Hi, my name is Jo and I'm a newly qualified librarian working in several academic libraries in Cambridge.

I originally created this blog as an electronic learning journal whilst participating in an extended shadowing programme prior to starting the MA in Information Services Management at London Metropolitan University.

The views expressed here are entirely my own.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Job Swap with Graduate Trainee

For the last three days I have been working in the University Library at our other main site as part of a job swap with the Graduate Trainee based there. Although we are essentially one library, I thought it would be a good opportunity to work in a slightly different library environment and to compare the different ways of working. I was also curious to find out more about the work of the Acquistions and Electronic Services & Systems (ESS) Teams which are also based there.

Although the work of the two libraries is fundamentally the same, the ways in which routine tasks are allocated and the Library Assistants are managed are quite different. It was really interesting to compare the different ways of working and to weigh up the benefits of each. I came to the conclusion that neither way of working is perfect but each reflects the different staffing levels and culture of each site. I will be including some of my thoughts in a Job Swap Report which will be posted under the Learning and Development section of this blog in due course.

I will also include my personal thoughts and observations about the new entrance area which had been officially unveiled the day before my arrival. As you'll see from the photos, it has a very striking, bright and contemporary look. I do, however, wonder whether such a bold and "trendy" design is in danger of dating very quickly. Although I suspect that it will appeal to the taste of younger students, I question whether it will appeal so greatly to the large proportion of mature students. I'm also concerned that certain aspects of the design and layout have been at the cost of functionality and practicality. The yellow easy clean floor, for example, has replaced carpet which previously helped to absorb noise from the ground floor which now resonates up the central atrium to the other floors. The omission of the word "Library" in the sign hanging over the desk has also lead visitors to confuse it with the main University Reception. However, I'm sure that teething troubles such as these will be addressed in the coming weeks and months as library staff and readers become accustomed to the new design.

Overall, I throughly enjoyed the experience and was made to feel really welcome. Although it felt strange doing familiar work in an unfamiliar environment, this gave me a fresh perspective on my role and really made me appreciate the contribution that I and my fellow Library and Circulation Assistants make to our service.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Extended Shadowing Programme: Preliminary Meetings

Some time ago I registered an interest in participating in a full showdowing programme with the Subject Team in order to gain a deeper insight into the role of the professional librarian before committing fully to a Masters course. During the Summer, I participated in a taster shadowing session with the Academic Liaison Librarian, Arts and Letters (ALL (A&L)) which served as a useful introduction to the extended programme and helped me to consider which aspects of the role I would like to focus on. A full report of this session is included in the Learning and Development section of this blog.

To date, I have had three short preliminary meetings with the ALL (A&L) who will be co-ordinating the programme. At the first of these, on 4 December, we discussed the objectives of the shadowing scheme, my development needs and my expectations. As part of the programme I will be expected to keep a record of the different sessions which will form the basis of a short evaluative report to be circulated to all staff via the library intranet. In addition to this, I will be recording my personal thoughts about the programme via this blog which I will invite interested colleagues to view. I decided that this would be an effective way of getting into the habit of reflecting critically on my learning, a skill I will need to develop if I am successful in gaining a place on the Masters course.

The areas that I have asked to observe/explore further are:

  • The Enquiry Desk - observing different strategies for answering in-depth enquiries

  • Ordering - how and why new stock items are acquired

  • Cataloguing and classification - a basic introduction

  • Collections development - including decisions regarding stock editing and choosing between electronic and print versions

  • User education sessions - preparation and delivery

  • Academic liaison - including involvement in validation processes and attendance at meetings

  • Development of the library website

  • The library's involvement in the development of new technologies - in particular any plans for making use of Web 2.0 applications

For our second meeting on 20 December, the ALL (A&L) had translated my wish list into a draft calendar including sessions covering most of my areas of interest. Those areas that could not be accomodated are the development of the library website and the libraries involvement in utilising new technologies. These fall within the remit of the Electronic Services and Systems (ESS) Team based at our other main site. However, as I will shortly be undertaking a three-day job swap with the Graduate Trainee who is based there, I'll hopefully have the opportunity to speak to the ESS Team then. I will post a summary of my experience of the job swap here in due course.

The programme will run from the week beginning 11 February through to the week commencing 5 May, with an average of two dedicated hours per week. The schedule may be subject to change due to changing priorities and unforeseen staff absences which may prevent my release from the normal daily timetable. I have placed a copy of the proposed schedule under the Learning and Development section of this blog and will update it as alterations occur.

By the time of our last meeting on 16 January the majority of the schedule had been confirmed with only the session on cataloguing and the observation of the Staff Learning and Development Group meeting to be finalised. Before the sessions on ordering, cataloguing and classifiaction and collection development I will be expected to arrange a short meeting with the librarian involved to discuss any preparatory reading or tasks that will enable me to set the session into context. I have also been asked to keep a log of enquiries and how they were dealt with during my observations of the Enquiry Desk which I will also post here after each session.

The schedule that has been prepared for me certainly seems to include everything that I asked for. Before attending the course on applying for the Masters course I was a little concerned that I might be at a disadvantage compared to those people who have undertaken a graduate traineeship. However, I really believe that this programme combined with my attendance at the library Learning Hour sessions and my time working as a Library Assistant, will provide me with an equivalent experience.

I can't wait to get started!