Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Seasonal mulling...

I love mulled wine and this is definitely the season for it. This last term has been a 'mulling' sort of term, with slightly less on my plate than the previous months and opportunities to think and strategise.  I've found that it's possible to drink quite a lot of mulled wine without ill-effect; on the other hand I think that there may have been an over-indulgence in thinking.
Ingredients for mulled wine: (according to BBC Good Food website)
  • 1 bottle red wine (I never use my best wine - any old thing will do)
    You can't have mulled wine without the red wine -other ingredients may come and go but red wine is a pre-requisite. Vision is a pre-requisite for running a library, whatever the size. Unlike mulled wine any old thing simply won't do. But, just like mulled wine, the vision or strategy that you adopt may be very different to the one that your counterpart down the road adopts. Why? Because the population you serve is not the same as them. Why, for example, would you adopt the policies set up for an Engineering Library when you run an English Literature Library?
  • 60g/2oz demerara sugar (a better flavour than white sugar I think)
    Sweetners do work a treat in mulled wine. One of the greatest sweetners in the workplace is communication. We all do it, we all fail at it, we all assume that we have used it, and we all need to think harder than ever about who, what, when, where and why in our communication efforts. Both with our colleagues and our users. 
  • 1 cinnamon stick (the best ingredient ever)
    This really hits the spot in mulled wine. In fact anything with cinnamon in it has my vote. It just adds an indefinable something to mulled wine.  It's useful having staff with that indefinable something! It may not be something that you can define - there is just something that 'clicks'. It might be their personality or skills, or a whole host of other things. But life would be worse without them!
  • grated nutmeg (mmmmm)
    Spices - best grated. I'm thinking 'grated nerves' at this point which perhaps isn't the most encouraging thought. Libraries at the moment can create stress and tension. We don't earn our income in the way that we would like to. We are allocated income and despite managing it as well as we can, and providing as much impact data as we can to prove our worth, we still find ourselves cut - both in resources and staffing. We dare not say that we have been spoilt in the past by the size of our workforce or the apparent never-ending financial resources. Whatever the situation, we are not enjoying the level of tension that the process of whittling down our services is creating.
  • 1 orange, halved (nice big juicy orange is lovely)
    Fruit is good for you - you can get one of your five-a-day by drinking mulled wine! Work is good for us, but we really do need to take a closer look at what we do and why we do it. Which of our procedures are ones that we are just doing for the sake of it? Laura Woods wrote a great article in the recent Update and challenged readers to think about changing our procedures or shifting our processes to machinery ot other support workers. Lets critically evaluate what we do. It's good for us!
  • 1 dried bay leaf
    Don't ususlly add this myself, but am willing to be persauded. Odd things do work in libraries - and sometimes the very best is the serendipitous application of 'a' to 'b' that suddenly works! I think of bay leaves as possibly a little serendipitous!
  • 60ml/2fl oz sloe or damson gin (optional but very nice)
    One of the very hardest things to do at the moment when there is so much going on professionally (and never before has there been so many ways to tell people everything you are doing!) is to stand back and opt not to join the current bandwagons, either personally in your own CPD, or for your current workplace. We do have a tendency to argue that we must look at the next and best thing - for the sake of our users. But is it really? And how much are we really reflecting and evaluating what we look at. Perhaps there are some things that sometimes we need to say 'no' to. These might include the latest gimmick in social media, or it might be an invitation to do something, or it might even be deciding that your service does not need to blindly go down a particular alley but stay firmly middle of the road.


mullingpresent participle of mull (Verb)

  1. Think about (a fact, proposal, or request) deeply and at length: "she began to mull over the various possibilities".
  2. Warm (a beverage, esp. wine, beer, or cider) and add spices and sweetening to it
At any rate have a wonderful Christmas and New year vacation time

Thursday, 23 August 2012

What can I possibly say....

...except that I'm delighted that the germ of an idea that Andy Priestner and I nattered about one sunny day has resulted (some three - or is it four? surely not!?) years later in a very attractive looking book. Andy was responsible for the jelly babies, from conference 'logo' to the book, and Ashgate did a great job of putting the jelly babies on the cover.

Thanks to all the wonderful contributors and also to those who helped in lots of little ways - all the staff at the English Faculty Library bore my sighing, my yee-haws and the regular meetings with a great deal of patience and supportive niceness!

