Friday, 3 February 2012

Library Week in the Life 8

Okay, so I officially suck at keeping my blog up-to-date, but after reading all these amazing #libday8 blog posts which have completely and utterly put me to shame, I have decided to write a summary of my week, aptly named "Library Week in the Life 8."


After 2 hours of "Information Sources and Retrieval" lectures at UCL, I spend the rest of the afternoon working on my essay for Historical Bibliography. I'm writing about William Morris and the Kelmscott Press, and as a lover of all things Victorian, you can imagine how happy I am to just sit down with a pile of books and do the research. Yes, I'm one of those people who love reading and learning about stuff, but unfortunately, it's the writing up bit that I don't like, and sadly, my essay isn't going to write itself! Nevertheless, my research has given me some ideas for my dissertation, so all things considered, I feel like I've had quite a productive day.

I head off to Picadilly Circus at 5pm, as I work as a Casual Evening Assistant at the London Library. I was a Graduate Trainee there last year, and I absolutely LOVED it, so it's nice to still be working there. I work until 9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, so it's quite a long day for me (especially as I commute in from outside London!!) It's worth it though, as the experience is invaluable. I love that each evening is different, and today was busy in the sense that we had lots of books to retrieve for members who had requested them from home, as well as several face-to-face enquiries. As always, I try to spend the first half hour checking the circulation desk and enquiry desk emails, and fetching any book requests that have come through. Around 6-6.30pm, I usually get down to the dirty work, and have the joyous job of shredding or recycling the paper. Having just written an essay about the prospect of a paperless library, it seems highly unlikely that that will EVER happen at the London Library, given the amount we seem to go through! Whilst I'm sorting through all the paper, I am also serving people at the desk, helping them with their enquiries and issuing/returning books.

About 7.30pm I cover for the Receptionist on duty so that she can go for her tea break. This involves letting people in and out of the library, issuing locker keys, visitor passes, and dealing with petty cash when member's want to buy things like pencils, notebooks, and even photocopying cards. Not only do I have 2 buzzer systems to negotiate when on the desk, but as was the case this evening, the phone rang 4 times in the space of 15 minutes! At 8pm, I quickly rush off for my tea-break (or in my case, my microwavable dinner!) as I'm staaaaaaaaarving! At 8.15pm, I'm back on the desk, until 8.45pm, when we start the "shut-down" routine of turning all the computers off, and clearing books from tables etc ready for reshelving the following morning.By 9pm, I am ready to go home, and I make my way back to Waterloo for my journey. More often than not I fall asleep on the train - one of these days, I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up in Portsmouth Harbour!!!!


Today is another busy day for me. I have 3 hours of Management lectures at UCL from 10-1pm, and then 3 hours of Manuscript Studies 2-5pm. The latter was quite a "full-on" session this week - we were studying all different types of scripts, and we even attempted to read texts from as early as the 6th Century! Needless to say I think a lot of practice is needed on my part, but I'm really enjoying the challenge so far! At 5pm I once again head to the London Library for my second evening shift of the week. Today is MUCH busier than yesterday. I have an induction booked for 6.30pm, which involves showing prospective or new member's round the library, explaining how the catalogue works, how to search effectively, how to access the e-resources to which we subscribe as well as a general tour of the place. The building is huge, although it doesn't look it from the front, and it's quite a difficult place to navigate your way around until you've been there a while! Believe me, I carried a map in my pocket for the first month there as a Graduate Trainee!!

When I got to work, however, it turned out that I had an impromptu prospective member induction at 6pm, followed by a pre-booked induction at 6.30pm. By 7.30pm, I'm exhausted - especially as both tours involved me walking up several flights of stairs and talking constantly (although for those who know me, you'll know this isn't usually a problem!) I cover Reception, have dinner, and head back to the desk in time to serve a few members, helping a few to find their books, and before I know it, it's that time again, and we're starting to turn everything off for the night!

I have to say, being busy certainly makes the time fly, and I enjoy having lots of things to do. By 9pm, I'm DEFINITELY ready for bed. Fall asleep on the train again, but thankfully don't miss my stop. Get home around 11pm, and crawl into bed, ready for my alarm to wake me up in 7 hours time...


