A Day in the Life at the SSL
9:00 – I switch on my computer, load up the main enquiries email box and begin filtering through queries from readers. These commonly include researchers struggling to access a database, students who can’t return to the UK but have a pile of books due at the SSL, and suggestions for resources to add to our collections. I really enjoy being able to make a difference to someone’s research by helping them find a resource they’ve been struggling to access. Additionally, the main inbox is where the room booking requests from our Google Form are delivered, so I filter through these and add them to the calendar.
9:15 – I begin opening up the library with a colleague, switching the self-issue machine and printers on, and deleting any expired hold requests. Once we’ve wheeled in the out of hours book returns box, we open up the doors and begin to let readers in.
9:30 – The library is now open, and I take the first desk shift of the day. This involves assisting readers with their questions, lending and returning books, and answering the phone. When I first started this job, I was nervous to be on the desk on my own as the thought that the readers could ask me anything felt intimidating. However, working with the students and academics has become one of my favourite parts of the job, and I know I can always ask a colleague for advice if the question is a bit rogue. When the desk is quiet, I work on a project which involves making sure any online resources for Social Science courses (eBooks, podcasts, YouTube videos) are marked clearly as viewable online on the reading list, and that the links to these work.
10:30 – I take a break! Sometimes I take a trip to The Missing Bean Café in the St Cross Building next door to catch up with a fellow trainee and reward ourselves with a doughnut.
10:50 – For the rest of the morning, I’m processing new books. This involves some physical processing: sticking in a slip about returning books, stamping it with an SSL stamp, covering it with sticky back plastic, and inserting “tattle tapes”, which are thin magnets that stick in between the pages of our books to trigger the exit gates unless desensitised when loaned to the reader. After this, I process the book on Aleph, our library management system, which involves creating a holding and adding the shelf mark, reading list codes, and marking the book as loanable or a library use only copy. Once this is complete, the information will display on the user’s end – SOLO – so that they can search for and find the book.
12:30 – It’s lunchtime! Time to take a walk to the University Parks around the corner for some fresh air and a break away from the library.
1:30 – Another desk shift! I continue responding to the enquiries in the SSL’s email box. I also log a reader onto our Bloomberg terminal. This is a high demand PC that has access to current and historical financial data on currencies and the stock market. To keep the data secure we don’t give out the password for it, which is why we have to assist researchers in accessing the terminal. I also make sure to organise the post that has been delivered to us, sifting through new physical copies of journals and letters for the librarians before popping them in their pigeonholes. I finish up by scanning in and popping onto the shelves the newly arrived Bodleian stack requests that readers order from the storage facility to be accessed in the reading rooms.
2:30 – I take some time to create a blog post advertising upcoming Bodleian iSkills sessions which are relevant to researchers and students in the Social Sciences. These usually cover topics such as Open Access, referencing, or finding appropriate research materials. Once this is written up, I schedule the post along with a Tweet and Facebook post so the sessions reach as wide an audience as possible. I then fetch some books requested by the Accessible Resources Unit who take our print copies of books and transform them into electronic text, Braille, audio and tactile diagrams for users with disabilities. I make sure to select a clean copy as sadly there is often lots of highlighting or written notes which can make the process difficult! However, the turnaround for this process can be really quick, which always impresses me and is great news for the students that require them.
3:30 – Time for another break! Snacking gets me through the day.
4:30 – After taking 5 minutes to water the plants, I update the new books display with brand new legal deposit books, research books and print outs of some new eBook covers too. This helps keep the library looking fresh and up to date whilst also allowing our readers to access the new releases in their field quickly. It’s also an opportunity to be a bit creative and directly contribute something to the readers’ experience at the library.
5:30 – Time to go home! No need to lock up as the SSL is open until 10pm on weeknights, so after handing over to my evening colleagues, my day is done.