It's an odd thing to write and edit a work like this, to hand it over to a publisher and then in effect move on, and only see the fruit of the workings some 6 months later. In one sense I feel that I have changed so much since the first article, and have the whole principle so ingrained in my way of working and thinking that I feel slightly incapable of getting excited about it. However, what I am very pleased about is the timing of the publication - just at the time that Cambridge is getting all worked up about affilitation of libraries, here is a call to look at library services from a different perspective. It is not about rejecting centralisation; it is not about insisting on devolution; it is above all about collaboration and cooperation, recognising what is beneficial about both systems and where the library user is CENTRAL to all that we do. Read it and see what you think............

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Eg. Whin Sill

I like to learn by 'doing'. I refer you to stuff on experiential learning, constructivism or activist learning styles for more a professional understanding of the process. In the past I didn't understand my learning preferences as well as I do now and, in particular when I needed to revise and learn for an exam, I made use of photographic memory tools.  This was based on learning visual arrangements of words or keywords embedded in a very tight structural format with plenty of headings and sub headings etc, all designed to trigger the memory. The process was fairly lengthy but in effect I could regurgitate endless amounts of information during an exam. All well and good but not terribly inspiring!

I was/still am (underneath all that librarianish stuff) a Geographer. 

One of the characteristics of learning geographical information for exams is that you often end up with endless lists of egs of landscape features to learn (a photographic memory isn't a bad thing to have with this type of learning!). Desert eg. Sahara, Gobi, Mongolian. Volcanoes eg Etna, Mount St. Helen's. Etc. You get the point. Without boring you entirely  - but relevant for this post so do keep with me - one particular feature that I recall learning about is where molten magma seeps up towards the earth's surface from the centre of the the earth through faults and fissures, and solidifies. Where it solidifies along a horizontal fault line, and when it is exposed many 1000s of years later, you get what is called a 'sill'. Eg Whin Sill. I probably learnt this example at 14, 16, 18 and even at university.
A week or so ago I was in Northumberland determined to spend a day walking along Hadrian's Wall. (as well as 'doing' other touristy things)

Somewhat by chance I ended up following the wall along the top of - yes indeed - Whin Sill. I was rather boringly excited about this realising that I was in a landscape that I had rote learnt about. Finding that it actually existed, and there I was walking on it, was an experience; those walking with me suffered from my exuberance! The actual experience was so much better than just the photographic memory.

The visit to Whin Sill made me think about learning more generally. And how we ask our students to learn in the context of libraries!  What can we do to make the whole experience come alive for them, to the point where they leave the classroom excited (yes - why not?) and motivated? Have we ever been the participant in a session that is just like the ones we deliver ourselves and have we come away having had an 'experience' that we don't forget and where everything comes alive? Or, hand on heart, not....

The 'experience' is really important, and in so many instances it will be one that makes an impact because it hits the spot - it's personal to that students, it's timely, it's relevant, it makes a difference. However, it should also be one that is backed up with an opportunity to reflect on how the experience has impacted and supported learning, and it is this that makes a difference. Beaty (2003) summarises the potential and value of this by saying:  'the challenge for modem higher education is not simply to train the next generation of academics, it is rather to tie learning from experience inextricably to academic study and vice versa in a strong lifelong process of learning which develops the person and society'.

It strikes me that by ensuring that we consider both experience and reflection together we may be forced to re-examine what we do, how we do it, what impact it may have, and what the whole point of learning is. My rote learning of geographical features was semi-useful for an exam, but the subsequent experience will be far more memorable in the long run.

Beaty,'Supporting learning from Experience', In: H. Fry, S. Ketteridge, & S. Marshall (eds.) A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. London: Kogan Page

Monday, 30 April 2012

Cut to the quick

"To cut to the quick" literally means to trim (cut) a fingernail down to the nailbed, the living tissue that bleeds - the "quick" is the living flesh.

Today it was pointed out to me that Harvard is scrabbling around trying to rationalise its 73 libraries. On the one hand there was a slight sense of relief in me that it is not just the UK that is feeling the pinch in its academic libraries; on the other hand bemusement as I read about the process that they are undergoing. It was a bit of deja vu as, once again, communication skills seem in short supply, and it appears that the financial and administrative sectors of the university are of more importance in their considerations than their users or employees. I'm not overly convinced from what I have seen reported that the Harvard mangement know how to keep their employees on board.

