23rd February – A Busy Bee


As ever, I apologise for my terrible blogging skills… perhaps I should just have a disclaimer somewhere on this page?! Work is just so busy that often when I get home I want to do nothing more than stuff my face with carbs and then collapse in front of BBC iplayer or similar. Haha! But, on with the news.

I feel as though I’ll be spending the next few weeks living out of a suitcase/on trains – three trips to London in four weeks, a couple to Sheffield and another home to Northampton within that time too! Most of these are work or uni related (UCL interview – yikes!), so I’m looking forward to scooting about England and spreading the Graduate Trainee word.

I finally met a fellow Bradford Grad Trainee the other week, after having exchanged emails for about three months! Her name is Melissa and she is a NHS Medical Library trainee, so her working day is totally different from mine. I think we both just wanted to hear what the other actually does! Melissa came to me first, so I tried to give her the best tour possible, but I have never before flexed my tour-guide muscles, so it probably wasn’t the best tour she’s ever been on, haha! But I showed her our different floors and collections, did a passable introduction to the Commonweal Collection that lives at Bradford – which I should probably blog about soon – and popped in to Special Collections for a chat too. Luckily, both Alison and Martin were there so Melissa got an actual introduction to what we have, rather than me going ‘J. B. Priestley! Jacquetta Hawkes! Mitrinović! THE RESOURCES!’ in a suitably excitable fashion. We rounded off the afternoon with an all-important cup of tea, and discussed uni thoughts as well as our Traineeships. We also chatted about our previous degrees as Melissa is a literature graduate too (there seem to be a great many of us in libraries!), so it was nice to find out more about her research interests and future plans.

I popped up to her library the following day, which is at Bradford Royal Infirmary. After a slightly fraught journey – I had no idea where I was going – I arrived just about on time! The library itself was gorgeous, it’s in a Victorian building, so it’s all panelled wood, painted ceilings and sweeping staircases. Melissa had warned me that it is a lot smaller than the uni library so the tour wouldn’t take long, but I didn’t mind! The library at the hospital serves the professionals in the area who are doing research as well as staff who are doing academic-ish work for their Professional Development modules and projects, which interested me as that’s where our libraries cross paths – lots of health professionals doing CPD stuff will come to the University too. Melissa apparently spends lots of time doing literature searches and teaching other people how to do them themselves, which I sympathise with. Searching healthcare databases is something I’ve had to learn quite quickly, and it’s totally different from doing an English or American literature search! And I imagine that if you’ve been qualified for twenty or thirty years, coming back to do something like a systematic review must be hard. Melissa said it’s really interesting though, as she gets to find out about all sorts of diseases and things, and occasionally there are gory photos… as I am a weakling when it comes to that sort of stuff, perhaps it’s better that I’m in an academic library for the moment!

I’ve also persuaded Melissa to join what is gradually becoming known (to me, anyway) as Library Club, as she lives in Leeds but is new to the city. It’s also really nice to socialise with people who understand my working day – a lot of my friends must think I just ‘Shhh!’ people and explain [badly] which shelf 607.89 is on!

Ooh, I almost forgot! We have decided what my Graduate Trainee project is to be on. I was, as usual, terrified that if I hadn’t already sketched out a detailed plan, Sarah would withhold my tea and biscuits, and then I really would be in trouble! Thankfully, it wasn’t too painful a discussion, and we’ve agreed that I’ll be looking further at performance and benchmarking strategies (like the customer journey mapping I blogged about previously). I’m not exactly sure how this will pan out yet, but there is still plenty of time.

I’m quite pleased about the choice because although it’s something I’m not overly familiar with, it’ll be really good for the library (and indeed the University) to do work looking at processes and customer satisfaction, so if I can help with that then that’s great! I think it will also stand me in good stead in the future, because any library job involves giving a high standard of service and having a framework by which to measure and implement it, so the fact I’ll have done a project on such things can only be another string to my bow.

I had a fruitful and interesting meeting with a lovely lady at Leeds Met about the aforementioned customer journey mapping in the context of Customer Service Excellence on Friday, so I’m feeling extra-positive about it at the moment! This meeting was followed by another meeting with Jennie, one of the subject librarians at Leeds Met who was also the GT at Bradford a while ago, and Cat, who is the current GT at Leeds Met. We naturally made a beeline for a lovely little tearoom opposite Leeds Uni, and so it was good to catch up with Cat and also to meet Jennie and exchange amusing stories about Bradford and libraries in general! It was a bit nostalgic for me being up that end of Leeds: I live the other side of the city centre now, so can’t pop into the Brotherton Library and stroke the dusty books (or something) on a whim as easily as I could!

That’s about all the big news for the moment, other than me learning to classify books, which I must say is actually quite hard! God bless Cataloguing in Publication data… It is interesting to learn about the organisation of knowledge though, and it feels a bit like doing detective work at times, which I seem to be actively enjoying. What did surprise me, though, is how subjective using Dewey could actually be. There was an occasion the other day when I totally disagreed with a classmark everyone else (via OCLC Classify) had given a book, so reclassified it myself, with apparent success! I put this down to strength of conviction (rather than ‘being pedantic’, haha), and did feel perhaps a little too smug, but it was my first solo effort without the Library of Congress to help. That being said, there has been lots of bashing-head-on-desk while wading through Dewey manuals and tables – my desk has mainly looked like this for the past week:


Just looking at this makes me want to drink a medicinal cup of tea, so I think I will leave your eyes alone and report back with more news another day soon!