Library Day in the Life Round 8: Friday

This is the fifth of five blog posts written for round 8 of the Library Day in the Life Project  by the graduate trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library.

8.50am: Turn on computer, check emails.

9am: Carry on with summarising door entry statistics (see yesterday’s post)

9.30am: Shelving

10.05am: Door entry statistics

10.45am: Visit to the library in the department of Earth Sciences.  Most of the science departments in Oxford no longer have their own libraries, but when the Earth Sciences Department moved to their new building in 2010, they decided they wanted to keep their library.  I’ve been wanting to visit this library for a while, particularly because my undergraduate degree was in geological sciences.

There is 24-hour access to the library for members of the department and while not very large, the library, and librarian(!), seem to be well used and valued by students.   Although, with the 24-hour access some items do go missing, all items on undergraduate reading lists are kept in a locked cupboard and students must ask the librarian if they need to use them.  The library also holds map collections – geological and topograpgical maps are important to the teaching and research in the department.

12pm: Back in the RSL I write up some notes about the Earth Sciences library.

12.20pm: Door entry statistics.

1pm: Lunch

2pm: Door entry statistics.

2.30pm: Shelving

2.45pm: Scanning a journal the publishers have given us permission to digitize.

3.40pm: Tea break

3.55pm: Working on the LibGuide I am creating on reference management.

The afternoon’s activities were interspersed with dealing with various emails.

5pm: End of the day.

This is my final post for round 8 of the Library Day in the Life project.  I’m very glad I did it and would encourage anyone considering taking part in a future round (or writing a post about their week for this round) to do it. 

Library Day in the Life Round 8: Thursday

This is the fourth of five blog posts written for round 8 of the Library Day in the Life Project  by the graduate trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library.

8.50am: Arrive at the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL), switch on computer, check emails – I have quite a few this morning.  Go through email inbox, moving emails into folders and deleting ones which are irrelevant to me.  I do this about once a week as it makes old emails so much easier to find.

9.30am: Shelving

10am: Meeting with the serials librarian.  I learn about the process required to get a periodical issue from the post room to the shelves and find out that if someone wants to find out if a pre-1993 issue was received we have to check in a large card catalogue.

10.30am: Onto one of my weekly tasks – adding all the new psychology books to the library’s LibraryThing account.  This involves searching for the book, checking the information is correct, adding tags (Library of Congress cataloging-in-publication data is very useful here) and checking that the link to SOLO (our online catalogue) works.  I also check on SOLO for the shelfmark of the books I added last week, as most of them will have been processed now, and add that.

11.10am: Tea break

11.35am: Back to a project I started before christmas.  On Thursdays and Fridays I work with the subject librarians at the RSL, alternating between physical sciences and life sciences spending four weeks with one and then four weeks with the other, though those timings can be flexible.  This week I’m back with life sciences and so back to an ongoing project I started in November.  I am digitzing a journal the publishers have given us permission to digitize and put on our website.  This basically means I have lots of scanning to do.

12.05pm: I am asked to fetch and loan out to ARACU (Accessible Resources Acquisition and Creation Unit) some items requested by them for them to scan for disabled readers.

12.30pm: Back to scanning

1.15pm: Lunch

2.15pm: Meeting with the life sciences and medicine subject libarian to discuss what I will be doing on Thursdays and Fridays for the next couple of weeks.  I am going to be producing some pretty graphs in Excel from our door entry statistics, broken down by subject and user category (undergraduate students, taught postgraduate students, research postgraduate students and staff).  I’m looking forward to this – I enjoy playing with spreadsheets.

2.50pm: Shadowing another member of staff’s SOLO Live Help session as I will be joining the SOLO Live Help team soon (see yesterday’s post).

3.15pm: SOLO Live Help is very quiet so I start work on the door entry statistics.

4.15pm: Tea break

4.30pm: Back to the spreadsheets and I have some very pretty pie charts.

5pm: End of the day and I’m off home.

Library Day in the Life Round 8: Wednesday

This is the third of five blog posts written for round 8 of the Library Day in the Life Project  by the graduate trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library.

Entrance to the Radcliffe Science Library8.45am: Arrive at the Radcliffe Science Library, switch on my computer and check emails.

