Returning, to achieve a goal

I haven’t posted about my current job, which I am about to leave, since I started it just before Christmas in 2019. Little did any of us know then what was already unfolding into the global pandemic we are only just, possibly, beginning to see the end of. I am, until the end of next week Senior Library Assistant – Research Support at the Bodleian Social Science Library, University of Oxford.

The SSL is one of the larger ‘hub’ libraries at Oxford and is a great place to work. My job, as well as spending a bit of time on the issue desk dealing with readers, PCs, printers and Wi-Fi, is to process all of the non-reading list resource recommendations we receive, as well as handle our local interlibrary loans.

This has been quite a departure for me as my previous library roles have been more reader-focused. Here, I am a member of a technical services team and spend a lot of time away from the reading room at my desk in the workroom, or working from home. Essentially, this is an acquisitions role, and I particularly enjoy the power of purchasing and accessioning books into the Bodleian’s collections – surely one of the key tasks of a librarian, I’ve always thought. It is also very rewarding to be able to acquire titles that people doing research at the University, particularly DPhils, keenly require. They are always very grateful when we are able to provide what they ask for, which is more often than not. And after all, that is what libraries are there for – to help people do their research.

I have also played a very small role (along with scores of others) in planning for the libraries’ transition to a new integrated library system this summer. This is very much a project in progress. My part has been to represent the SSL and the other libraries in its group, including the Bodleian Law Library, on a working group that has the goal of rationalising and reducing the number of purchasing budgets we need in the system. Up to now these have been rather specific, mainly in order to ensure that subject librarians can create focused reports in order to understand their spending and ongoing commitments. The new system will allow us to track such information in a different way, allowing us to vastly simplify our current set-up. This is all part of a gradual process to harmonise policies and procedures across our libraries, which should make things easier and more efficient for us and our readers.

Regrettably, I will leave this project unfinished, as I move to a new post of Outreach Librarian at the Bodleian Health Care Libraries. I will be based at the Cairns Library at the John Radcliffe. I have worked there before as a senior library assistant supporting the outreach librarian team but I will return as one of them. I am, of course, thrilled to get my first professional grade post just over eight years after starting out on this second career. But it’s a daunting prospect, especially knowing how hard pressed the NHS is and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Wish me luck – I’m going to need even more of it.