Library Trainee Day in the Life – Day 8

Before posting the 8th ‘Day in the Life’ of an Oxford Library Trainee, I think it would be useful to introduce myself, as I have failed to do this so far… I’m Francesca, and I am the Academic Services trainee at the Law Library. I graduated from the University of Hull in 2009 with a BA in English Literature, and completed an MA at the University of Reading in 2010, before spending a couple of years experiencing the delights of office admin. Finally, I decided to attempt to pursue a career in Information Services and Librarianship, and here I am!  Having been working at the Law Library for five months now (times flies!) I know my way around and seemingly manage to undertake my role without asking too many questions! As it is Wednesday, and we have training this afternoon (today’s session is ‘Effective Training Sessions: pitch , plan , present!’), I have based this post on a fairly ‘typical’ day from two weeks ago, that highlights best what I do…

08:45-11:00: Desk Duty

Image from

Two mornings every fortnight (Thursday and Friday), it is my turn to open up and work on the Reserve Desk first, where the high-usage reading list material is kept and scanned out to readers for use in the library for  up to one day. Today is one of those days, so my first task when I arrive is to go round unlocking the photocopy room, the two computer rooms,and the seminar room, as well as switching on the enquiry desk computers and taking a reader count  from the exit gate for the previous day. I also check desks for left books and scan in any reserve books from the previous evening that were handed in at the last minute, and in turn respond to any queries about overdue noties received for these. I then check my emails and settle in to my desk shift . Like Kat, they are my favourite part of the job. I enjoy interacting with the readers and helping them with their enquiries. I am always happy to succeed in answering their questions as quickly and efficiently as possible. Readers seems particularly grateful when there is success in resolving issues with the photocopiers! Today, another regular query comes up. A reader wants to consult a book signed out to another reader on a research desk. This has to be located using Aleph, taken from the research desk and given a secondary consultation slip before being given to the reader. They must return the book to the Reserve desk for us to put back on the research desk when they have finished with it. I also get on with some loose-leaf filing, explained in Kat’s earlier post.

11:00am-11:20am: Break

11:20am – 12:00pm: Document delivery

One of my main tasks as the Academic Services trainee is to process and send document delivery requests to law firms for consultation or use in judicial proceedings, or to private individuals for research. The number of these requests varies , but on average there are probably 2-3 requests per week, mainly from law firms wanting the copy for commercial use. The requests are for copies of law cases, journal articles or book chapters. Today, I received a request from a law firm for a copy of  a journal article. I check  that we have it, and scan the copy. Back at my desk, I tidy the document so that it looks professional, and process the order using our Access database, ensuring that I assign the correct usage (e.g. Commercial UK, Commercial EU, Private Study or Judicial Proceedings), and therefore the correct charge. The details of the person/company being sent to, and the details of the item scanned, must be detailed accurately. I then create the invoice for the request, and send this along with the copy and a credit card form. These requests are usually processed as quickly as possible, and it is always satisfying when you receive thanks from a grateful researcher for getting the copy to them speedily ! Today’s request is simple and straightforward, but there are often copyright restrictions and other issues to consider before sending the copy.

12:00pm-1:00pm – New book shelving and moving books to the secondary collection

After Kat has labelled new books in Information Resources, they are brought down to the shelves in Academic Services for shelving. There can be only ten at a time, or sometimes twenty to thrity, depending on the day’s/week’s intake. Shelving books sounds simple enough, but there are certain collections in the library that are somewhat lacking in growth space! Shelving one new book can sometimes involve moving four or more shelves of books along to fit a new one in, as was the case today in a sequence in the library’s International Law collection. It is certainly good exercise moving them all about, and going around the four floors of the library to shelve them! Today, many of the new books are also new editions that supersede ones already on the shelf. These are easier to shelve, as I remove the old one and replace it. The old editions that I have gathered whilst shelving the new books are marked with a red x. I then take them to the 1st floor and shelve them in the secondary collection. (Today, I do this immediately; sometimes I leave it for another time if I need a sit down by this point!)

1:00pm- 2:00pm : Lunch

2:00pm-2:45pm: Inter-Library Loans claims

Another of my tasks in Academic Services is to process Inter-Library Loans claims to the British Library for Inter-Library Loans that we have provided to UK institutions. I do this once or twice a month. Today, there are twenty one to claim since just before Christmas. I complete and submit the form on the British Library website, detailing the British Library account number for the claim, the institution’s request number, and the cost. I then send the details of the request to Accounts. I record the date on which the claim was submitted in the Excel database, and print and file the documents in the claims folder. Admittedly, this is not the most exciting part of my job, but someone’s got to do it!

2:45pm -3 :05pm – Bodley Box

Like Sophie, one of my tasks at the Library is receiving and returning the books from the Book Storage Facility. We have two deliveries a day, at approximately 9:30am and 3:30pm (although the latter often arrives earlier – I suspect that it has been there a while today!) I do two morning deliveries and two afternoon deliveries per week. In the morning, I collect all the books that come up on the returns list from the shelves next to the Reserve Desk, research desks or carrels, and return them to the boxes in the packing room, before bringing the new ones upstairs and scanning  them in. I then put them in the correct place depending on the reader. The number of books varies, but there is never usually more than a box of books  – certainly not the number at the main Bodleian! This afternoon, there are only six books to scan in and put out in the reading room.

3:05pm -4:00pm – Foreign Dissertations Database

Finding myself with a quieter moment without a pressing task, I spend some time working on the Foreign Dissertations Database, where my (slightly average) French ‘A’ Level is put to minor use at last! I usually work on this when I have nothing urgent to complete. It involves recording handwritten card catalogues of foreign law dissertations from the early 20th century into a searchable Access database, for which there is a link on the Law Library website. There are approximately 40,00o to add, and since the project was started about 20,000 have been recorded – half way there! I input French language dissertations (although I do find the odd rogue  Dutch one which makes little sense to me!) but deciphering the handwriting can sometimes be tricky! I enjoy this task as it makes my brain try and recall the French it has learnt, and it is a worthwhile project to make a record of these documents that is searchable, so that they might be used. I manage to input twenty new records.

4:00pm – 5:00pm – Odds and Ends

I spend the last part of the day checking my emails and adding a couple of things to my calendar for next week, including our fortnightly Academic Services meeting, other team meetings, my desk duties, and the next couple of week’s training sessions. I spy a few final new books to shelve before hometime!

I hope that this post has given some insight into my role at the Law Library, and this day seemed to have an element of most of the things that I do (although don’t be fooled by the day’s steady pace – sometimes things happen all at once, or a document delivery request appears at 4:45pm!) Other projects that I am involved in include helping with the reclassification of the USA collection that Kat talked about, and working on projects with the Web Team and the Communications Team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.