Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Library Day in the Life Round 8: Tuesday

So, today, it’s Tuesday, and it starts pretty much the same as Monday, only with the addition of some moaning about how tired I am, and with me putting a packed tea as well as a packed lunch in my husband’s bag as he is out tonight. I defrost my bicycle seat and cycle to the pool where despite feeling tired, I manage my 100 lengths and get to work at 8.25.

This morning, although I will be based in the Lower Camera, I start my day with half an hour in the Upper Camera, getting it ready for the readers, as the colleague who will be based there this morning doesn’t start til 9. This involves switching computers and copiers on and sorting out about 50 books, most of which need to go back on the shelves in the reading room and some of which need to be returned to other locations on site. I’m tight for time to do this amount of books on my own, so I sort the books fast and practically fling them into their places on the shelves. The good thing about a fairly static collection where the books have actual homes is that there is generally an obvious gap to put them into!

At 9am, I go back downstairs and we begin “The turnout”. When readers order books from our remote store in Swindon, they are held in the reading room or “reserve” that they have been ordered to for a week; each morning we get a automatically generated list of the books which have been in the room for a week, we retrieve them from the reserve shelves, scan them out of the reading room on the system (“Aleph”), and put them in boxes to be returned. Some of the books have been reserved by readers at other libraries so we have to send them on separately.

At 10am, just as we’ve got rid of the old books, the new orders arrive (and the filled returns boxes are collected – well most of them, we’re sending back so much this morning that there isn’t space on the van). 10 boxes of books! We unpack them onto the four staff desks, scan them in on the Aleph, put them back onto the table sorted into alphabetical piles, and then put them away in the reserve.

At the same time, we’re passing out requested books to readers, helping people with the photocopiers, and pointing out where the toilets are.

Teabreaks also start at 10, there are four of us to go, and we also need to cover the break in the Upper Camera, so this is always tricky logistically!

At 12pm we get another delivery – it’s usually smaller but this time a couple of boxes of books were held over from the morning delivery so we need to put those away too.

At 1pm it’s time for my lunch. I head to the public library to pick up a couple of books, buy gluten free crumpets in Marks and Spencers, ring my husband, and eat some butternut squash soup.

At 2pm, I was supposed to have a meeting for an update on a project, but it’s been postponed, so it’s straight back to the Lower Camera. Immediately I have a couple of enquiries from other members of staff to deal with – one involves me hunting for (and finding!) a book, another involves a system oddity that I will need to talk to my manager about as it’s not something I’ve seen before. Probably needs the systems people to sort it out.

At 3pm, the teabreaks round starts, and the afternoon delivery arrives. It’s another big delivery but the readers don’t really bother us while we’re processing it so it goes away fairly quickly.

At 4.15 I go for my break – it’s a late one as I’m working til 7pm tonight. I normally work til 7pm on a Thursday night but someone needed to swap so here I am. Come back at 4.45 and shortly afterwards send the others home whilst awaiting the arrival of the other person on 5-7 duty. He arrives promptly and after a quick chat he goes off to do some shelving. We don’t shelve during the day as we’re busy and it’s disruptive to the readers, but it’s a priority during evening duty. Whilst he’s busy doing that there are a constant stream of people wanting books from the reserve, it feels like each time I sit down I have to get up again, and it’s almost a relief to have someone ask for help with the photocopiers!

My manager rings me back with an explanation about the system oddity, but I will still need the systems people to sort it out. She also suggests asking for a report to see if there are any other books which think they are somewhere that they’re not!

Finally it’s time to go home – 10.5 hours is a long day when usually I start at 12pm on a 7pm finish. Luckily, even though Mr W is going out tonight, he agreed to come and take me home first so I don’t have to tackle a 30 minute cycle ride in the cold when I’m quite so tired! Definitely a ready meal on the agenda for tonight!

