Welcome to day five in the Day in the Life series. Every day my duties and tasks vary considerably depending on where in the library I am working, so there is really no such thing as a ‘typical’ day, but I hope this post will give you some idea of what I do on a day-to-day basis as the Bodleian Library trainee.
8.45 – 9.20: The Day Begins
I arrive in work glad to get out of the cold, hang my coat up, head to the Main Enquiry Desk and turn on my computer. Many of the staff start earlier than me so the opening routine has already been completed; photocopiers and computers are turned on and the morning book replacing is underway in the reading rooms. There are three of us on Main Enquiry Desk this morning, and as it’s been relatively quiet over the past couple of days I take the opportunity to carry on re-numbering the desks in the Lower Reading Room, a project I’ve been working on for a while. I’ve been trying to do most of the re-labelling before the library opens so that I don’t cause too much disruption to readers, so I continue peeling off the double-sided tape and sticking them on each desk. Not the most exciting of tasks, but someone’s got to do it!
9.20 – 10.10: Background Tasks
I reach desk number 173 and run out of labels with only six desks to go – typical! After much searching I finally track down some more yellow paper, print some more labels, laminate them and stick them on the desks. Now I’ve finished this project I’m free to start working on the next task I’ve been given, which is to check the locations and shelfmarks of all the Classics Journals that the Bodleian holds on the open shelves. There were many books moves over the summer and we’re all still getting used to the new locations, so it’s my job to create an an updated list of where everything is to make them easier to locate when readers ask.
10.10 – 10.30: Main Enquiry Desk.
Back at Main Enquiry Desk I read through my email inbox and catch up with everything going on in the library. I have 26 emails this morning so there is plenty to read, and a couple to reply to. The phone rings and it’s someone enquiring about how to become a library user. I explain the process to them, ask them to email us the names of any off-site books they want to see so that we can order them in advance of their visit, and put them through to the Admissions Office who can explain the process of getting a library card. I spend quite a lot of my time at Main Desk, which is the most challenging but rewarding part of the job. I love helping and interacting with readers, and the vast array of queries we get (especially via email) keeps me on my toes – I learn something new every day.
10.30-11.00: Tea break time
11.00-11.30: Outline Meeting
Each year, the Bodleian trainee has the great opportunity to assist with the editing of the Bodleian Libraries Staff Newsletter. Every Thursday the editors, a small group of staff from various libraries and departments, meet to read through the draft copy of the newsletter to correct any mistakes and make changes to the formatting ready for printing. This week we also discuss a few ideas of what we want to include in future issues and what features we’re going to promote.
11.30 – 11.55: Posters
Back at Main Desk, one of my colleagues asks me to visit each reading room of the library and put up some posters promoting a new service the library is offering. There are seven reading rooms in total and it takes me a while to walk round to each one, up and down many flights of stairs.One of my regular tasks is to sort, stamp and put up the many posters we receive at Main Enquiry Desk, and on my way around the library I take down any posters that are out-dated and make a mental note to put up the stack of new posters that have accumulated at some point this week.
11.55 – 13.00: Main Enquiry Desk
I arrive back at Main Enquiry Desk again and get down to get to sit down at last! It’s relatively busy today and we have quite a few people come up to the desk needing help with various things. I help someone over the phone who is having trouble logging in to the online catalogue, and then assist a reader in creating a photocopying account. Next, I check the two Reader Services email accounts to see if we’ve had any more enquiries today. My colleagues replied to all the ones from this morning when I was re-numbering the desks, but we check the accounts constantly throughout the day and try to reply as quickly as possible. We’ve received two enquires in the last hour so I answer both and record them on the spreadsheet.
13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch time
14.00 -14.30: Book Replacing
As the trainee I get to move around the library and work in all the reading rooms, which is great as it keeps my days varied. This afternoon I’m in the Lower Camera Reading Room, though first I take a trip to the Gladstone Link as it’s my turn to help with the afternoon replacing. As it’s term time there is quite a lot this afternoon, but with four of us replacing it doesn’t take too long. We get stopped by readers a lot, who are struggling to find the books they need. It’s always nice to see how grateful they are when we find what they were looking for so quickly!
14.30 – 14.45: Issue Desk
Back in the Lower Camera, I log in to a computer and am immediately rushed off my feet with a queue of readers at the desk. The Radcliffe Camera is the new home of the History Faculty Library, and unlike in the Old Bodleian many of the books can be borrowed. As an undergraduate reading room which is nearly always full in term time, it’s the busiest reading room I get to work in and time flies by. Being on the issue desk involves issuing and returning books, giving readers books that they have requested from the stacks, registering new library users, processing fines, as well as dealing with general queries and assisting readers with the photocopiers, searching the catalogue and finding books.
14.45 – 15.05: Book Delivery
The afternoon book delivery arrives. We get three deliveries of books a day in each reading room of books that readers have requested from the off-site stacks, and in term time the number of books that need processing increases dramatically. It’s not too much this afternoon though, only two full boxes. We can receive anywhere up to twelve boxes of books per reading room, which quite often happens in the Old Bodleian during term. Processing the books involves taking them out of the boxes, checking to see that each book is in the right reading room, scanning them into the system, sorting them alphabetically by reader’s surname, and putting them on the shelves behind the reserves ready for readers to come and collect.
15.05 – 16.20: Trainee Project Research
Though it’s busy at the issue desk there are some moments of calm, and I get the chance to get on with other things. In between readers I take the opportunity to research more out how to create a LibGuide, which I’ll be doing as part of my trainee project. I’m also going to give a tour of the library in a couple of months to staff from another library, so I send an email to make arrangements.
16.20 – 16.50: Tea break. I take a late break as it’s Thursday so I’m doing my weekly evening duty and working until seven. Coffee and cake with a friend is a lovely way to break up my shift.
16.50-19.00: Evening Duty
Back to work for my evening duty. I usually work my evenings in the Lower Reading Room, and I’m on the reserve desk on my own for an hour while my colleague goes down to the Gladstone Link to book replace. It’s relatively busy for an evening, with readers coming to the desk to collect or return their books. When my colleague comes back, I start the shelving in the reading room while she minds the desk. As usual there are a lot of books to replace, and I manage to re-shelve two full trolleys and many piles of books that have been left on the desks. Thankfully in term time we are open until 10pm, so staff who start at 7pm can also spend an hour shelving, getting the bulk of it done so that there isn’t too much left to replace in the morning. In vacation, we close at seven, so I would start the closing routine at 6.30, but that’s the job of the staff working until ten tonight. When the next lot of staff arrive, I’m free to head home for the night.