Periodicals Librarian – one year on

I have been working at Nuffield College Library for one year and decided to create an overview of what I have learnt and achieved during that year.

  • Periodicals

Prior to my role at Nuffield as Periodicals Librarian, my familiarity with journals was minimal. I knew what they were and that was about it. Becoming Periodicals Librarian meant I had to learn how to catalogue periodicals, how to create patterns for the chronology and enumeration on the catalogue as well as how to create an expected schedule. I learnt how to deal with claims for journals that don’t arrive on time (plentiful and time consuming), how to order and cancel journals, dealing with invoices, and liaising with various vendors and suppliers.

I was introduced to the world of binding, a concept I remember struggling with when I first became a librarian. I also learnt how to deal with title changes, a complicated process that involves not only creating a bibliographic record for the new title but going back and amending the record for the previous title to reflect the changes. This is especially complex as the old bibliographic records generally used the old AACR2 cataloguing rules and need changing to RDA (depending on when the records were created, of course).

I’ve also become better acquainted with Excel in order to record journal expenditure and learnt how to create a report on the year’s financial expenditure to submit to the library committee, a task that had me tearing my hair out. I’m hoping it will be easier the second time around.

  • Library environment

All of the jobs I had before moving to Nuffield were in one of the Bodleian Libraries, an umbrella term which refers to the Bodleian Library itself, research libraries, faculty and departmental libraries of the University of Oxford. College libraries are separate to the Bodleian Libraries, although they are amalgamated for events and staff training, and the library catalogue includes all of the college libraries too.

It was interesting moving to a library that is part of the students’ living space. All of the libraries I worked in before closed in the evening, students and researchers would leave taking their belongings with them. Nuffield library is open 24/7 so students are free to enter the library once staff have left. Students of the college are also allowed to take out on loan 100 books for the entire academic year, unless somebody requests the book to use. Nuffield, and other college libraries, are primarily for the students of that college (although Nuffield allows external users in during staffed hours). The other libraries I have worked in cater for a much larger audience. These differences greatly effects libraries’ approach to their users and policies.

More generally, I have familiarised myself with the library’s layout (an 11 storey tower with an ‘extension’ elsewhere in the college), RiTA (the card swipe system that allows entry into the library), the library’s archives, the printing system, the opening and closing procedure (we have to do a sweep of the library at the end of the day to make sure there are no external library users in the library), and more I can’t think of right now.

The college itself is a wonderful environment to work in and everyone is friendly. The free lunch in hall is an additional perk to the job.

  • Professional development

Soon after I started this job, I plucked up the courage to enrol for Chartership, something I had feared ever since completing my MSc. Although I was already keen on attending courses and improving my skills and knowledge, Chartership has really upped my game. I have volunteered to help with the Bodleian Libraries’ users education and I co-teach a session called ‘Getting information to come to you’, a session that teaches university members how to use RSS, email alerts, etc. to improve their research. I would never have imagined standing up and talking in front of people four years ago when I became a librarian, let alone volunteering to do it.

I have attended two courses on programming, learning how to code using Python. I can’t say that I wasn’t out of my depth but I have learnt an awful lot about how electronic data and information for the libraries is created and maintained. I attended these courses in order to future proof my career as a librarian as the profession is becoming more technologically based. I am not sure to what extent librarians’ IT skills are expected to expand but I felt these courses at least educated me in how our information is managed behind the scenes and broadened my horizons generally.

I’ve also signed up to my first ever conference – LILAC (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference ). Having spent my library career working in technical services, I am keen to increase my exposure to reader services. Volunteering to teach was part of this plan and I hope that the LILAC conference will teach me about information literacy in the profession. I based my MSc dissertation on information literacy so am generally interested in the topic and hope that the conference will update my knowledge as well as teach me about information literacy in practice, rather than the theoretical knowledge I gained during my research.

  • Overview

I am very happy that I decided to apply for the job of Periodicals Librarian at Nuffield because it has offered me many opportunities. I have been given responsibility, gained new skills and gained the confidence to do things I would not have considered before. This role has most definitely made me grow as a librarian.

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