Library day in the life – refelections

I found doing the library day in the life project interesting, and I have definitely learnt from it. The first thing I have learn is that I would never be able to blog every day, just for one week I was spending most of my lunch breaks blogging, and still needing to finish it off when I got home in the evening, if I want to have some sort of life I just don’t have time for it. My current thing of about once a week, more if I have something else I really want to say, seems to be right for me.

The other thing I have learnt is how much my job is made up of little bitty things when I am not on the counter. Well, actually I have lots of big things, but if I tried to check in the whole backlog of periodicals in one go I would probably endf up inĀ  a corner crying at the end of it. I’m quite happy to have quite a few things going on at once, and being able to pick up and drop different things, depending on what seems most important at the time, from what I can tell about library work this is a useful attitude to have.

Lastly, I have learnt that putting pictures of pretty people and double basses from psychobilly bands is much more interesting to me than library related pictures. Go on, one last one, the Horrorpops, possibly the most beautiful person and bass:

Library day in the life- Friday

Got into work as usual just before 9, on the way down to shelve I noticed the pool/fountain in the middle of the main Victoria and Albert building is frozen over again, depressing, I really hate the cold, currently I am sitting at my desk wrapped in a blanket. I got lots of shelving done, then also shelved a few information files before I went on the counter at 10. The first shift on the counter is normally very quiet, but there were quite a lot of people coming in early this morning, and we have a new volunteer who I helped to train for a bit as well. After being busy it was nice to go through to invigilation, which was quite a lot quieter, though there was still plenty to do.

At half 11 I finished on invigilation and went back to my desk, where I caught up on some of the shelf-checking I have been doing. I was able to sort out a couple of problems myself after checking with a catalogue, and am nearly finished one are, though I do now have another small pile of problem things to sort out. Half 12 is lunch, I spend it reading blogs, despairing over the future cold weather and looking for interesting books in Imperial College’s online library catalogue ahead of going there this evening.

At half 1 I am retrieval leading. Basically, this involves coordinating the online requests from readers, so that they get retrieved, and the books sent down by people doing retrieval so that they get to the right readers. It’s lots of little jobs all going on at the same time, and the previous hour had been really busy so I had a bit of backlog to catch up on, but it’s one of the jobs I really like doing.

At half 3 I had a break then a meeting with my line manager, which was essentially just a chat about what I’ve been up to for the last month and about my personal statement. The feedback I got was positive, apart from a few little things, I think it will be all finished after the weekend. I spent until it was time to go home doing lots of little things, mostly sorting out more shelf checking and making and printing off accuarate lists of what is in each box to make it easier for people retrieving from them. After work I went to Imperial College’s library to get books, I’m in a science book phase at the moment, trying to educate myself, so I got lots of interesting looking popular science books.

Have another nice picture, this time of my newest obsession, German band Bonsai Kitten:


Library day in the life – Thursday

Thursday’s are always good days becayse Thursday morning is when I and the other three Graduate Trainees have our training or work on our shared project. Often this can take the form of visits, today we went to see the Wellcome Library, part of the Wellcome Collection, incidently one of my favourite museums. We were met by one of the librarians and taken all around the library, not only the beautiful main reading room and the very fancy smaller ones, but the club room, several of the stacks the the offices. Everything was stunning, you could tell there had been a major renovation a few years ago, and the pieces of artwork everywhere really helped, especially the Pre-Raphaelite style hospital and orphanage scences that had previously hung in Middlesex Hospital, called Acts of Mercy. The stacks were also really interesting, full not just of books but also drawers of loose prints and etchings, and standing racks of paintings, with lots of interesting stuff in, including a poster of a drink full of lithium.

We got back to the library just before half past, I had time to check mu emails to see there wasn’t anything vastly urgent, then to head for the canteen for lunch, a rare treat. I ended up talking about libreary stuff with some of the other trainees and another member of stuff, including diploma vs full MA, distance-learning vs on site, and the general state of the profession. After lunch I was on the counter, quiet in invigilation again, the most exciting thang that happened was I had to show someone how to use the pencil sharpener. The main desk was a bit busier, I spent most of the time helping someone with taking photographs of a book and then printing them. This is a fairly common thing to have to do, it took me a couple of months to get comfortable with the software but now it seems easy, but most readers don’t have a couple of months to familiarise themselves.

I had a break at half three, then spent some time researching and writing a reply to a readers enquiry, from a rather panicked sounding postgrad student who couldn’t find the Royal Academy catalogues on the catalogue. Oddly only on saturday was I saying that some people find our catalogue very confusing. I sent her a email giving her the information she needed and tips on how to find it in the future then went to do the last retrieval run of the day.

Another picture of a psychobilly band, first English one, here are The Grit:

Library day in the life – Wednesday

I got to work only just before 9 today, so straight downstairs for half an hour shelving periodicals. Realise this is probably good exercise and I spend most of the time going up and down big ladders. Afterwards I check in a few more periodicals, passing some brand new ones over to a colleague to be catalogued, and make a couple of information files, having tracked down more of the folders to put them in. At half 10 I am retrieving, I finish at 11:25, then at 11:30 I am retrieving again, this time in our crypt store, which unfortunately is not quite as good as it sounds, although it is underground.

This takes me until nearly half past 12, lunchtime, which I spend making changes to my personal statement for my MA applications. At half 1 I am on the counter, I do invigilation first, it’s pretty quiet, which is nice, and then I go onto the main desk, which is also quiet apart from about 15 minutes where it’s madly busy and I’m hurriedly trying to do about four things at, it settled down a bit after that but I was still fairly glad to have a break at half 3.

