Although my day doesn’t officially start until 8.45, I’m usually at the Sackler a bit earlier to give me time to lock my bike and change out of my cycle gear. There’s usually time for a quick cup of tea, and today I drink it while doing the latest Sackler jigsaw, which is, of course, book themed.
I’m working on the desk from 9.00 today, so I spend the first fifteen minutes logging on to the computers (which involves battling with my nemesis Microsoft Authenticator), turning on the self-issue machine, and double checking the rota so I can plan my tasks for the day.
During term time, there’s usually a steady stream of queries from readers while I’m on desk, but at the moment it’s fairly quiet so I can get on with some other tasks. Today, I spend some time preparing for upcoming blog posts and then continue with some bibliographic checking. This involves checking SOLO (our online catalogue) to see if we hold certain items in our collections. We have to make a note of which libraries house the items and if there are any online or electronic legal deposit copies. This helps subject librarians know which books to prioritise when it comes to acquisitions. Bibliographic checking requires a fair bit of concentration, so it’s nice to take breaks to help the occasional reader.
Once my desk shift is over, I take my morning break. As I’ve spent most of the morning sitting down, I go for a quick walk and have just enough time to listen to a podcast episode (I’m currently relistening to the Magnus Archives because apparently cycling home in the pitch dark isn’t scary enough already).
My next task for the day is the trolley sweep. This is another daily task that helps us keep the library organised. Because the Sackler has five floors and houses books for multiple subjects, shelving can build up quite quickly. I start the sweep by taking a trolley up to the third floor and working my way round, picking up books from the reshelving points and desks. We also have a reservation point on every floor, where readers can leave up to 10 Sackler books so they can keep consulting them at a later date. I check the slips that the readers fill out to make sure none of the books have been left there for too long. I also make sure that the books are from the same floor as the reservation point they’re on. If books need to be reshelved on the current floor, I add them to the reshelving trolleys; if they are from elsewhere, I add them to my trolley and drop them off on the correct floor as I repeat this task on my way down to the basement. Today, the sweep doesn’t take too long, so I head back to the second floor to do some of the shelving that has built up.
I don’t have any tasks assigned until the delivery later this afternoon so I head back to the workroom. One of my ongoing tasks is to write some instructions for the BookEye scanner, which we can use to scan books or articles that people request. Although we can use the PCAS machines for this, the BookEye is better because it allows the book to rest in a V-shaped cradle, which helps to prevent books being damaged. It’s also easier to see what you’re doing as you go along, so you reduce the risk of doing a 50-page scan where half of each page has been cut off (as a completely hypothetical example, of course). I also keep an eye on our Microsoft Teams chat, to see if whoever is on desk needs any help, for example with fetching books for a reader. Once I’ve finished my first draft and inserted some images, I send it over to my supervisor.
Lunch time! I normally make my own sandwiches with my supplies in the staff fridge, but today I’m in the mood for some hot food. I head over to Italiamo Café for a calzone and a cannoli. Once I’ve eaten, I go for a stroll around the city centre, stopping off at Blackwell’s Art and Poster shop to stare longingly at The Wes Anderson Collection before heading back to the Sackler.
The delivery from the BSF has arrived! I wheel the crates into the workroom so I can start scanning the books, listening to music as I do so. When each book is scanned, an email is automatically sent to the person who requested it. I place a red flag inside that informs the reader that the book is confined to the library, and stack the books on the trolley in alphabetical order to save some time later. Because it takes a little while to go through the delivery, sometimes, especially if the reader is already in the library, they will head to the self-collect shelf before I’ve had a chance to put their books out, so occasionally I will get a message from whoever is on desk duty asking me to bring a specific book out! Once I’ve loaded up the trolley, I take the books out to the self-collect shelves.
We also received two crates of new books, so I head back to the workroom to do some processing. Although this isn’t difficult, it does require a lot of concentration, so I put some instrumental music on (I find that the soundtrack to The Grand Budapest Hotel is the perfect accompaniment to processing). I begin by dividing the books from the journals and periodicals and piling them up based on which floor they go on. We keep track of how many items arrive for each floor so I add a new row in our statistics spreadsheet. The majority of our stickering and stamping is done by the Cataloguing Team at Osney, so most of the time it’s just a case of double checking that everything matches the online record and adding ‘library use only’ stickers to confined items on the lower three floors and changing the statuses to ‘new book display.’ Books go on some shelves in the workroom to wait for the next update of the book display, and I take the journals out to the reshelving trolleys.
After finishing the delivery, I tidy up the workroom a bit and check the scanning dashboard. We’ve had quite a few requests pushed through, so I make a note of the floors and shelfmarks and go and collect the books so I can do multiple requests in one go. It’s easy for me to get swept up in scanning, so by the time I have transferred files, double checked that the correct pages have been scanned and uploaded them, it’s time for me to head over to the Nizami Ganjavi Library to cover my colleague’s afternoon break.
The NGL is only a few minutes away, which is useful when it’s raining or cold. Because I’m only on the desk for 20 minutes, I don’t really have time to start a more complicated project, so I look through the feedback on my BookEye instructions and make some edits, helping with the occasional reader query.
I decide to take my break as well, and head back to the staff room at the Sackler. There’s just time for a quick cup of tea and whatever snack I left in the cupboard and forgot about (Jaffa Cakes today).
I head back to the workroom and finish up any small tasks like replying to emails and editing a blog post. I had to email a reader for clarification about a scan request, and they’ve now replied so I do one last scan before shutting the machine off. I then have about 20 minutes left, so I head up to the second floor to do a bit more shelving.
Home time! I head back downstairs and get changed into my cycling gear. I say my goodbyes and pass on any relevant information to the evening team before heading out to the bike shed and making my way home.