A day in the life of a Graduate Trainee: Taylor Institution Library

As we are now approaching the final months of the Graduate Trainee year, I thought I’d write a quick post detailing what I’ve been up to throughout the last twelve months! Although my work has changed throughout the year, in this post I have tried to describe a “typical” day in my library; detailing both the routine activities I do virtually every day and giving a snapshot of the individual projects that have changed throughout the year.

Here it is:

9.00 – Arrive at work and prepare the library for opening at 9.30. This involves switching on the Desk and SOLO quick search computers, setting out the cash boxes ready for collecting fines, and opening some windows in the main reading room and computer room to let some air circulate. I will also normally do a spot check of the library; tidying up anything left from the previous evening and shelving any books left on tables.

9.10-9.30 – Once the library is ready to open, I then start Aleph (the University’s Library Management System) on both desk computers, and open my email inbox. Afterwards, I download the daily “Lapse List”, which contains a list of both the Bodleian and PTFL books that need to be returned to the Book Storage Facility in Swindon every day. I then find these books on their shelves by the main desk, process them, and place them in the box to be collected by the delivery van at lunch time. If my colleague has not already done so, I will also check the Book Returns Box to check whether any books have been returned to the library outside of opening hours, and then return them to the shelves.

9.30-11.00 – Now that the library is open, readers start to enter and I therefore start my everyday desk duties. As it is now close to exam time, several readers are entering the library returning or borrowing books, but there are also regular questions from readers both in person and on the telephone, and I advise them on a case-by-case basis. This week, for example, I have answered questions about the payment of fines, the use of the Bodleian wide printing system (PCAS), the location of resources both in the PTFL and in the wider Bodleian libraries, and had to chase up books for readers that had not been returned on time.

When readers are not at the desk, I also start to reply to any emails that come through either to my own inbox or to the generic library inbox. These can be from readers asking questions about resources, or from colleagues asking me to complete specific tasks. Additionally, I help to process any fines payments coming through from the online store and reserve places on information skills sessions run by the library.

11.00 – Tea Break!

11.10 – 13.00 – In addition to my regular desk duties and answering email enquiries, as the day goes on, I normally take the opportunity to work on one of my individual trainee projects when the desk is quiet. These have been varied throughout the year and have changed depending on the individual needs of the library. So far, I have written a blog post advertising the library’s collections to a wider audience, created a new PowerPoint presentation for the Library Information Screen, and taken part in a project to reclassify the remaining Theology classification to Library of Congress (more details to follow in my presentation for the Trainee showcase!).

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch!

14.00 – 15.00 – Shortly after 2pm, the Bodleian delivery van usually comes to collect the outgoing Closed Stack Books and to drop off any books that have been ordered in the last 24 hours from the Book Storage Facility in Swindon. After they are delivered, I process any new books with colleagues and then place them on the reservation shelf at the Enquiry Desk. When they are processed, a reader gets an email informing them that their request has arrived, and they can then come to the desk to collect it. After processing the stack books, I normally continue on the desk, answering any further enquiries and shelving any returned books once I have any spare time.

15.00 – Tea Break!

15.10 – 16.45 – For the past few months, in the afternoons I have often been in the back library office as we are currently completing a weeding project. As we are trying to make space in the library for new acquisitions, I have been selecting low use books from the open shelves and processing them ready for ingest into the Book Storage Facility. I therefore need to replace the barcode on these books and update their catalogue record to reflect their new location. Once they have been processed, these books are placed in a special ingest box and collected by the Bodleian delivery van the following day.

16.45 – 17.15 – If it is not term-time, in the last half an hour of the day I help other colleagues to prepare the library for closing at 5pm. This process is basically the reverse of the opening procedure, but we always make sure that we check all areas of the library for any stray readers before we close the building! As it is currently term-time, I normally hand over to the evening staff at this time at the moment, unless I am on an evening shift myself of course. The library then closes at 7pm.

A Day in the Life….English Faculty Library 03.02.15

8:45am – Lock my bike up and let myself into the library, the library doesn’t open until 9 but the staff all come in a little earlier to open up properly.

8:50am – Banking! Every day I reconcile the float and put the till out.

9:00am – Another daily duty – I check the lapse list and pull items off our hold shelf to go back to the BSF, scanning them through Aleph and packing them into crates.

9:30am – I am responsible for the first reader count of the day (fortunately for me it is usually the smallest count!)

9:32am – If I have any important emails (I rarely have important emails) I will probably start responding to them at this point. Today I used this time to process some DVDs and check in journals on  ALEPH.

