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Day in the life of a Trainee Liaison Librarian

Inspired by Penny's 'day in the life' post a little while back I thought I would try and write about a 'typical' day in my role as Trainee Liaison Librarian at the University of Reading. Unfortunately I kept forgetting to write down exactly what I was doing on one set day so my post is more like a description of typical tasks I may do from one day to the next.

 

(C) Pietro Bellini under a CC-BY-NC-ND licence - not my Library shelves but hopefully an eye-catching way to start my post!

There are three Trainee Liaison Librarian posts at the University of Reading and they aim to give you a range of experiences within an academic library and to support you through Chartership, giving you a solid start within the profession. My liaison responsibilities include Classics and Philosophy and I also work with Library User Services (LUS), which handles registration and circulation of stock.

 

A typical day starts with an hours' stint on the Ground Floor Information Desk with my LUS hat on. My role here is to be the first port of call for any questions about using the Library, to handle any new registrations, and to help with account queries. I often also complete my other daily LUS tasks whilst on the Information Desk which are to help with SCONUL Access and External Borrower registrations and to answer emails that come through to the general library email account.

 

I then may move on to ordering new items, particularly at the beginning and end of terms as we get new reading lists through. Most of the reading list checking is done by other members of staff but I decide how many new copies of an item we need and place the order with the Acquisitions department. It's been very interesting for me to learn the different ways my subjects use Library resources and research material – Classics is much more book heavy than Philosophy, for example. As well as ordering new items from reading lists I also liaise with the departments regarding new journal subscriptions and new e-resources, as well as any other orders or questions they may have.

 

At the moment I am planning and preparing for some teaching sessions I have coming up and this is another big part of my liaison role. As a liaison librarian you have to prepare and present teaching sessions of varying sizes, from lectures to small group workshops. At first it can be quite daunting but there's a lot of support in the Library and I find it very rewarding to know I'm helping students in their studies. You are also expected to volunteer to help with general Library sessions, such as the Inductions for first years or Endnote training sessions. Personally I prefer smaller workshops as I feel that you are better able to teach students how to use Library resources effectively, but it's a good challenge to think of how to make lectures more engaging. I'm currently enrolled on an Academic Practice Programme primarily aimed at new academics but this is giving me a very good grounding in teaching practice and making me really think about new ways of teaching students.

 

As well as having liaison and LUS roles I am the Shelving Supervisor for the Arts and Humanities floor and the supervisor of the students who work in the Library. As the Shelving Supervisor I have regular meetings with my shelving team to discuss any issues that I or they may have noticed or to discuss any changes we might want to make to our processes. The Library is currently undergoing refurbishment and there are a lot of changes happening regarding layouts of floors and stock so this is a busy time for shelving moves! The students who work in the Library also help with our shelving operations and as their supervisor I am in charge of recruitment and training as well as creating their weekly rota. This has been a challenging but very rewarding role.

 

Other activities I may have include staffing the Information Desk on the Arts and Humanities floor, updating the Library website for LUS or for the Arts and Humanities team, holding drop-in sessions in Classics and Philosophy, subject cataloguing of new books in my subjects, creating the termly newsletter for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, attending meetings in my departments or within the Library and, of course, sending and answering many emails!

 

So the role of a Trainee Liaison Librarian here at the University of Reading is very varied but that allows you to experience many different aspects of working in an academic library and gives you a wide range of skills and experience to draw on. I know that the liaison set-up in other universities can differ from this and I'd be interested to know about these other structures and what you think works well. Please do comment below!

Anna

 

 

 

LISNPN news

First of all, please accept my (Penny) apologies for lack of posts this year. Thanks to all on the forums for keeping the discussions going, it also looks like there is some good events coming up.

The reason for the delay in posts is that I have been researching a new website hosting company - as Spruz is too clunky to continue with. It has  taken me a while to review what was out there and even longer to understand the technical terms! I am however very pleased to inform you that I will be creating a new website for LISNPN this month. This site will continue to be operational until August 2014 (when the agreement with Spruz runs out) so please carry on using it. When I have transferred the user data to the new site I will share the link with everyone, I will also try my best to keep everyone up to date with the process.

