Day in the Life - Angela Schofield: BIALL Newsletter, July 2014

Bibliographic Services Librarian at the Advocates Library in Edinburgh

I am the Bibliographic Services Librarian at the Advocates Library, with a team of two staff. Our responsibilities include cataloguing, stock management and collection care.

There is a reassuring routine to the start of my day, every morning, on the way into work I get my one cup of coffee for the day. That is about as much caffeine as I can cope with, but is definitely a requirement if I hope to be functional by 9.00am!

As usual, my first task is checking and responding to e-mails. I have developed quite a bit of knowledge of the older collections through my role so I occasionally get to deal with the more obscure historical enquiries. On this particular morning an interesting e-mail was received from an individual wishing to find out if the library had any information on their ancestor, who worked in the library until their death. The information found turned out to be somewhat strange – the former member of staff had in fact passed away in the library. The Faculty Records contained a report of the body being removed, discreetly, early the next morning! The enquirer was given permission to consult the records at the National Library of Scotland (NLS).  Sadly we never heard if they found the information gratifying or horrifying!

Enquiry completed, after a tea break, my next priority was to write up a condition assessment undertaken in the previous week on items on display at Abbotsford, in the library of Sir Walter Scott; the Faculty is responsible for the care of the library there.

It is part of my role to ensure that the items selected for display are in a suitable condition and have appropriate stands. The results of the condition assessment are reported back to the committee which manages the care of the collections at Abbotsford.

A little after noon, I settle down to a regular Monday morning task of serials / electronic resources cataloguing – there are usually a few title changes, maybe a new title, to add to the catalogue. This clears the decks for the arrival of the week’s legal deposit accessions from the NLS.

We have a shared history with the NLS as it was created from the non-legal collections of the Advocates Library in 1925. The link between our libraries continues as we receive legal deposit accessions for law materials from the NLS each week.

2.00pm is the regular time set aside for selection of legal deposit accessions from the NLS with the Reader Services Librarian. We look for legal content at a professional level, including legal history and academic legal works. Legal deposit materials form a key resource for the library; this particular week we accepted 32 titles, the majority being foreign or international jurisdictions, with a few useful English titles.

Once we know the volume of legal deposit material received I can assign the week’s cataloguing priorities amongst my team, and discuss any further priorities before we get started on the regular tasks for the week.

Cataloguing, occasionally interrupted by emails or queries, takes me through to 5.00pm, but that is not the end of my day. I have a late duty to 6.30pm – as one of the senior staff members I cover enquiry desk duties on an infrequent but regular basis.  Luckily tonight the enquiries play to my strengths; as a cataloguer I like searching out facts, documents, etc., and have a good feel for searching through different types of databases and the WWW.

Finally, enquiries completed, I can go home to relax looking out over views of the Forth estuary… until tomorrow.

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