Monthly Archives: October 2013

Being a student: week 4

I’m already a third of the way in to this term – that’s one sixth of the way through the taught part of the whole course – and everything’s moving very quickly. The deadline for our first essay (unassessed) was yesterday – although thanks to my action-packed life (ha ha) I actually submitted mine last Thursday. We’ve already got instructions for our first few bits of assessed work, so life is about to get even more hectic as I’ve got to learn how to do a literature review then do one, as well as a group presentation, some reflective writing and a team blog. I’ve got to-do lists as long as your arm and I’m having to write down most of my thoughts so I won’t forget them. It sounds hectic but I’m actually really enjoying myself – I think I function quite well when I’m really busy, as I can plan out and structure my days rather than just floating about the house wondering if I should be doing something important.

It really helps that everyone on the course is really friendly – we’ve really clicked as a group and have gone on a couple of pub trips already. We’ve been having great discussions in lectures (and in the pub) and I’m feeling great about the whole thing.

Aside from the course, my other life is going well too – I’m settling in at work and am feeling more confident about answering enquiries – although I’ve regressed to being quite rubbish on the phone, and I haven’t learned any of the weekday staff’s names yet. I’ve had some stressful journeys to work (trains! argh!) but on the whole things are running fairly smoothly. I think the hardest thing to get used to is cross-site working – some procedures are done in different ways at different sites, and it’s been a challenge to remember the “right” thing to do at each place. Generally, though, I’m doing work that I enjoy, and it’s all good experience!

Last weekend I attended Manchester NLPN’s Autumn Event, and I’ll do a full write-up of the event later in the week. It was a great day, full of interesting talks and tasty baked goods! More to come on that later.

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I’m Back!

New academic year, new start for Letters from the Library. I’m writing this in Sheffield’s very shiny Information Commons, one of my new homes this year.

I’ve now started both my MA course and my new job, and it’s safe to say I’m going to be pretty busy from here on in!

Last week was Freshers’ Week, which was quite hectic as not only did I attend several welcome meetings and registration events as a student, but also had to attend a training day as a new member of staff. Add to this the faff of getting university admin sorted, and it was a fairly non-stop week for me. It seems to all be settling down into a routine now, which is good at least.

So, first things first – the course. I’m taking four modules this semester, which cover “libraries, information and society”, management, information retrieval and information literacy. I’ve already had an introductory lecture for each of them, so have an idea of which ones I’m going to like and which ones are going to be more difficult! The management module is the one that’s grabbed my attention (surprisingly), as during the first lecture we were shown a job advertisement and told “this module will help you hit each point on the Person Specification”. That’s exactly why I’m doing this course – to get a professional post – so that was quite exciting. I think the module I will struggle with the most this semester is the one about information literacy. While I am interested in information literacy after my practical experiences of it as a GT, the first lecture was quite theory-intensive and dry, so I was not as engaged as I’d hoped. Perhaps it’ll pick up a bit as we go through the term.

I’ve already got quite a lot of work to do – lots of reading and preparation for next week’s lectures, plus a test essay (!) due in a couple of weeks’ time, which I need to research and write. It’s already becoming clear to me how focused I’ll need to be this year in order to stay on top of the workload, as I don’t have very much time in which to get everything done.

I’ve also started work at the University Library – I worked both days at the weekend as overtime (bit keen!) and then worked on Wednesday afternoon as part of my weekday hours requirement. The job is arranged slightly differently to how I thought – I thought you worked one day each weekend and then four hours during the week. It turns out you work both days every other weekend and four hours each week, apart from the first six weeks where I’ll be working eight hours during the week to help me get used to procedures at both library sites. It’s a bit complicated, but I think it’s worked out a bit better as now I can have some weekends to arrange trips, catch up on sleep (and TV) and do some uni work.

My first weekend at work was quite intense – it was definitely a case of going in at the deep end! On Saturday I was based at the Western Bank Library, and after a morning of picking books off the shelf to satisfy reservations, I was posted to the Welcome Desk and then the Issue Counter for the rest of the day. Having never worked at the library before, this meant there was a fair bit of thinking on my feet to be done in order to answer enquiries from people coming in! Luckily nothing was overly complicated and a lot of the things I was asked were quite general enquiries, so I didn’t feel too out of my depth. On Sunday I worked at the Information Commons, which was a completely different experience. I divided my time between the back office, satisfying reservations, and the Welcome Desk, where I mainly showed people how to use the sef-service machines and the printers. The IC is a lot busier than Western Bank (even on a Sunday afternoon), so the three hours I spent as front-of-house were quite full-on. It did mean that the day didn’t drag, though!

The weekday hours I did at the IC on Wednesday surprised me again – after thinking that it was busy on Sunday afternoon, I had to quickly re-evaluate that when faced with the Wednesday afternoon “rush”. I spent part of the afternoon at the Welcome Desk with a colleague, and there was constantly a queue of people waiting for our help. It was never this busy at MMU (at Gaskell, at least), even during dissertation season, so I was a little unprepared for just how busy I would be.

I’m really looking forward to this term – I’ve got some library-related trips planned (Manchester NLPN’s Autumn Event and Library Camp) as well as some trips as part of the MA, which should all be a lot of fun. I’m excited about the stuff we’re going to be learning on the various modules, too, and work is looking very promising. The only problem will be finding the time to fit everything in!

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