9am: I’ll soon be joining the team staffing SOLO Live Help, our instant messaging service for helping users having problems with our SOLO (our online catalogue).  In preparation I start this morning by reading through the SOLO Live Help information pack I’ve been sent and request access to the wiki which has more information for staff.

9.30am: Meeting with the document supply supervisor.  This is one of a series of meetings that it was agreed in my progress meeting a couple of weeks ago I should have to find out about the work done in other sections of the library.  I find out how both incoming and outgoing inter-library loans are processed.  We end up having a long conversation about copyright and I borrow a couple of, thankfully short, books about copyright from her.  I’ve been thinking about copyright quite a lot recently and the more I look into it the more confusing it becomes.

10.25am: My request to access the wiki for SOLO Live Help has been approved, so I take a look at the information on there.

10.35am: Have a quick look through the books on copyright and note down a couple of useful-looking websites.

10.45am: Read through the minutes of a meeting I went to last week.

10.55am: Tea break.

11.20am: For the past couple of weeks I’ve been having problems logging on to computers in an office I sometimes need to use (due to certain software only being installed on those computers).  Someone from IT came last Friday and supposedly fixed the problem, so I go to test that I can log on, taking some reading on copyright with me in case it takes a while.

11.30am: Two error messages later and the computer is still trying to log me on.

11.40am: The computer is still trying to log on, so I decide to go and do something else and come back later to see if it gets there in the end.  I continue working on a LibGuide I am creating about reference management.

12pm: I return to see whether I’m logged on to the computer yet.  I am! But it took rather a long time and I have been logged on with a ‘temporary profile’, whatever that means.  I email the person from IT who I have been in contact with about the problem to report my logging on attempts and ask what the temporary profile means.

12.15pm: Back to working on the LibGuide.

1.30pm: Lunch

1.55pm: Leave to walk over to Osney where I need to be for this afternoon’s training session.

2pm: Most Wednesday afternoons all the graduate trainees in the Oxford libraries have a training session.  Today’s session was on archives and manuscripts and I found it particularly relevant to the work I am doing on the Druce Archive at the Sherardian Library (see Monday’s post).  The afternoon started with an overview of the work of special collections, and in particular Western manuscripts, at the Bodleian Library, including information on the kind of collections held, methods of acquisition and the stages of processing a collection requires.  We were then split in to three groups, and given three short talks on processing and cataloguing an archive, on the Saving Oxford Medicine Project and on digital archives.  I found it particularly interesting to hear about digital archives.  How to go about archiving a website wasn’t something I’d considered before!  Overall, a very interesting and enjoyable training session.

Library Day in the Life Round 8: Tuesday

This is the second of five blog posts written for round 8 of the Library Day in the Life Project  by the graduate trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library.

9.15am: Usually on Tuesdays I would spend the whole day at the Alexander Library of Ornithology, but this week my Tuesday starts with an All Libraries Meeting.  Once a term the Bodley’s Librarian gives a talk to staff of the Bodleian Libraries updating us all on what is happening in libraries around Oxford.  Tea and coffee is provided before the meeting and I get a chance to meet a couple of people I’ve not met before.  The meeting starts with fancy fly-through presentation of the plans for the new Weston Library (due to open in 2014); goes on to cover various digitization projects, most of which I’ve not heard about before; then there’s an update on the Bodleian Libraries website development project; the proposed plans for moving the History Faculty Library to the central Bodleian site are discussed; and it finishes with a question and answer session.

One digitization project which particularly caught my attention was a project called What’s the score at the Bodleian?  The project aims to make available a collection of uncatalogued music scores from the 19th century.   The difference with this project is that once items have been digitized and made available online with basic descriptive metadata, members of the public are being asked to help make the material more easily discoverable by adding more information about it.  Does anyone know of any other projects using crowd-sourced creation of descriptive metadata?

11.15am: Arrive at the Alexander Library of Ornithology in the Zoology Department.  Start up computer, greet colleagues, have a quick discussion about our thoughts on the All Libraries Meeting and check emails.

