A Day in the Life - Lindsay Robinson: BIALL Newsletter, September 2012Acquisitions Librarian, Bodleian Law Library
I live outside Oxford so my journey to work involves a car, bus, and then a lovely 10 minute walk through the city, past some of the most famous Oxford landmarks. I joined the library as a graduate trainee and am still here five years later, having enjoyed a stint as a cataloguer along the way. I am based in the Information Resources department, which is made up of seven members of staff who take care of the acquisitions, cataloguing and serials work. The law library as a whole employs around 30 people, which means that we all have specialist areas of responsibility, more so than in a small library.
I get to work at about 8.30 and check my emails over a cup of tea. As you might expect, a large part of my job involves keeping track of the library’s serial and monograph orders, so most mornings I have vendor reports or claim notifications to look through. The Bodleian Law Library is a Legal Deposit library, so most of the material I purchase is rarer or comes from outside the UK, and can therefore be somewhat tricky to obtain. I monitor the general library enquiries email inbox for any acquisitions-related messages, and also the suggestions inbox to see what readers would like us to buy. My job is to investigate suggested purchases and forward the information to my manager, the Information Resources Librarian, for a final decision.
Post arrives at the library twice each day, usually carrying at least one book to be receipted, or invoice to be paid. I try to save the post up to be dealt with once per day, lest I spend my entire day on paperwork! New books are passed on to colleagues for processing and cataloguing and – if the purchase was the result of a suggestion – I email the reader to let them know that the book will be available shortly. I also receive lots of catalogues and circulars from publishers which I try to look through at least once a week in addition to my email alerts and RSS feeds, making a note of new editions, new books by our faculty members or anything else I think we may wish to acquire.
Each week I have at least three two-hour shifts working on the Enquiry Desk, a task which varies a lot depending on whether we are in or out of term time. Desk duty during vacation tends to be slower but as this is the main time when the library admits external readers, it is also when we receive our more unusual queries, as recently when I found myself researching Private Acts from the 1790s! I really enjoy this aspect of my job as it allows me to maintain face-to-face contact with readers, and to keep a more complete awareness of the work of the library. With the new academic year fast approaching it is my responsibility to make sure that the library has copies of every resource listed on a Law Faculty reading list. With approximately 60 courses running each year, even with a group of colleagues helping to check through each list this is a huge challenge! Last year I designed a new spreadsheet-based system to streamline the process for 2012/2013, so I am busy preparing to introduce this to my colleagues before the reading lists are published. Oxford terms are only eight weeks long, so it is crucial that books are available for the week in which the students need them, as there is little opportunity for them to catch up later.
I also spend at least a little time each day working on the library’s long-term project to reclassify the collection according to the Moys Classification scheme. We completed the English law monographs in 2009, and are now working on relabeling and reorganising that section of the library to incorporate the monographs for Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and the Channel Islands. I help to train staff in reclassification and maintain our internal wiki of project information, but my main job at this stage is to help supervise the reorganisation, iron out any problems with labels or shelfmarks, and liaise with the library systems team who will be changing the shelfmarks over on the library management system.
I pack up to leave at around 5pm, double-checking my calendar and leaving myself a short list of things I need to do for the following day. If I’m not meeting friends after work I usually head straight for the bus home, trying to resist the lure of the shops, and especially the four bookshops I pass on my way!