I started wondering about what might happen in the forseeable future when Cambridge libraries have all been affiliated and denuded of experienced library staff - I am guessing in the name of sensible re-structuring and saving money for those all important e-journals. I wondered what might be the impact of this on the Quickstart for Part 1 dissertation session that Isla and I taught this afternoon.

1. I guess it couldn't possibly have been given using two members of staff (irrespective of the unique contribution each brought to the table)
2. I suppose it probably wouldn't have been worth doing as the room wasn't full and it might have been deemed a waste of time
3. A handout would have done - surely - after all they took away handouts summarising the key points (note I have been reading up about 'learning styles' and have understood that theorists and reflectors like stuff to take away with them...but on the other hand does doing away with a session like this help the activitists and pragmatists?)
4. Surely we could just pop an online tutorial up on CamTools and they could all do that?
5. The students would only have missed a vew vital things like the fact that MLA International Bibliography is very useful, that JSTOR is not the only store of online journals in the university, that managing your information, backing it up, making use of Zotero is sound advice, that Zetoc provided the life saver article for this week's essay, that they can now figure out when they have a journal title where to go to find print or online. Surely they could pick all this up somewhere else.......
6. No face-to-face interactions with us  - this will probably mean that they wouldn't want to ask us, so they would just muddle by, ask their friends, their supervisor, their DoS, their Mum, Google. That'll be ok won't it?

So - in the future what would happen to our Quickstart sessions - well, bottom line is I suspect that we couldn't possibly have run the session above. Which, to my mind is more than just a case of 'what a shame'! The impact of the Quickstart session we ran today on these students will be measured and I can guarantee that I will prove that it had a positive impact on their academic development. I cannot guarantee anything of the sort in the bright, shiny new future we face.

When all the libraries similar to ours are reduced in size, amalgamated with other libraries, manned by a pool of people who know nothing about the subject, and can no longer help the students in similar ways to our Quickstart session, then the combined impact on student learning will be terrifying. I wonder if both Cambridge and Harvard are forgetting, to their cost, the impact that library facilities (resources and services) have on their worldwide research and teaching status.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Impact - 'In God we trust - all others must bring data' (Megan Oakleaf, LILAC keynote)

Just when I have been chewing my finger nails down to the quick about how to prove how much impact our library service has, two rather startling (even impactful) things occurred.And one further related coincidence. I could say that it was all down to the excellent presentations at the recent LILAC conference , but it wasn't quite.
Impact 1. I was attracted to a blog post - and a related article on understanding what impact we have on learning which really made enormous sense to me. The gist of the article said that if we are trying to prove how impactful we are in libraries that one way of doing this is to consider the academic pinnacle of student achievement and consider whether the library, as resource and service, have had an impact on student learning goals. For me this means - forget information literacy, forget all the goals that WE make up and WE think the students need to know. Look instead at the actual learning aims and outcomes that our Faculty sets the students and find out from the students whether we have had any effect on them achieving those learning goals (that's what we're here for - right?).
Impact 2. I heard an excellent keynote at LILAC by Megan Oakleaf. (http://meganoakleaf.info/default.asp). In many ways what was said was not revolutionary but the way it was presented created a wake-up-call 'oh I get it' type of reaction in me. Essentially it chimed with the article I had just read (above). She said - quite forcibly - look at what the institutional goals are for our students and work out whether the library service is having any impact on those goals (again this to me says it is not OUR goals, or information literacy goals, but our institution's goals that matter - which is a really important distinction).

As put in her IFLA paper 2010:

 "Value is defined in terms of institutional, not library, goals. The purpose of this research is to help academic libraries demonstrate their value to the institutions in which they are embedded. Libraries need to identify institutional goals (e.g., increasing student retention and graduation rates; increasing student achievement; increasing faculty research output) in order to communicate value in terms that institutional administrators will appreciate." [Full article available here  http://www.ifla.org/files/hq/papers/ifla76/72-hinchliffe-en.pdf]

Megan had two tangible ways of visualising all this - firstly a Library impact map, (http://meganoakleaf.info/libraryimpactmap.pdf) and secondly a grid which I'll be using in staff meetings for working out whether we have sufficient evidence to support our beliefs that we support institutional goals. My regular harping on institutional mission seems a valid 'harping'. By providing the institution with evidence of our impact on THEIR goals we are demonstrating our importance and usefulness.

