A network for new and aspiring library professionals
What exactly do librarians do all day?
I was delighted to see the NLPN was offering job shadowing. After a research career I decided to retrain, and have just completed a PG Diploma in Digital Library Management at the University of Sheffield. It’s a good course, and I am chock-full of ideas, theory and knowledge… but still not entirely confident of what the day-to-day work of the librarian involves.
I arranged to spend the morning with Helen Monagle, Serials Librarian at Manchester Metropolitan University. She talked through her current projects – which are dominated by a comprehensive serials stock take, weeding out the physical journals that are no longer needed – and responsibilities, which include chasing suppliers who have failed to deliver journals (a surprisingly common occurrence) and managing a team of staff. As well as using Capita’s (Alto) Library Management Software, most of Helen’s work is on big Excel spreadsheets – something I could definitely relate to from my previous jobs!
Helen thoughtfully printed out the job description and person specification for her job and it was so useful to be able to compare this with the reality. Job adverts can be intimidating and off-putting; by spending time with Helen it was easy to see how my skills and experience could apply to that job.
Librarian roles can differ a great deal, so after finding out what this particular librarian does all day I am keen to investigate other roles and sectors and do more job shadowing. I would encourage anyone in my position to contact a librarian on the NLPN list. The day-to-day work may differ, but librarians across the board really are the most helpful people you will meet!
It was really great to have Erica shadow me for the morning. When talking about my role I also discussed the difficult aspects, one of which was an attempt to automate some of my spreadsheet work. As most of my time is currently taken up with the stock take, I have not had much time to find a solution. Erica and I discussed the methods I could use; as a result I have changed one of my spreadsheets in order to enable automation. This might sound like a small achievement but it has been on my to-do list for months and having the time to think about it and discuss it with a fresh set of eyes and ears enabled me to reach a solution. So thank you Erica for coming to see me and anyone else who is interested in the the world of serials (journals/magazines) please get in touch!
We’d love to hear about your shadowing experiences so please send us an email with your thoughts and we can add them to the blog.