It has been a tough couple of weeks. Term finishes at the end of next week, so the students are all panic/exams/revision/last-minute hand-ins. Along with a lot of paying fines before they graduate, woes about the broken change machine and VLE downtime and posting challenging stuff to Twitter.
I think I’m going to drop the day-by-day format of these posts after this one, as outside my desk slots, at the end of this month I’m moving to a new schedule defined by me. With the bulk of students gone and only having two months left of my traineeship, I want to have the freedom to spend time with people in various roles that my current timetable does not allow for. People work part-time and at the “wrong” campus on the “wrong” day, or are too frantically busy in term-time to do much with an interloper like me. My line managers are supportive of this change.
So week 38 was fairly standard, if frantic. Week 39 was a bit different…
Monday was busy and stressful on the desk. Two students asked (separately) if we could issue a reference copy of a book for an open book exam, and obviously we couldn’t – not least because the point of a reference copy is that in situations like this, where students take out every loanable copy, other users can still have reference access. The first student was fine with this, the second was not. If this had happened earlier in my traineeship, I would have felt very wobbly indeed about standing my ground, but I have more faith in my decisions and my level of authority now. The saga stretched on, as the student complained, got the same answer I gave, kept complaining and then came back to ask for the same thing of another member of staff but with a different book, but all my colleagues supported my actions and I really felt part of a team.
In the afternoon, I went to Manchester for an event where early career history researchers talked about their experiences with open access journals and social media. Sadly, their understanding of both and of intellectual property seemed to be a bit hazy and muddled. It reinforced for me how important the roles of the library and other related services like repositories are in supporting new researchers. There was a notable gasp (via Twitter, anyway) from library workers present when one of the researchers, when talking about using images and video in blog posts about her research, stated that she took a “Creative Commons approach to copyright – if it’s already out there on the internet then it’s fine to use”. Thereby completely misunderstanding intellectual property law AND the point of Creative Commons licensing, and not recognising the role of referencing and attribution at all. And yet when talking about some aspects of open access and open peer review, she was all for traditional viewpoints and protecting the work of academics. Oh dear. It did mean I also got to rant about altmetrics again to various people.
Tuesday There was a useful Learning Resources meeting, which got me up to speed on developments in that team, and some staff training on the databases the academic librarian for music, games and computing courses pays for.
Wednesday We had a demo of a possible resource for the new fashion degree the university will be offering in 2014, although it was not very glamorous as it was all about the technical aspects of textiles. Good to see, though, as I’m always interested in the user interfaces of these resources’ websites. This one was a bit cluttered and overly-complicated to look at, but had some useful features. There was also a long meeting with the academic librarians supporting a particular faculty. This went deep into the structure of some roles in the team and made me really think hard. I felt able to contribute, as this little group are very open and warm. I went for lunch with one of my colleagues, and that also went into professional matters and helped me to reflect on how different ways of carrying out a job or role can have a massive effect on the culture of the profession internally and externally to the institution.
Thursday After my desk slot, I edited and chose pictures for an area of the Skills for Learning website I have defined and written. They had no material on this particular topic, so I felt really good about being able to bring something to the team. I used some software new to me, Contribute, and that was all straightforward and easy to work with. In the evening, I went to Progress School. In this session and the last one, I worked harder to help other people than myself, but recent developments mean that I really need to ask for help myself at the next session. They’re a good group, and there is a lot of talent and experience in the room.
Friday A bad start, as I found out I had been unsuccessful in my application for AHRC funding for my MSc. I worked on the newsletter after my circulation stint, but my heart was not really in it. I will have to work doubly hard next week to make up for it.
I had the horrible feeling that I may never work in a library again. Most paraprofessional roles are not open to me with my disability. That’s why I have been making the most out of this year – I may not be able to afford to qualify, given I can’t take out a loan or get a library job to support my studies. If I cannot take my Masters, I cannot work in most library roles, as the ones I can do with my disabilities require the qualification.