First week as a trainee liaison librarian

I’ve survived my first week of work as a trainee liaison librarian! So much has happened – I’ve met many people, been told many things, and am starting to get my head around the things I’m meant to be doing. I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learnt so far, and what I need to work on.

The first few days of my job were largely spent absorbing information. Monday was used to sort out administrative things, like where things are, a staff card and IT permissions, whilst on Tuesday and Wednesday several members of staff kindly took time out of their busy days to talk me through various Library processes and procedures. By Wednesday afternoon, I felt that I had a good understanding of my roles and responsibilities, although I hadn’t actually done very much myself beyond checking reading lists for the availability of recommended books in our Library.

My staff card

By Thursday afternoon, I was able to order some of these books and ebooks for the use of students in my department – initially with the guidance of my supervisor, Gordon, but later on independently! This was really satisfying as it was my first opportunity to actually perform some of my liaison librarian duties, including making decisions about how many copies to purchase, or whether print or electronic versions would be more appropriate. It was great to be able to put the theory I’d learned over the first few days into practice. On Friday, I booked in some of my first subject-specific induction sessions, and emailed members of academic staff. Real liaison librarian activities!

The 4th Floor of the Library is currently being renovated, so it has been difficult to get a real feel for where I’ll be working and where things are. Also as a result of this, I’ve been unable to assume my management responsibilities, which should cover shelvers on this floor. I’m actually quite grateful for this as it has meant that I will be able to ease in to my responsibilities slowly, taking them on gradually over the coming weeks.

Another challenge that I’ve faced so far is understanding the Library and how things work. One of the unique things about the staff structure here is that (unlike all my places of previous employment) individuals are only rarely given strictly functional roles, and most people have a range of responsibilities across different parts of the Library. For example, one Library Assistant could primary have cataloguing responsibilities, but also have certain hours of their day allocated towards shelving, and others towards liaison assistance in a particular department. This is great and I can see how this would be a really positive thing for the Library overall, but it makes learning who people are and what they do trickier!

Over the next week, I hope to be able to gain a better understanding of my department and its unique information needs, and begin building relationships with academic and administrative staff. I think I’ll investigate other university libraries’ libguides for my subject areas. I should also learn more about my Modern Languages responsibilities, as a key member of staff will have returned from annual leave. I’ll try harder to learn people’s names and responsibilities, particularly Library Assistants and fellow Liaison Librarians – the website and intranet will be useful for this. I could also start thinking about my teaching responsibilities, and how I will approach them.

Overall, I’m relieved to have reached the end of my first week without breaking anything! My colleagues have been really patient and supportive, and I’m really looking forward to learning more from and working with them over the coming weeks. There are times when I still feel really nervous and unprepared for everything I’m meant to be doing, but I’ve just got to stay positive, build on my professional experience, and remember that there are people there to support me.

PS: here is my staff page!

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