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!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Productive week

It's been a productive week in fact, rolling on from Monday evening, certainly in terms of all of the things that I seem to measure productivity by. 20km has been swum, banana pancakes were made and eaten before any photos could be taken, a fish pie (ditto) and some particularly special cupcakes (post to follow separately) were also made, along with a mini victoria sponge for my father and a larger heart shaped version for Mr W. We've booked both our summer and Christmas holidays, Mr W has completed his tax return, and some good books have been read (nothing terribly literary but enjoyable can = good too can't it?).

I was asked to share what I had been cross stitching, nothing terribly fancy just some little kits that I bought back in the Autumn. I have two larger projects which I've rather given up on as it's so hard to hold a big piece of fabric and stitch. Maybe I'm just impatient. Anyway I still haven't quite finished the surfing bear (top) but I've managed to find cards for all of the ones I've done over recent months.

(Of course productive week = seriously shattered Saturday - after climbing out of bed at an unearhtly hour for a Dr's appointment, coming back and making cake, and cleaning the kitchen, and having a bit of a sort out, I was dispatched back to bed by Mr W and stayed there for 3 hours dozing and reading. No swimming or sport for me today!)

Monday, 23 January 2012

A productive evening

After a week which felt unproductive by the usual things which I measure productivity by (usually number of books read, cakes baked, kilometres swum) due to being away from Friday to Sunday, I am happy to have had an extremely productive evening. Arrived home at 5.30 on the dot, unpacked groceries, made amazing spicy lentil soup (above), made pasta sauce for base for pasta bake tomorrow, ran for 35 minutes whilst singing and dancing to Steps: the ultimate collection (oh yes!) and repacked my bags for tomorrow before having a long shower. It's still only 7.30!

How to make it a bit more productive? Cross stitch in front of Birdsong on iplayer (feels more productive to watch a literary adaption than something like Don't Tell the Bride) and finishing the book I was reading at work while Mr W does some OU study. Looking forward to an unproductive evening watching trashy tv while Mr W is out tomorrow night...

Monday, 16 January 2012

Hitting things

Not Mr W of course, but more specifically a bass drum, timpani and a suspended cymbal.

I mentioned the other day that one of the reasons that last week was so busy was because I'd been to two music practices. Predating this blog is my involvement in brass bands which dates back to 1998 when I took up the euphonium (an odd choice, but a welcome change to play something unusual rather than the ubiquitous flute which I played for four years before that). Following an early retirement when I went to university, I joined another band in 2006, and at the start of 2007 changed bands and took up the baritone (a smaller, slightly more portable version of the euphonium - see the below picture).

It was in this brass band that I met Mr W, he played trombone and sat behind me. Brass bands worth their salt enter competitions - the major one each year is "The areas", run in a football league table style with promotions and relegations based on the annual competition as well as a national finals for the top bands. But there are other competitions in the year as well, and one of the most fun is the Butlins Mineworkers Brass Band Contest held in Skegness every January. In 2007 I went along (for the first time) with my friend Liz, and Mr W had made arrangements to go with Liz's boyfriend and another friend and it was there that Mr W and I got to know each other properly. In 2008 and 2009 Mr W and I went back and shared a chalet but have not been since then. Since a number of friends who we haven't seen for a while will be going and since we didn't go away this Christmas, we booked a chalet and a day off (it takes so long to get to Skegness...) and are looking forward to a weekend of brass bands and beer (well, except that I don't drink beer because it contains gluten and Mr W doesn't drink Butlins beer cos it's mainly lager) and Being Braced.

Yes, I have pictures of Mr W paddling in bare feet from 2008 but I don't somehow think I'll be having a swim in the north sea!

Despite the fact that "Butlins" is essentially a contest, I have never, until now, actually competed there, always just going along for the social aspect. This year, the local band were short of a second (and third) percussionist, and knowing that I was going along, and that I had played percussion in competitions before (ten years ago...), I have been asked to help them out. hence the rehearsals. I have to say that I don't seem to have the nerves of steel that I had when I was 17 and have had to be demoted from playing the triangle as my hand shakes too much at the start of the piece when I am nervous. But I have learnt to play the timps which isn't somehting that I've done before. There's just two more rehearsals for me to go now - I still need to learn to be a bit more aggressive with the bass drum, but hey, I'm a librarian.

