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The life of a College Librarian

So I’ve been working in my new job as the Librarian in a Sixth Form College for two months now and I feel like it’s time I blogged about it. This is partly in case there’s anyone out there who’s interested in what it’s like (forlorn hope), and partly just for me to catalogue my own experiences for future reference. I guess it’s kind of a ‘Day in the Life’ post really. So, anyway, I’ve just completed my MA at UCL, and this is first professional post. First things first, I really enjoy my job, and it’s nice to feel justified in having spent all that time and money getting my MA. Having said that, I still don’t feel like I’m being paid enough to have really got value for money from my MA which is a bit depressing.

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Nonetheless, my job is good and it’s great experience. One of the things I like most about working in a College is that because the
Library is fairly small (in comparison to University libraries for example), there’s more scope for a broad range of duties, which is brilliant for a new professional like me. My duties, to name but a few, include sole charge of the catalogue (including cataloguing from scratch, importing records, and amending/merging/cloning records and authorities), generating statistics on a monthly basis, student disciplinary meetings, acquisitions, information literacy, acting as departmental link and staff performance reviews. That’s a lot of experience for my future career, all from one post. Plus, a big positive for me is that when there’s such a variety of tasks to do it’s harder to get bored, and therefore easier to enjoy what I do.

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So, a typical day for me (if there is any such thing) consists of spending anywhere between three and six hours (depending on staffing levels) on either the Library desk, or supervising the computer room which is under Library control. Working on the desk and in the computer room is pretty standard Library stuff – issuing/returning books, dealing with behaviour, answering enquiries, selling stationary, fixing the printer, helping students work the IT software etc. Some of the duties are a bit more specialist to working in a College, such as proof-reading work, checking personal statements for UCAS, and it helps to have first-hand knowledge of teen fiction, but otherwise it’s fairly run of the mill stuff. The rest of my day can be spent in a variety of ways. I have sole charge of the catalogue so most days I do either some cataloguing from scratch (we have a lot of donations) or importing and amending records, as well as amending records that need it when I’m just browsing the catalogue. Similarly, most days I tend to have some sort of departmental duties. I’m the Departmental Library Liaison for the English, Film and Media and Social Sciences Departments, both of which are rather large. My work for them encompasses a huge range of things
including attending staff meetings, creating resources for sessions such as study help/reading lists/time management, acquisitions, processing new books, researching new resources and delivering sessions to students. I really like this part of my job, as it allows me to reach outside of the Library and demonstrate our importance and relevance to both staff and students who may not otherwise realise this. Other things that I might do on a typical day will be to help students with assignments, run reports from the LMS to determine cataloguing and usage statistics, Imageand analyse stock levels/resources within my departmental areas. I didn’t really enjoy cataloguing that much during my MA, so I never thought I’d take a job that involved a lot of it. I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy it though, and by how possessive I feel about “my” catalogue now!

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Further to this, there are always opportunities for additional involvement in both the Library and the College, which helps to keep the job fresh and interesting. We are currently setting up some Book Clubs, one of which will be run by me, with the aim of encouraging recreational reading among the students. Additionally, I am hoping to go on a School Visit, to promote both the College and the Library to potential students, in the next few weeks. So that’s my job! To me, the best things about it are the interaction with students (although they drive me mad at times), the feeling of positively impacting on the lives of young people, and the variety of tasks I have to do. So become a College Librarian, that’s what I say!Image

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