Greetings from the Law Bod!

Hi! I’m Mandi, and this is my first ever blog post!

I’m the trainee in the Information Resources (IR) department at the Bodleian Law Library, based in the striking 60s brutalist St Cross Building on Manor Road (we share a building with the EFL.) The IR department deals primarily with information organization and retrieval, and collection management; this mainly means cataloguing, classification, processing and acquisitions. 4 of us share a large, comfortable office (lucky us!); I’m mostly responsible for labelling, and processing new accessions and legal deposit volumes. I also spend about 6-8 hours a week staffing one of the Reading Room enquiry desks.

Here's a lovely little picture of the library, taken by another member of staff.
Here’s a lovely little picture of the library, taken by another member of staff.

I’m relatively new to library work: I was previously a bookseller in a well-loved independent bookshop in Colchester. There are similarities between the two jobs, especially the customer service element of uniting readers with the right books; but stamping and labelling brand new pristine volumes felt almost like vandalism at first. Next year, I hope to take the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL, and eventually I’d like to work with special collections or in an academic library. In my spare time I read, write poetry and experiment with cookery.

A typical week for me begins with checking the carrels for any books that haven’t been reserved to research desks. The Law Library is reading-only, so books are supposed to be loaned out to a research desk, or returned for re-shelving at the end of the day; I remove any non-reserved books, and leave a polite note for the researcher. Sometimes we have an IR meeting, where I try to take minutes and eat biscuits at the same time. Then I get on with my regular duties: stamping and tattling new books, then labelling them once they’ve been catalogued.

On Monday afternoons, I usually work in the Reserve Collection, which houses the books in highest demand; mostly textbooks for popular taught courses. Books here are loaned out to the reading room for the day, and working on the desk is a great way to meet law students and staff and get a feel for some of the material law students work with, as well as building up your biceps shelving massive heavy textbooks.

On Tuesdays, I finish tattling and alphabeticizing the new journals that came in on Monday, then add them to the New Journals Display in the reading room, and shelve the previous week’s. Law Bod books are currently shelved by legal jurisdiction, with some journals in each section, so the shelving takes at least an hour most weeks.

Wednesday is when Helen, my line manager, sends me her selections from the VBD; this is a list of all the legal deposit books that have become available that week. I print the spreadsheet as a Word document and make a note of any conflicts (books another Bodleian library has also requested.) The books arrive on Thursday or Friday, anywhere between 20 and 85 of them! I process them, and update the “blue flag” books with minimum level records. Somewhat sadly, reading through Marc tags to assess the quality of various catalogue records is the highlight of my week; it’s somewhat like reading in another language, I suppose.

So that’s a bit about me and what I do. The intrepid reader who made it this far must hold on to the prophecy of Blog Posts Yet To Come, more exciting and informative than the first; soon, fellow traveller, we shall frolic amongst them in fields of black and white.

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