Reflective Log: Friday 17th May 2013

Since it’s the end of the day and it’s dead quiet at the enquiry desk, I shall attempt to write this week’s log now, as opposed to by Monday, when I will have forgotten everything, like I normally do.

I’ve spent a lot of my time this week having a love affair with a tape measure – measuring the amount of space each journal is taking up on the shelves. This may sound like an odd thing to do, but it makes sense, honest! With last year’s refurbishment, the librarians had to throw away an awful lot of print journals to fit them all into the designated space. We’re soon going to be losing a big chunk of that space because it actually belongs to ICT services and they want it back, so we now have to squeeze all of the journals onto just one floor instead of two. This means that the librarians are having to make yet more decisions about journals to throw away (largely based on age, usage, and whether or not we have secure online access). So my job is to measure the amount of space that each journal they decide to keep takes up, so that eventually we will know if everything is going to fit. I have spent many hours doing this this week, and have many more to come (I’ve so far measured the 00s, 100s, 200s, 400s, 800s and 900s – our shorter runs. I’m now on the 300s which consists of around 700 individual titles, and the 600s will probably take me until the end of my life). I’ve actually found this task rather enjoyable because I’m still recovering from being unwell so it’s nice to have an easy task to get on with in a quiet space.

On Tuesday I met up with 2 of my colleagues in the international group to discuss making an online library induction specifically for international students. Some people are having training on Camtasia, and none of us really know what it does, so we think that using the program to make this tutorial will be a good opportunity to learn how to use it. Things we discussed including include talking about the differences between a British university library and international ones (I’m not entirely sure how this will work given the number of different locations are students are from), an introduction to the library and subject librarians, an introduction to our library language booklet/pages, and signposting to other university services. We’ll be meeting again at some point in the future to work on this further.

Wednesday morning was the fortnightly ASG meeting (Academic Support Group/subject librarians, since I’ve not elaborated in a long time). I’m unsure if I’m perhaps a bit close-minded, but I was in a state of shock when they managed to talk about the header on the template for documents that the library produces for almost an hour! An hour! Talking about a header! I won’t go into the discussion because it’s quite hard to describe without having the template in front of you – I understood what the librarians were saying, but it didn’t seem like anyone was listening to the lady there who sorts these things out (I’m unsure of her job titles so that’ll have to do!). The rest of the meeting was then rather rushed, and for what? An unresolved discussion about a document header that, as far as I could tell, didn’t have much wrong with it in the first place! As I say, I’m probably more apathetic as I don’t have to produce any documents using it myself, but I did think certain members were a little over-dramatic and expecting miracles.

Later on Wednesday I helped with Library on Location – a pop-up stand and info that we take to various different places around the university so that people can ask questions and give feedback. This week we went to the language/international centre, as it had previously been very successful there. One person came in the hour, with a complicated problem with library fines, so ultimately we had to put him in contact with the head of customer services.

On Thursday morning I had my weekly time in acquisitions. For the first hour or so I was activating links for newly-purchased ebooks. I was then given some new DVDs to catalogue. I found this much more difficult than cataloguing books, as different DVDs have different types and amounts of information on them. It was taking me around twenty minutes per DVD, whereas a book would only take me a few minutes. I’ve not had any feedback on the records that I got through, but they looked pretty comprehensive from where I was sitting.

The other main thing I’ve done this week is spend some time with the Health Studies librarian. The health studies collection used to be in a separate building but was brought into the main library a couple of years ago. I met up with the librarian to talk about the differences between health studies students, enquiries and databases compared with our other students – and it’s certainly more complicated than I had been expecting! I learnt a lot about the courses they do and the type of assignments and research they have to undertake – it’s all far less straightforward than a regular assignment for other students – these guys change policy in hospitals and stuff! I also attended two library induction sessions for two groups attending courses that have just started for people already in the nursing profession but wanting specific qualifications – one was focused on haematology, the other on, well, I can’t remember because it was some medical term I didn’t know, but the session was focused on cervical screening. It was interesting to attend these sessions and see how they differ depending on what the students want/need from them. They started out very basic – catalogue searches – and ended with being taught how to do more in-depth searches on CINAHL, a nursing database. I was fairly unfamiliar with this database, but after having had it demonstrated to me 3 times in 24 hours, I can fairly confidently say I’d be able to help a student now. The second of the sessions took place in a computer room so the students were able get some hands-on experience playing around, and I feel I helped quite a lot both with their searches and also with log-in and password problems, thanks to my customer services training that the health studies librarian didn’t have. The first session was particularly amusing because the librarian explained what EndNote was and the students, who had never heard of such a thing, were absolutely ecstatic about it and asked for further detail on how to use it. One of the students described it as being “like Christmas”!! Very entertaining.

The other task I’ve done this week, also for the Health Studies librarian, is look on all of the online Health Studies reading lists for a specific book on counselling, that has been brought to our attention as rather homophobic by a student (being gay is a disorder, apparently). Naturally we want to take it out of circulation, but because it’s been borrowed so much we need to make course tutors who specify it on reading lists aware of the problem first. Unfortunately, after searching the long list of lists 3 times, I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I’m not really sure where we go from here. We shall see.

So that’s my week. It’s been full of interesting things separated by calm time in the basement amongst the journals. Pretty good, really.

A student I found sleeping amongst the journals. At first I thought he might have been murdered, but then he started snoring.

A student I found sleeping amongst the journals. At first I thought he might have been murdered, but then he started snoring.

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