A Day in the Life - Rachel Scott Halls: BIALL Newsletter, March 2014

Law Librarian, City Law School, City University

We are a small team based across two sites and so roles are varied. I am based at the Gray’s Inn Place (GIP) site where we teach the vocational stage of legal education and my role is split between subject librarian and operational management of the site.

The majority of students at GIP are on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) but we also have a Legal Practice Course (LPC) and a few small LLMs.

The first thing I do in the morning is sort out cover for sickness. This usually involves rejigging the rota so staff do double shifts and arranging cover from the University Library at lunch. If I am opening the library I get in just before 9am to get everything ready for the influx of students. The first half hour is usually busy with students who have a 9:30am session rushing in to pick up a copy of the White Book that they didn’t want to carry in from home.

Once the morning rush has died down I start ploughing through my emails. These are a mixture of facilities updates and reference enquiries. With this done I head off to a BPTC Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC). These meetings take place once a term with Law School staff and student representatives. They are a chance to get students’ views on course developments as well as a formal route for student feedback.

Happily there were no Library issues, although some minor grumbles about IT. As most IT services for students are situated in the Library I was already aware of the issues so I reassure students that I have raised these with IT and update them with my progress.

As soon as the BPTC SSLC finishes I head over to another building for the LPC SSLC. Only one minor Library issue is raised, that there is sometimes too much noise travelling from the floor where students can talk, quietly (in theory), to the silent study area. My action for this is to remind staff that they need to be active in monitoring noise levels and asking students to keep it down or move elsewhere. I also ask students to help us by telling us when there are people talking. We cannot be everywhere at once, and do not know there is a problem until we are told.

Once this is over I head back for another shift on the enquiry desk as a colleague is on leave and I need to let people have a lunch break! Whilst on the desk I contact IT about the outstanding issues raised in the SSLC and tackle a lot of reference enquiries. BPTC students have just been given their core law for forthcoming assessments so we are getting a lot of enquiries about sale of goods and professional negligence. As this is related to their assessment I remind students that I can show them how to search for information but they will have to do hard work for these questions themselves. This reminds me to send an email out to Law Library staff to remind them about good practice with enquiries during assessments. Enquiries at the desk are wide ranging and I will invariably have to deal with a dispute over fines a couple of times a week.

Once my colleague is back from lunch I head over to the University campus at Northampton Square for a project wrap up meeting. We have recently implemented a web scale discovery system, Summon, and as the project is now over I have been invited along to feedback from a law perspective.

Then it’s back to GIP! The team are currently in the middle of re-classifying all of our stock so I check progress and go through any queries; assigning classmarks or deciding on the fate of a particular title. For some titles I have to think deep about the classification as I am not a natural born cataloguer.

I often stay past 5pm to talk to the evening team, pass on any jobs and catch up with them. Today they receive a friendly hello and two piles of books; new books to process and old ones to withdraw.

I am currently training to run from London to Brighton at the end of May so most days I change into my running kit, pack my stuff in a back pack and head out the door. I have once been caught unawares and had to rush into the library dressed in my running kit, but luckily (for all concerned) it has not happened too often!

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