Friday, 10 February 2012

Library Day in the Life #8, part 3

It seems like Friday has come around very quickly!  Today will be a very busy day, to celebrate National Libraries Day, CLIC (Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation) have organised a series of tours of Cardiff libraries for library staff.  We have two planned for today, one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon, plus both myself and the other library assistant will be heading off to attend tours of our own.

The day starts with an all staff briefing first thing in the morning to introduce the new exhibition, The Queen: Art and Image, opening to the public on Saturday.  These briefings are a really great opportunity to hear about what went into the planning of an exhibition and to get a chance to look around it before the building opens.

After the briefing we race back up to the library to start getting everything ready before the first tour arrives at 10.30am.  We put out on display a number of items from our locked cases that the visitors will be able to handle, including a 15th century incunabula, a copy of Pliny's Natural History!

Museum scrapbooks from the early 20th century

I'm a little nervous about the first tour, as I will be leading it for the first time.  Normally the head librarian is responsible for all the tours, but he decided to give me and the other library assistant the chance to do the morning one.  I think everything goes ok, I don't forget anything too important or get too tongue-tied, and everyone seems to enjoy it.  They weren't however, quite prepared for just how much walking was involved as we showed them around all the many departmental libraries we have scattered throughout the building.  Thankfully, no-one got lost in the labyrinth maze of the basement corridors!

Doing the introduction to my tour

There's time for a quick break for lunch, and a trip across to the art department to drop off some new books and see if they have anything for me to collect.  The art staff are often sent free copies of books and exhibition catalogues, or they pick them up on their travels, and they usually donate them to the library.  We have a shelf in their department where they leave books for us to collect and catalogue, today there is only one, a V&A publication on Jingdezhen porcelain.

The second tour of the day is conducted by the head librarian, but I have to duck out early in order to make it up to Cardiff University's SCOLAR (special collections and archives) department for my guided tour.  When I arrive at SCOLAR, I get the opportunity to check out the latest exhibition they have put on in the foyer.  A selection of students were each given a display case to exhibit items from the special collections that illustrate their chosen theme.  It was a wonderful example of how you could showcase your 'treasures' in different ways, and the various ways books could be interpreted depending on how they were grouped together. 

Also out in the foyer is Cardiff University's Turning the Pages kiosk, a massive thing which must be incredibly difficult to move, on it students can view ten items from the collections that have been digitised.  Going through to the main area, I see a few researchers hard at work in the reading room, before we duck in to the closed stacks to see shelf upon shelf of books and archival material that staff are working through. 

Items from the Cardiff Rare Books collection at SCOLAR, Cardiff University

The largest project that the SCOLAR team are working on is the collection of over 14,000 items that make up the Cardiff Rare Books collection.  The collection was acquired back in 2010, and although work began on cataloguing it immediately, only a fraction of it's potential as a research tool has been explored yet.  The collection includes many rare and unique items, including 175 incunabula (pre-1501 printed books), Shakespearean material and a wide selection of private press material.  I spent most of my visit oohing and aahing at all the amazing books, and feeling very jealous of what an amazing experience cataloguing that collection must be!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Library Day in the Life #8, part 2

The second of my Library Day in the Life days begins with a meeting of the CLIC (Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation) Staff Development Group at one of the Cardiff University buildings.  Although I've been involved with CLIC for a while I've only just joined the Staff Development Group, and this is the first meeting I've attended.  We discuss the upcoming library tours that have been arranged to celebrate National Libraries Day, and the next scheduled CLIC event focusing on marketing.

I don't get back to the office till late afternoon to discover that the printer wasn’t working, and we had to wait for an engineer to come out and fix it.  This creates a bit of a nightmare as we need to print out all our library leaflets and drop them off for tomorrows display.  Thankfully we managed to find someone in another department willing to do the printing for us.

Before I head off to lunch I deal with a query from a member of staff who wanted me to perform a search for a book title on our catalogue.  We are currently waiting for an upgrade to our system, until it is completed user searching is not as accurate as we would like, so staff often ask us to search on their behalf.

The leaflet designed to promote the library,
the Welsh translation is on the reverse

After lunch we pop across to the Welsh Assembly Government building to drop off a poster and the leaflets for the National Libraries Day display.

When I return I discuss with my boss some of the items we will put out on display for the library tours the next day and work on what I am going to say in my introduction. I also email everyone attending the tours to confirm the arrangements for when they arrive.  Finally, I email any staff whose work areas the tours will be passing through so that they are not suddenly surprised to see a load of visitors outside their offices.

I head home feeling that somehow the day has flown past before I had enough time to get everything done.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Library Day in the Life #8, part 1

I took part in Library Day in the Life round 7 last July, which I used as an opportunity to provide an insight in to my job in the library at the National Museum Wales.  I decided to take part again this year because I think that working in a museum library can be varied enough that there shouldn't be too much repetition. 

I only work at the museum three days a week, so I don't start the project till the Wednesday.  I’m running a little late this morning, and it’s 8.50 before I get in.  There's just time for me to say a quick hello to the Head Librarian before he heads off to one of our other sites for the morning. 

My workspace in the library

I start by going through my emails, checking what needs doing.  The most urgent to require my attention include;
-Updating the subscription details for the auction catalogues we receive from Bonhams.  We take sale catalogues for a number of auction houses, but only for certain sales.  We need to regularly check that we are receiving all the catalogues as if we miss one it can be tricky getting a replacement, they only print so many at a time.
-Going through the final edit of our new library leaflet which has come back from the translation and publications team.  As part of National Libraries Day we are contributing to a display celebrating libraries in the foyer of one of the Welsh Assembly Government buildings.  We haven't produced much in the way of promotional material for the library in the past, so we feel very proud of our new leaflet.
-Attempting to reinstall a printer to my computer (with partial success, primarily my own fault). 
-Answering a query that came through via our website from a man trying to research a member of his family.  We were not able to help, but I passed him the details of someone I thought might.  We often get queries from people researching local or family history, but in those instances we find that the records office and local history section of the public library are better sources of information.

By the time break-time comes around I'm very much ready for my caffeine fix down in the museum restaurant.

When I head back up to the main library I do some shelving in the stacks which are freezing.  They are right up in the roof of the building and tend to reflect whatever the weather is like outside, very hot in summer, very cold in winter, today it feels like stepping into an icebox.  I hurry back to my spot next to my heater as soon as I can. 

After lunch we had an email from one of our curators trying to trace the reports of Scott’s National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04, that we had received back in 1913.  Had a dig about on our folio shelves and finally found them, the shelves were triple stacked with big hefty folio volumes, and the reports I wanted would be the ones right at the back, typical!

Because we are relatively quiet today I decide to get on with some cataloguing. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t really had time to do any, and the next two days will be busy, so I doubt I’ll have time to get any done then either. I'm focusing on books for the Industry library at the moment, and am currently working my way through a pile of Mines and Quarries reports from the early 20th century.

I finish up my day by looking through some of the posts other people have been writing for Library Day in the Life project.