August Update

I am trying to get the most out of the time I have left as a graduate trainee because it is ever so quickly coming to an end. I only have 4 full weeks left! This is both exciting and distressing at the same time. Exciting because I am starting a new course and I have a new job (more on that later) but also distressing because I know the next few years are going to be hard work and I have to leave behind all of the lovely people I’ve met at the JBP library.


I’ve had the opportunity to do some really interesting things over the last few weeks which have allowed me to continue to learn new skills and gain some valuable insights and experiences. What follows is a whistle-stop tour of August.

  • We spend an entire day sorting out around 10 large boxes full of journals and pamphlets for the Commonweal collection. We sorted each box into alphabetical order across the floor and when we could no longer see the floor, we put the papers into alphabetical piles. We did this around 5 or 6 times, interfiling the papers into their correct piles. We then packed them into boxes to be catalogued at a later date. We did an amazing job! So proud of ourselves for getting it all done in the time we had, it flexed my brain muscles and we had fun. All in a day’s work ey.
When I first entered the room and saw this sight I cried a little inside… crying with excitement of course!

When I first entered the room and saw this sight I cried a little inside… crying with excitement of course!

Goodies like this... Librarians for Peace!

Boxes full of goodies.

Goodies like this. Librarians for Social Change!

Goodies like this. Librarians for Social Change!

  • The library is recruiting their next batch of Student Learning Champions. They are University of Bradford students who work in the library shelving and assisting users with basic IT and reader enquiries. Part of the interview process is to complete a task and a colleague and I have been managing this task. It’s been a really good experience because I’ve been in their positions just recently and interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience. It’s very strange to be on the flipside of the interview process. Jawad and I have tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible and make sure they understood what they needed to do. We then figured out a way to assess their work and reset the task as quickly as possible. I think we make a cracking team.
  • The library has an hour set aside each week for staff training and this week we learnt how to deal with a wet books disaster. This was great for me as it was reiterating what I learnt a few months ago at the RRN Kit Training Day and I was happy that I had remembered a lot of what said. You need to move quickly, be aware of your surroundings, put health and safety first, assess the damage and contain the leak. Triage the damaged books and if there is not a professional librarian on site, you need to make a decision on what should be kept as drying out wet books is a very time intensive activity. Purchasing new copies might be the better option. In a recent emergency at JBP it took an entire week to dry out just 50 books.
Trying to heal the books (discards)

Trying to heal the books (discards)

20150820_095140

Sorry sight but it can happen. Be prepared!


  • I was able to help out with some library inductions for the first time! I wasn’t able to help out with these at the start of the academic year because I started in December. With a special interest in the experiences of international students and being a temporary member of the international library group, it was really good to be able to help out with the inductions for international students. We gave them a brief introduction on how to use the library catalogue to search for books and journals then we gave them a tour of the library. This was also my first library tour! I will be assisting with some more for general library induction tours before I leave I think which I am looking forward to. I like being a tour guide.
  • The VC came to visit the library for his annual departmental visit and this was really interesting. The Library and IT Services demonstrated some of the projects they have been working on this year. These included short presentations on the library’s new reading list software, creating better WIFI connectivity across campus, how the library supports researchers and streamlining the referencing styles used in the university. He couldn’t believe how many referencing styles are actually out there! The VC seemed impressed and did not hold back with his questions. It is clear that there is some excellent work going on in this department and it is great to be able to showcase that the senior members of staff in the university.

Finally, I have a new job! I am so relieved because I was really worrying about what was going to happen in September. I had to find a job to fund my studies but I had to find a job that would work around my studies as well. It was important to find a position in a library because I want to be able to put the theory into practice and gain more work experience. I have been very lucky as I have got a job at a 6th Form College in Manchester as a part-time learning facilitator in the library. For the interview I had to do a presentation and I used Prezi for the first time and it went really well! The role will be varied and will involve supporting users in the retrieval and use of resources, planning and delivering inductions and study skills sessions, liaising with departments to develop collections and much more. I am really happy to be working with young people and supporting them in the college education.

This graduate traineeship role has developed my skills and confidence in more ways than I initially thought and I am so grateful. I didn’t have enough time in the interview to talk about all of the things I’ve done! It has opened up so many opportunities and has laid the foundations of my career. I’ve had so much support and encouragement from everyone and I am really not sure where I’d be today had I not applied.