Coincidence no. 1. and impact 3. A book on quality of student learning in HE that I was dipping into had a word in the index that I would not have noticed, apart from the fact that it was mentioned in the article referred to in the blog post above. The authors talked of a student's 'capstone' experience which in my Faculty means the dissertation. It seemed a peculiar, though rather exciting coincidence.
So what? Well, I am shocked that I have not done this before, but I have finally have in post-it notes all around my desk reminders of what it is that the Faculty expect our students to have achieved in writing a dissertation (it's not that what we want them to learn is unimportant, it's just not the best way to go about proving our worth!!). Now I have this, I can explore ways of gathering evidence to prove that the Library service contributes and has an impact (ie without us they would not progress as they are expected to do so) on student learning. Starting from this perspective means that when the service comes under threat I have clear evidence that says without us student learning (Faculty goals) will be impacted negatively.  

Monday, 12 March 2012


Working this vac on Shakespeare? Have a look at some of the specific resources the Faculty Library provides to help you:
The Faculty Library's subject guide is available online or in print in the Library and includes many print and electronic resources
The Renaissance subject guide provides broader resource choices for the period
DVDs of Shakespeare plays including several copies of the BBC Shakespeare series are available on the first floor of the Library
Useful ebooks for the Renaissance period - includes Shakespeare secondary crit.
Make sure that you have selected Style B in LibraryThing to view the comments field and the link to the ebooks.
Examples of ebooks available:
Shakespeare, Theory and Performance
Shakespeare’s political drama: the history plays and the Roman plays
Shakespeare's Festive Tragedy: The Ritual Foundations of Genre
Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds and Women (Feminist Readings of Shakespeare)
How To Do Things With Shakespeare: New Approaches, New Essays
Companion to Shakespeare's works: Volume I - IV
Digital Theatre have a number of Shakespeare productions available to view including Much Ado about Nothing with David Tennant and Catharine Tate. Login details available via Part 1 Paper 5 resources on the Library's CamTools site.
World Shakespeare Bibliography Online - subscribed for you to use on behalf of the Faculty Library.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Lego, online resources, people and creativity

What do online-only discussions, Lego, e-resources, processes and reading lists have in common? On the face of it very little. Practically speaking these were the core elements of my last week, and it was curious how in the end they all informed each other.
Here's the Lego model which represents yours truly created (by myself and one other member of staff) as part of a lego workshop run by Andy Priestner for the EFL staff. Although this happened at the beginning of the week, it was a rather uncanny summary of the week to come. Incidentally EFL staff are still talking, a week on, about the workshop, and loving our little Lego presents from Andy!
Some of the key issues of the week:

1. Concerns over proposing e-only resources cannot be disregarded. Arguably concerns about reduced budgets mean we might need to go for what appears to be the cheaper option ie online, ( although please don't forget the 20%VAT!) but once we put the user into the equation, the whole thing gets turned on its head as we must realise that the cost to the library will likely be a loss of customers? Why? Becasue libraries are consistently failing to provide e-only at the speed that users expect. They will go to Google because Google satsifies their need for quick and easy access. They like print, but if it no longer exists for them in a library they will go to where they can get it quickly and cheaply ie Amazon, and if they want to use e-books they will use their Christmas present Kindles and download whatever they can get quickly and ideally for free from Amazon.
Students are file sharing, which we may know is illegal, but users do what they can to get hold of what they want quickly and effectively. The cost to the library also increases if e-only is put in its proper context where discovery tools and related strategies and procedures must be in place to maintain ease of access to online. I don't see how e-only can be cheaper.

2. Understanding our own skills and that of our colleagues is essential for the processes and procedures that we have in place to work. The best procedure on paper will not always work in practice if staff do not play ball. Communication is of paramount importance. I have started to work on the assumption that I have never done quite enough in this area. When I have become complacent (and/or too busy), things fall apart.

3. Always always always put the user into the equation and work out what they want. A reading list that an academic has sweated over is useless if no one uses it. A database recommended by an individual Phd student or academic cannot possibly be purchased on the basis of that one recommendation. The user population at large should be consulted. Changes in management structures, whether driven primarily by finance issues or not, must have the user's needs at the heart. Senior management may claim to know what user's needs are. I sometimes wonder what the basis is for this assertion? I would challenge them to go and talk to their users and find out what they think and what they are doing. I like to think that I put users first, but there have been too many times when I have failed to consult before acting. I am learning the lesson that when I remember to talk to them, then services that emerge are targeted, personalised and much appreciated.

