08:42-9:00 – Opening
The workday at the HFL starts at an oddly specific time, we get 18 minutes in the morning to ensure we have time to open up the library before 9:00. We might be asked to open upper camera, lower camera or the upper gladstone link. Today we’re a little short on staff so I tackle both lower and upper camera. I do a sweep of the rooms making sure all the computers, printers, and lights are switched on, and the library is ready for readers to use.
09:00-10:10 – Lapse
This morning I’m assigned to the “lapse list.” This is the list of items that readers have ordered up from the BSF that need to be sent back because their loan period is over. These items don’t leave the library and instead sit on our “self-collect shelves” so it’s the responsibility of the staff, not the readers, to return the books on time.
I print off the list. (This is not always a simple business, there are certain printers at the HFL with which I have a longstanding grudge.) Then, with the list and pencil in one hand and a book trolley in the other I make a start on the list.
The lapse is actually one of my favourite tasks as it gives me an opportunity to gain a little insight into our readers through their choice in literature. Some of my current favourite readers are the person who had a selection of cookery books from various cultures. The reader whose shelf is always filled with books on fairies, and the various readers with fantastic taste in comics. We’ve had some going through the Sandman series whilst another is making their way through Jane Foster’s run as Thor.
With all the books collected onto my trolley. I bring them back to the staff bay and scan them out ready to be returned to the BSF. Normally I would place them in our blue crates called ‘totes,’ but the only ones we have are full so instead I pile them up and let my manager know we might need to request some more crates.
10:10-10:30 – Break
It’s time for my break! First, I head to the staff common room to see if my card is working on the door yet. For some reason, this morning it wasn’t playing ball, but it works fine now so I pop inside and place my lunch in the fridge. Next, I grab a seat and send off a text to my sister who’s asking for some advice. I check the time. I have 10 minutes left, normally not enough time to read a chapter but my book at the moment is “Only on the weekends” by David Atta and written in verse so I settle down and have a quick read.
10:30-12:00 – Proscholium
It’s time for my shift on the Proscholium, the entrance to the Bodleian library. This week we have some construction work taking place on the north staircase so only 100 people (staff and readers) can be in the old Bodleian at once. For that reason, even I won’t be going above the ground floor of the Bodleian this week as technically I’m Radcliffe Camera staff. I can still man the entrance on the ground floor however, so for the next hour and a half, my job is to direct people to the reader entrance on the South staircase, and check passes for people who need to use the facilities on this staircase.
It certainly makes for an interesting shift on the Prosch as not everyone is entirely happy about the temporary rules and it’s tough keeping track of who should be where when, but I still have a little time to do some work on this post, a little admin for the trainee twitter, and work on my trainee project (at the moment that means sorting through some survey results)
12:00-13:00 – Lunch
Today I get the luxury of choosing whether to take my lunch at 12:00 or at 13:00 as I’m not scheduled for anything else until 14:00. Never known to be patient, I opt for the earlier choice and pop back into the staff common room to eat. After I finish my meal (last nights’ leftovers) I pack up my things and head out to Blackwell’s, conveniently found just a minutes’ walk from the Bod. I’m here to pick up a Japanese cookbook I’ve had my eye on. I collect the book, flash my staff card for that sweet 15% Bodleian staff discount and pay using one of my Christmas presents this year – a book token. It’s nice being able to run errands like this in my lunch break since the Bodleian is so close to the centre of town.
13:00-14:00 – Shelving
I return to the library and decide to spend my time until my shift on the Radcliffe Camera reception desk doing some shelving. During term we employ a team of dedicated shelvers to do this for us, but since reader numbers are much lower during the vacation, the everyday staff take up that burden.
Shelving is one of the most satisfying jobs a trainee can do in my humble opinion. There’s something soothing about putting books back in their rightful place! That’s not all there is to shelving however, there’s also a lot of making sure that shelves are neat and tidy, and books aren’t being damaged by the way we store them. Sometimes we might need to move a whole shelf or more of books to ensure there’s space where we need it.
14:00-15:30 – Reception
My second desk shift of the day, this time at the entrance to the Radcliffe Camera. With the Old Bod so restricted, extra tours are running through the Radcliffe Camera this week so I keep an eye out for large groups that need waving through. Other than that, however, reception shifts are often fairly peaceful, especially at this time of year. The most common issues to look out for are tourists trying to access the building and university members lending their cards to other people.
The Radcliffe Camera is a gorgeous building, so I do understand people’s desire to come and take a peek, but as it’s a working library we have to be strict about who can and cannot enter the building. Technically speaking, tourists shouldn’t even be coming past the gates outside, so I don’t feel quite so bad when I turn them away and I try to let them know about the guided tours they can book onto instead.
15:30-15:50 – Break
As my relief arrives at reception, I get to go on my second break of the day. It’s looking pretty miserable outside, so I decide to hunker down in a cosy corner and make some more progress with my book.
15:50-16:15 – Processing
I don’t have any set tasks for this afternoon so it’s up to me what I spend my time doing. I start by checking to see if there’s any book processing to do. There are two books on the shelf so I set about gathering the materials needed to process them. I know processing has been discussed many times on this blog, but as a quick recap: processing is everything we do to books we’ve purchased to make them ready to go on our shelves. This includes stickers, shelfmarks, tattle-tape and coverlon or jacket covers.
16:15-16:30 – Lapse (Part II)
I spot that with this afternoon’s delivery we received a whole set of new crates! I spend 15 minutes placing the books from this morning’s lapse list carefully into their new blue homes.
16:30-17:00 – Admin
For the last hour before home, I spend my time on the odd background tasks one tends to accumulate. I check my emails, write and edit this post, and then return to the spreadsheet I’m working on for my graduate trainee project. Time flies by and before I know it, it’s…
17:00 – Home
As the bells of St Mary’s start their hourly chime I log off, pack up, and head out. The evening team arrived about 15 minutes ago, so they’re primed and ready to go. With a quick wave to any colleagues still in the building I pop out to the High Street, ready to wait for my bus home.