10:15am – Today I also covered a box in craft paper…. the EFL are preparing to launch a ‘love your library’ competition to celebrate National  Libraries Day. The box will be for competition entries. Sometimes you end up doing things you don’t really expect a librarian would do!

10:30am – COFFEE TIME. The EFL is usually well stocked with biscuits, nothing but one sad stale jam doughnut from last week knocking about today. Tragedy. I made do with a vegan fruit bar thing. It wasn’t the same.

11:00am – Back to work time! I spent a bit of time looking at the EFL Twitter and Facebook pages to see how our National Libraries Day posts are faring. I also packaged up some books to send back to their correct libraries – almost every day we get at least one college book returned to us, usually cleverly hidden within a pile of our books. I’m still unsure as to whether this is a deliberate ploy by the students (I mean they are a clever bunch) or if they are just a tad forgetful at times. Either way it gives me an excuse to stretch my legs and say hi to the porters.

11:30am – Stack requests! I knew I was forgetting something…. I head down to fetch up our delivery of books requested from the BSF. Two crates today which is pretty standard for the EFL. Some libraries get far more! I scan the books through ALEPH and arrange them on the BSF requests shelf in alphabetical order.

12:00pm – Lunch time…. I ate a very depressing salad which was pretty wilted. I brought this from home though so do not take it as a reflection of the trainee experience! I decided to go for a walk as it has been snowing lately (so it looks pretty outside) and I thought I’d make myself useful by popping to Tesco in town to replenish the biscuit supply ahead of afternoon tea break. I also picked up some chocolates to bribe students to act as an incentive for the competition I mentioned earlier.

12:50pm – I ate two cheese-strings I forgot I left in the fridge and immediately felt a sense of self loathing and regret.

1:00pm – It was my desk duty, so between then and 3pm I was at the circulation desk helping with reader enquiries, issuing and returning books and organising shelving trolleys. Common queries include students requesting materials from our Stacks, help with printing and help to find books.

1:07pm – Settled on the desk I open up a spreadsheet I’m working on. One of my current projects is to take stock of the journals holdings in Stack One, as we will have to clear our out stacks to make way for some planned building works. I have to make a spreadsheet which lists all the journals kept in Stack one and a record of how much space they take up on the shelves. This will help us toward making decisions about stock to withdraw.

1:18pm – One of the porters dropped the post off, it is part of my job to sort through it all. when I initially started I found it really weird opening post addressed to other people but now I don’t mind – unless an item says ‘confidential’ the majority of our post tends to be invoices, new periodicals or advertisements from publishers about new books.

1:47pm – Started writing this blog post…

2:14pm – Noticed a full returns trolley so sorted it out ready for the afternoon shelvers.

3:00pm – Desk shift over! Kevin, our afternoon library assistant always covers the desk between 3 and 5. I took the post back into the office to finish sorting through it.

3:30pm – Tea time. Time for a hard earned biscuit. I had to make the difficult choice between a custard cream or a chocolate digestive. Oh, the struggle.

4:00pm – Back to work for the last hour of the day. I usually use this time to do something technical, like process a few books or periodicals. I looked despairingly at my journals spreadsheet, but decided 4pm wasn’t a good time to go downstairs and start measuring things, so stuck to processing. This involves stamping books, adding their shelfmarks on ALEPH and adding them to our LibraryThing account.

4:50pm – It was practically the end of the day, at this point I usually write up a to do list for tomorrow, finish up any task I’m doing as I can’t stand leaving things unfinished. I may pop out to the issue desk and help decant books left around the library onto reshelving trolleys but i’m not always needed for this.

5:00pm – As it is term time, I didn’t need to do any of the closing up duties as we stay open until 7pm. Those of us not working the evening left, locking the door and putting up the sign to say to enter through the porter’s lodge after 5pm. Home time!


This is an overview of a day in the EFL! Generally I do most of the tasks mentioned every day, although no two days are exactly the same! Once we had a book returned by a pilot in the post who had found it on his plane, and another time we had a strange man walk into the library to hand over some very odd handwritten poetry (we don’t have swipe access like other libraries) so it’s certainly never boring!

A Day in the Life at the SSL

As I have now settled into the Social Science Library, I thought it would be nice to write a ‘Day in the Life’ like previous cohorts have done to give a bit of insight into what being a Trainee can involve!

As there are two of us in the Social Science Library, we share the workload by focusing on different tasks each week. This week I’m concentrating on Technical Services tasks.

9.00 – I arrive at the library and meet with a member of the SOLO User Group. SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online) is the Oxford University catalogue. Another trainee and I were given the opportunity to join the user group, but during the first meeting a lot of things went over my head! It’s interesting to get some background about the group (and understand the acronyms!) and I also get some useful information about distance learning options for library school.

10.00 – Time for my shift on the Issue Desk. As Trainees we are on the desk for several hours each day. You never really know what you’re going to be asked but I have just about got to grips with some of the more common queries which tend to be regarding issuing book, stack requests (more about them later) and problems with printing. Today I also change a printer cartridge and don’t get ink all over myself which I consider a small triumph.

11.00 – Tea break. Today is the Reader Services Librarian’s last day, so everyone gathers for cake (it was delicious!).

Libraries are run on cake

11.25 – Time to start on my Technical Services tasks. The main part of this being book processing. This involves doing some basic work on Aleph like adding shelfmarks. Followed by adding stamps, security tattle tape and labels. The library receives books that are shelf ready, books from legal deposit and books that we have bought online, and each needs a slightly different amount of processing (definitely no stamps in the legal deposit books!).

20150204_121650Physical Book processing – stamps and plates

13.00 – Lunch. Today I’m reading The Humans by Matt Haig which I would thoroughly recommend.

14.00 – More book processing.

14.30 – Back on the Issue Desk. Around this time, we normally receive our afternoon delivery of stack requests from the Bodleian Storage Facility in Swindon. I check them in to our library and add them to our stack request shelf. Luckily there is only one box today but sometimes we can get loads.

15.00 – Every week in term time we have a Reader Services meeting. This is quite useful for knowing about any new procedures or any other issues that have come up on the desk. Today we’re told about how some inter-library loans can now be taken out of the library and the procedure involved.

15.30 – Journal survey time. The SSL is currently surveying all the print journal stock to see if there is anything we can move out to the BSF or remove to make more space. As our current holdings are incorrect, I am surveying what is actually on the shelves and making a note of what volumes of each journal we have and how many metres of shelving it takes up. It is interesting to see how the design of some of the periodicals have changed over the years when we have volumes from several decades. I spot some volumes today from the 1880s that carry right on through until 2013.

16.30 – Another aspect of the Trainee Technical Services tasks is book repairs. We assess books that are in need of repair to see whether they should be replaced, sent to conservation, a commercial bindery or repaired in-house. Today I repair a couple of books that have a page loose and put them under a very high-tech weight (i.e. a brick) to dry.

20150204_121713Book repairs

17.00 – Just enough time for some more book processing. Some of the books I have been labelling need covering, which means an opportunity to channel my inner Blue Peter presenter to wrestle with what is effectively sticky back plastic and hope I don’t get any air bubbles!

17.30 – Time to go! As its the Reader Services librarian’s last day, we are off to the pub for her leaving drinks.

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 http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/bodleian_law_library.php

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.

Library Trainee Day in the Life – Day 5

Welcome to day five in the Day in the Life series. Every day my duties and tasks vary considerably depending on where in the library I am working, so there is really no such thing as a ‘typical’ day, but I hope this post will give you some idea of what I do on a day-to-day basis as the Bodleian Library trainee.

8.45 – 9.20: The Day Begins
I arrive in work glad to get out of the cold, hang my coat up, head to the Main Enquiry Desk and turn on my computer. Many of the staff start earlier than me so the opening routine has already been completed; photocopiers and computers are turned on and the morning book replacing is underway in the reading rooms. There are three of us on Main Enquiry Desk this morning, and as it’s been relatively quiet over the past couple of days I take the opportunity to carry on re-numbering the desks in the Lower Reading Room, a project I’ve been working on for a while. I’ve been trying to do most of the re-labelling before the library opens so that I don’t cause too much disruption to readers, so I continue peeling off the double-sided tape and sticking them on each desk. Not the most exciting of tasks, but someone’s got to do it!

9.20 – 10.10: Background Tasks
I reach desk number 173 and run out of labels with only six desks to go – typical! After much searching I finally track down some more yellow paper, print some more labels, laminate them and stick them on the desks. Now I’ve finished this project I’m free to start working on the next task I’ve been given, which is to check the locations and shelfmarks of all the Classics Journals that the Bodleian holds on the open shelves. There were many books moves over the summer and we’re all still getting used to the new locations,  so it’s my job to create an an updated list of where everything is to make them easier to locate when readers ask.

10.10 – 10.30: Main Enquiry Desk.
Back at Main Enquiry Desk I read through my email inbox and catch up with everything going on in the library. I have 26 emails this morning so there is plenty to read, and a couple to reply to. The phone rings and it’s someone enquiring about how to become a library user. I explain the process to them, ask them to email us the names of any off-site books they want to see so that we can order them in advance of their visit, and put them through to the Admissions Office who can explain the process of getting a library card. I spend quite a lot of my time at Main Desk, which is the most challenging but rewarding part of the job. I love helping and interacting with readers, and the vast array of queries we get (especially via email) keeps me on my toes – I learn something new every day.

10.30-11.00: Tea break time

11.00-11.30: Outline Meeting
Each year, the Bodleian trainee has the great opportunity to assist with the editing of the Bodleian Libraries Staff Newsletter. Every Thursday the editors, a small group of staff from various libraries and departments, meet to read through the draft copy of the newsletter to correct any mistakes and make changes to the formatting ready for printing. This week we also discuss a few ideas of what we want to include in future issues and what features we’re going to promote.

11.30 – 11.55: Posters
Back at Main Desk, one of my colleagues asks me to visit each reading room of the library and put up some posters promoting a new service the library is offering. There are seven reading rooms in total and it takes me a while to walk round to each one, up and down many flights of stairs.One of my regular tasks is to sort, stamp and put up the many posters we receive at Main Enquiry Desk, and on my way around the library I take down any posters that are out-dated and make a mental note to put up the stack of new posters that have accumulated at some point this week.

11.55 – 13.00: Main Enquiry Desk
I arrive back at Main Enquiry Desk again and get down to get to sit down at last! It’s relatively busy today and we have quite a few people come up to the desk needing help with various things. I help someone over the phone who is having trouble logging in to the online catalogue, and then assist a reader in creating a photocopying account. Next, I check the two Reader Services email accounts to see if we’ve had any more enquiries today. My colleagues replied to all the ones from this morning when I was re-numbering the desks, but we check the accounts constantly throughout the day and try to reply as quickly as possible. We’ve received two enquires in the last hour so I answer both and record them on the spreadsheet.

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch time

14.00 -14.30: Book Replacing
As the trainee I get to move around the library and work in all the reading rooms, which is great as it keeps my days varied. This afternoon I’m in the Lower Camera Reading Room, though first I take a trip to the Gladstone Link as it’s my turn to help with the afternoon replacing. New ImageAs it’s term time there is quite a lot this afternoon, but with four of us replacing it doesn’t take too long. We get stopped by readers a lot, who are struggling to find the books they need. It’s always nice to see how grateful they are when we find what they were looking for so quickly!

14.30 – 14.45: Issue Desk
Back in the Lower Camera, I log in to a computer and am immediately rushed off my feet with a queue of readers at the desk. The Radcliffe Camera is the new home of the History Faculty Library, and unlike in the Old Bodleian many of the books can be borrowed. As an undergraduate reading room which is nearly always full in term time, it’s the busiest reading room I get to work in and time flies by. Being on the issue desk involves issuing and returning books, giving readers books that they have requested from the stacks, registering new library users, processing fines, as well as dealing with general queries and assisting readers with the photocopiers, searching the catalogue and finding books.

14.45 – 15.05: Book Delivery
The afternoon book delivery arrives. We get three deliveries of books a day in each reading room of books that readers have requested from the off-site stacks, and in term time the number of books that need processing increases dramatically. It’s not too much this afternoon though, only two full boxes. We can receive anywhere up to twelve boxes of books per reading room, which quite often happens in the Old Bodleian during term. Processing the books involves taking them out of the boxes, checking to see that each book is in the right reading room, scanning them into the system, sorting them alphabetically by reader’s surname, and putting them on the shelves behind the reserves ready for readers to come and collect.

15.05 – 16.20: Trainee Project Research
Though it’s busy at the issue desk there are some moments of calm, and I get the chance to get on with other things. In between readers I take the opportunity to research more out how to create a LibGuide, which I’ll be doing as part of my trainee project. I’m also going to give a tour of the library in a couple of months to staff from another library, so I send an email to make arrangements.

16.20 – 16.50: Tea break. I take a late break as it’s Thursday so I’m doing my weekly evening duty and working until seven. Coffee and cake with a friend is a lovely way to break up my shift.

16.50-19.00: Evening Duty
Back to work for my evening duty. I usually work my evenings in the Lower Reading Room, and I’m on the reserve desk on my own for an hour while my colleague goes down to the Gladstone Link to book replace. It’s relatively busy for an evening, with readers coming to the desk to collect or return their books. When my colleague comes back, I start the shelving in the reading room while she minds the desk. As usual there are a lot of books to replace, and I manage to re-shelve two full trolleys and many piles of books that have been left on the desks. Thankfully in term time we are open until 10pm, so staff who start at 7pm can also spend an hour shelving, getting the bulk of it done so that there isn’t too much left to replace in the morning. In vacation, we close at seven, so I would start the closing routine at 6.30, but that’s the job of the staff working until ten tonight. When the next lot of staff arrive, I’m free to head home for the night.

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.