4. Finally summary point for the whole week - building in time for creativity is absolutely mind-blowingly essential for our roles in library services.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Personalising services: snippets from the diary

Co-editor, Andy Priestner, and I very recently deliberated a tweak to the name of our forthcoming book to be published by Ashgate. The original title referred to personalised services but almost without realising it, Andy had started to use the word 'personalising' instead. This gives the process and concept a more active, and engaging feel to it. It made me think a little harder about what helps us to create a service that is 'personalised', but is also 'personalising'; where the established mindset of providing a 'personalised' service sits within a dynamic 'personalising' environment.

The 'personalised' mindset in a library service means that we should be pre-disposed to acquire knowledge about our users, show a genuine interest in them, display empathy, and be flexible and adaptable, with library staff possessing a fair degree of autonomy in the decision making process.

But I think that 'personalising' a service means more than this. It implies that in any given situation an individual student or library user should leave feeling that their visit was special (not just to them, but also to us) and that their specific needs and requirements have been addressed. Is this possible? I think that this is precisely why personalising services is an active, growing, organic 'thing'. Your first interaction with a student in a new job is likely to be less 'personalised' than one six months later. We are always gathering information and knowledge (or should be) about our users that we can use in our interactions with them. Just because all students have the same borrowing time frame doesn't prevent us personalising our service on a daily basis with them depending on our knowledge of their needs.

Two really obvious snippets from my diary:
1. I know that a particular elderly academic rarely reads email and so will not receive their system notice reminding them the book is due back. I pop the details in my diary and get in touch with them personally by phone to remind them it's due back and/or personally renew it for them. I would be unlikely to do this for the same reason for an undergraduate but that's because their needs are different. (Question for myself: what current procedures and process can we change so that we operate more like this?)

2. I have a new resource coming out on trial. It may well be useful for a broad spectrum of people, but I know that there are two postgrads who specifically requested it some months ago. Their emails will be included in the general email list that they are a part of, but they also get a personal email from me letting them know about it. Their names went down in my diary some months ago for this purpose. (Question for myself: although I use my personal email address rather than any generic ones to send information out, many emails still go to student 'lists'. If email is still the preferred means of receiving information, the challenge is to become more personalised and targeted.)

I'm sure that we all do this sort of thing but the challenge for me is to consider how much more we can do? And how much more can we afford to do? Conversely, how much more can we afford NOT to do!

Not everyone wants the red carpet treatment - but it's our job to know who doesn't and to treat our users as individuals.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Library Day in the Life Day 5

Checked and approved the final draft of the Literature Timeline Display boards before they get sent for printing. The boards are part of a six month project involving converting the old copier room into a diplsay gallery (great job by EMBS during Christmas vac). Annie Liggins, graphic designer, has designed four display boards with a literature timeline spanning 780-current day, making use of images from the library collections. Rachel Thorpe, alumnus, supplied all the text, some of which came from the Cambridge Authors site that she was involved with when an undergrad here a few years ago. Andy Cosgrove, currently in a final year studying furniture design at De Montfort, has been i/c the cabinet design and production. The display gallery will include a plasma screen with digital signage software enabling a more interactive display environment. Our first display planned for the end of February will be on Dickens.

Recently piloted a new reader service here - starting the inter library loans service. Many libraries in Cambridge already provide this service, so nothing new there. But it's new for us, so settling into the routine of this with new procedures in place.

Quickly slotting in a set of email requests and responses before first meeting of the day with Directors of Studies of the Faculty.

A lot of interactions with colleagues and staff today via phone, email and in person but especially enjoyed following the Guardian's Higher Education network discussion including a Cambridge colleague Andy Priestner. Looking forward to looking at the digest of comments soon.

This afternoon - ran tea@three for grads. Only a few came along but we had a great discussion about grad writing groups. The graduate research forum rep was there so we talked briefly about the session we're co-running with an academic on Zotero for grads.

I'm done - just a few invoices to approve and the weekend beckons. Only three of the library staff left standing at the end of the week, but we are ably supported by our great invigilator team who have rushed in to save the day (well actually several days!) and filled slots this week when most needed. Thanks to all the Library staff here at the English Faculty. Fabulous lot.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Library Day in the Life Day 4

Shelving first thing - too many trolleys of books left from last night to leave for long and only two of us in until 10.00 today; more illness amongst staff team.

Paper build-up on desk to deal with but prepping for teaching session needed first.

