Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Day in the life (R8) part 2

Tuesday 31 January 2012
Today has been another non-typical day for me at work. After arriving at 8.15am, I amend the enquiry counter timetable as we are still a team member down due to illness. This, when coupled with various meetings, leaves us only a skeletal staff, so I’m out on the counter for 5 hours today.

In the morning I have a meeting with the college’s data integration manager, about the possibility of importing students on Heritage rather than the team having to manually input them. Despite failed attempts in the past, and his super-busy workload, he’s prepared to give it a go. Once he’s worked his magic and generated a spreadsheet, I’ll use the relevant instructions from Heritage and attempt to work mine. Yesterday, I calculated that the team spent 208 hours manually inputting new users last term alone. Fingers crossed it works, it would help remove waiting times and staff stress.

My lunch hour is quite relaxing today. Braving the wintery showers, I take a walk to the local post office, and then chill-out reading a magazine. Sometimes I like conversation during lunch, but depending on how my day has been sometimes I’ll prefer my own company. Today is definitely the latter.

Whilst on counter in the afternoon I finished off updating the subject headers for the shelves, a job which had been hanging round my neck since August last year. In the afternoon I had a confidential discussion with a team member, and helped another plan and create a display about the library for use at the college’s volunteer roadshow this Thursday.

Finish work at 5pm and have an hour to myself before my evening course. Nip to the petrol station to fill-up and eat my tea (home-made soup) in the workroom. I am studying a level 3 ILM qualification in first line management. The course is 6pm-9pm and I find Tuesdays very hard-going. I left the house at 7.15am and return home at 10pm. Almost immediately, I collapse into bed. Lights out. Goodnight.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Day in the life (R8) part 1

Monday 30 January 2012
Today is the beginning the Library day in the life round 8.This sees library staff from near and far record how they spend their working week. It’s a fun way of nosing into the lives of others and seeing what really goes on in libraries.

So, to start off with, a little about my job... I am Systems Librarian in a Further Education College in Warwickshire, UK. My main responsibilities are maintaining Heritage, the library’s management system, and the classification of stock. There are 11 of us in the team, we work across three different sites, and I have been in post 8 months - learning lots and enjoying it.  

It's good to mix things up occasionally...
Image by Annie Mole
At 7.30am this morning, I jump on the M6 and arrive a little after 8.30am. I’m a tad late but didn’t really notice until I pulled up on the carpark, I was too busy singing away to my favourite song on the radio*.

One of the assistants walks into the office with me to say someone has phoned in ill. We are already a little short staffed as an assistant is on annual leave, so I take a look at the enquiry counter timetable and alter it slightly. The easiest way of keeping the service flowing freely is if I take up the slack, so I spend the entire day on the counter, with the exception of 90 minutes. I had various tasks planned for today but being on the counter pushes them back to tomorrow.

The enquiry counter is frequently busy and those staffing it are often rushed off their feet with stationery sales, printing/copying queries, research enquiries, circulation duties, referencing help – the list goes on. During quiet moments at the counter, I printed out new subject signs for the shelves, and during my non-counter 90 minutes, I put them up. I managed a little preparation for a meeting tomorrow by creating an estimate of how much it costs (in terms of time/wages/resources) to manually add new users to Heritage and create the necessary reader records. Also found time to discuss with the head librarian the possibility of purchasing e-readers and their compatibility with our downloadable e-books.

I finish early on Mondays, so head out at 1.30pm to do a spot of shopping. Hurrah!

And that, in a nutshell, was the beginning of my week. Not at all typical of my standard day, but being part of a team environment means being flexible and I don’t mind doing whatever is needed of me to help the service run smoothly. It’s good to mix things up occasionally, but hopefully the rest of this week’s posts will portray more accurately the role of Systems Librarian.

*Just in case you’re wondering, it’s Take On Me by A-Ha. Classic.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Hello Kindy

Image by Accretion Disc
One of my aims for 2012 (which I blogged about here) was to make better use of my Kindle. Become buddies and improve our friendship. Last weekend I had a go at getting to know it better...

I had a pop at downloading various e-books. Mostly fiction with a few autobiogs thrown in for good measure. No other type of document, but that’s okay to start off with. I’m finding the whole e-book format thing a little tricky – for the life of me I can never remember which formats the Kindle can read. So, I took a look at Calibre software for the first time too. It’s open source and is used to help manage e-book collections by converting different file types etc. On first glance it looks fairly user-friendly and I’m looking forward to becoming familiar with it.

Feeling more confident, I dabbled with a .pdf document, but with less success. The Kindle accepts them, but something wasn’t quite right and usability was zilch. The text size couldn’t be altered and I’d have to scroll along to reach the end of a line. Will have to play around with these a bit more methinks.

There's still lots to find out with the Kindle (or Kindy, as I've nicknamed it), but so far one of the things I find quite fun is the selection of screensavers, and not knowing which will appear next. (Small pleasures and all that...)

