Thursday, 6 February 2014

A day in the life of a librarian #1

Question: What do librarians do?
Clue: It doesn't usually involve stamping books.
To get the answer, read on in this new series of blog posts! We've already had a 'meet your librarian' series, and will continue to write those. This series is 'a day in the life of a librarian' and will give you an insight into what some of the librarians do on a typical day. We'll just pick a few events from each day.

I'll kick this series off: I'm Karl Drinkwater, the psychology librarian.

This is where I work (standing up).
I call it The Temple of Doom.

9am: Business stuff, a chance to catch up with urgent emails. Amongst the items cluttering my inbox was a nice email thanking me for a session I did last week for third year law and psychology dissertation students. I enjoyed doing that one since I got to teach with another librarian, and the group was small and friendly. We've increased the amount of teaching we do this year - since September I've taught over 1000 students across a number of departments, not including all those I saw at induction! Information literacy is a big part of what we do, teaching people how to find, evaluate and use information ethically. Work with resources and liaison with departments make up other chunks of a subject librarian's work.

9.10am: I was on the rota for answering queries to our team email address that staff and students can use for getting in touch with us and asking questions. I also monitored the live 'Ask A Librarian' chat. We keep an eye on these while getting on with other work.

10.45am: I completed and uploaded my entry for the Welsh libraries marketing awards. We won in 2009, so keep your fingers crossed! The entry was based on the way I have used Facebook to support psychology students (something I gave a talk about at the Aberystwyth Teaching and Learning Conference just before the start of this academic year).

1pm: I did a shift on the Hugh Owen Library Level F enquiry desk. Lots of people needed help finding books. Thankfully I was able to track most of them down, usually in the Short Loan Collection, or waiting to be reshelved. Sometimes the student was just looking in the wrong place, so I could explain where they'd gone wrong, helping them to find material more efficiently in future. I only got to say "shhhhh!" once during this shift.

Me on the Level F desk, today. The sparkling was caused by 
concentrated information leaking from the reference books.
Or the library ghost: you decide.

2pm: A dissertation student needed help with finding material for her dissertation so I headed over to the psychology department and we used a PC there. The research revolved around news sources covering a famous legal case. We played with date ranges and sources in Infotrac, but more importantly names of the victim (different papers used different names, so we focussed on just the surname - with a limited date range it meant we could do that without getting false hits). I also demonstrated another news source, Nexis, and we replicated the same searches to make sure nothing was missed from the major newspapers the student was focussing on. We looked at other issues too, including drawing the newspaper article word counts on a graph over time (the articles got smaller after the initial sensational coverage, so that by the time of the trial outcome it was almost a footnote: that is quite revealing about how the media works). Everyone's research is different, and it is always fascinating to see the range of what students are investigating.

3.30pm: Today I was asked to peer review an article for the excellent Journal of Information Literacy since the article falls within the areas I am interested in, relating to student transition into universities. I agreed and had a preliminary skim through the guidelines, which I'll read in more detail over the weekend. I explain how peer review works in one of my introductory 'academic materials' lectures, so it is only right that I practise what I preach.

4pm: I wrote up and published this blog post. 'A day in the life' is at the mercy of what turns up that day, and any subject librarian will tell you that one day can be very different from the next. For example, today I did nothing with book orders, donations, module approvals; I didn't plan a teaching session or write an FAQ or create a multimedia learning resource... but I hope it gave a small flavour of some of the things librarians do.

1 comment:

Alyson said...

An interesting and good pictures