Monday, 30 January 2012

Library Day in the Life Round 8: Monday

Last January I participated in the Library Day in a Life project which is a project where librarians share their daily work to enlighten people who don't know very much about what working in a library (or different sorts of information services involves). It seemed to be very popular with the people who read my blog, so I thought that I would do it again. So for five days this week, I intend to tell you about my daily activities. If you have any particular questions, fire away and I'll address them in the following day's post!

Since I participated last time, a number of things have changed both personally and professionally.
1. I am now married and need to remember to write Verity W when signing my name on leave forms and giving out my email address.
2. We now live 4.5 miles away from work as opposed to 1.5 miles, and although I cycle still, it means I lose an hour a day to my commute as opposed to only 20.
3. Although I retain the title of "Reading Room Supervisor", I now supervise a different set of reading rooms, the advantage to this being that I am now based solely in one building. Although there are still many stairs, there are not quite as many as when I looked after two rooms on the top level of two different buildings. This means that I get to see my team members more consistently and am on hand more when there are issues. I am responsible for overseeing the collections in two reading rooms, the book service to one of the rooms and managing four members of staff, as well as continuing to be involved in the wider reader services department.

Last year my day started at 6.35, these days it starts at 6.05 when my alarm goes off. I allow myself 15 minutes reading blog posts/facebook/twitter on my phone before I struggle out, throw some clothes on, put my husband's packed lunch into his bag, kiss him goodbye and get on my bike for the 20 minute cycle ride to the pool. I no longer have time to go back home between the pool and work so I have to be quite organised. I swim 100 lengths (pretty slowly - I am tired but also thinking of a number of work and home things that I need to do today), have a shower and put on my work clothes, and cycle the remaining 10 minutes to work, arriving at 8.25.

Normally, at the start of the day I am involved with getting the reading rooms ready - shelving any books which have been left on desks when the library closed on Sunday, turning computers and copiers on, but I have a rare "off-desk" session to start the week with. This is my time to get on with jobs uninterrupted by the readers.

So, after greeting everyone, I have time to quickly switch on my own computer before meeting with a colleague from a different library (Oxford University has many, many libraries, and although they tend to function separately, some of the services are provided in common, and we share knowledge etc). She is hoping to start a visual new books display, using the web service Librarything, which I have been using in conjunction with my colleagues from the History Faculty for about 8 months (you can see our visual books display here), and I talk her through some of the problems we've encountered.

At 9.30, I have a catch-up meeting with my manager. We should have these every 4 weeks (interspersed with fortnightly meetings together with the other Reading Room Supervisor) but one way and another we haven't had one since mid-December. Luckily, we communicate a lot by email/phone so there isn't too much to discuss, so it doesn't take too long before I come away with a list of jobs.

For the rest of the morning, I try to use the time to catch up with my to-do list as well as the regular Monday morning tasks of entering statistics from the previous week onto spreadsheets, sending emails to address the tasks from the meeting, and arranging time for a new evening library assistant to come in to be trained.

12pm and it's time for lunch. Normally I go at 1pm, but today I need to be back to cover the reading room from 1pm. I spend my lunch break drinking coffee and writing my grocery shopping list for later in the week and a list of what I need to pack for my holiday in Tenerife in less than three weeks time, and also pick up some theatre tickets for later in the year.

1pm and I'm back in the Upper Camera reading room. We no longer have a book service to this reading room, so the room is only invigilated by one member of staff. It's usually pretty quiet, apart from handing out books kept behind the desk to readers, and pointing out where the stairs to the gallery (behind the pillars), photocopiers (behind the pillars) and toilets (downstairs) are. Would love to have a t-shirt with all of this information on.

Because it's quiet, I'm able to get on with a bigger project that my manager gave me this morning which she wants done by the end of the week - creating workflows for a number of different processes carried out in the reading rooms. We have two large projects happening this summer which this information will be fed into so it's important that I get it done.

Interspersed with this, I hand out books from the reserve, and point to the stairs ad infinitum.

My teabreak is covered by colleagues from downstairs, but I have to wait a while as they are very busy dealing with the bookservice (more about this tomorrow), so I only take a short break as there are still several of them to go.

Back for a final hour and the first draft of the workflows is nearly done. I ask one of my colleagues to review them when he is in the Upper Camera tomorrow afternoon as he carries out the activities more frequently than me.

At 5pm, the evening shift arrive (it's actually Simon from Stuck in a book ), and it's time to put my coat and cycle 4.5 miles home. Am really looking forward to the evenings drawing out again as I really don't like cycling in the dark. Tonight I'll be doing some washing, a spot of cooking/packed lunch making and hoping that it's third time lucky making some edible drama masks for my niece's birthday cake this weekend. Sugarpaste and royal icing have both failed to work in the moulds that I found, fingers crossed that chocolate does!


  1. How lovely to hear about your life again in the library. It really is fascinating, your days seem very packed and with plenty to be doing and thinking about.

    I always find swimming a good way of either ordering my thoughts or sending them into spiral. But I know how organised you have to be when you do any sort of fitness on the way to work. I am so paranoid I am going to forget my work skirt or something else more vital when I go swimming first thing!

  2. What an interesting tale of your daily life. I envy you the quietness of the workplace but not the constant interruptions

  3. Thanks for such an interesting post. You certainly lead a busy and active life. Hope that the chocolate worked well, when it came to making the drama masks for your niece's birthday cake.

  4. Erika W.
    You have made me nostalgic for my days as a reading room supervisor at the Harry Ransom center at the University of Texas. A lovely blog entry and knowing that you and Simon are colleagues makes you both more three-dimensional.


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