This is a trial session for a college group in their second term here. Probably closest in style to the scaffolding approach now used by some libraries for teaching, but most importantly is a trial for an activity that will a) fit in with proposed changes to teaching in the Faculty which include scope and space for the Library to put on extended classes as part of the range of teaching on offer b) allow students to explore resources, produce author bibliographies of primary and secondary works and evaluate them in the knowledge that their work will contribute to an interactive online literature timeline. Session went really well, students like the information display and especially the reading list links that we are trialling as well, so fund bidding here I come. Actually a brisk lunchtime walk and I have now widened this out so that all second year college groups will join in this programme - and it's getting quite exciting. Just need to work out exactly what funds I need for now and transmit the excitement upwards.

More staff calling in ill for afternoon and evening shifts so as Assistant Librarian is ill, the re-arranging and phoning for replacement staff falls to me. Staff who ARE in are extremely obliging and willing to help out. Fabulous team here!

Assist staff with peculiar issue desk queries today - realise now how wonderful the Assistant Librarian role is in the Library and that without them here I get all these odd things to deal with! Makes me think about the rules that are made in libraries. We were talking yesterday at the staff training event about how often situtations need a 'grey' response. If we're too black and white we fail to demonstrate empathy. Not alwasy easy the bigger the organisation though if I recall correctly John Lewis 'pay desk' staff are given responsibility for 'breaking the rules' depending on the situation if it improves the customer experience. Much more personalised. I digress - but definitely went for the grey response.

Colleague visits to talk about an aspect of the Library management system that I've been using for some time.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Library Day in the Life Day 3

Handouts loaded onto the VLE.

Joint staff meeting with Judge Business School on personalising our library services. This was a really nice relaxed time with English staff and Judge staff discussing how personalised our services should be. Amazing how we all view things slightly differently and how our assumptions about situations differ. Communication is similar as well. Just to give a small (but probably confusing) example.. I recall sometime ago sitting in on a meeting that I shouldn't have been at and acting as an observer. Person A said something, Person B minuted it, but when Person C read the minutes some days later, they commented that this wasn't what Person A said. Person A said it was. What was going on? Simply - an assumption had been made by C about what A had said, and the subsequent interpretation of it by C was different to the INTENDED point that person A had made. No big deal really but person C had acted on their interpretation of the comment rather than the actual comment that A had made. Interesting communication issues that go on all the time. How many times do we say something to a library user and ASSUME that we have been clear, when a different message was understood by them. Have we provided a personalised service then?

Ok - back to base and dealing with emails - way too many today again. Setting up meetings, reading papers for a meeting this afternoon, responding to a blog about a potential change in web interface, problems with mounting the paintings, REF impact information to absorb, and - oops need to go to the issue desk now for my lunch time stint.

Work experience pupil wants to come here in March so checking with staff - we usually take about 4 per year but it looks like we have our full quota in place so can't take any extras.

Long communication meeting this afternoon with pre and post meetings necessary to clarify issues.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Library Day in the Life Day 2

Day 2
Opened the Library - always do this on a Tuesday as normal staff member who has this task starts late today. Then spend time resolving how to move forward with mounting two special paintings in the Library this summer. Sprint from my office to the issue desk downstairs and report that sick member of staff is returning today. Yay! That means time at my desk today. Thinks to self - will catalogue DVDs and ASNC books today- maybe.

A little bit of chasing for an amazing new book coming out in July this year. Yep - it's the one and only 'Personalised services' book that every single man, woman and child will be out of their seats to buy. Co-editor Andy Priestner has had the easy bit - writing rather good prose - whilst yours truly runs (metaphorically) around the countryside dealing with figures that don't quite work, and tracking down contributor forms that she has put in a 'safe place'.

Sit on enquiry desk in main library space today, love being asked questions there but fear the frowns at the cataloguing module whilst there may put people off. Practises smiling at the bib record for a new DVD. Deal with an elusive reference for academic plus trialling the teaching session with resources to make sure it all works. Not happy that MLA International Bibliography results won't download speedily into Zotero so work-around for that section of the session required.

10.15 - all the regular staff now in so do the rounds to see how the absent staff from yesterday are and get some updates. Volunteer also in today for some cataloguing. All quiet on the Western front.

Long meeting with IT specialist and Computer Officer - now back to the lists of most borrowed to highlight some texts for ebook purchases. Partial success at this.

Finish a long list of book orders for the Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Library. This is a small library within our larger library, and I deal with all their orders, and subsequent cat and class etc. A few tricky ones that only an email to the Norwegian publisher will resolve.

