Archive for January, 2011

I also managed one day’s blog – you can read it here!

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I’m the Graduate Trainee at Corpus Library and since it is term-time  I am working 10 – 6.  In Vacation I work 9-5.  I had also meant to document a full week for the Library Day in the Life project, but this really is a pretty standard day for me, it was yesterday Thursday 27th January.    I spent this morning’s tea break checking spellings and making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything!

9.00am After forty-five minutes worth of pottering around after my other half has left the house, I eventually leave too, and walk the 5 minutes down the hill to Didcot station.  No tomfoolery on the railways this morning so I should be in Oxford nice and promptly.  Sometimes starting at 10 is no bad thing.

9.45am It’s freezing today (is that sleet?!) and I’ve basically been blown to work. Arrive at Corpus, check the Lodge for any post that might have arrived since 9am.  There’s none.

9.50am Wait for my PC (and fingers!) to warm up catch up with the Librarian who is at her desk in the office.

10am I start work!  First I shelve the books that have been cleared from the library that morning  by the Assistant Librarian and the Librarian.  Clearing is done every morning at 9am and entails emptying the bookbin (for after hours returns) and clearing desks of books that have not been left under a “please leave” slip.  These are designed for students to use up to 10 books in the library without checking them out and are valid for three days.  They can update the date on the slip as many times as they like, but if it falls out of date then we clear.

10.30am Today there was not much to do, thankfully! One day last week I was shelving until 11.40 *whimper*  I shelve in the rolling stacks on the ground floor of the library.  These house books ranging from 000 – 699.  I hate heavy Chemistry text books!  I also shelve on the first floor in the English room, which involves less bulk but more high shelves and ladder climbing.  Dickens enjoys probably the best view in the whole library. I return to the library office and check my emails.  I then display some flyers for WISER courses in the Catalogue room.

10.45am I relieve the Assistant Librarian of the issue desk so she can have her coffee break.  It’s quiet in the library this morning. A college lecturer comes in to look for a book that is seemingly available on OLIS but is not on the shelves where it should be.  I take a note of the book, its shelfmark and her name and tell her we will contact her when it re-surfaces.  I let the Assistant Librarian know and she shows me a spreadsheet to fill in with any books that might be missing.  We’re confident that somebody is probably just using it elsewhere in the library.

11.05am I return to the office and put the kettle on for my tea break.  I discuss some upcoming training with the Librarian.  It is training that the other Oxford Library trainees all undertook in two solid days at the start of the year, but because I started later I have it spread over three mornings in Week 3.  It’ll be alright.

11.25am After tea, I pop over to the college office to pick up some paper for our photocopier and printer from the College Secretary.  Upon returning to the library office I can hear that organ practice has begun.  Corpus library is next to the college chapel and when you are working at the issue desk you can look through the window right down onto the organ.  In the office all you can really hear is a reassuring hum from the pipes.  I resume email checking, but there is nothing new and I start planning a re-jig of the catalogue room notice board.  I will need to make up some new posters and update some existing ones but I can’t get to the board at the moment as it is above the public computers and they are all occupied.  It will have to wait until tomorrow morning.  I process a couple of journals instead and take them downstairs to shelve.

11.50am I am reminded that there is a growing pile of books to cover in protective wrapping, so I make a start.  These books are normally gifts or donations, as most of our new books are delivered covered and triggered already.  It’s interesting seeing the books that people (mainly Fellows and Old Members) donate to the library for use.  One of the previous Trainees here donated a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  I was heartened when I found it as it appears to be the most loved book in the library!  Apparently it was on a display for browsing while waiting for a spare computer or the photocopier and proved really popular with those waiting!

1.00pm I finish covering the books just in time for lunch, hurrah!  After I’ve eaten, I return to the office, which is nice and cosy because the door is closed now, and carry on reading Brighton Rock.  I’d like to finish it before seeing the new film but we’ll see!

2.00pm I spend afternoons on the issue desk.  This means I am able to answer enquiries, fix the photocopier (grr) and fetch books as well as getting on with any other work on my to do list.

2.10pm Contact maintenance about a flashing strip light in one of the Old Library bays.

2.15pm Currently I am working on updating an existing document that lists all the journals Corpus has in its holdings.  This is for easy reference for library users and lives downstairs.  We are really trying to encourage people to use the excellent online facilities, SOLO and OxLIP+ , where they can access Oxford University’s broad collection of material.  We have cancelled several subscriptions this year as well so I need to make up shelf notices to alert readers to this and let them know that they can find them all online.  I need to cross check each journal on this list with the record on OLIS to make sure I have noted to exactly which volume we stock for each one.  For ongoing subscriptions this is easy, I put v.1 [for example] – current.

3.00pm I process some books out on the issue desk ready to take back to the Librarian to check and put out in the New Books Display.

3.45pm Afternoon tea break.  This time all three of us have tea together in the office.  It’s been quiet and thanks to our CCTV we can see if anyone comes looking for us at the desk or sets off the security alarm.