Today, I'm off to Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in North Greenwich, where I currently work as a "Study Zone Library Assistant." Ravensbourne couldn't be more different that the London Library. It is extremely modern and high-tech, and it runs foundation and degree courses in subject areas such as film-making and fashion. The "Study Zone" is nearly always full by the afternoon, and this is partly because students are actually encouraged to eat, drink and chat in the library (yes, really!) Although I was quite surprised at first, I can see the reasoning behind this; in my opinion, anything which actually gets students into the library in the first place, and encourages them to work can only be a good thing. As long as they are respectful of the books and don't cause too much disruption, I don't see there's problem. In actual fact, most of the students use e-books rather than actual textbooks, so the books aren't usually even in danger! ;)

Today, I have been working my way through course reading lists and making a note of all the books we have, and adding the books we don't to our basket on Dawsons. Due to a recent campus move (and book move), many items have been lost, so the library collection is being updated so that it can offer an effective service and provide for the teaching and research needs of both the students and staff. Surprisingly, there are a LOT of books to go through on the reading list, and this actually takes up the whole day. By 5pm, I have added all the necessary books for the BA Fashion & Lifestyle Products, and feel, unsurprisingly, a great sense of satisfaction.

Tonight is my first evening NOT at work, so I enjoy sitting down to relax, and just catch up on all the trashy TV I've missed! I also start on my BSL Level 1 Sign Language Homework. Yes, as if working two jobs and doing a full-time MA isn't enough, I've also paid to do a British Sign Language course every Saturday for 30 weeks. At the end of it I'll have a qualification, and it's something I've always wanted to do. If I go into academic librarianship, I'm also hoping that the ability to converse with the deaf will be an asset - and you never know, it one day might come in useful!


I'm back at Ravensbourne once more, continuing with the reading lists. Today it's Digital Advertising & Media. I manage to add all the books into the basket by about 3.30pm, and then make a start on some cataloguing. I process a couple of recent DVD acquisitions (all Hitchcock), and then move onto some of the shelf-ready books that have just arrived from Dawsons. Thankfully, these don't take very long, and before I know it they're on the shelves! There is, I should probably mention, a small backlog of cataloguing that's on my "To Do" list, so that's something to be getting on with next week I think. These are books that need to have catalogue records created from scratch - if I'm honest, this is one of my favourite things to do! It's so satisfying creating a good cataloguing record, and it means I can put everything I have learned from my Cataloguing & Classification module at UCL into practice!

In the evening, I went to see The King's Speech with my boyfriend. The world premiere of the play on which the film was based was being shown at our local theatre in Guildford, and we had great seats (this was probably made better by the fact that IAN MCKELLEN WAS SAT TWO ROWS IN FRONT). YES REALLY. Another late night for me, but thankfully, tomorrow = lie-in!


Today, it's back to the essay. With little time to get all my work done, I have to be quite disciplined and pro-active. I finish my essay, proof-read it, then submit. The deadline isn't until next Tuesday, but it's nice to have it out the way (as much as I enjoyed writing it!) The saying "if you want something done, ask a busy person" is certainly true in my case - somehow, I always manage to get things finished in time!

So...there you have it! A week in the life of a librarian. Busy, yes. But I wouldn't change it for anything.

Monday, 31 October 2011

My Graduate Trainee year: on reflection...

For many, the age-old stereotype of the librarian – whose job is simply to look austere, shush people and stare them down with their inscrutable gaze when members raise their voice to anything more than a whisper – still dominates public perception. But did you know that it’s not at all easy to become a librarian? Yes, that’s right. Librarians of today need to gain a Masters degree in order to enter the profession. They not only take courses in traditional aspects of librarianship such as cataloguing and classification, collection management and preservation, but they must also learn how to cope with the continually evolving information environment. They must learn how to use computers, e-journals, use html, create their own websites, and thus comprehend a library which not only houses printed material, but electronic resources as well.

In order to gain a Masters qualification in Library and Information Studies, CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) recommends that you first undertake a year-long Graduate Traineeship, during which you have the opportunity to learn through hands-on experience by exploring the various aspects of librarianship on offer. Whilst many institutions across the country offer trainee positions, very few offer such a varied and interesting experience as The London Library. Primarily based in Reader Services, the main responsibilities of a Graduate Trainee involve the effective day-to-day issue, return, renewal and reservation of books, as well as dealing with enquiries either face-to-face, by phone, email or fax.