In-between all this receive more emails than I can sensibly deal with, though I reply to quite a few. Save all the REF impact ones into a folder to look at later.

Ok - enough for today.

Library Day in the Life Day 1

Day 1

Don't ever tell me that our Library could do with fewer staff. One member off on a jolly stealing ideas from other libraries, one off sick, leaving the Librarian and two other members of staff for most of the day to keep things ticking along. Nice and easy? Oh no. Gamely volunteered to man the issue desk over lunch time, although had already spent an unusual several hours there earlier there in the morning. Fortunately savvy Assistant Librarian said would I like some help for the 1.00 rush. When he finally left for his lunch break at 1.15 (when to all intents and purposes the 'rush' was over) he remarked positively - 'I hope I don't find you submerged in books when I get back'. Charming, I thought. Well - the 1.00-2.00 deluge in Libraryland here at the English Faculty is something to behold. To say nothing of the 11-12.00 one. All those wonderful thoughts that I have about how every student will never leave the issue desk without a postive experience doesn't exactly work when you're the only one there. Interesting, I mused to myself later on when clearing the email inbox debris. Personalised service?? Shelving today as well as the trolleys fill up on a regular basis. Checked the stats to see what was happening on returns. Only 600 books to put back on the shelves. Felt like 1,000. BUT thank heavens that at least we have self-issue.

Inbox also suffering from deluge today as academic sends on approx 70 emails from faithful followers of their regular slot on a radio programme. Emails describe how much impact the programme has on them. REF impact case study work in case you haven't guessed. Impressive content in the emails, just now need to store and summarise and push the case study along a little further.

Hmm- anything else? Oh yes - exchange with furniture designer on new library display gallery, developed the online literature timelime line a little (quite excited with tiki-toki), put together a teaching programme for a college fresher group for bibliographical research - to populate said timeline. And the weekly chore of sorting out the payroll for the weekly paid staff (approx. 8 wonderful invigilator staff who keep the library manned evenings, Saturdays and Sundays).

No time for pics today.
Early evening check of email at home reveals student having problems with access to CamTools. Check and sort problem before rushing out for a sewing class.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Librarian's New Year Goodie Bag

Happy New Year!

I'm impressed at all the good stuff around at the moment! Loads of nice new resources out there for you all.
Below - just a taster of some things to explore:

If you have had one particular shiny new Xmas present and are looking for apps to download for either iPhone or iPad, can I recommend for starters:

1. First Folio of Shakespeare available as an ebook

2. The Waste Land app available for iPad

3. Dickens Dark London by the Museum of London - for iPhone or iPad

4. British Library - constantly providing more e-treasures all the time e.g. for a full list:

(BTW the Faculty Library is considering purchasing several iPad 3s later this year for lending to students - watch this space. Feel free to comment below...)

Some other nice resources to explore:

1. Connected Histories website - cross search 1500-1900 up to 15 historic collections (not all free just to warn you, but some good stuff all the same) http://www.connectedhistories.org/

2. Library of Congress National Jukebox - try the recordings for 'New Year's Day' - and so much more. But try the UK's National Sound archive as well

3. Literature Compass - an online only journal from Wiley, very recently purchased. The website claims ''Literature Compass has much broader horizons: a state-of-the-art site with the section editors providing expert coverage of every period,'' or look in the UL's A-Z list of journals for the link.

4. The British Newspaper Archive - search for free

5. The TLS Archive is now available in Cambridge up to 2006! Much improved access!

6. Oh - and go on - have a look at the Faculty Library's subject guides - you can add comments there, make suggestions etc etc.

7. An interesting site I've just heard of - AWE - a guide to academic writing in English from Hull, might be useful. It's not prescriptive.

8. Don't forget that we now have ARTstor in Cambridge - excellent set of images for educational use.

Not forgetting that this year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. There is a celebration website. Famous manuscripts can be seen online on the V& A website along with other research resources. The Museum of London is hosting an exhibition. On a much smaller scale watch for the opening of the new display gallery in the Faculty Library which will feature a Dickens exhibition.

A good youtube video for the procrastinators amongst you......The Joy of Books

FINALLY - want to get your fines under control?

Did you know that you can set up RSS feeds for books you have out and when they are due back at most of the libraries in Cambridge? Have a look at this webpage for instruction on setting up a feed. I have it set up to go to my Google calendar (which is the best thing ever invented for keeping my life together) and it works really well.