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.


  1. I think more counter time is inevitable now especially as more services are acing having reduced teams. We generally spend 5 or 6 hours every day on one and, while it is great to spend time helping students and working out what they need, it can be a bit difficult to keep up with any developmental work or have any quiet thinking time.

  2. Unless I'm covering for staff illness, I probably do about 8-10 hours on counter over the course of a week. Isn't it interesting learning how 'librarian' roles differ according to establishment?