So things may be a bit quiet for the next week or so as I practice my part at home using a saucepan lid, the two coffee tables and the bean bag, and whilst Mr W and I travel to Skeggy and back, but I'll let you know how I get on, if you're interested...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A weekend of sharing things

Sitting down with a cup of tea as the weekend draws to a close. I've swum 5k today (taking me to a total of 21k for the week), cycled to the pool and back (taking me to about 51 miles cycled this week), made a beetroot risotto to have with smoked trout tonight, and started packing for a trip away next weekend.

Aside from the usual activities of cooking, cleaning, and swimming, this weekend has mainly been about community. Yesterday I met a lady who wishes to be mentored through the chartership process (a qualification which will enable her to become a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of the Library and Information Professionals) and over the next year I'll be spending some time helping her along the way. I benefitted from the mentoring process so it's good to be trained up as a mentor and able to give something back.

This afternoon I have been decorating a birthday cake for a little girl who will have her fifth birthday on Tuesday for a request via Free Cakes for Kids Oxford (which I've talked about before). I was happy to be told that she is very girlie and likes butterflies as that is exactly the sort of cake that I like to make! I cut the butterfly shape out of sponge, covered it in buttercream and then used lots of sprinkles and sparkly candles to finish it off.

But community isn't just about giving. As I type, one of our friends is helping Mr W find the garden by removing brambles and digging up dead trees. It's the sort of thing that I hate doing (and it's a very long task as the garden was neglected when we acquired the property, and we have neglected it further over the last nine months) so I am grateful that she is enjoying being outside in the cold whilst I do jobs and chores inside.

Somehow things seem to have balanced out rather well this weekend.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Rubbish blogger!

Feel like a bit of a rubbish blogger at the moment to be honest.
1. I haven't baked anything interesting to share.
2. I didn't manage to keep up with taking a photo a day, mainly because I didn't want to cart my camera around all of the time and my phone isn't good enough for taking photos to put onto my blog. May or may not attempt to have another go this week.
3. Although I've been good with books for my Virago blog (and read the amazing Odd Women by Gissing) I haven't read anything terribly worthy of talking about here.

On the plus side, this week I have:
1. Swum 20km.
2. Cycled 37.5 miles.
3. Spent an hour on the cross-trainer at the gym.
4. Bought carrot, courgette and parsley seeds at the garden centre and potting compost.
5. I have reread some Antonia Forest which was lovely and I have read a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, which was fascinating although quite hagiographic.
6. I'm about to go and make us a proper Sunday dinner with side of salmon, jacket potatoes, crushed swede and carrot, asparagus and spinach and mincemeat and apple crumble (all helping me to my target of eating more fruit and vegetaibles).

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

At the end of the first day back

The first day back after Christmas hasn't been too bad, despite a very interrupted night with dreams of oversleeping, and many hours awake whilst Mr W coughed and sniffled (the final straw was the wake up light going on eight minutes before it should have done). I went around the sales at lunchtime, and the only thing I bought was this handsome diary in the shop at work:
I loved using the Persephone Diary to record my reading last year, and since the notebook I was using before that is pretty much full, I thought I'd go with the diary idea again this year. Obviously I was drawn by the picture of swimmers on the cover, but the diary features selections from the John Johnson collection of ephemera (absolutely fascinating - do read more about it here) which I am sure will be entertaining as I fill in the books that I have read throughout 2012.

I have made biscuits (banana, peanut butter and choc chip) from this recipe - it would have been rude not too when I had an almost black banana. However, in the interests of healthy eating, I baked 6 and froze the rest of the dough.

