Walk to work! The sense of excitement and looking forward to the day ahead usually hits when I come onto Broad Street and walk past the beautiful Bodleian and the Weston libraries.
Opening up time. I do this once a week with another colleague. I like to arrive first when the library is creepily empty and still, a good setting for a murder mystery novel…I turn on the self-issue machines and printers, login to the front desk computers, check the study carrel bookings and open/close them as required. After deleting any expired holds and dragging in the overnight returns box from reception, it’s time to declare the library open by activating the automatic doors.
9:00 – 09:15
Emails. The SSL graduate trainee is responsible for managing the main SSL queries inbox. We often get requests to book discussion rooms and study carrels, loan books to ARACU, and remotely extend loans to students overseas who are unable to return them. Occasionally, we receive emails from authors and publishers asking if we might like to buy their books – these get forwarded to the SSL Orders team or appropriate subject librarian, but not before I have admired their bold self-advertising skills!
09:15 – 10:00
Book processing. The workroom at the SSL is dominated by a massive shelf of books in various states of processing, several of which are assigned to the trainee. One is exclusively for labels which are wrong or have rubbed off and need replacing. There is also a ‘low priority’ and ‘high priority’ processing shelf for books which require tattle taping, stamping and plating.
In terms of cataloguing, the ‘full processing of holdings work required’ shelf involves adding the shelf mark, location, status, hardback or paperback and reading list code (if required) to the Aleph record before bringing the item into circulation. We also have a ‘processing Bodleian Outhoused’ shelf for books selected by subject consultants for housing in the SSL while they are of current interest to researchers. The SSL is taking part in a pilot scheme where new selections can be borrowed, so these require an additional cataloguing note to indicate them as part of the pilot.
Issue desk! AKA processing returns, loaning books and equipment, handing out items from the stack and answering reader queries. At around 2pm, the new stack requests from the BSL are delivered – these require ‘checking in’ and ordering alphabetically on the shelves behind. You’ve also got to watch out for readers bringing drinks that are not in a KeepCup and deploy a stern stare now and then to keep the noise down.
11:00 – 11:20
A snack and a read on the comfy sofas of our staff break area.
11:20 – 12:30
Scan & Deliver. Due to staff illness, I have been helping with the fetching and scanning process of our Scan & Deliver service. Normally, I work on the ‘Deliver’ element, which I will explain later. I locate the items in the library which have been requested before using ‘Hex’, our super bookeye scanner, to create the scans. After a little editing, they are ready to go.
12:30 – 13:30
Lunch. The SSL is only a few minutes’ walk away from University Parks. Usually, I will take my lunch down there and have a walk (or a tiptoe when passing the local geese, as they always seem ready for violence). If the weather isn’t very nice, I might have a coffee at the Missing Been café in the St Cross Building up the road or the Weston, a bit further afield.
13:30 – 14:30wwe
Another issue desk shift (the graduate trainee will typically have 2 or 3 hourly shifts a day).
The post tray on the issue desk is usually brimming with parcels and letters by this time. I do my best to figure out what everything is and who it needs to go to. An added challenge is opening any packaging very carefully so that it can be re-used.
14:35 – 15:30
Scanning triage. This is the ‘Deliver’ part of the ‘Scan & Deliver’ service I mentioned earlier. I login to ‘Request Tracker’ and send off any scans that have been completed. I then triage new requests by checking that they fall under copyright law (readers can only request 5% or below of the total page count of the volume a book, or a single chapter) and that there are no alternative online resources on SOLO. The request can then be added to our ‘Fetching List’, for the scanning team to locate and scan on ‘Hex’.
Missing book search. I wander sadly through the library looking for all the books on our ‘Missing Bookings’ list in the hope they have somehow made their way back to the shelf. One in particular, ‘The Mushroom at the End of the World’, has haunted me for a long time (if anyone has it at their library, please send it back!). I also get creative in terms of thinking how someone might have misinterpreted the shelf mark. I have an extremely low success rate, but it’s still quite fun…
16:00 – 16:20
Another break time. Usually a nap with my eyes open at this stage in the day.
16:20 – 16:30
A quick desk tidy, as it has started disappearing underneath tattle tape backing, chopped up bits of label and processing notes. A major part of the SSL work ethic is re-using everything that can possibly be re-used. You therefore have to have a long hard think before throwing anything into the recycling bin.
16:30 – 17:30
Projects. I am working on a number of projects currently. As part of the Technical Services team, I am ‘weeding’ books that need to be withdrawn or sent to the BSF, and converting hardly used Short Loans and Library Use Only material into Normal Loan. I am also working on another project to increase the accessibility of our resources by converting thousands of short loans into normal loans.