4.10pm I continue to work on the journals list document, while keeping an eye on my emails for enquiries from any readers. I also complete the pricing of an English reading list for the Assistant Librarian.  She emails me to tell me there are one more each for Politics and Economics to check over the term as well.

5.15pm The Assistant Librarian and Librarian go home.

5.45pm I start to jot down some notes of what I’ve been up to today.  I will type it all up tonight and post it tomorrow morning.

6.00pm I shut up the issue desk and open the bookbin.  Turn off the printer and heater in the office, lock up, wrap up warm and head out into the night.   Not forgetting to take the cash box over to the Lodge on my way out for the evening invigilators first.

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I too have been blogging on the last day of this round of  Library Day in a life.

Have a read, if you like, at http://cateatous.wordpress.com and there’s still 2 and a quarter hours to go!

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I had intended to blog about a week for the Library day in the Life project, but failed to note down anything past Tuesday morning. In any case, I think Monday was quite an accurate representation of an average term-time day as a Graduate Trainee at the Social Science Library.


Monday 24th January, 2011

8.40 – I arrived early, my usual start time is 9am, to open up. As there are three of us opening up, it gets done pretty quickly. I log onto the issue desk PCs, but as they take a while to get going, I open up the different rooms; Large and Small discussion rooms, IT training room, and the lesser used media room. I also switch on the Sunray computers, which are open access straight to the online catalogue and internet, and make sure the photocopiers are full of paper.

9.00 – I check my post tray, which has a room booking slip from the evening staff, which they didn’t have time to complete. As it’s a booking for this afternoon, I turn on my computer and can check the library emails first.

9.10 – I open up Microsoft Outlook and have a quick scan of my own emails… I’ve been offered an interview for UCL! And there’s no one in the workroom to tell (Lauren doesn’t get in til 9.45)! I open up the main library email account. Mostly it’s emails that can be moved straight into a folder, or simply forwarded on, but there are also a few cancellations for the Graduate Search Clinics. This can be quite frustrating, as we had a lot of trouble with more bookings than spaces. There are also two messages about reader’s accounts that are blocked due to invoiced books that were actually returned. I clear up their accounts, and explain the mistake and apologise.

9.30 – I do the room booking from my post tray and a couple of others from the emails, and print out the posters.

9.45 – Lauren arrives, and checks the printer for invoices. There aren’t any today, so I clear my desk a little. I have accumulated a pile of books for the beginnings of our trainee project. We will be creating an online guide to good academic writing, using LibGuide software. I add the details of these books to our growing bibliography, and put them out on the shelving trolleys behind the issue desk. Meanwhile, Lauren has started on the claimed returns. The SSL is a very busy lending library, and as such it’s often easy to miss a book here or there when scanning in. It is the trainee’s job to search for these twice, email the reader to check at home and any other libraries they use, and then make the book missing if it isn’t found.

10.00 – We send out a Graduate Search Clinic reminder email, and invoice a reader who knows book is lost before the automated invoice is sent out. For this I check the price on Dawsons, add an administrative hold and a message block on the reader’s account, and send the letter to their college address.

10.20 – We set to work on our other project. This will be reclassifying the pamphlets into Library of Congress, and we need to write a poster to let readers know. While I’m doing this, I’m handed a phone message from the desk voicemail, and vaguely remember the person and why they were calling. It was an academic who has been in and out of the country recently, whose books have reached invoicing point. He had been confused about the process and wanted them renewed, so I had asked the Reader Services Librarian if we could make an exception.

11 – Tea break. There are chocolate muffins and banana cake.

11.20 – I have a look at the academic’s account and read through our previous correspondence to familiarise before I phone him back. I hate phoning people, so I try to write down the steps of what I will say! I also have a brief look through the minutes from last week’s Reader Services meeting, which I missed due to some training.

12-12.30 – I’m on desk duty, and as it’s a quiet moment, I phone the academic, and once I’ve hung up I put together a formal email with breakdown of account, which he requested since it was a confused situation.

12.30 – Lunch.

1.30-2.30 – I’m on the desk again for an hour. It’s mostly PCAS problems, deciphering what people actually want; “I’m looking for [title said really fast]. It’s here”. It turns out a lecturer had asked the library to keep some of his own books behind desk for his students to consult, but it can get confusing as we have offprints, core course (3hr loans), reservations, and stack requests behind the desk.

2.45 – The stack requests arrive from the Bodleian. We get two deliveries a day, but the trainees only have to process the afternoon delivery. We have a 3pm deadline, but they have been late getting to the library recently. We have to check the items are right, scan them on OLIS, and we are still putting in red ‘This book cannot be removed from the library’ slips when students start asking for them. A wrong item has also been sent to us; part of the shelf mark 220 is mistaken for 200 (this happens fairly often). I help on the desk a little, as it gets busy on the hour when students come out from lectures, and answer some PCAS queries (I turn it off and on again).