Thanks for your tolerance during this major upgrade. If you have any ideas for improving the site or blog post idea please do continue to get in touch: lisnpn@gmail.com

Penny

:)

 

Library camp 2013

On Saturday 30th November I attended my first LibraryCamp and I was so impressed I would definitely go to another. If you've ever thought about going to one I highly recommend it.

Library of Birmingham roof terraceThe Library of Birmingham's first roof terrace

This year's was held at the new Library of Birmingham, which is the most impressive modern library I have ever seen. If you have no other reason to visit Birmingham you should go to see the library. Most impressive of all was how busy it was, even without 200 librarians there. Many people were there as tourists but it was also busy with people using the library and I even saw teenagers sat down! In the library! I will be keeping my eye on Birmingham and I hope lots of other, important people will do to.

The conference itself is an unconference. If you don't know what this means it basically means that the days is led by the attendees, with people suggesting sessions on the day. This format means that if you want to get the most out of the conference you should be prepared to talk. With this in mind I decided to propose a session on embedded librarianship, as this is something I'm interested in learning more about. Thankfully people were interested in it and indeed, all the topics suggested were accommodated in the timetable, meaning that people had a very good range of things to discuss.The final timetable can be found here along with links to blog posts etc. reporting on the sessions.The timetable did change over the course of the morning, something which I wasn't aware of until I'd already missed a session I was interested in so that's something to be aware of.

The sessions I attended were advanced social media in librarians (led by @agentk23), creating a digital literacy MOOC (@librarydonna), and a session on use of gadgets. My session was one of the final ones of the day and I took a session out to explore the library.

Session 1: Advanced social media in libraries (led by @agentk23)

Although social media has been with us for a long time now and many libraries use it, how to use it most effectively is still an issue and one that we've discussed in my place of work. One of the main issues was how to increase followers and make your use of social media interesting and engaging. Some of the suggestions I took away were to start conversations with other departments or related organisations, find out who your users are following so that your retweets are useful and interesting for your followers, and ensure you have personality. One final tip for managing your social media accounts was to share the responsibility for creating posts between the different departments within an organisation. Not only does this spread the workload it gets all members of staff on board and can lead to posts discussing/mentioning different things.

Session 2: A digital literacy MOOC (@librarydonna)

I attended this session mainly because I am interested in digital scholarship and the associated digital literacy and I wanted to see how people defined digital literacy and thought it should be taught. Whilst the discussion centred around something for school children rather than HE level digital literacy it was still interesting to see how digital literacy was defined as a mixture of information literacy (searching for information online, evaluating information etc) and effective use of online tools generally (internet safety, netiquette, useful web tools). The leader has created a Google Doc which sums up her ideas nicely.

Session 3: Gadgets!

I am extremely interested in seeing how librarians/libraries use new technology so I knew this session was a must. The session started off by discussing iPads, which was great for me because I would love to use the iPad more at work. One interesting piece of information shared was that newer devices such as the Nexus 7 and new smartphones use Near Field Communication which means they can be used to read RFID tags. I haven't tried this yet but it has great potential, both for use by library staff and for chaos if students know what they're doing! The need for compatibility across devices was also mentioned, especially if apps are being promoted to students or used by staff for work. There's nothing more frustrating than realising something is only available on iOS when you're an Android user!

Session 4: My session!

I have recently started holding drop-ins in my liaison departments and I was curious to know what other people were doing and what people thought of the idea of embedded librarianship. Libcamp seemed like the best way to find out and it was a really useful session. As well as academic librarians going out to their departments there were librarians who held 'pop up library' drop ins in popular areas at their university and people who are physically based with another team, away from the other information professionals, as well as other forms of embedded librarianship. Overall it was felt that for successful embedded librarianship you need to be proactive and to make yourself visible and useful to your users but that it can be rewarding. For another write up of my session see @stephthorpeuk's blog post.

View through a window

Overall it was a great day and very useful. The chance to attend sessions on a variety of topics and to learn from information professionals from all walks of life means that I feel that I really learnt from this conference. If you have a chance, go to the next one! I know I will.

Anna Richards @pretty_curious

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