Libraries, the universe and everything

Library Day in the Life Round 8
January 30, 2012, 16:21
Filed under: Library day in the life | Tags: ,

I always enjoy reading about what other people have been up to when #libday week comes along, and have participated in a very half-hearted way once or twice myself, so this time I decided that I would join in properly.

To some extent this is because I’m trying to get around to doing a skills audit for my Chartership and I thought it would be useful to have a record of what I actually do with my time! I work in a learned society library, and my current title is Information and Promotion Officer. This encompasses a wide and diverse range of tasks, of which a very brief description follows: in addition to invigilating in the reading room, fetching rare books and archive material and doing enquiry work, I look after journal circulation and cataloguing; I edit the library webpages, newsletter and our blog, and promote events; I represent the library on podcasting, internal communications and knowledge management groups. Outside work, I’m a member of the CILIP London branch committee and co-edit the branch newsletter, and I belong to CLSIG and LLPSLG too.

Like most people, my work life involves meetings, conversations, RSS feeds, and plenty of email, but I don’t plan to document this stuff unless anything particularly interesting shows up – consequently what follows is the edited highlights of my week! 


  • Participated in a video which our HR department are making to promote the workplace mentoring scheme, and completed my application to be a mentor
  • Reconciled BL inter-library loan claims & re-submitted some forms which seem to have gone astray
  • Did some preliminary work selecting material to feature on some new “browse our collections” webpages we’re putting together
  • Finalised details of a visit I’m hosting on Friday
  • Proof-read the copy for the next CILIP London branch newsletter
  • Received my draft Chartership PPDP back from my mentor, positive feedback but several improvements to make!
  • Started drafting a blog post about my experience at #libcampnw
  • Some correspondence around an article I’m coordinating for CILIP Update


Rather a quiet day today – a desk session with just a couple of readers to look after, and the library manager was away so I kept an eye on our enquiries inbox but not much came through there either. However, this meant I was able to tick two big things off my to-do list:

  • Achieved inbox zero! (Or very nearly – to be strictly honest I have 8 messages left, a couple which I like to keep there for quick reference, and the rest will disappear once I action them.) The size of my inbox has been bugging me for ages, so I’m really pleased to have finally dealt with it.
  • Reviewed my annual appraisal targets – interim appraisal time is fast approaching so I wanted make sure I was on top of things. There are one or two things still to address, including something rather interesting which I’d completely forgotten about, but in the main I’m on track.

Having tackled these I kept myself busy with a range of smaller bits and bobs:

  • dealt with a subscription-related query from a colleague
  • renewed some books for a reader
  • fielded enquiries about making garments from spider silk in the C17th, and books on C18th astronomy
  • updated a page on our intranet
  • did a bit more work for my article


Today has absolutely zoomed past. A quiet desk shift took up most of the morning, along with assisting a colleague in failing to find a couple of boxes (this is what happens when we let our Archivist have a day off!). It wasn’t helped by the fact that we thought we were looking for smallish brown boxes – they actually turned out to be largeish blue/grey ones – but fortunately we eventually managed to get hold of the Archivist by phone and of course she knew exactly where they were. Otherwise just a few other things of note:

  • read through the minutes of our last knowledge management group meeting, made a few notes about things I want to follow up, and emailed my team to get their suggestions about one or two points before the next meeting
  • finally got around to logging and shelving a pile of annuals for the reference section. This also involved a walk around the building as some departments get new copies of their own, whilst others adopt the previous year’s volume
  • learned how to edit audio recordings for podcasts
  • checked in some journals
  • sent the text of a report I’ve been involved with preparing to our in-house designer, along with some ideas for images to adorn it – I’m not especially confident about matching images to words, so will be very interested to hear what she thinks of them. Usually I rope in one of my colleagues (our picture librarian) to help me with this sort of thing, but she’s flat-out with a massive project at the moment.


Another quiet morning in the reading room, during which I registered a new reader and spent some time chatting to her about her research – a side effect of not being so busy is that there’s more time to talk to people and find out what they’re using our collections for, which I always enjoy. I also spent some more time selecting highlights to feature on the website, picking out what I hope is a good range of things to include and drafting some text.

The afternoon was mainly taken up with editing an audio recording for podcasting. I’ve recently joined the team which produces the organisation’s podcast, and a couple of weeks ago I helped to record one of my colleagues talking about a number of the books in our new exhibition. We’re planning to feature a different item from the exhibition each month until it closes – hopefully this will maintain interest in the exhibition as well as providing a regular historical feature for the next few podcasts. The editing software (Adobe Audition) lives on a dedicated laptop, so I was able to take myself off into the reading room (equipped with headphones, naturally!) and get on with the task away from the distractions of phone and email, which was really helpful. The recording session was quite casual, so there were rather more hesitations, deviations and repetitions to weed out than should normally be the case, and it took me over 2 hours to edit 8 minutes down to just under 6! Ideally I still need to lose at least another minute, but I’m leaving it until tomorrow so I can come back to it with fresh ears.

After work I’m off to a training event – “Create a Killer CV” – which I’m really looking forward to. My CV is more-or-less up to date but is very text-heavy and I’ve been wanting to produce a more skills-based version for ages. Without job-hunting to make me do this it’s been very easy to put it off, but the need to produce a CV for my Chartership portfolio has given me the the prompt I needed, and this event came up at just the right time.


Yet another quiet morning in the library – this week all my desk shifts have been in the mornings and the readers don’t seem to be appearing until the afternoon! I’m not complaining though as I was able to finish drafting the text for the “browse our collections” webpages. I also dealt with a couple of enquiries and nagged two colleagues for blog posts they’d promised to write earlier in the week.

Then Tina arrived to have lunch and a tour of the library and collections here. I absolutely love showing people around, it gives me the opportunity to dust off some of my historical knowledge and enthuse about how amazing the collection here is, and reminds me that I’m very lucky to work with it.

In the afternoon I:

  • returned to my desk to find that one of the colleagues I’d nagged earlier had sent me some text for the blog, so uploaded it and sent a copy for internal proofing
  • finished editing the podcast (which I eventually reduced to the desired target of under 5minutes by the simple strategy of chopping the end off!)
  • wrangled some journal predictions in the LMS
  • glanced through the summary of the new RIN report on information practices in the physical sciences
  • received approval for the blog post so published it, then posted a link to it on our Twitter and Facebook accounts

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[…] week was the first time I’ve participated properly in the Library Day in the Life project, and I thought it would be useful to reflect a […]


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