3.30 – I check the emails yet again! I also look up the phone number for H Floor of the Bodleian to get the right book sent.

4.00 – tea break

4.30 – I phone the stacks to send the correct book, and email the reader to let them know it’s delayed but on its way. Then it’s onto some shelving. The SSL has a standard of re-shelving books within two days, and confined (reference only) books and journals within one day, which means before shelving we need to check what’s next on the list and tick it off when we’re done. I shelve until the end of the day, and then it’s time to pile on my layers and fetching high-vis vest, and cycle home.

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Library Day in the Life

When I was applying for library jobs, I found myself spending hours reading the Library Day in the Life Wiki. It is a project that runs twice a year where librarians (and other information professionals) can sign up and blog about a day in their life, literally. The general rule is to do a week, and the next round starts on Monday.

To sign up, go to Library Day in the Life, set up a free PB Wiki account and add your name, job title, and link to your blog. It would be interesting to have a day in the life of all the trainees on this blog (partly because it might help me with my project) and I’m sure would be helpful to anybody thinking of applying to the trainee scheme!

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Sarah Thomas, among others, contributed to this article in the Guardian’s Travel section. She even talks about the beginning of her journey to becoming librarian of the Bodleian.

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Book Storage Facility

Visit to the Book Storage Facility, Swindon - three trainees outside the front door in high-visibility jacketsOver several weeks in December, library staff in Oxford were invited to take a tour of the Bodleian’s new Book Storage Facility, near Swindon.  Quite a few of the trainees took this opportunity, including me, Cate and Lauren (pictured in our dazzling jackets).

The BSF opened for ‘ingestion’ (sounds gruesome, means filling up with books from the Bodleian and the Cheshire salt mines) on 7th November, and by the time I visited on 17th December it had taken in almost 900,000 books, leaving a mere 5,100,000 to go.

My tour group was shown the four enormous chambers full of towering shelves that will eventually be packed with boxes of books.  Although we didn’t see a forklift truck rising 30 feet to place books on the highest shelves as some groups did, we were able to get a sense of the height as we were taken to the top of the map tower, a stack of rooms containing thousands of drawers ready to store the Bodleian’s map collection.

I was interested to hear about the process that takes place when a book is removed or shelved: a member of staff drives a forklift down an aisle, raises it to the right height, reaches into a shelf, removes one of six shoe-box-sized boxes, and scans four different barcodes to pinpoint the book and its location.  This seems to be far less automated than some had envisioned.  My landlord, a professor, asked me if the books were fetched by robots from sealed chambers with low oxygen levels, and sadly I had to disappoint him.

We also learned that the BSF intends to run a scan-on-demand service and provide a desk for library staff to work at after ingestion has finished, which would extend its function beyond just storing books.  I am glad to have had the chance to visit it at this early stage, as it could be set to become iconic.  We might one day find it spawns imitations in Britain as other major libraries run out of space.

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Bodleian Libraries' Lessons and Carols, 16/12/10Trainees doing extra-curricular things!  In this blurry image, you can just about make out me on the far left and Emma on the far right, singing at the very well-attended carol service in the Divinity School on 16th December 2010.  (We were invited to dress festively!)

Some of the carols are up on YouTube, including this one, written by the Bodleian’s Paul Nash.

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Hi, I’m Hilary and I’m the Graduate Trainee at Corpus Christi College.  As a relative late-comer to the Trainee scheme, I started at Corpus in early November right in the toothy centre of Michaelmas term.   I am taking the turning of the New Year to introduce my role at Corpus, as 2011 should be quite an exciting year for the college.

I graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in English Literature in 2007 and have since had a series of jobs in administration, in Yorkshire where I grew up, and in Oxford where I moved in 2009.  Before coming to Corpus I had no full-time library experience but I enjoyed a stint of volunteering over the last summer vacation at the Bodleian Education Library in tandem with my previous full time job.  So, it was a real adventure starting at Corpus Library in the middle of term, but definitely an enjoyable and challenging one!

My daily routine centres around shelving, book processing and spending afternoons (in term-time) manning the issue desk as well as picking up any other miscellaneous tasks that come my way.  I really enjoy being part of the small team here (there are only three of us) as the Trainee is an integral member whose work impacts that of the Librarian and Assistant Librarian, and vice-versa.   Although chilly in winter, the library is a beautiful place to work and you really do get to know the readers.   During my time here in Oxford I intend to poke around as many of the other libraries as I can while I have a hallowed Bod card!

As I mentioned above, 2011 should be an exciting year for the college as it prepares to give a series of special lectures through Hilary Term on the King James Bible, which celebrates 400 years this year and some translation of which took place at Corpus.  The college will also work with the Bodleian on an upcoming exhibition and I am looking forward to hopefully being able to assist with preparations.  After this year at Corpus I hope to earn my librarian stripes at library school – I’ll soon be making my applications and knuckling down to some serious form-filling.

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