This is sort of a follow-on post from the previous one, as it concerns the afternoon of the same training day.
We started off by looking at Library policies and procedures using case studies. This was mainly interesting in a sort of gossipy way, as the case studies actually happened and the quotes were real. We split into small groups and were given six case studies to look at and decide what we would do in each scenario. They started off quite tame – a customer wants to take her child upstairs even though that’s not allowed – and built up to the one where a customer threw a book at a librarian because they’d only be able to take it out for a week. I mean, I knew dissertation time gets stressful, but throwing books?!
The upshot of the session is that there’s a policy for everything. We discussed ways of diffusing situations – if there’s a noisy person in a group room, speak to their group as a whole, rather than singling them out; suggest alternatives including e-books and journal searches when there are no copies left of a certain book; quote policies to students to back up what you’re saying. Perhaps these aren’t the most ground-breaking ideas, but they’re definitely good things to keep in mind.
One situation in particular caused some hot debate – a student caused a significant amount of damage to a number of books, and then got upset that even though they had paid for the damage, they could not then take the books home and keep them. Some staff were in favour of the student keeping the books – after all they can’t go back into circulation – and some staff were against it – they’ve paid for the damage, not the book, and if you let people “buy” the books it sends the message that they can do what they want to the book stock. The rules and regulations of the Library state that damaged items remain the property of the Library both before and after payment, and I think I would come down in favour of this – if we let people ruin the books and then buy them, we’d soon have no books left. It was interesting to see something that divides library staff so much being debated, and made me think about how difficult it must be to draw up policies and regulations, knowing that some of them will be quite controversial.
After this session we had two talks about alternative library careers. The first was from Bethan Ruddock, who is @bethanar on Twitter, and who was a GT at MMU herself. She was kind enough to share her slideshow on her blog, and it’s here if you’d like to see it yourself. She’s collected together paragraphs from various librarians and information professionals about what their jobs are all about, and it was really interesting to see the variety in job titles and responsibilities. Obviously certain aspects of library/information jobs are similar (they all involve working with information, duh), but the location, clients and day-to-day tasks can be wildly different. I think I’m still fairly set on getting into academic librarianship, but at least I now know that my future job title might be Knowledge Manager or Learning Resources Instructor, instead of Librarian. Bethan also raised some good points about job hunting, such as the importance of making sure you look good on Google – do your drunk Facebook photos come up first, or your LinkedIn profile, blog or Twitter account?
The other talk was from Nicola Siminson, who is the NoWAL Operations Officer. She spoke to us about her career path so far, which has been quite varied – she’s worked in lots of different types of organizations, and it was interesting to hear about the skills she gained from the different posts. Both Nicola’s and Bethan’s talks emphasised the importance of being willing to take certain risks with your career, and going for jobs that might not be the logical next step. Networking also seems to be a huge thing for librarians, and librarianship definitely seems to be a “who you know” profession. This would be great for us as trainees if anyone ever came to the networking drinks that are set up for us! At least we have each other…
Well, I’ve finally written up this training day, just in time for the next one. In mid-December we will be learning presentation skills and I can’t wait – I really like this sort of thing, so I’m feeling optimistic about it. Especially if I get to learn how to make a Prezi!