Reflective Log : Tuesday 9th April 2013

Hello folks! I’m still running a couple of weeks behind on writing about what I’ve done, so apologies if this post seems quite vague and a little short – my memory just isn’t what it used to be, back in my youth… I’m working at our other branch – the management library – today, which is beautifully peaceful in comparison with the busy playground that is the J B Priestley Library. I’m sat at the counter with a cup of tea and time to write – how rare an occasion! (I also just got to use a date stamp (we don’t use them in the main library) so I feel like a proper librarian now!)

So, two weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending three mornings with Rebecca in interlibrary loans. This department is a one-person department (although I believe there are supposed to be two people?), so everything to do with ILLs is done by Rebecca. She has recently relocated from a very large corner of the office to a very small one, so things are a little cluttered and I had to squeeze right in to be able to sit with her – it’s a good job we get along! Being the Easter holidays, there weren’t as many students about as normal and were very few ILL requests submitted, so hopefully I’ll be able to spend some more time with Rebecca when there’s more things to do. I got to see the routine day-to-day tasks that Rebecca has to do, such as e-mail queries from staff and students alike, long lists of the progress of various requests from the British Library to be updated on our system, and receipting. I also, obviously, got to see what happens to requests from the time a student submits a form right through to the time it’s returned. There is a lot of logging to keep the system updated on absolutely everything that happens, so that if a student presents a query or a problem, Rebecca is able to tell them exactly what has happened to their request. I got to see the various different places used to try and track down a resource (the British Library is used the most), and also the various ways that students make it incredibly difficult to complete the request (illegible handwriting… no journal title… often items that we already have in stock!) – I was mildly amused by the number of times we had to ask Google for help. Whilst virtually all of ILLs is done online, I also got to see an old-school request that came in – libraries used to send letters around to various other libraries, and if the receiver of the letter couldn’t supply the item, they would then send it on to the next name on the list – kind of like chain mail. I thought this was pretty novel.

*pause while a gentleman who I know I met at a training course at some point but really I have no idea who he is chats to me at the counter*

The other event that happened that week was a Learning & Teaching Sub-Committee meeting about a proposed new undergraduate course that my line manager invited me along to, although there were so many people in attendance that I am told it was more like an entire committee meeting. The meeting lasted a good couple of hours, and we went through in detail the plans for the proposed course (an archaeology course) – including the selection of modules, practical details, whether or not the course was appropriate, and general scrutiny. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t switch off for some of the meeting, as the majority of time was the chair (maybe the associate dean (?) of the school or something along those lines) talking us through all of the papers. Regardless, it was interesting to see how one of these meetings worked and the process a proposed course has to go through – after this meeting it also needed to be approved by another, more important meeting. It was also interesting to see how the library was involved in this process – basically saying if we could efficiently provide resources for the course (and deleting a sentence stating that online journals are available on the internet!). I was also treated to hot chocolate and cookies after the meeting. I love my job.

This brings me to last week – almost caught up with my logging now!! Last week was very different to normal. I was only in for two and a half days due to the Easter holidays, and virtually all of the subject librarians were on leave for the entire week, so the offices were somewhat of a ghost town. Now that Easter is gone, I’m no longer on Customer Services in the afternoon, which I’m pretty sad about because there’s never a dull moment on the counter, but I’m told I’ll be called upon whenever cover is needed so all is not lost! I took the opportunity to complete a spreadsheet I’d been working on for a couple of weeks (making a note of details and measurements of journal holdings in our Development Collection), finished cataloguing some books for the Commonweal Collection, and started to help with a spreadsheet benchmarking resources at other institutions, amongst a few other tasks I completed.

That’s all for now, folks!

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