My new job: what I actually do

Long time, no blog. For those of you not up to speed, I moved across the country and started a new job 3.5 months ago after a solid 2 years of being a subject librarian at a University. It had been a great first job as an Actual Librarian and I still thank my lucky stars for having such an easy walk into my career. Shout-out to my old team, you da bomb.

So, I wasn’t looking for a new job (I had a Five Year Plan to stay put). But a friend made a passing comment about this job that was up for grabs, and thus the seed was planted. I thought, “what the heck, I wonder if I could actually get a job like this??”. This led to an interview (a terrifying interview, might I add!), and the next day I got a phone call offering me the job. I don’t think I actually accepted it on the phone that day – it was somewhat assumed – I hadn’t firmly decided that I wanted to completely uproot my cushty life. But I went along with it anyway because that’s what I do, and here I am.

So my [new] job: Librarian and Customer Services Manager at a brand new Higher Education institution. Pretty cool, huh? It is entirely (mostly) different to anything I’ve done before. The librarian part: I am in charge of the library. Yep. I am the only librarian. I can do whatever I want, because I can say “it’s a librarian thing” and nobody knows any better. The part that makes the librarian in me die inside: my “library” is 16 bookcases located in the main atrium-type part of the campus building, and has a whole 2000 (nearly) books. Nowhere near as cool as it sounds, you see. But instead of just supporting one subject, I support them all *and* I control the entire collection. Acquisitions, inductions, laptops, study space, books, teaching, helpdesk. It’s all mine. And I don’t have to deal with negotiating our electronic resources because it’s done at our other site – PHEW, because the thought of doing that makes me shake at the knees. So yeah. The library aspect of my job is what I make of it. Awesome.

However, the bulk of my job is the Customer Service aspect. Not only do I have a library to run, I also run the helpdesk – the desk right at the front of the campus building. We are a one-stop shop, because we are the single place for students to come to when they have questions or problems with anything at all to do with the University. Do you have any idea how wide a remit that is? We deal with enquiries related to enrolment, UCAS, applications, open days, student finance, course fees, IT, the VLE, the library, assessments, facilities, absence, disability, academic problems, timetables, social events. The list goes on – and that’s just the enquiries from the students themselves, nevermind the stuff we get from staff and visitors!

I don’t personally spend too much time out on the helpdesk – that’s what my team is for – but I’d say 80% of my job is behind-the-scenes stuff to make the helpdesk happen. Quality standards, enquiry analysis, statistics, reports, training, liaison. Nothing I have ever done before, but I haven’t been fired yet!!

I also oversee various other odds and ends – for example, our VLE (Moodle) comes under my remit. I have a Learning Technologist whose job it is to manage the students’ online learning space, create digital content and support learning through technology. My team will also be acquiring a maths tutor and an English tutor next year – which means that as well as managing the library and customer services, I also manage the campus’ learning development team.

The office I’m located in is behind the helpdesk, and is home to myself and my team, the registry team, the wellbeing team and our line manager who oversees the lot. It is super interesting working alongside all these different teams and I’ve learnt an immense amount about how universities work in general – not just the libraries! Every day is different. Every day is interesting. In my old job, I didn’t have enough to do and I spent large parts of the day being bored. In this job, I go the entire day not looking at my phone and not realising where the time has gone. My job is tough because I’m out of my comfort zone and because politics are always at play, but the satisfaction levels when stuff goes right are way above anything I’ve experienced in the past.

My official objectives for the next 12 months have recently been set, and are:

  1. Create, plan and develop a learning development service
  2. Run our Clearing operation – yes, you did read that correctly, I have to run CLEARING.
  3. Work towards the ISO9001 standard and Customer Service Excellence accreditation
  4. Create a team charter and operations level agreements with all the other departments
  5. Something about the library. Oh yeah, make it good.

Wish me luck 😉

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