needing to use their laptops, so one of the main tasks will be to install new sockets at each workspace. Another big change that’s happening relates to the library entrance – at the moment, students can only access the library via the basement level (as pictured above), but the main entrance will now be moved up to the ground floor so that the students will be greeted with a much more inspiring sight whenever they enter the library:
This last term has been quite challenging for me, and not only because we’ve had to dismantle and pack up the library. A few weeks after the start of term, the Acting Librarian was unexpectedly taken ill which meant that myself and the new Library Assistant were left alone in charge of the library for two weeks. This was a big responsibility for us, because all the students were studying feverishly for their final exams and the library was the busiest that I’ve ever seen it. It was essential that we kept everything running smoothly for the students during this time, so we continued to hold regular coffee breaks for them every day, as well as providing de-stressing activities such as jigsaw puzzles.
I think the scariest part of it all was knowing that if any technical problems arose, it was up to me to solve them because nobody else in the College had any understanding of Heritage, our library management software. However, after reading our manual of procedure from cover to cover, as well as soliciting some advice from the endlessly helpful librarians at Homerton College, I was able to learn how to do things such as import MARC records, run statistics reports, change the due dates to enable vacation borrowing, and rebuild the indexes when the system inevitably crashed during Recall week!
Overall, I think that what started as a very difficult time has turned into a valuable learning experience for me. In the past, whenever a problem arose that I couldn’t solve, I would usually turn to my line-manager for support. This term, I have been forced to solve tricky problems for myself, even if I couldn’t initially see how, and I have actually found this to be quite empowering. I’ve learned that I am capable of taking responsibility in a difficult situation, and this is definitely going to boost my self-confidence when I eventually begin applying for professional posts.
I’ve also learned the importance of teamwork when it comes to getting things done. I definitely couldn’t have managed this term without the support of the brilliant Library Assistant and also the temporary Librarian who was drafted in from the University Library to help us out while our colleague was on sick leave. Staff from other libraries have also been so supportive; I even had an offer from the trainee at the Faculty of Classics to help with the library packing – now that’s self-sacrifice! The whole thing has just brought it home to me what a lovely bunch of people the Cambridge librarians are, and I know that I’m definitely going to be sad to leave when I eventually finish my traineeship in September.
And if there was even a tiny shred of doubt left in my mind as to how worthwhile all our efforts were in terms of supporting the students this term, this is what they brought us on the last day of exams: