Organising the Trainee Showcase (Part Two), Emily Delahaye

Anja has already covered the getting started process in her blog post, so I’ll cover what tasks I tackled and my experience of the day!

What did I do?

1. Finding Guest Speakers

I took responsibility for finding guest speakers from the world of library and information management in Oxford for the showcase. Anja and I decided that we wanted to have speakers that had previously been trainees, as they would be able to give us good advice on what to do once we had finished our year here. To find some suitable people I looked through the graduate trainee blog and also LinkedIn.

We were very lucky to have three guest speakers at the event – Alice Nelson, the librarian at Hertford College, Helen Matthews, the assistant librarian at Nuffield College and Laura Cracknell, the librarian at Pembroke College. They decided amongst themselves to cover in turn; what the traineeship was like, what postgraduate study involves and then career advice for after the traineeship and the course.

2. Blog posts

Unfortunately, not all of the trainees were able to attend the showcase. In order that there was still a record of what they achieved visible at the event, I emailed non-attending trainees to request that they write a blog post about their project and their year at Oxford. At the event, we displayed these blog posts on some of the computers, so that the showcase guests could see the wide variety of projects we had this year. You can see their posts below.

3. Collecting the presentations

In order to make the day run as smoothly as possible I collated all of the trainees’ presentations before hand, so that they could be accessed on the same USB stick. This avoided needing to plug in 13 different sticks/access 13 different email accounts on the day. I just had to be careful to not forget the USB stick in the morning!

4. Planning in the immediate run-up to the event

Anja and I got together shortly before the showcase to plan the practicalities of the day itself. Luckily we had some volunteers to help us on the day – Eóin Davies, Diana Hackett and Emma Jones! We worked out when we needed to arrive to set up, go down to collect the tea and coffee urns, and then the lunch, how many people we needed to send to carry these things and how we would clear away for the next event. I also planned what we would say to start the day, introduce the guest speakers, and close the day. Thanks to our planning, the day itself went surprisingly smoothly!

Key Skills

Before the showcase, I didn’t have much experience of presenting information in front of strangers, so this was a challenge. I knew that I needed to try to make what I was presenting interesting and relevant, so I thought a lot about my audience when writing my speech. I practiced a lot so that I didn’t need to check my cue cards too much as well. As I was presenting on something close to me, it was easy to be enthusiastic! The showcase has introduced me to making formal presentations on my work, which I’m sure will be handy further down the line.

Like Anja, I also feel that organising the showcase has also given me some new skills. It’s been great to work so closely in a team, corresponding through email and on the phone as our libraries are in opposite sides of town. We’ve had to plan ahead, divide tasks, manage our time well and liaise with lots of different people – all this has given us a taste of what organising an event can involve.

How do I think it went?

Pretty well, I think! I really enjoyed seeing all of the presentations, hearing what the guest speakers had to say and meeting lots of new people over coffee and lunch. It was interesting to hear about what everyone had achieved this year, after hearing snippets about people’s projects at training sessions.

Overall, I’ve had a really great year in Oxford, and I feel that I’ve learnt a lot in my library! This Autumn I am going on to study for an MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL, which I’m excited about. It’s been a pleasure to meet all the other trainees, a few of whom I will be seeing at UCL 

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.

Library & Information Update: Master’s Supplement

I was shown this by our librarian, and thought I should pass it along! The latest issue of CILIP’s Library & Information Update contains a supplement dedicated to the discussion of Master’s courses – including choosing a course, funding, how helpful it is in terms of finding a job, and so on. The supplement is also available to view online.