11.25am: My first task for today is carrying on with a something I started last Tuesday.  The Alexander Library moved to its current home last summer and the listings for our geographical and subject reprints sequences still had the old shelf marks on them.  I’m updating the lists, but I’m using the box numbers that were added to help with the move, rather than shelf marks so that if there is another move in the future it doesn’t have to be redone again.  I’m starting today in the middle of the Africa part of the geographical sequence.  I check that the box name on the list matches the box name on the box, write down the box number and when I’ve done that for a reasonable number of boxes go to the library office and fill in the table I’m making.  The process is complicated by a lot of the countries having changed their names and boundaries over the years meaning there are a number of mismatches and some confusing labelling.  I find Wikipedia very useful for demystifying these mismatches!

Geographical Reprints Boxes
Geographical Reprints Boxes

12.30pm: I get to the end of the Africa sequence and take a break from the reprints listings by flicking through the lastest copy of Outline – the Bodleian Libraries staff newsletter.  An article about an exhibition at the Bodliean called The Romance of the Middle Ages catches my eye and I make a mental note to go and see it.

The librarian suggests I help her with a project to update the inventory of items in the rare books cupboard.  The shelf marks need updating since they changed due to the move in the summer.  We decide on the best way to go about the project and agree to start it next week.

12.50pm: Back to the reprints list.  I start on the last section of the geographical sequence – America.  This turns out (as expected) to be much simpler to deal with than Africa.

1.10pm: Lunch

2pm: Reprints list again

Photograph of books on biography at the Alexander Library
Biographies – just one of the resources available to me in the Alexander Library

2.50pm: I finish the listing for the geographical sequence so decide to move on to another task.  I continue an ongoing project creating summaries of the lives of people whose archives the library holds.  This should hopefully make it easier to work out whether an archive is likely to contain the information a reader is searching for and to find the best part of the archive to look in for that information.  Today I’m working on a life summary for Sir Julian Huxley, who was also the first director-general of UNESCO and did many other things as well as conducting ornithological research.

I tend to start by searching for the person in the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which is available via the university’s subscription.  Other sources include the biographies and autobiographies we have in the collections, the biography reprints we hold (which include newspaper clippings of obituaries as well as journal articles) and information I can find on the websites of organizations the person was particularly involved with.  Sometimes the information is easy to find, sometimes it is not but I enjoy a challenge.

3.45pm: Tea break time

Desk in the library office at the Alexander Library
My desk at the Alexander Library

4pm: Back to writing up Sir Julian Huxley’s life summary.  I enjoy finding information and some of the people I have researched had absolutely fascinating lives, so this is a task I find rewarding.  However, the Alexander librarian only works part time, so the library is only open to visitors three days a week 9.30am until 2.10pm.  Although members of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology have 24-hour key fob access, the library is always very quiet in the afternoon.  By the end of the day it is getting a bit lonely and I’m looking forward to getting back to the hustle and bustle of the Radcliffe Science Library tomorrow.

4.55pm: I pack everything away, shut down the computer, close up the library office and then head off home.

Library Day in the Life Round 8: Monday

This is the first of five blog posts written for round 8 of the Library Day in the Life Project  by the graduate trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library.

I found out a little while ago about a project called Library Day in the Life.  Twice a year people who work in libraries and library school students share with the world what they actually do through blog posts, twitter, photos, videos or in any other way they can think of.  I think it’s brilliant idea, so decided to participate in the next round.

Although I’m the Radcliffe Science Library trainee, I don’t actually spend all my week there as we have two satellite libraries where I also work.  My normal timetable is:

  • Monday – Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy
  • Tuesday – Alexander Library of Ornithology
  • Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – Radcliffe Science Library (RSL)

So, here we go …

11am: Arrive at the Fielding-Druce Herbarium at the Department of Plant Sciences.  A herbarium is like a library with dried plant specimens instead of books, but this one also houses library material (i.e. books) and the library offices as well. The library and herbarium work together very closely.  My evening duty (5-7pm) at the RSL for this week is today, so I’m in a couple of hours later than usual.  I check my emails and book myself on to an Oxford University Computing Services course on copyright in the digital age for which booking has just opened.

11.15am:  I gather some stationery together and head up to the general reading room, which is on the other side of the building.  The reading room is accessible to department members via swipe card and not usually staffed, but this is where I spend most of my time when I’m at plant sciences as it is where the archive I’m working on is kept.