Until half 4 I spent time dealing with the departmental loan requests and shelving. Several departments have their own small libraries and the graduate trainees take it in turn to retrieve from them. Normally this is all very straightforward but today I had several complicated things, including having to find something that it turned out shouldn’t have even been on the catalogue any more. At half 4 I did one last retrieval run, the last one of the day, and also swapped the shelving trolleys around so there was an empty one downstairs, as towards the end of the day we tend to get a lot of books handed in and start to run out of space to put them.

This was probably the perfect example of an average day, though actually a lot of my days are more exciting than this, which breaks up the slightly less interesting tasks well. No relevant picture, this time have a nice picture of The Creepshow:



Library day in the life- Tuesday

Tuesday is a normal day, I get in at about quarter to nine, check my email, which has information about a shelving swap, I will be doing the unbound periodicals until my manager’s wrist heals, a broken wrist and lifting heavy books is not a good combination. I also tend to catch up on twitter at this time, and make sure I have all the information from the rota copied into my diary.

At nine I shelve for half and hour then go back to my desk where I finish the last box of pamphlets from yesterday. I put them on the shelf and change the findings list so that it matches with what is actually on the shelf. Then I begin to shelf-check boxes of pamphlets, an ongoing task I’ve been doing for a couple of weeks. Some of the boxes don’t appear to have been checked since 1984 (before I was born!) so they are in a bit of a mess, lots of missing items or items that aren’t recorded on the catalogue. However, I have been making sense of the boxes, and have found quite a lot of uncatalogued items, or those that had been misshelved and so are recorded as missing on the catalogue.

At 10:30 I’m retrieving, Tuesdays tend to be busy and today is no exception, I finish at 11:25, then at 11:30 I’m on the counter. I spend the first hour doing invigilation of specials books. This can be really quiet, but today I spend nearly the whole time getting books out of the locked cupboard for readers, finding them places to sit, relieving finished with books and processing them. At 12:30 I go onto the main counter, dealing with all the non-special books. it’s still busy, but not quite so bad, and I give lots and lots of people their piles of books without too many problems cropping up. I also help one person join the library and check in returned books. I’m quite glad when it’s half one and time for lunch.

I spend my lunch furiously writing up my blog post about Library camp Brunel, being a couple of days later with it than I’d like, I am very pleased to finally get it finished. After lunch I sort out some odd bits I have to do, unfortunately including putting a book back on a very high shelf, up a tall ladder, in full view of everyone in the reading room, in a skirt of course. This sort of thing is probably my least favourite part of the job, but after that I go back to shelfchecking, shelving some information files and checking in periodicals, all nice easy, interesting jobs not up ladders. I finish work at half past 5, having got lots done, though I still have various piles of stuff to do around my room.

This post has been pretty word-heavy, I can’t think of a related picture so have an unrelated one, here’s Tiger Army, with the most beautiful double bass ever:

Library day in the life – Monday

I found out about Library Day in the Life through Twitter I think, and with my new-found love of reading library blogs it caught my attention. I will be be reading lots of other people’s blogs, but I also thought that I should do my own, especially as I’m still just getting back into blogging and this intensive, entry-a-day style will make me work hard so that one entry a week will feel like a breeze.

If it hasn’t been obvious already, I’m a graduate library trainee, working at the National Art Library, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, England. This is my first proper library job, after a year of volunteering, and I’m enjoying myself even more than I thought I would, and also trying really hard to push myself to network, learn more, and work harder.

On monday’s the library is closed to the public, and I spend the day in the office. This morning I came in a little late, having been to the hospital, and started straight away on making information files, which contain information about artist’s. The ones I have been working on do not have catalogue records, so I make that, and then transfer the items into files, label and barcode them, keeping a record of how many I do. I also finished off an enquiry I had been sent by a reader in Italy, wanting to know the dimensions of some pictures in a book she had previously looked at in the library. I typed up the last of the measurements, wrote a covering letter and sent both to her.

By now it was nearly 11, I spent until half 12 working on processing pamphlets. Currently in process, they needed to be taken from one area, checked in so they are available on the catalogue, and moved to their permement place on the shelves. An easy job, the constant beeping makes me feel like a checkout girl, and I got 15 boxes done, nearly all that I will be able to fit on the shelves.

Half 12 is lunchtime, which I spend at my desk, working on various blog entries and noting with dismay the weather is supposed to get colder, we have no heating and it’s already quite cold enough for me. After lunch I do more pamphlet checking in, and then shelve some of the information files I was creating this morning. The ones I have made are ready to go satraight on the shelf, but many we already have a file for so I take the papers out of one file, stamp them, and put them into the main file.

At 3 I have some retrieval to do, the NAL is a closed stacks library, with all books apart from reference fectched for readers, requests build up over sunday and monday when we are closed so some retrieval is done on monday to prevent people being over-run on tuesday. I do two floors, it takes almost an hour, with some help from a colleague, and it’s quite nice to be walking around after a day of mostly sitting in front of a computor.

I spend until the end of the day, 5:15, checking in periodicals. There is a massive backlog, due to one person who normally does them having been off sick, and the other being on holiday. I’ve done a lot, but there is still a lot to go. As well as checking periodicals in I have to put some in the internal mail, some on display, remove the things that got in the periodical pile but aren’t, and generally sort through masses of post. It’s interesting actually, and a large part of it involves stamping theng, with two different sorts of stamp!

This has been kind of word heavy, so have a picture of my desk, I just need a couple more piles of books for it to look like a real librarians desk.