I can tell it's going to be an emotional goodbye... 

I can tell it’s going to be an emotional goodbye… https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenosaur/

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Rudai 23: Thing No 2

I am entering the final months of my graduate traineeship. Only two and a half months left to go and I can confirm that I still want to be a librarian, yipee! The 23 Things Collaboration has come at a good time. I am going to have a think about why I want to be a librarian and what I think librarianship is all about having experienced it first hand as a trainee.

There is the age old stereotype that librarians spend their days stamping books and shushing people which still stands firm today. If you could stop someone on the street and ask them what a librarian does, chances are their response will be something along those lines. Most people I speak to are surprised to learn that you need a postgraduate qualification to be a librarian… I’d like to see them have a go 🙂 

Being a librarian is about genuinely wanting to help people to learn for themselves, getting people to appreciate the value of information and knowledge and helping people to enrich and develop their own lives and society. As more and more people have access to the internet, information professionals become more important. People really do need help because even though many people think they are internet searching experts, chances are they aren’t.

I want to be a librarian because I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave the world of learning behind. I loved the library when I was a student, I enjoyed working in there and feeling like you’re part of a student community. Being involved with people who are trying to educate themselves sounds like a benefical and rewarding job to me.

I can also carry on with my own learning and development; how can you not when you are surrounded by so much information! Librarians have to continually learn and develop their skills and this is great because I never want to give up learning. A large part of being a librarian involves sharing best practices, developing professionally and being conscious of the ever changing world of information and technology. I want to be a little fountain of knowledge. Or at least know where to go to gather and spread some of that knowledge.

I wish I could say that I wanted to be a librarian since I was little but that’s not the case. I vaguely remember wanting to be a vet, an actress and a chef at some point but in all honesty I didn’t decide until after I graduated, and this was probably for the best, I’d be the worst actress ever. I had toyed with the idea of being a history teacher because it seemed like a more or less straightforward career move as a history graduate.

I also considered continuing my studies, possibly doing a History MA and being an academic but I hadn’t found my “thing”. To undertake the amount of research required to complete a PhD, I think you really have to be passionate about a topic and until I find that topic, I can’t even consider it. So that career path was out of the window.

I also considered being an archivist. I had an idealistic idea that I would be caring for old, crispy documents, rare books and never before seen treasures all day. I understood there was more to it than that and that but I needed to get some experience if I wanted to enter the profession.

I joined the Archives and Records Association and bagged myself a work placement in the University working on an oral history project. I worked in the Cinema and Television History Centre at De Montfort University on a project which involved transcribing interviews undertaken with women working in the TV and film industry during the 20th century to the present day. I started looking into MA courses and voluntary positions for when I graduated so I could get the work experience required for many of the courses. I got a position in my local library digitising photographic slides which the library had inherited from various council planning departments.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue with the work for very long as I had to get a full time job. So I joined the hoard of graduates working in the first position they are offered in order to pay the bills. I spent a year working in a local pub which was good, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned as an optimistic and enthusiastic graduate leaving university with my shiny new degree.

I was continually looking for graduate positions in which I could develop a career – any career. I thought I had struck gold when I got a “graduate” job at a car finance company where I worked as a customer service advisor. In all honesty I didn’t enjoy the work but I did excel in the position and was offered the opportunity to progress onto a different position within the company. My interview was looming when I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do as it just didn’t make me happy. I handed in my notice which was a crazy move considering I did not have a job to go to.

I had however applied for a position at the University of Bradford as a graduate trainee library assistant. When I first saw the opening I had the moment that all job seekers hope for… the moment you find a job that you know you would enjoy. I would love to be a librarian and thankfully this graduate traineeship has confirmed that I do want to be a librarian. After doing jobs which I didn’t enjoy, this really is the dream job.

It’s a cliché but I am a people person. Having dealt with customers since the age of 15 I don’t think I could ever work in an environment that wasn’t in some way customer/ user focused. It’s great to help people. Not serving them food and drinks or selling them car finance but giving them the ability to learn for themselves and find the information that librarians have worked hard to purchase and organise.

