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.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Extended Shadowing Programme: Session Four - Observing the Enquiry Desk

This afternoon, I spent another hour shadowing the ALL (Arts & Letters) at the Enquiry Desk. Several sessions observing the desk have been included in my shadowing programme schedule to allow me to compare how different members of the Subject Team prefer to work and how they interact with the readers. I'm hoping that this will allow me to pick up lots of examples of best practice that I can use later on in my career.

For three of these sessions I have been deliberately placed with the ALL (Arts & Letters) who is co-ordinating the schedule, to give us an opportunity to discuss how the programme is going and to fill in some background information in preparation for particular sessions. For example, much of this hour was spent talking about the Arts, Law and Social Sciences (ALSS) Faculty Board meeting which I will be attending with the ALL (Arts & Letters) next week. An overview of this discussion and the meeting itself will be included in my next blog entry.

I particularly enjoyed this session as I was able to use my own subject knowledge to directly help with one particular enquiry. A reader is currently doing her dissertation on illustrations of fairy tales and was looking for a book by Marina Walker which had been recommended by her tutor. I used this book to research my undergraduate dissertation on Oscar Wilde and the Fairy Tale and know that it contains lots of photos and illustrations related to fairy tales. I also know that it is actually by Marina Warner and that we have copies of it in the library. We searched the Library Catalogue using the correct author's name but found nothing. I know that the book is called From the Beast to the Blond and we were able to find it by searching key words from the title. I was also able to recommend another of Marina Warner's books No Go the Bogeyman which I also recall includes pictures related to myths and fairy tales. As the reader was particularly interested in illustrations of eastern european tales, I was also able to suggest she look at the two Virago Books of Fairy Tales by Angela Carter. These include folk tales from all over the world, including europe. Although these two books are illustrated with woodcuts they weren't really what the reader was looking for but she was able to identify the names of a few eastern european fairy tales to help in her research.

I went away from this session with a real sense of satisfaction from having helped the reader progress her research and with a taste of the rewards that the librarian's role has to offer. Being able to put myself in the librarian's shoes also gave me a confidence boost and helped to confirm my belief that this is the career for me and that, although I still have a lot to learn, I might just have what it takes to become a professional librarian.

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