Library Trainee Day in the Life – Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 in the Library Trainees’ Day in the Life series: you find yourself in Nuffield College Library tower, with a somewhat jetlagged trainee who has just returned from a holiday in Tokyo! Much of today will be filled with catching up on tasks from last week, so here goes…

9.15:  Opening the library; post
Arrive early at the library (work starts at 9.30, but we usually arrive a little before to make sure everything is open and ready for readers). I bring up the newspapers and the post, open the Enquiry Desk, check the reading rooms, and refill photocopier with paper etc. Then it’s back to the Bookroom to stamp and log the papers – we get a variety of UK and international papers – and put them out on the table in our Current Affairs room. Yesterday’s come with me upstairs to be stored: we keep hold of the past two months’ worth of papers.

9.30 – 10.00: Emails
Go through a backlog of emails and sort out which ones need to be dealt with. There are a couple of inter-library loan emails that need attention – the Nuffield trainee has responsibility for this particular element of library services. I flag them up to deal with later. A reader comes to the desk in search of two books we have reserved for him. I issue them to the reading rooms for him, which is slightly more complicated than usual as I realise that Aleph (the library software used by Oxford University libraries) crashed last week and hasn’t been fixed on my machine yet. I note down the barcodes and his card number, and put them in once I’ve done the fix.

10.00-11.00: Processing books; phone enquiries
Time to get stuck in to finishing off the processing of new books left over from last week! This usually happens every Friday, but I’m catching up with myself. I have already given the books their shelfmark, barcodes, labels and bookplates, so it’s just a matter of changing their status on Aleph, counting and measuring them for our statistics spreadsheet, and doing a final check before putting them out on our new books shelf. I also add the details to a Word document, which we keep as records, but also collate to make updates to the website easier. ‘Old’ new books, that have been there for two weeks, come off the shelves and must have their status updated to reflect their move into the Main Collection.

During all of this I also answer a couple of phone enquiries – as my desk is also the Enquiry Desk, any phonecalls will come through to me usually. Either I find out the answer myself, or if I don’t know, refer the caller to someone who does! Both callers are wondering whether they are able to use the library, so I find out their details and work out if they are entitled to a) register, and b) borrow. Nuffield does allow graduates from other colleges to access the library and often to borrow, depending on whether they are DPhil students or Taught Course – which is quite unusual for a college library and means getting to grips with a number of different ‘categories’ of reader and their respective privileges when you first start out.

11.00: Time for a tea break!

11.20 – 12.30: Updating the website; tours; Interlibrary loans
I update the library website with the latest titles via a Librarything widget, and print out a hard copy of the list for the folder that lives on the shelf with the books (just in case we lose all electronic data!). I shelve the books that have come off the new books shelf. A new library-user comes to the Enquiry desk for a tour, so I show them round and help them find the books they’re looking for.

Then I come back downstairs and deal with the inter-library loan requests of this morning. This involves finding the relevant item, logging the request and its details on a database, and then packaging the item up securely to try and avoid any damage when it is posted. I issue the book, email the requestor, file a claim to the British Library via an online form, and then take the parcel down to the Lodge for posting.

I just have enough time before lunch to trim the book covers to size and pin them on the new books display board.

12.30-1.30: Lunch

1.30 – 3.10: opening book parcels; stationery
I open several book parcels and log the invoices on Aleph, put the correct fund-codes on, and then file the invoices. The  books now go for cataloguing, which is not something I have been trained to do…yet!
After that, I process some book orders, which involves purchasing the items and then logging the orders on our system.

We’re lacking in some stationery, particularly paper, so I go down to collect some from the Lodge. I print out a load of bookmarks, which are also running low, which will need trimming and laminating, but now it’s time for another tea break before my afternoon desk duty, so the bookmarks come down with me along with a pile of donations to process…

3.10 – 3.30: Tea break!

3.30 – 5.30: Desk duty
Desk duties are done on rotation, so one of us is always present on the circulation desk downstairs. I make a start on my bookmarks, interspersed with loans, renewals and returns as readers come and go. I also answer several queries – people often ask at the desk if they can’t find something on SOLO – sometimes it’s not always obvious and takes a bit of work before the right item can be pinpointed. It’s always very satisfying when I do manage to find what they want! I direct various people who are not sure where the shelfmarks are, and spend some time with a reader explaining how to use SOLO – she is looking for a specific journal article, but although we find the journal, and I send her up with another member of staff to look, she comes back down later to say she thinks she doesn’t have the correct title so is off to check it again before coming back. I tell her to have a look online as well, as the article in question may be available there. I also register a couple of new readers, explain what they’re entitled to, and put their card details on our system so that they can get in (the library operates a swipe-card system, so each new user has to be added so that their card will be recognised), and then set them up on Aleph so that they can borrow. When it quiets down, I get on with processing donations, and soon enough it’s home time. As I’m on desk, I just have to wait for whoever is clearing the library to let me know that it’s okay to close up – but clearing, along with desk duty, searching for missing books, shelving, and sorting post, is a duty that we all share. The timetable ensures that you always have a variety of jobs alongside your regular work, which is great for keeping you on your toes – there’s never a chance to get bored.

Now…time for bed, in the hope that the jetlag will be defeated by tomorrow!

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