I wasn’t aware of the world of librarian networking, conferences and the variety of opportunities that are out there. I knew librarians didn’t just look after books but I hadn’t considered the variety of positions on offer to librarians; information officers, public librarians, knowledge officers, academic librarians, acquisitions librarians, e-resources librarians, NHS librarians, law librarians, corporate librarians, special collections librarians, embedded librarians, library managers, library directors, library systems librarians and so on.

From my course I am expecting to learn more unexpected and exciting things about the profession. I am hoping to develop a special interest in a particular area which I will be able to research in great depth and write about. It would be amazing to get an article published in a journal one day! I am interested in working in an academic library after I graduate. However, I am hoping to get more experience in different areas of the profession so who knows; I am willing to explore the world of librarianship.

I work in a library!

So I’ve technically been here around 7 weeks now, minus 2 weeks for the Christmas vacation and I am starting to feel like I work here. I know that sounds weird! I dislike being the new person and I like to feel like I know what I am doing and I am starting to feel like I know what I am doing so yay! I also feel so happy to be working in a library – it’s Monday morning and I do not dread coming into work! Overall I’m feeling much more confident out on the enquiry desk. I have pretty much got to grips with Millennium and the simple tasks such as checking books in and out, dispensing laptops, checking and taking fine payments. It took me at least a week to get my head around sensitising and desensitising books – I just couldn’t remember which one was which and kept forgetting to do it but I’ve now got the hang of that! I feel you can only really learn the processes on the counter by actually working on it so I have to remember not to beat myself up too much if I forget how to do something or can’t remember how to do something which I’ve only been shown how to do. I don’t feel nervous or scared any more at the prospect of helping students. I will happily give it my best shot and if I get stuck I can always ask. I can’t emphasise how friendly everyone is, especially my buddy, Katherine. She has really helped me settle in. She had previously worked in public libraries so only recently everything was new to her as well so it’s really useful to know that I can always go to her if I have any issues or am confused about something and I don’t want to admit it to anyone else. Things are getting a lot busier now, especially with ASG. I have a couple of ongoing projects including a Wiki I am developing for all staff in the library so I will give a more comprehensive update on that when I have got a little further with it.

That’s all for now as I have library stuff to do! 🙂

Week No.2

So my second full week as a trainee library assistant has come to a close and it’s been great. I feel a lot more settled in now compared to the first week, which is only natural, why would I be settled after the first week..? I can now navigate the building without getting lost and I have successfully completed some librarian duties as well, wahey! I did leave for home one evening feeling rather defeated by a certain book treasure hunt. I was tasked with finding a selection of books, most of which were deemed to be harder than usual to find. After searching for them on the catalogue (which I managed without any issues thankfully) and 45 minutes of trying to find them on the shelves, I had found a fantastic, grand total of 2… and then it was home time. I told myself I would get back to it in the morning and I would find them! After some swift reassurances from a colleague in the morning, I knew I was being hard on myself considering I’ve been in the post for just over a week and I have never worked in a library before. I knew this especially when my colleague also had problems finding the one I had searched for for over half an hour. Since then I have found the rest on the list, and have completed three more searches which I have enjoyed so much! It was literally a treasure hunt – no one should be paid to have as much fun as I had. I did learn a few valuable lessons: I can’t always do everything right the first time, it takes time to learn your way around a library and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It was a very valuable task as I feel I now pretty much know my way around the shelves and I will be confident enough to assist users in finding their materials when the time comes. I have been treated twice now to lunch from my lovely manager – I will get her back and pay for her food at some point! I also invigilated on a Chemistry exam which was pretty cool, I felt like a powerful super villain. I shadowed one of the subject librarians on the enquiry desk. They basically assist students with any questions they may have regarding their catalogue searches, subject content, directions to the toilets etc. It is something I need to pay particular attention to considering this will be one of my duties very soon. Safe to say I am a little nervous about this but I am sure it will be perfectly fine. I started properly on the front desk this week as well, so I feel once I have a little more experience facing our users directly on the front desk (with the help of the other members of staff), assisting them on my own on the enquiry desk shouldn’t be a problem. Due to the time of year I am being gradually exposed to the front desk as it is now the Christmas vacation so the library is not as busy as it would be during term time. This is good as I have more time to think for myself and be talked through the processes without a host of people waiting to be served. However, when they all return after Xmas, all hell will break loose… IT’S EXAMINATIONS AND ASSESSMENT PERIOD…Bring it on!