Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Thing 23: Better late than never.

So, I'm finally at Thing 23. I've enjoyed it, parts of it have been very useful and I've discovered online applications I wouldn't have otherwise.

Next - finish my distance learning course, consider a chartership.

Thing 22: "Volunteers... attenshun!"

The subject of volunteers is a tricky one. At one level, it is a fantastic way to improve your C.V. and do some networking at the same time. However, it is also a tool currently being used by councils to cut costs. I'll tackle the good side first:

I've been volunteering at a copyright deposit satellite library for about a year. I bumped into an ex-colleague at the lib@cam conference, who happened to be looking for assistance with a serials cataloguing backlog in her department, caused by several libraries merging some time ago. Although the material is on the catalogue, the records are short and occasionally incorrect. What I do is:

  1. Pull all appropriate boxes from the shelves
  2. Check the issues are in chronological order
  3. Compose a paper finding list (title, classmark, place of publication, bib and ISSN number, then a list of each volume and issue, with spaces for those that are missing). 
  4. Find and update catalogue record
  5. Re-box and label issues
  6. Reshelve. 
As I do not catalogue in my job, this has given me an insight and experience into something I do not know, and although I'm not entirely confident in my accuracy yet, that is building.

Here endeth the CDP23 part. This next bit is a rant.


Libraries cost money. But they are vital to our communities, the education of the nation and just generally A Good Thing. I know some people are against them (see here about that), and that cuts *apparently* need to be made. A solution is apparently making all qualified librarians redundant, and using volunteers instead. If the building hasn't been sold off for housing. I know some tasks can be done (and are done) effectively by volunteers, but the actual nitty-gritty needs to be done by a professional. The books don't just magically appear on a catalogue or on a shelf.

A sign of how important libraries are can be seen from Twitter during this year's National Libraries Day #NLD13.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Thing 21: ooh, I've caught up!

Job interviews. I've had some excellent ones, I've had some disasterous ones. Anyone who says they're not stressful is lying. Even down to finding the right clothes to wear - if I wear jeans, do I appear too casual? If I wear a suit, will they spot it is old enough to be sitting GCSEs?

I'm very lucky that I keep my CV updated, as it is an excellent way to keep track of what one does at one's job. It has been checked by a qualified HR professional, so I just add little bits and delete others as required. It is unlikely I'll be applying for jobs outside of the library profession any time soon, so it doesn't require 'tweaking' according to the role I'm applying for.

The recommendations I can give is:

- Get your CV checked and make sure the dates add up.

- Ask someone to practise interviewing you.

- The interviewers are likely to be just as stressed as you, except they have to go through it all day and are probably dying for a cup of tea.

- Be prepared for awkward questions. 

- Research the place you're applying to, even if it is just looking up the front door on Google streetmap so you know where you're going, and allow plenty of time to get there.

- Always think of one question in advance to reply with when they ask "Do you have any questions?" because they will!

- If you are being interviewed for a library job, comment how tidy the shelves look...

Thing 20: a sort-of repeat of Thing 10

ROOTS: Like so many in the library world, I sort-of fell into librarianship. I applied for a Saturday shelving job in the main public library when I was 18 as I hated the supermarket where I was employed. I applied for a job in a bookshop because it dealt with art books and I'd just finished an art degree. I went for a job in a university department library as my friend worked on the department's reception and thought I'd like it there. I moved from there to a college to reduce my working hours (long story), and have picked up whatever additional temporary jobs I can, where I can.

I'm an avid reader, and lots of people tell me being a librarian suits me. Or they're surprised, expecting all librarians to look like this lady. Oh well.

Saturday shelver (Public Library): 2 years.
Bookseller: 18 months.
Library Assistant (Department): 5 years.
Library Invigilator (Department): 1 term.
Library Assistant (College): 4 years and counting...
Library Assistant (College): 1 term.
Cataloguing Assistant (College): 1 month.
Volunteer Cataloguing Assistant (Department): 8 months and counting...

Things 18 and 19: not much to report

I think the Jing thing looks like it might be useful, but not at home. I will come back to this when I am at work.

I listen to assorted podcasts, usually when I'm gardening or cooking. I'm not sure what I'd say to create one, but I can see the potential.

I'm aware how short these two things are, so here's a link to a depressed cat called Henri.

Thing 17: Prezi

I can skip through this one. I was asked by my boss to make a Prezi library map for our students. After a bit of swearing, I made this. We've had some good feedback from the facebook promotion, and we'll be rolling it out to the new undergraduates this year. Eek!

I much prefer it to Powerpoint.

Thing 16: Booky wooks

I have been a library user since birth. I used to go to story sessions when I was very little, we even have some signed Pugwash books after the author did a reading there. The big Silvercross vintage pram I used to be pushed around in broke after my mother loaded it up with library books and a sack of potatoes. When we moved south, one of the first things we did was join the library in Cambridge. My parents had control of our library cards, so they could borrow the maximum number on behalf of all of us, and we had a dedicated shelf just for library books at home. Again, I remember of attending story sessions and just browsing the shelves, and how grown-up I felt when I finally started using the card for my own personal selection.

There is a point to this waffle. These are my special recollections, and similar are shared by family and friends. These are going to be lost if the public library system is dismantled, privatised, under-funded or generally mucked-about-with, and future generations won't even have the chance to create their own memories. I've been out and protested against the cuts. I encourage everyone to use the service, to prove it is a necessity for a civilised society, and that each person in the UK should have access to a well-stocked and relevant library. For free.

Yes, the internet is a wonderful thing. And books, e-books and newspapers can be picked up for pennies there. But if I bought every book I wanted to read, I'd be skint and need a mansion to store them all. And I am not alone.