Reflective Log: Monday 18th February 2013

How on earth another week has passed is beyond me. Mid-February?! As if! I’m back on the info desk attempting to write this, but might struggle to get it done – right after writing the title I had to spend a while showing a student how to search EBSCOhost for some journal articles (something I hadn’t done since my first week so I blagged it and fortunately it worked!). Last week was a bit of an unusual week with a fair amount of travelling to be done, but I shall reveal all! 

So. For three weeks I’m spending mornings being trained in Acquisitions, and afternoons as normal in customer services. On Monday morning I was shown how to meticulously correct and update bib records for newly-acquired items in Millennium. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t switch off halfway through the morning, but that was less about the monotony of the task (I’m great at monotony!) and more about my personal learning style – I really struggle to take things in when I’m just being talked at, no matter who’s doing the talking, and I tend to end up with a headache for the rest of the day if I’ve had to concentrate on solid talking for longer than half an hour. Should probably see a doctor about that, really… But anyway! I learnt a lot about MARC tags and the very particular way in which bib records need to be written. Things got a lot easier to take in once I was left alone to put what I’d just been told into practice. I’ve been doing bib-checking all morning every morning since then, so I’m picking up speed now – on my first morning I probably got through about half a shelf, but this morning I got through 3/4 of a small trolley! I’m getting to know the numbers of the tags or the descriptions that need to be written without having to look them up, and using my judgement of what to add in from records borrowed from other catalogues and what simply isn’t correct. I’ve found it quite interesting how much more sense the inside front page of a book makes than it ever has before – I was reading a book over the weekend and I couldn’t help but open it up to the publishing info page just to check if there was a catalogue record available from the British Library. GEEK! I’ve even been dreaming about bib-checking. We won’t go into that.

Other things that have happened this week… on Tuesday I had a nice break in between bib-checking when I had to go and help with another biomedical science library workshop. Nowhere near as hectic as it had been the week before as we all knew what we were doing this time. I was mildly annoyed when a group of girls asked me if the worksheet was going into their portfolio, and upon disliking the answer I gave them (no), they asked exactly the same question to the next available librarian who walked past (who also told them no). Students will be students, I guess.

On Wednesday I had to make my way to Loughborough for my masters interview. I’ll create a separate post about that otherwise I definitely won’t get this one finished by the end of my infodesk slot, which will mean I’ll be trying to find time to finish it while I’m in customer services this afternoon like I did last week – something I doubt would be possible today because the library is far busier today than it has been (which is weird, because I’m fairly sure it’s Reading Week, which was definitely used as Sleeping Week back in my days as a student…).

On Thursday morning I was back in Acquisitions doing bib-checking. The afternoon, however, was entirely different – back when I started here I’d signed myself up to a whole bunch of staff development courses, and it was time for a speed reading workshop (why, Kates, did you feel the need to sign up to this?!). It was up at the management campus, which meant catching a bus back up to near where I live. The workshop was held in the conference centre, which was incredibly Posh and Swanky, so I was happy for the change of scenery. Refreshments were also well received. The class itself was certainly interesting and I learnt a few useful things that I hadn’t known before – use a pencil as a guide to focus your eyes quicker and increase speed, try to also use your peripheral vision, don’t sub-vocalise as you read. However, I found the size of the class and the activities to be too distracting and stressful. In particular, there was a 10-minute exercise where everyone in the room (14 of us) had to look at every single page of a 300-page book, for 2 seconds per page, and put sticky notes against interesting things that we wanted to come back to, and then summarise the book. Um, what?! At 2 seconds per page, I was entirely unable to even see words, let alone what each page was about! Everyone else in the room was flicking through super fast, with post-it notes flying in all directions, and had been through the whole book in ten minutes AND drawn a diagram of what the book was about. Me? I made it 50 pages through, placed no post-it notes and couldn’t tell you anything more than the chapter headings. I might as well have just read the contents page, I would have gotten more from it – and without the overwhelming sense of frustration and failure. I can wholeheartedly say that I am not a speed-reader, and in all honesty I don’t mind. I’d rather take a longer amount of time to read something thoroughly than rush through and not enjoy it.

Well, that’s my info desk slot up, and also my summary of last week (nothing of interest happened on Friday – bib-checking followed by customer service). Hopefully I’ll get a post up in the next couple of days about Wednesday. Catch y’all on the flip side!

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