Druce Archive boxes
Druce Archive boxes

Throughout my year as a trainee I’m working on the archive of man called George Clarence Druce.  Druce was a botanist, pharmacist and strongly involved with Oxford City Council, becoming mayor in 1900.  He also seemed to keep almost every piece of paper he acquired!  My task for the year was to re-box the archive into conservation boxes and make a basic listing of what is in each box.  I completed the re-boxing stage last year and am now on to the description stage.

I start where I finished off last week – on box 12 (of about 150!).  This box contains material relating to Czecho-Slovakia (as it was then), mostly from a visit Druce made there in 1920 as part of a deputation of British journalists and includes correspondence, newspaper cuttings, tourist guides, photographs, postcards, maps, menus … As this box contains lots of unusual items and is not easily sorted into bundles, each item is described separately in the Excel spreadsheet I am using to list the contents of the archive.  I give each item a number, note down the name of anyone connected with the item and a year (if applicable), select a material type (e.g. letter, photograph, map, etc) write a general description and note down anything that might be a conservation issue.

12.25pm: Box 12 finished, on to box 14 (I’ll come back to box 13 later).  This box contains much more normal contents for this archive – four bundles, mainly of correspondence but also containing all sorts of other material, with each bundle containing material from one or two years.  For each bundle I remove any old string or wrappings (wrappings are kept separately in the box), go through the items checking the material type, look for anything particularly interesting and check for botanical specimens hidden inside letters.  Once recorded each bundle is tied up with conservation tape with a small slip of acid-free paper indicating the bundle number.  In this box I came across (among many other things):

  • a pamphlet containing a list of the rules of and a list of the members of the Pharmacy Club for 1914
  • a report of the Oxford Education Committee’s Higher Education sub-committee
  • term cards of the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire (these crop up fairly frequently)
  • an invitation to the opening of the Radcliffe Infirmary and County Hospital’s new buildings
Workstation with computer, conservation box containing finished bundles, a bundle yet to be done, conservation tape etc
My workstation

1pm: Suddenly realise it is lunchtime, so pack up and head back down to the library offices to back up my mornings work onto the staff network drive before going to lunch.

2pm: Head back up to the reading room to carry on where I left off before lunch.

2.50pm: Help the librarian with photographing a page from a rare book for a researcher from Holland (the copy of the book the researcher has access to is missing pages).

3.10pm: Once we’ve finished the photographing we go to look for a suitable conservation box for some of the items in box 13 of the Druce archive.  Last week I had a quick look at the next few boxes to see what might be in store and when I looked in one of the envelopes in box 13 found it contained two penknives! We decided to store these separately from the rest of the archive, so they need their own box.  They will also need to be catalogued!

3.20pm: Having found a suitable box, I head back up to the reading room to finish off box 14.

3.40pm: Box 14 finished, seems like a good time for a tea break.

4pm: Start on the rest of the contents of box 13, which turns out to consist almost entirely of glass slides.  Very helpfully quite a lot of them have little labels saying what they are of.

4.45pm: Pack up the archive, go down to the library office to back up my work again and walk down the road to the RSL for my evening duty on the circulation desk.

5pm: Arrive at the RSL.  While on the circulation desk I issue books, return books, renew books, etc, but also tend to find time when it’s quiter to get other work done.  This evening I manage to deal with some emails, order books from our off-site storage facility for a visiting reader who is visiting the library next weekend and get a bit further with the LibGuide I’m creating on reference management.

7pm: End of the day.

Library Day in the Life – Corpus Christi College Library

I’m the Graduate Trainee at Corpus Library and since it is term-time  I am working 10 – 6.  In Vacation I work 9-5.  I had also meant to document a full week for the Library Day in the Life project, but this really is a pretty standard day for me, it was yesterday Thursday 27th January.    I spent this morning’s tea break checking spellings and making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything!

9.00am After forty-five minutes worth of pottering around after my other half has left the house, I eventually leave too, and walk the 5 minutes down the hill to Didcot station.  No tomfoolery on the railways this morning so I should be in Oxford nice and promptly.  Sometimes starting at 10 is no bad thing.

