I have a very limited knowledge of academic libraries, this being my first time back stage so to speak so I may be making vast generalisations here. If you have more experience I would really like to know your opinions as I have found it to be quite an isolating place and worry that the people who work here may also have that experience. People have been very friendly and welcoming and I realise that I am creating more work and they have their jobs to do but it is so quiet.
As a teacher librarian I spend all day in a busy, often noisy environment where I have to communicate constantly with children and colleagues. Our library often has 2 classes of 30, other teachers and parents, and so it is rarely silent and often buzzing. I don’t want it to be a silent place. It is a place of learning and I expect our children to collaborate and communicate. They need to be mindful of others needs but it is not an academic library so the environment here is going to be different.
The expectation here is that everyone works quietly/silently unless they have booked a studyroom where they can work as a group and build understanding through discussions. That is what I expected. It is certainly very busy but what I think has surprised me is that I think you could work here all week and come into very little contact with the patrons. Yes the assistant librarians have to take turns on the information desk but many others in the work force are physically very removed from the users. Does that matter? Are they still capable of fulfilling the needs of users? Do they remain motived and passionate about their job? I don’t know. Maybe it is no different to a shop. The shop manager very rarely appears on the shopfloor. When they do it is usually to check things are running well… is this how it works in the library?
Much of the day in the Information, the Aquistions and the Media Sections are spent in front of a computer in a very quiet office. (Many without windows.) Everyone, I suppose quiet rightly, is focused on the work they have to do and is getting on with it but the silence of the library spills into the offices. In the Information Section this is because it is partially open to the library but the other areas I visited where just as quiet. I thought there might have been a bit of chat between coworkers but there appears not to be. I do realise that I am working in a place where English is not a first language for many people and may be missing out on some of these conversations, I might have even changed the dynamics of the office, but it is so damn quiet!
Is this always the case? Can anyone shed any light? Is it a lonely job? And where does the motivation come from? I’m not sure I could do it. Then again not everyone would like 60 children collaborating and talking, making a mess of the shelves and enjoying themselves.
I spent most of my morning discovering how difficult it is to make decisions about Subject Headings. I am not a cataloguer and this really is my first experience of doing it. I am sure I am making more work for the Section Librarian as she will have to check it and make sure I have done it correctly. The question is, is there a correctly? I am giving journal articles subject headings so that they can be added to the Hong Kong Bibliographic data base that is an inhouse database conceived and constructed by the Institue. I am using some guidelines and double checking with previously catalogued items however there has to be more to it than that. Surely everyone will have a different take on it; or is there a huge database for all texts, including journal articles, that can be access to give you the answer? (Library of Congress, British Library perhaps).
I spent a short amount of time on the Information Counter with Chung. He described what happens there and how it is utlised. Most issues seem to be with the photocopier and how to access the databases. Undergrads seem to have a very limited knowledge of the resources and materials at their finger tips despite attending orientation at the beginning of the academic year. How are the amazing resources promoted? I am not sure. If lecturers promoted them through their lessons and perhaps had an increased expectation that their undergrauates would not just turn to the books on the core reading lists things might improve. I have to say it is not very different to QBS. How do we promote the use of Britannica, BigU and our World Almanac Online? Luckily I can do it through our compulsory lessons but if there were non I’d have to rely on the teachers….and some will use them and some won’t.
In the afternoon I presented a talk on Booktalks. It seemed to go down quite well and my audience seemed to want to use some of the materials with trainee teachers. We then chatted about my library and I gave them a virtual tour of our online provision. It seems very basic now after working at an academic library for almost 2 weeks. However once again the issues are similar. Links need to be updated, materials need to be curated, buttons and displays need to be thought through. Materials need to be promoted and students need to know how to use them… the list goes on. It was great to be able to share and to emphasis that I am trying to prepare my students for what they will encounter later in life.
2 days left.
I am a little sad because this morning I got excited about meeting the Aquisitions Librarian. Not that cataloguing rocks my world in any shape or form but I still haven’t done that bibliographic standards module yet. I keep putting it off because everyone I have spoken to says it is so difficult. I have bought the texts and got the readings but just haven’t signed up for it…
Today I am meeting Joyce from Aquisitions and she kindly asked if there was anything that I wanted to know. I mentioned RDA as I know we had to write an assignment about it. So very kindly she has sent me some links. She also mentioned a book that might help. Other materials I found include The Joint Steering Committe for RDA website, rdabrochureJanuary2010 , RDA objectives and Principles ,
Hopefully it might help me get a bit ahead of the game.
I am looking forward to the chat as I really know so little about this aspect of things.
Wow! Once again I am blown away by how much there is to do and how complex it is. 16 people work in the Aquisitions and Bibliographic Section. The average day sounds like lots of communicating and collaborating with departments and other library sections; checking book reviews, orders, payments and meetings with the other sections. Where possible they share purchasing with other institutions to decrease costs. (If only my organisation did this. We must all buy the award winners each year and many of us want the same subscriptions.) Bibliographic records are shared, rather than starting from scratch each time, whenever possible. this saves time and enables manpower to be utilised else where.