Now it is time to sit by our tree which we still have up and read whilst Mr W finishes the ironing, and then we have "breakfast for dinner" which I am rather excited about.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year

So a very Happy New Year to you all! Mr W and I went to bed at the usual time on NYE where I was then kept awake by his dreadful cold but we set off early in the morning for Brighton to spend New Year's Day. Awful rain yesterday but we saw the Pavilion which is pretty fantastic, had interesting experiences at both the hotel (first room had no natural light, second had only hot water out of the taps) and the restaurant we went to for dinner (gluten free pasta was made with ordinary pasta the first time and then the second time it arrived it was crunchy (third time was very tasty and we got our drinks for free). Woke up to a beautiful morning so I went in the sea - I would have gone in properly but the pebbles were very sore on my feet and I was a bit scared by the enormous waves! We then went on the pier and rode on a lovely carousel and went on a fantastic ghost train before having some Brighton Rock!

Now I'm back at home and thinking about work tomorrow, the bag is packed, and I'm really hoping I can shake off my tiredness and cope with the 6am start! The car journey to Brighton gave me a lot of time to think about new year goals - I was also prompted by a facebook status from a friend asking what one would want to have achieved in a year's time and this is what I have come up with.

Things are potentially a little uncertain at work, but I still have some professional goals. It will be three years in April since I achieved my Chartered Membership of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and I will be eligible to revalidate it - I've diligently done my yearly progress reports but now I need to think about compiling another portfolio, so this is a big goal.
Secondly, it is 5 years since I completed the research for my Library Masters Dissertation which was then published in an academic journal. The research lends itself rather well to being repeated and compared, so I am investigating whether the journal I was published in before would be interested in another article, and will then consider carrying out the research. I very much enjoyed the research that I did and would welcome the intellectual challenge of doing some more. I looked up my article on Google Scholar this afternoon and it has been cited in 6 other pieces of research which is exciting!

My big goal for the year is to swim 3.8km (ironman distance) in an openwater race in under 1 hour or to swim 10k in an openwater race in under 3 hours. I hope that my swim camp in Tenerife in February will help me to achieve this goal!
I have entered my first triathlon at Blenheim in June - I'm just doing it for a bit of fun rather than competitively. I will be swimming 750m, cycling 20km and then running 5km as it is a sprint distance triathlon.
I am also hoping to run the Brighton Marathon in April, however I have had a lot of problems with my ankles in the last few weeks so I am going to need to rest them and then see how much time I have for training left before I absolutely commit. I would love to achieve a marathon but it may not be this year - 26.2 miles is a lot further than the 3 miles of my tri!

No specific reading goals, I find it difficult to participate in challenges as I like to have the freedom. I do want to read and blog about a Virago Modern Classic a week for my Virago Venture blog - I have been bad at that recently and it is not helping me to complete that challenge! I have stacks of VMCs waiting for me to read them and I just need to grit my teeth and get on with them.
I am impressed by Simon's challenge to read a book from each year of the 20th century; I am planning to see how my reading goes and record it in a similar way, although I am not actually setting out to do this!

Photo a day
Again, inspired by Simon (who did this challenge on facebook) I want to take a photo a day for 2012 to record the year. I'm going to upload these once a week in a blog post. That fits in with my desire for slightly more low key blogging this year - I still want to keep in touch with my bloggy friends but I don't have so much inclination to blog as I used to. If I plan to do that post each week, then I can see what else happens!

I'm intending to do a little less baking this year; Mr W is getting a little cuddly and I am a little above my fighting weight now particularly if I want to fulfil my sporting goals so we are going to try to mainly eat cake at the weekends and less in the week. We still have mountains of biscuits and chocolate left from Christmas!
However, I hope to maximise opportunities to make other cakes, my sister in law has asked me to make a cake for her son's birthday at the start of February, and I'm trying to work out quite how to do an electric guitar cake.

It sounds silly, but I don't want to take any hour that I have to spend with Mr W for granted. I will be very happy at the end of 2012 if I have achieved that.