9.45am It’s freezing today (is that sleet?!) and I’ve basically been blown to work. Arrive at Corpus, check the Lodge for any post that might have arrived since 9am.  There’s none.

9.50am Wait for my PC (and fingers!) to warm up catch up with the Librarian who is at her desk in the office.

10am I start work!  First I shelve the books that have been cleared from the library that morning  by the Assistant Librarian and the Librarian.  Clearing is done every morning at 9am and entails emptying the bookbin (for after hours returns) and clearing desks of books that have not been left under a “please leave” slip.  These are designed for students to use up to 10 books in the library without checking them out and are valid for three days.  They can update the date on the slip as many times as they like, but if it falls out of date then we clear.

10.30am Today there was not much to do, thankfully! One day last week I was shelving until 11.40 *whimper*  I shelve in the rolling stacks on the ground floor of the library.  These house books ranging from 000 – 699.  I hate heavy Chemistry text books!  I also shelve on the first floor in the English room, which involves less bulk but more high shelves and ladder climbing.  Dickens enjoys probably the best view in the whole library. I return to the library office and check my emails.  I then display some flyers for WISER courses in the Catalogue room.

10.45am I relieve the Assistant Librarian of the issue desk so she can have her coffee break.  It’s quiet in the library this morning. A college lecturer comes in to look for a book that is seemingly available on OLIS but is not on the shelves where it should be.  I take a note of the book, its shelfmark and her name and tell her we will contact her when it re-surfaces.  I let the Assistant Librarian know and she shows me a spreadsheet to fill in with any books that might be missing.  We’re confident that somebody is probably just using it elsewhere in the library.

11.05am I return to the office and put the kettle on for my tea break.  I discuss some upcoming training with the Librarian.  It is training that the other Oxford Library trainees all undertook in two solid days at the start of the year, but because I started later I have it spread over three mornings in Week 3.  It’ll be alright.

11.25am After tea, I pop over to the college office to pick up some paper for our photocopier and printer from the College Secretary.  Upon returning to the library office I can hear that organ practice has begun.  Corpus library is next to the college chapel and when you are working at the issue desk you can look through the window right down onto the organ.  In the office all you can really hear is a reassuring hum from the pipes.  I resume email checking, but there is nothing new and I start planning a re-jig of the catalogue room notice board.  I will need to make up some new posters and update some existing ones but I can’t get to the board at the moment as it is above the public computers and they are all occupied.  It will have to wait until tomorrow morning.  I process a couple of journals instead and take them downstairs to shelve.

11.50am I am reminded that there is a growing pile of books to cover in protective wrapping, so I make a start.  These books are normally gifts or donations, as most of our new books are delivered covered and triggered already.  It’s interesting seeing the books that people (mainly Fellows and Old Members) donate to the library for use.  One of the previous Trainees here donated a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  I was heartened when I found it as it appears to be the most loved book in the library!  Apparently it was on a display for browsing while waiting for a spare computer or the photocopier and proved really popular with those waiting!

1.00pm I finish covering the books just in time for lunch, hurrah!  After I’ve eaten, I return to the office, which is nice and cosy because the door is closed now, and carry on reading Brighton Rock.  I’d like to finish it before seeing the new film but we’ll see!

2.00pm I spend afternoons on the issue desk.  This means I am able to answer enquiries, fix the photocopier (grr) and fetch books as well as getting on with any other work on my to do list.

2.10pm Contact maintenance about a flashing strip light in one of the Old Library bays.

2.15pm Currently I am working on updating an existing document that lists all the journals Corpus has in its holdings.  This is for easy reference for library users and lives downstairs.  We are really trying to encourage people to use the excellent online facilities, SOLO and OxLIP+ , where they can access Oxford University’s broad collection of material.  We have cancelled several subscriptions this year as well so I need to make up shelf notices to alert readers to this and let them know that they can find them all online.  I need to cross check each journal on this list with the record on OLIS to make sure I have noted to exactly which volume we stock for each one.  For ongoing subscriptions this is easy, I put v.1 [for example] – current.

3.00pm I process some books out on the issue desk ready to take back to the Librarian to check and put out in the New Books Display.

