Chantal van den Berg, Social Science Library

Hi, I’m Chantal and I’m the other half of the trainee duo at the Social Science Library, one of the busiest lending libraries of Oxford.

David and I have a wide range of responsibilities, and we rotate between technical and reader services each week. When I’m on reader services, my tasks will include managing the SSL email account and answering a wide range of questions, using my detective skills to search for missing books, sorting the post, dealing with incorrectly returned books from other libraries, updating social media, invoicing readers for books they haven’t returned and much more.

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Over 250,000 books live in the SSL

During the technical services week, I’ll mostly be processing new books, scanning chapters for the SSL eReadings (a service that provides scans of chapters through WebLearn, a digital learning environment), creating online readings lists, sticking new labels on books, covering books in plastic and assessing books for repair. Book repairs are one of my favourite tasks. I’m proud to say we’ve repaired almost a hundred books during Michaelmas term so far! A bit of glue and tape can fix almost everything, from broken spines to loose pages (though I’m no match for the conservation department). If you can’t fix it with glue, you’re not using enough glue!

27-3-30-bandages

As required, we both deal with the requested books from the Book Storage Facility in Swindon and we are on the issue desk several hours a day, where we issue and return books, but mostly we help readers with their queries. Our tasks are diverse, and we are never stuck behind our desks too long. Thankfully, we have very helpful and patient colleagues who helped us on our way during those busy first few weeks. The SSL is an amazing place to learn about the hustle and bustle of an academic library!

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The SSL’s main study space

On Wednesday afternoon it’s training time. We’ve had some very exciting and interesting sessions, such as customer service training, a tour at the conservation department in the Weston Library, and a trip to the Book Storage Facility in Swindon (where 8 million books are stored).

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Books waiting to be shelved

A bit about myself. I’m originally from the Netherlands, where I studied for a BA in English Language and Literature. During my BA I spent six months at the University of York at the English Literature department, where I had a wonderful time. I then continued to study for an MA in Medieval English Literature, again in Utrecht. After graduating, I worked as a medical secretary for a while, while continuing to look for a job in my field, and now I’m here! My love for all things British started from an early age, so to be able to live and work in the UK at one of the most famous libraries in the world is a true privilege!

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