To celebrate National Librarian Day, a day which honours the amazing work librarians do to support their patrons and community, we’re delighted to be joined by Alexandra Marshall, Systems Librarian at the University of Derby.
Read on to learn more about a typical working day for Alexandra – including answering student queries, team quizzes, setting up access to electronic resources and promoting Lean Library!
I tend to begin my day with a cup of tea and, as today I’m working from home, I carry it the short distance from my kitchen to my office to get started with work. My first task each day is to check the library’s E-Resources mailbox for any queries that have arrived overnight. As Systems Librarian, I am responsible for the configuration, maintenance, and development of library systems, and an important part of my role is troubleshooting issues. We receive a range of queries, but the majority tend to be from staff and students who are having issues accessing electronic resources. Today, several students are struggling to find journal articles via Google, so I take the opportunity to encourage them to add the Lean Library extension. The extension will automatically notify students when they land on resources that the Library subscribes to and, with the click of a button, will enable them to quickly login via university systems to access the content.
By the time I’ve finished responding to queries, it’s time for the weekly team quiz! My team have dedicated meetings each week to discuss any key issues and developments, but the quiz is a welcome opportunity for us all to briefly step away from work and do something nice as a group. This week’s theme is Animals: Real or Fake and we have a lot of fun attempting to distinguish the real from the photoshopped in a series of images that are increasingly outlandish.
After the quiz, I head into another meeting. The University is currently undertaking a Systems Replacement Project which will see four key library systems (Library Management System, Reading List Management System, Digitisation Service and Discovery Service) replaced over the next five months. Consequently, a lot of my time is currently devoted to working on the project. I meet with a colleague in our Library Services team to map out current circulation processes in preparation for configuring the parameters in the new system. This is an area I know relatively little about, so I come away with a long list of notes. I have another cup of tea while I enter some of the information into a form we’re completing for our new supplier.
Another part of my role is setting up access to our electronic resources. We are switching the authentication method for one of our databases, so I liaise with our Digital Solutions and Services team to complete the setup. I test the access and then update the links on our library guides and A-Z databases page. As a final step, I login to the Lean Library dashboard and create an Assist message. This is essentially a pop-up with custom text, and, in this instance, it is a quick and easy way to flag to users, at point of need, that the way they access the database has changed.
It’s lunchtime and it’s raining, so I use this as an excuse to stay indoors. I have some homemade wild garlic soup (courtesy of my fiancé) and read a few chapters of Little Fires Everywhere, my current book.
After lunch I attend a training session with the supplier of our new Discovery Service, where I receive a crash course in the customisation of the user interface. I try to attend webinars, conferences, and training sessions wherever possible, and, with new systems just around the corner, my training schedule is particularly heavy at the moment. I am itching to have a go at customising the new user interface so, after the meeting has finished, I spend half an hour in our sandbox system, editing the CSS and experimenting with different styles.
My concentration starts to flag late afternoon, but, reinvigorated by a third cup of tea, I shift my focus to systems data. As part of the systems replacement project, we are currently undertaking the momentous task of tidying more than twenty years of Library Management System data. And this means spreadsheets. LOTS of spreadsheets. Fortunately, I am a big fan of spreadsheets, so I spend a pleasant hour or so running reports and analysing data. I pause occasionally to have a chat with another colleague about the unexpected quirks we are finding in our bibliographic records, and, as a result of the conversation, add several more items to my increasingly lengthy list of ‘things to check once the data has been transferred’.
I usually end the day by tidying my inbox, as sorting through my emails is a good reminder of the tasks I have achieved and the tasks I still need to complete. And finally, having said goodbye to my team and signed off for the day, I make the short commute downstairs for dinner.
Look out for more librarian guest posts on our blog soon!