3.45pm Afternoon tea break.  This time all three of us have tea together in the office.  It’s been quiet and thanks to our CCTV we can see if anyone comes looking for us at the desk or sets off the security alarm.

4.10pm I continue to work on the journals list document, while keeping an eye on my emails for enquiries from any readers. I also complete the pricing of an English reading list for the Assistant Librarian.  She emails me to tell me there are one more each for Politics and Economics to check over the term as well.

5.15pm The Assistant Librarian and Librarian go home.

5.45pm I start to jot down some notes of what I’ve been up to today.  I will type it all up tonight and post it tomorrow morning.

6.00pm I shut up the issue desk and open the bookbin.  Turn off the printer and heater in the office, lock up, wrap up warm and head out into the night.   Not forgetting to take the cash box over to the Lodge on my way out for the evening invigilators first.

Library Day in the Life – Bodleian Social Science Library

I had intended to blog about a week for the Library day in the Life project, but failed to note down anything past Tuesday morning. In any case, I think Monday was quite an accurate representation of an average term-time day as a Graduate Trainee at the Social Science Library.


Monday 24th January, 2011

8.40 – I arrived early, my usual start time is 9am, to open up. As there are three of us opening up, it gets done pretty quickly. I log onto the issue desk PCs, but as they take a while to get going, I open up the different rooms; Large and Small discussion rooms, IT training room, and the lesser used media room. I also switch on the Sunray computers, which are open access straight to the online catalogue and internet, and make sure the photocopiers are full of paper.

9.00 – I check my post tray, which has a room booking slip from the evening staff, which they didn’t have time to complete. As it’s a booking for this afternoon, I turn on my computer and can check the library emails first.

9.10 – I open up Microsoft Outlook and have a quick scan of my own emails… I’ve been offered an interview for UCL! And there’s no one in the workroom to tell (Lauren doesn’t get in til 9.45)! I open up the main library email account. Mostly it’s emails that can be moved straight into a folder, or simply forwarded on, but there are also a few cancellations for the Graduate Search Clinics. This can be quite frustrating, as we had a lot of trouble with more bookings than spaces. There are also two messages about reader’s accounts that are blocked due to invoiced books that were actually returned. I clear up their accounts, and explain the mistake and apologise.

9.30 – I do the room booking from my post tray and a couple of others from the emails, and print out the posters.

9.45 – Lauren arrives, and checks the printer for invoices. There aren’t any today, so I clear my desk a little. I have accumulated a pile of books for the beginnings of our trainee project. We will be creating an online guide to good academic writing, using LibGuide software. I add the details of these books to our growing bibliography, and put them out on the shelving trolleys behind the issue desk. Meanwhile, Lauren has started on the claimed returns. The SSL is a very busy lending library, and as such it’s often easy to miss a book here or there when scanning in. It is the trainee’s job to search for these twice, email the reader to check at home and any other libraries they use, and then make the book missing if it isn’t found.

10.00 – We send out a Graduate Search Clinic reminder email, and invoice a reader who knows book is lost before the automated invoice is sent out. For this I check the price on Dawsons, add an administrative hold and a message block on the reader’s account, and send the letter to their college address.

10.20 – We set to work on our other project. This will be reclassifying the pamphlets into Library of Congress, and we need to write a poster to let readers know. While I’m doing this, I’m handed a phone message from the desk voicemail, and vaguely remember the person and why they were calling. It was an academic who has been in and out of the country recently, whose books have reached invoicing point. He had been confused about the process and wanted them renewed, so I had asked the Reader Services Librarian if we could make an exception.

11 – Tea break. There are chocolate muffins and banana cake.

11.20 – I have a look at the academic’s account and read through our previous correspondence to familiarise before I phone him back. I hate phoning people, so I try to write down the steps of what I will say! I also have a brief look through the minutes from last week’s Reader Services meeting, which I missed due to some training.

12-12.30 – I’m on desk duty, and as it’s a quiet moment, I phone the academic, and once I’ve hung up I put together a formal email with breakdown of account, which he requested since it was a confused situation.

12.30 – Lunch.

