It’s the summer!
I’ve made it almost all the way through my MA Librarianship course now. All the teaching and assignments are out of the way, and the dissertation is the only thing left. I’m supposed to be doing the literature review at the moment but can’t quite muster up the enthusiasm for it yet. I know I’ll be much happier about doing the project when I get to move on to the more exciting bits, but while I still have the lit review to get on with I’ve been pulling faces at anyone who asks “so… how’s the dissertation going?”. It’s been really nice to do fun stuff for a bit, only going to Sheffield three days a week instead of five or seven, but I do need to buckle down and get on with it.
This week I’m starting a new job! Today is my last day as a Weekend Customer Services Assistant, and from tomorrow I will be a Capacity Management Assistant instead. I’m not actually allowed to work tomorrow (you can’t do seven days in a row at work) so my first day will be Tuesday. I’m looking forward to this job mainly because I get to work a normal pattern – it’s Monday to Friday mornings, rather than every other weekend plus four hours in the week. I get my weekends back! Weekend working has been the worst thing about this year – I love the actual job and the student interaction and so forth, but public transport is RUBBISH on weekends when you live where I do. The trains don’t start out of my village until 10am – not very useful when I need to be in Sheffield at 10.30!
The routine of the new job will, I hope, help me get on with my dissertation and have a properly scheduled life. Work all morning, go home, do the dissertation all afternoon. I love a routine, so I’m hoping that with a bit of commitment I can be the highly motivated and organised person I always knew I could be…
Capacity Management is a totally different type of library job to what I’m doing now. At Sheffield there are well over 1 million books and other materials, and they’re organised into several different collections, most of which are buried in the lower floors of Western Bank Library. Every so often these collections need to be reorganised or moved, and older books move out of the main collection to the “store” collections downstairs, so that new books can come in. It’s Capacity Management’s job to work out where to put stuff, measuring how much extra space is needed for the books joining store collections, and rearranging everything so it all fits. The library is also part of the UK Research Reserve, which is a group of libraries across the UK who coordinate their journal collections jointly, agreeing that one library will hold a certain journal and all the other libraries can get rid of their copies. This is done for journals with especially low usage – you don’t really need a journal that nobody ever uses taking up space on your shelves, and if one day someone does need it, they can ask another library to send it over. One of my main tasks at Capacity Management will be to go around the shelves with a list of journals we don’t need to keep, finding them, taking them off the shelf, and disposing of them. All this might not sound like a very nice thing to do – I know a lot of people get upset at the thought of throwing away books – but there are always good reasons for doing it, and at libraries like Sheffield we are rapidly running out of space. If we don’t need to keep something, and someone else has a copy of it, then why should we? We’re not an archive (and even archives don’t keep everything).
Although Capacity Management is not exactly the sort of area I want to end up in, I’m glad to have the chance to do it. In Customer Services it sometimes feels like I don’t really know what’s happening behind the scenes, and only ever hear about things that directly affect customers. Working down in the depths of Western Bank with the books rather than the people will, I hope, give me a different perspective on processes and procedures, and provide a new piece of the jigsaw. If I ever manage to become a subject librarian I would expect to have a say in stock management – buying new stuff and deciding about what we don’t need any more – so having spent some time actually moving stock around and disposing of it will give me a bit more knowledge about the mechanics of the whole thing. As I’m still assistant level I won’t be making any judgements myself, but I will be a bit closer to the process.
I’ve really enjoyed being in Customer Services, and it’s helped me realise how much I do know and how capable I can be of answering all sorts of enquiries. I’ve discovered over the last two years that I’m much more of a “people person” than teenage me would ever have predicted, and I’ve really loved interacting with students and staff and helping them solve their problems. But equally, I’m looking forward to a new department and the chance to use the other side of me, the side that loves spreadsheets and repetitive tasks and finding stuff on shelves, and I’m especially looking forward to getting to do it all during normal office hours. Here’s to new challenges!