Monday, 24 January 2011

Library Day in the Life Round 6

This is a post for the Library Day in the Life project Round 6 where librarians across the world record their daily activities. I am currently working as the Assistant Librarian for an Army library and this was my January 24th...


Things have changed since the last Library Day in the Life. In September, I moved into a flat much closer to work. Cutting the heavy commute out of my day has given me more energy and allowed me to focus on my job. I also completed my Masters dissertation and no longer have to stretch myself between two roles as library student and librarian. In November, I joined Voices for the Library: balancing this library campaigning role with my work role has been a considerable challenge. In December, my manager took an unforeseen leave of absence leaving me in charge as Acting Manager. 


I entered the base at 0800 and collected the newspapers before heading to the library. There was a relic from my childhood in my tray: a soldier had brought back a VHS tape over the weekend with the tape mangled in the mechanism and the assistant on duty had left it for me to untangle. Using the skills developed over a childhood of watching videos to death, I untangled the tape and returned it to its 15 brothers: the proud few VHS tapes left in the library. 

The first hour was hectic. The photocopier needed toner and three teaching groups were vying for control of the library. While a library assistant went to get more toner, I organised the soldiers: one group in the PC room and two sharing ‘the Goldfish Bowl’ (the informal name for the heavily-windowed library study room). 

With the library as quiet as it was likely to get, I spent an hour or so designing the newsletter. The newsletter is a major promotional tool for the library and is disseminated across the base. It tells users what new books and DVDs are available, gives new soldiers an introduction to the library service, and this issue reveals the winners of last term’s short story competition.

At 1015, I began my first shift on the issue desk. Assorted tasks: fetching old newspapers from the store room, issuing books, and helping a class scan, enlarge and print some maps. Between enquiries, I worked on a planning report. We intend to update the library website so I’m putting all my plans, ideas, and research into one document to present to my manager. The difficulty is reigning in my elaborate plans to cater for our 16-17 year old audience. 


I divided my lunch hour between reading (Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson) and checking my email, Twitter, and Google Reader. Since I joined Voices for the Library, I’ve been checking my email more often: a few weeks ago I missed a media opportunity for BBC Radio and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. Communication is the crux of the pro-library campaign so it’s important to stay connected even if the sight of a bursting email inbox can be overwhelming. 


While most people were still on their lunch breaks, I took advantage of the quiet to straighten the library and sort out the shelves (Guinness World Records does not belong in the Travel section!). I’m in charge of ‘biographies’ and I noticed that one of the display biographies – a biography on Osama bin Laden – is missing. It hadn’t been checked out so I spent some time searching for bin Laden. Like the man himself, the book's whereabouts are unknown.

At 1500, I had a quick meeting after which I took my place at the issue desk for my second shift of the day. The library is generally quieter in the afternoon so between book issues and pleas for IT assistance, I worked on timetabling the induction sessions for the new recruits: these take place in a couple of weeks so at the moment I’m timetabling them, arranging who will do them, and ensuring we have sufficient materials. Today it involved contacting the rogue teachers who haven’t booked their classes in yet. During my stint on the desk, some education staff came over because they’d noticed my quote in the Harrogate Advertiser. I used this opportunity to get on my soapbox and talk about the plight of the UK’s library service


I arrived home at 1700 and, because I was starving, made myself a spaghetti carbonara. Plans for the rest of the evening include: ironing; I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue; preparation for the first Voices for the Library face-to-face meeting on Wednesday; University Challenge; Mass Effect; sleep.


Tom Roper said...

Sheffield or Magdalen?

Simon Barron said...

Sheffield! I went to that university (albeit briefly).