1.30-2.30 – I’m on the desk again for an hour. It’s mostly PCAS problems, deciphering what people actually want; “I’m looking for [title said really fast]. It’s here”. It turns out a lecturer had asked the library to keep some of his own books behind desk for his students to consult, but it can get confusing as we have offprints, core course (3hr loans), reservations, and stack requests behind the desk.

2.45 – The stack requests arrive from the Bodleian. We get two deliveries a day, but the trainees only have to process the afternoon delivery. We have a 3pm deadline, but they have been late getting to the library recently. We have to check the items are right, scan them on OLIS, and we are still putting in red ‘This book cannot be removed from the library’ slips when students start asking for them. A wrong item has also been sent to us; part of the shelf mark 220 is mistaken for 200 (this happens fairly often). I help on the desk a little, as it gets busy on the hour when students come out from lectures, and answer some PCAS queries (I turn it off and on again).

3.30 – I check the emails yet again! I also look up the phone number for H Floor of the Bodleian to get the right book sent.

4.00 – tea break

4.30 – I phone the stacks to send the correct book, and email the reader to let them know it’s delayed but on its way. Then it’s onto some shelving. The SSL has a standard of re-shelving books within two days, and confined (reference only) books and journals within one day, which means before shelving we need to check what’s next on the list and tick it off when we’re done. I shelve until the end of the day, and then it’s time to pile on my layers and fetching high-vis vest, and cycle home.

Climbing Mont Blu to the Parallel Universes: An Update from the Science Libraries

Mont Blu in Zoology Library
Mont Blu – Blue bags in the Zoology Library (Photo: O. Bridle)

The first two months of my traineeship have seen many changes occurring in the science libraries, and it has been an interesting, (if often surreal) induction into librarianship. The Departmental libraries in Zoology and the Plant Sciences have closed, and the collections have mostly been merged with those of the Radcliffe Science Library. My first few days of work as a trainee were spent wrapping a corridor-long card catalogue drawer-by-drawer in cling film so that the cards would not be dislodged during moving – a “unique” experience, but important none-the-less, as a good portion of the references (pre-1938) are not catalogued on OLIS. Other tasks have included measuring and calculating shelf space for the ornithological journals and bulletins in the Alexander Library of Ornithology, and “blue bagging” duplicate journals for secure destruction (see the photo of Mont Blu which is all that remains of the former Zoology Departmental Library). I have also had the invaluable opportunity to participate in library induction tours and more specialised research skills presentations with the subject librarians at the Radcliffe Science Library.

Plant Science Library Reading Room
Former Plant Sciences Library Reading Room (Photo: G. Petrokofsky)

On September 23, the Plant Sciences Library was officially closed with a “BBBL” (Brown Bag and Bubbly Lunch). Roger Mills, Head of Sciences, gave an excellent address outlining the history of the Plant Sciences Library and the Oxford Forest Information Service, and the work that has gone into the move of most of the Plant Sciences collections for inclusion in the Radcliffe Science Library. The future of ISBES was toasted with sparkling wine, and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk with the librarians about their work and experiences. The Plant Sciences Library is now closed, but the new Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy still remains associated with the Oxford Herbaria. Herbarium Curator Dr. Stephen Harris took us on a tour of the Herbaria, while special collections and biology subject librarians Anne Marie Townsend and Judith Pinfold took us on a tour of the library collections, including a glimpse of the magnificent Flora Graeca, first published in 1806, an incredible work of botanical illustration.

Ciorsdan Glass reads her poem “North” at the Parallel Universes Poetry Evening (Photo: J. Ralph)

October 7 not only marked the official opening of the Book Storage Facility in Swindon, but it was also National Poetry Day. The Radcliffe Science Library celebrated with the Parallel UniVerses poetry evening, held in the entrance lounge of the RSL. The Parallel UniVerses poetry competition had been organised as a unique synthesis of science and art, and over 86 entries were received. Ten of these were selected to be read during the evening. It was a wonderfully festive use of the library space: although 40 people had booked for the evening, almost 100 people were in attendance. The mood was festive as the poets and their audience partook in hors d’oeuvres and wine before the event. The poems themselves were lovely, poignant and often touching reminders that science is not all cold laboratory benches and sterile white lab coats, but is a human endeavor.

(With Thanks to J. Ralph, G. Petrokofsky and O. Bridle for photographs)