You have probably seen us at the front desks, helping you to find books, or at the very least pointing you in the right direction, but this is not all Graduate Trainees do. The purpose of a Traineeship is to offer an insight into the multi-faceted library and information management profession, which is why The London Library also provides introductory training sessions in each of its departments – Membership, Acquisitions, Cataloguing, Conservation & Preservation, IT and Development – so that you are aware of not only how a library works and functions as a whole, but are also able to better understand the importance of each department and the role it plays within the institution. On a personal level, I found it particularly interesting to know and understand a little bit better things like The London Library’s criteria for book acquisition, preservation guidelines, and how to look after and carry out your own book repairs. The latter was perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of my traineeship, as Rachel, the Library’s Head Conservator, allowed me assist with the repairing of books and creating protective boxes if they were too old or fragile to be repaired in-house.

Training such as this has already set me in good stead for my postgraduate degree course (now that my London Library Graduate Traineeship is over, I have commenced at University College London), giving me extra insight into a profession which is anything but old-fashioned and requires a lot more than just shushing. One of the nicest things about The London Library, however, is that you never really leave, and I am hugely grateful to have been given the opportunity of continuing work here in a different capacity, as a Casual Library Assistant on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Although one of the perks is further indulging my love of the Library and its fantastic collections (the Victorianist in me is constantly being let loose on the shelves!), the fact I am also able to apply the theory I’m learning at UCL to actual library practice is nothing short of invaluable.

[This blog post was actually originally written for the London Library blog, which can be found at - do have a read, as there are some fantastic articles, and the promise of a lot more to come!]

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

It's been a long time coming... Thing 6 - Online Networks

For Thing 6, I've been exploring "online networks." As a postgraduate University student, I am already extremely familiar with Facebook (for all the wrong reasons though, as it's an excellent way to procrastinate!) I use Facebook for the personal & social aspect - it's a great way to keep in contact with friends, organise events, and share photos. From a new professional point of view, however, I'm not sure how efficient Facebook is, in comparison to other networks such as LinkedIn. Saying this, a group has already been created on Facebook for 2011-2012 UCL MA students, which has been extremely useful because it has allowed me to make contact with other students prior to the course; in light of this, I can perhaps see how Facebook might be used in a professional capacity.

After reading Helen's CPD23 post, I have also joined LinkedIn. I was dubious at first, as I was unsure how useful this would really be, but I'm quite enjoying having "professional contacts" (mainly just fellow or past Graduate Trainees at the London Library), but it's still a start. The one thing I don't like about it though, is that having joined a CILIP group online, I am constantly bombarded with emails updating me on who has commented on a particular thread. There is probably a way to turn this off, so I will have to look into it, but for me, a network should be unassuming - it should allow you to engage, but should not overwhelm you with SO MUCH INFORMATION!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Thing 5 - Reflective Practice

Okay, so Thing 5 this week is going to be rather short and sweet - more of a promise to actually start being reflective, as opposed to reflecting!

After reading the CPD23 post, I have started to realised the importance of reflection in terms of advancing your professional, and indeed personal, development. I particularly liked the following model, as the questions force you to evaluate yourself objectionably, help give you a better understanding of your work, and ensure that you are playing an active role in what you are doing. For those of you who are interested, here is a good example of how to begin reflective practice, courtesy of Wigglesweets' blog post:

1. Recall it: this could be an event you’ve participated in, a project group you’ve been part of, a workshop you’ve delivered, an enquiry you’ve responded to…

2. Evaluate it: Take some time to consider these questions
What did you learn?
What did you enjoy?
What worked well?
What, if anything, went wrong?
What would you change?
What (potential) impact could this have in your workplace?

