Friday 19 September 2014

A day in the life of a librarian: Anna Richards, University of Reading

A version of this post was first published on the LISNPN ( website

Following on from Vicky's 'day in the life' post here is the experience of another liaison librarian, this time at the University of Reading. Unfortunately I kept forgetting to write down exactly what I was doing on one set day so my post is more like a description of typical tasks I may do from one day to the next.

My job title is Trainee Liaison Librarian and there are three of us at Reading. These posts aim to give you a range of experiences within an academic library and to support you through Chartership, giving you a solid start within the profession. My liaison responsibilities include Classics and Philosophy and I also work with Library User Services (LUS), which handles registration and circulation of stock.

A typical day starts with an hours' stint on the Ground Floor Information Desk with my LUS hat on. My role here is to be the first port of call for any questions about using the Library, to handle any new registrations, and to help with any account queries. I often also complete my other daily LUS tasks whilst on the Information Desk which are to help with SCONUL Access and External Borrower registrations and to answer emails that come through to the general library email account.

I then may move on to ordering new items, particularly at the beginning and end of terms as we get new reading lists through. Most of the reading list checking is done by other members of staff but I decide how many new copies of an item we need and place the order with the Acquisitions department. It's been very interesting for me to learn the different ways my subjects use Library resources and research material – Classics is much more book heavy than Philosophy, for example. As well as ordering new items from reading lists I also liaise with the departments regarding new journal subscriptions and new e-resources, as well as any other orders they may have.

At the moment I am planning and preparing for some teaching sessions I have coming up and this is another big part of my liaison role. As a liaison librarian you have to prepare and present teaching sessions of varying sizes, from lectures to small group workshops. At first it can be quite daunting but there's a lot of support in the Library and I find it very rewarding to know I'm helping students in their studies. You are also expected to volunteer to help with general Library sessions, such as the Inductions for first years or Endnote training sessions. Personally I prefer smaller workshops as I feel that you are better able to teach students how to use Library resources effectively, but it's a good challenge to think of how to make lectures more engaging. I've recently completed the University's Academic Practice Programme, which is primarily aimed at new academics. This gave me a good grounding in teaching practice and made me really think about new ways of teaching students.

As well as having liaison and LUS roles I am the Shelving Supervisor for the Arts and Humanities floor and the supervisor of the students who work in the Library as part of our shelving operations. As the Shelving Supervisor I have regular meetings with my shelving team to discuss any issues that I or they may have noticed or to discuss any changes we might want to make to our processes. The Library has recently undergone refurbishment so this was a busy time for shelving moves! The students who work in the Library also help with our shelving operations and as their supervisor I am in charge of recruitment and training as well as creating their weekly rota. This has been a challenging but very rewarding role.

Other activities I may have include staffing the Information Desk on the Arts and Humanities floor, updating the Library website for LUS or for the Arts and Humanities team, holding drop-in sessions in Classics and Philosophy, subject cataloguing of new books in my subjects, creating the termly newsletter for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, attending meetings in my departments or within the Library and, of course, sending and answering many emails!

So the role of a Trainee Liaison Librarian here at the University of Reading is very varied but that allows you to experience many different aspects of working in an academic library and gives you a wide range of skills and experience to draw on. It has definitely been a very rewarding experience.

Anna Richards