Saturday, 4 February 2012

Library day in the life round 8

Library day in the life is a semi-annual event where librarians write about their day to day work for a week. This is the first time that I've taken part. I have two part-time roles in an academic research library. In the mornings I work in the ebooks team and in the afternoons I work on the enquiry desk in the Commonwealth Room, a specialist reading room for Official Publications and Inter-Library Loans (ILL). I love the variety these two roles give me and it means I am never bored!


I start each day by dealing with the email enquiries about ebooks. A quiet morning on enquiries - must be because my colleague was working Saturday and cleared all the emails then! Next on the agenda is amending links in ebook catalogue records so that the links will work for off campus users. As a result of a recent enquiry we discovered that many of the links in catalogue records for a package of over 400 titles don't work off campus so we are working through the list and amending where necessary. I am also cataloguing some ebooks that we don't currently have records for.  This involves downloading MARC records for these titles from OCLC and amending them to meet our library's needs. 

Each afternoon I receipt the incoming ILLs for our readers on our ILL system, and decide whether photocopying is allowed for each one.  A fairly busy afternoon on the enquiry desk, and one of those days where everyone seems to want help at once. I took several ILL requests from readers, checked that we didn't have them here and looked up locations that do hold them. Another job on the enquiry desk is taking fetching requests. Most of the official publications collection is in closed stacks, so readers have to fill out request slips and the department's Fetcher brings them to the room. There was a lot of fetching of acts today. I took some photocopying requests, and took payment from those collecting photocopying. We have a self-service photocopier in the room, but some readers ask for staff copying, and many inter-library loans can only be copied by staff. The Microform Reading Room is reached by some stairs within the Commonwealth Room and when the part-time Microform Reading Room superintendent leaves mid-afternoon, I also deal with any microform enquiries. Often, like today, people need to be shown how to use the microform readers or copying machines, as many people have never used microfilms or microfiche before.


I spent the morning continuing to amend the ebook links and cataloguing ebooks, plus dealing with the email enquiries that came in. I had to break the bad news to a student that their recommendation isn't available as an ebook. Luckily we have a print copy in the library, so at least the student can access the book somehow.

A quieter afternoon on the enquiry desk. As well as the usual loan receipting, photocopy requests, fetching etc, I responded to some ILL requests from other libraries that we couldn't satisfy. There are several jobs that I can do at quiet times on the desk, such as cataloguing official publications.  In the quiet periods today I dealt with the ephemeral material. This is typically leaflets or other ephemeral material from government departments that we don't catalogue individually. Instead we register each item received, only recording the title and the publication year for each item.

Every Tuesday evening I do a couple of hours work in the Rare Books Reading Room. It's useful to see what other reading rooms in the library do, and gain some experience working with rare books. At the end of the day it's time to lock up a section of the library and then home time!


Finished checking the ebooks links today, hurrah! As well as keeping on top of the enquiries, I updated our spreadsheet of available ebook titles with some new ebook acquisitions and uploaded this to our information for librarians website. This is useful for knowing what we have access to as not all our ebooks from all suppliers have records in the catalogue at the moment.

This afternoon involved the usual receipting of loans, dealing with fetching and photocopying requests, enquiries, plus more responding to requests from other libraries.


Some updates to the ebooks webpages. We recently signed up for ebook downloading from MyiLibrary. I put together some guidance for our users on this, based on some FAQs on the MyiLibrary site and my colleague's blog post that advertised it, and uploaded this to our ebooks website. I also added a new resource to our free ebooks pages which provide useful links to free ebooks.

A typical afternoon in the Commonwealth Room. Today there were quite a few ILL and microform enquiries. Sometimes what starts as an official publications or microform enquiry turns into an ILL enquiry when it becomes clear that we don't hold what the reader is looking for. Today for example a reader was looking for some Irish newspapers that she thought we might hold on microform. After establishing that we didn't have them here, I managed to find some libraries that do have them.


There were several ebook email enquiries waiting for me this morning. A couple of ebook recommendations from librarians, including one that is needed quite quickly. I've only been doing this job for a few months, and today I had some training on how to place ebooks orders, and put the purchase order information in the system.  

One of the things I like about enquiry work is that you never know what you will be asked next. Today for example, I helped a reader find information about poverty indicators, and another find an Irish census report in the parliamentary papers. Not all official publications are in the online catalogue, so I often need to show readers how to use our card catalogue to search for material published before 1999. For enquiry work, I find it is always helpful to know what online resources are available, both paid-for and free, as complex enquiries often need a mixture of print and online sources to solve. The detective work involved is interesting! Detective work is sometimes needed in ILL work too. Today I took some more ILL requests, and managed to find a couple of articles that were requested. It's always satisfying when I find that we already have something a reader wants to get on ILL as it saves them the £3 ILL fee and usually results in a happy reader! I entered some requests onto the ILL system, which sends them off to the library we wish to request them from. 

That's the end of another week. For anyone who's stuck with me til the end, sorry for the length of this, but that's what happens when trying to cover an entire week in one post!

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