A Day in the Life at the SSL

As I have now settled into the Social Science Library, I thought it would be nice to write a ‘Day in the Life’ like previous cohorts have done to give a bit of insight into what being a Trainee can involve!

As there are two of us in the Social Science Library, we share the workload by focusing on different tasks each week. This week I’m concentrating on Technical Services tasks.

9.00 – I arrive at the library and meet with a member of the SOLO User Group. SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online) is the Oxford University catalogue. Myself and another trainee were given the opportunity to join the user group, but during the first meeting a lot of things went over my head! Its interesting to get some background about the group (and understand the acronyms!) and I also get some useful information about distance learning options for library school.

10.00 – Time for my shift on the Issue Desk. As Trainees we are on the desk for several hours each day. You never really know what you’re going to be asked but I have just about got to grips with some of the more common queries which tend to be regarding issuing book, stack requests (more about them later) and problems with printing. Today I also change a printer cartridge and don’t get ink all over myself which I consider a small triumph.

11.00 – Tea break. Today is the Reader Services Librarian’s last day, so everyone gathers for cake (it was delicious!).

Libraries are run on cake

11.25 – Time to start on my Technical Services tasks. The main part of this being book processing. This involves doing some basic work on Aleph like adding shelfmarks. Followed by adding stamps, security tattle tape and labels. The library receives books that are shelf ready, books from legal deposit and books that we have bought online and each needs a slightly different amount of processing (definitely no stamps in the legal deposit books!).

20150204_121650Physical Book processing – stamps and plates

13.00 – Lunch. Today I’m reading The Humans by Matt Haig which I would thoroughly recommend.

14.00 – More book processing.

14.30 – Back on the Issue Desk. Around this time we normally receive our afternoon delivery of stack requests from the Bodleian Storage Facility in Swindon. I check them in to our library and add them to our stack request shelf. Luckily there is only one box today but sometimes we can get loads.

15.00 – Every week in term time we have a Reader Services meeting. This is quite useful for knowing about any new procedures or any other issues that have come up on the desk. Today we’re told about how some inter-library loans can now be taken out of the library and the procedure involved.

15.30 – Journal survey time. The SSL is currently surveying all the print journal stock to see if there is anything we can move out to the BSF or remove to make more space. As our current holdings are incorrect I am surveying what is actually on the shelves and making a note of what volumes of each journal we have and how many metres of shelving it takes up. It is interesting to see how the design of some of the periodicals have changed over the years when we have volumes from several decades. I spot some volumes today from the 1880s that carry right on through until 2013.

16.30 – Another aspect of the Trainee Technical Services tasks is book repairs. We assess books that are in need of repair to see whether they should be replaced, sent to conservation, a commerical bindery or repaired in-house. Today I repair a couple of books that have a page loose and put them under a very high-tech weight (ie a brick) to dry.

20150204_121713Book repairs

17.00 – Just enough time for some more book processing. Some of the books I have been labelling need covering, which means an opportunity to  channel my inner Blue Peter presenter to wrestle with what is effectively sticky back plastic and hope I don’t get any air bubbles!

17.30 – Time to go! As its the Reader Services librarian’s last day, we are off to the pub for her leaving drinks.

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