3. Apply it: Take some action. What can you practically apply from the experience you’ve had?

With this in mind, I hope to apply this theory when I next go to a CILIP event, or even undertake smaller things such as projects at work. It will be difficult, but I'm definitely willing to give it a go!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Thing 4 - Current Awareness: Twitter, RSS and Pushnote

When I first joined the London Library in August, I had only the faintest idea of what Twitter was, and, at the time, could not see how anyone would find it more useful or interesting than facebook (which I had spent the good part of my English MA constantly checking for better want of another form of procrastination). I was so wrong. Half-way through my trainee year, Sarah, a previous LL trainee, recommended Twitter to me, and said that as a soon-to-be new library professional, it would play a key role in keeping up-to-date with current library issues, networking, and meeting new people who will be starting the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL in September. So, taking her word for it, I hesitantly set up an account. Following a rather shaky start, during which I was frequently baffled by what abbreviations such as RT, hash tag trends and other such things meant, I finally started to find my feet. After following a few different accounts (including libraries, library professionals, other library graduate trainees, CILIP, The Guardian, Penguin Books, Waterstones etc etc...and yes, I am not ashamed to admit it, celebrities too [how can anyone resist a bit of celebrity stalking??]) I found that people out there started to follow ME! :-) I have already found being on Twitter extremely useful. Not only have I befriended a couple of soon-to-be UCL postgrads before my course has even started, I am really enjoying following other library professionals and hearing about their experiences in different library environments. I also (and I know this may sound a bit weird, as I'm talking about something which is completely and utterly virtual) find that Twitter offers a great sense of community, of which I am really enjoying being a part.

In terms of RSS feeds, and Pushnote - this is literally the first time I have ever come across them. Whilst I had heard what RSS feeds were, I didn't know how to use them on my computer. Thanks to Annie's instructions, however, it all started to make a bit more sense! After logging into my Googlemail, I found locating Google Reader easy, and was amazed by how useful RSS is for keeping on track of all the blogs I'm interested in reading. Previous to today, I had literally just been visiting individual blogs as and when I had the chance, and I was finding it very difficult to keep on top of it all - especially as I never knew when a new post had been written! Here's hoping that RSS will help me on that front - I've already spent the last hour adding blogs to my Reader (goodness knows when I'll have the time to read them all!!)

To conclude Thing 4, I have also signed up to Pushnote. As a concept, I feel this is quite a good idea, although in practice, I am not sure how dedicated I am going to be "liking" various pages I come across online. Once I start following more new library professionals online, however, this may change! (The only person I'm "following" so far is Stephen Fry...!)

Ice Bar London

On Saturday, I surprised my not-so-little-sister with a trip to Ice Bar, London, for her 21st birthday:

It was a great experience, and although only 40 minutes, it was definitely worth doing - even if just the once! Everything inside is made out of ice (including your glasses!) and believe me, after 40 minutes, you are definitely ready to resurface out of the -7 degree temperatures!

If you go, and are stuck on what to drink (the cocktail list upstairs is about 10 pages long!) I would recommend the White Chocolate Cocktail - it was absolute heaven! Inside the Ice Bar, try the house cocktail, Ice Bar London - it won't disappoint :-)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

CPD23 Thing 3 - Consider your personal brand

Better late than never, hey? Well, in all fairness, I do have a pretty good excuse as I have been jet-setting this last week to Cyprus and enjoying sunnier climes. Back to reality though, and back to CPD23!!

When I first set up my blog and my twitter account, I hadn't really thought much about "my personal brand", although I did make a conscious decision to use the pseudonym of London Library Girl in both cases, to make myself more easily identifiable. I really admire Jennifer Yellen's decision to use her real name, and I can understand how this makes things easier when it comes to networking and being recognised on google (among other things). I have to admit, when I initially started, I liked the anonymity, as I felt I wasn't under pressure if I made mistakes, and people wouldn't blame me personally if my blog was completely rubbish!!

After googling myself, the first thing that appears is "Carley Deanus: Facebook" - with a link to my account. Unfortunately, nothing appears in relation to my blog, but this is probably because I previously had never mentioned my full name anywhere on my profile. Typing in "London Library Girl" into google instead brings up an immediate match to my blog page - hurray! In light of this, I have now added my full name to my blog, so maybe this will make a difference to future google searches (only time will tell!) I have also included a photograph of myself on both my blog and twitter account, to make myself more recognisable at future events. I found this really helpful recently, as at the recent CILIP Information Day one of my twitter followers (and fellow future UCL postgrad) recognised me and came up to introduce herself in person!

One thing I think I think I could improve on is to create a LinkedIn account. I've not really had any experience of this before, but this is something I aim to do as soon as possible. I might also perhaps look into changing the background of both my blog and my twitter account so that they are both the same. It's something to think about, anyway!

If anyone has any comments about the layout of my blog or any suggestions for improvement, I would be very happy to hear them!