At work, we are hoping to buy an e-reader for staff and student use. At Christmas we upgraded our e-book license to downloadable multi-users. However, our e-book platform providers inform us that our e-books are not compatible with Kindles so we are looking at alternative, reasonably-priced models. One of my tasks for this week is to research the Kobo devices. All in the name of work, honestly... it’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it...

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Two nights ago I took part in my first ever #uklibchat. It clashes with my evening shift at work and I’m usually too busy to check in at that time but Thursday night I was able to join in and I must say, I really enjoyed it. Questions are posted on Twitter and discussion is then generated by people’s responses. This session focused on libraries in the new year. The next chat on 26 January will centre around professional bodies.

I only hooked up for about 20 minutes or so, but flexibility is one of the strong points of #uklibchat in my point of view, especially the way you can dip in and out without missing anything. It’s a great example of using Twitter to facilitate professional discussions. And with replies limited to 140 characters I didn’t feel intimidated into thinking the conversation would be too high brow to be enjoyable.

It’s the first time I’ve really taken part in an organised Twitter conversation. Talking to people miles away and not knowing who’d reply next was exciting. A sub-conversation about chartership sprung up and became an impromptu sharing of basic info.

It’s nice to bounce ideas around with other library folk. I shall definitely find time to check in for the next #uklibchat. A big pat on the back for the @uklibchat team for such a simple yet genius brainwave!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Study Visit Seminar

A few weeks ago I blogged about being accepted on a study visit to Poland. Today, I attended a briefing seminar where necessary practical information was disseminated. I don’t feel as apprehensive now that I know what the next stages of the process will be*.

There are over 100 Transversal/Ecorys study visits this year with thousands of participants throughout the EU. Whilst at the UK briefing today, I was hoping to meet someone going on the same visit, my plan being to attach myself to them from now pretty much up until we reach the hotel. Out of the 144 UK participants, I am the only one attending the librarian visit. I know that makes me very lucky, but it also make me very scared. I’m an inexperienced flyer and it would have been comforting to have a companion. I have from now until May to lose this fear and embrace the challenge of being an international solo traveller.

Previous participants shared hints and tips with us, which I was quite grateful for, particularly as the following ones would probably have never occurred to me:
  • Take appreciation gifts for the host, other participants and any organisations you visit
  • Take business cards
  • Prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ in advance
I don’t have an elevator pitch and I don’t have business cards. I don’t even have a firm handshake. And as for confidence? I could do with finding some of that before I go too. There is lots of preparation to do but the visit isn’t until May so there’s plenty of time. Which is just as well, I think I’ll spend most of it trawling the shops trying to find suitable appreciation gifts. Living near the Birmingham border, I’m initially thinking Cadburys chocolate. Whaddya reckon folks? Help me out here… pretty please?

*Sign contract, funds transfer, email from host organisation regarding schedule, delegate list & accommodation, book flights & accommodation, make contact with other participants, then finally… go, go, go!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Library Day in the Life (R8)

Logged in to my Hotmail account last night and the inbox was home to several emails informing me of updates to the PBWorks wiki. This could mean only one thing….

The next round of Library Day in the Life has been announced! First thing I did this morning when I got to work – logged on and signed up! WooHoo! Yeah, baby! (Can you tell I’m excited?! Maybe if I use a few more exclamation marks? !!!!!) My details are number 13 in the participant list.

I'm a big fan of this initiative – it’s so interesting being able to nosy into what people do every day at work, and it’s lovely when people take the time to comment on your own working week. Some of the comments BtB received during the previous round were from people employed in different library sectors, and it helped me to think about my job from different perspectives.

So, yup, I will be blogging about work from 30th Jan – 3rd Feb. May even post the occasional tweet too. Can’t wait to start reading about aspects of library work I’ve yet to experience, as well as those I can already relate to…

Bring it on!!!!!!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Fingers Crossed

Image by Discoodoni
Well, it seems that bloggers all over the universe are posting about what they hope to achieve in 2012. I’ve read several posts like this and have enjoyed them all (I’m far too nosey for my own good!). So, with this in mind, I’m taking a running jump on the bandwagon and doing the same.

1. Kindle: I had the new Kindle model for my birthday a few weeks ago. I’ve only used it to read fiction on, but would really like to utilise the other features it offers. I find it handy, portable and convenient, and by the end of the year I hope to be fully conversant with all aspects of the Kindle. Not a major resolution, but it takes me ages to get be comfy with new gadgets.

2. The work-related aim: As Systems Librarian, I administer and maintain Heritage LMS. However, at the moment I am unfamiliar with the majority of the modules. I’d really like to get to grips with the reports and stocktaking options. I’d feel much more confident with my Heritage knowledge (and performance at work) once I’ve got these nailed.