The amount of materials coming into the library is atonishing and they are processed on a priority basis. The INOPAC allows for users to request books that have not yet been fully processed and these are given first priority. The promise is that if a request for an ‘i’ material is made (in process), it will be with the user with 24 hours. This means that there are dedicated people who deal with this daily. Luckily the demand for this service is not too huge; usually no more than 10 per day. After that core course materials, new books and finally donations are processed. Obviously any of these could be prioritised due to a requestfrom a patron.
I felt that the main issue the section encounters is the materials donated. I have written a collection policy and put in the required paragraph on dealing with donataions however I do not deal with donations that run into the tens of thousands like they do here. The section is over run with donations many of which will be of no use to the library. Some of the donations must be kept because they are scholarly works or they may have been donated by someone of great importance. Unfortunately though much of it is not applicable to the setting and will not be wanted by the user.
Disposal is difficult. Some of the materials are donated to the local primary and kindergarten school but they can not be sent to a charity that will sell them. Sometimes they are sent to programs in China but I am unsure how they could possible dispose of the quantities I saw today. As this is my first time seeing anything like this I am unsure if this is normal.. if you have any experience I’d love to hear about it.
Pictures to follow.
So I spent the afternoon with Francis from Media and Systems services. (MSS) He was at pains to tell me he had only been in this role for 3 months and that actually the name of the service is historical and outdated. This area has recently been streamlined and now has limited functions. In other libraries this is now known as Electronic Services and Francis felt that this would happen soon when reorganisation happens.
One of the services offered is the maintence of the Edvideo. This is the legal recording of curent affairs, documentaries and educational programs shown on TV within HK. Once recorded these are then streamed online to enable researchers to access them. The work for this is shared between all the HKall memebers. 2 universities record a particluar program, the second in case of mishaps. The service also has some cataloguing to do in connection to this.
Another role is the up keep of the online resources… subcriptions, licences, e-books, e journals and databases. There is some cross over here between aquistitions and MSS due to the nature of journal subscriptions. Some are bought as an online package whilst others are purchased individually. Aquisitions deal with individual titles whilst Media deals with the packages. It sounds incredibly complex and the communication that needs to take place appeares to be time consuming. This is another area Francis felt needed to be streamlined. I was interested to learn that publishers now sell their journal packages direct to the universities. This did not use to happen 10/15 years ago. They were always sold through an aggregator such as EBSCO host or Jstor. Now institutions can get very good deals but obviously all of these need to be brokered which is time consuming.
There are also many issues with online materials and most have strictly binding contracts written by lawyers. These contracts are often difficult to interpet, making decisions as to whether a journal/ article can be loaned through an inter library loan or copied in a particluar format, hard to make.
HKIEd is about to begin some Patron Driven Acquisitions. This works by securing in bulk e-books from the vendor. The library only pays for the books that are utilised. If the book is not used it is not paid for. Howevere in order to do this a limit on spending has to be in place as if demand is too high then budget issues can occur.
There is an e first policy in place. If possible the e-books are bought in perpetutity. Some are subscription based in particular those text that date very quickly, such as those concerning computing and modern technology.
HKIEd had joined several consortiuums in order to ensure their students have a access to as many e-books as possible. They have joined with university libraries in HK, Taiwan and mainland China to give themselves more spending power and shared access. This has ensured access has increased by 20-30 000 items.
The Media department also deals with its own IR. ( Institutional Records.) As the call for open access has arisen, and questions concerning the use of public money to fund research that then gets printed in a profit making journal, IR has become common place in many institutions. Before a piece of research is published, when it is still in its print form, the institution from which the research developed is able to approach the publisher and request that they may ensure their students have access to the paper. Every piece of research needs to be checked with the publisher before the print version can be made available due to copyright issues that may arise. Publishers generally agree to this.
Collaboration between information sevice and media service is high. The information Service decide on the content ie workshops, library virtual tours, subject guidelines, but the Media service put it together. On top of all this they are also responsible for hardware such as computers and headphones.
What occured to me this afternoon is that the library is a much more complex place than I had anticipated. There needs to be very clear systems in place and communication needs to be efficient and effective if the user is going to get the best out of the service. Collaboration within the library and between different institutions needs to be high if the users are to be able to access wide range of appropriate resources effectively and efficiently. It made me question why we don’t do this as schools. Surely by creating consortiuums we would get more bang for our buck and increase our services to our students.
Well it is only lunchtime but it has not been an especially busy day. I arrived and checked over the Proquest guide I had been working on. I found a few more edits I needed to make and I think it is all finished. Then I improved my PowerPoint for Wednesday and uploaded it to Slideshare. Take a look. http://www.slideshare.net/stephgilchrist/book-talks-16741762 Done…all work complete.
I have asked 3 times for more to do but nothing is forthcoming. I went on a 20 minute library tour and other than that have been observing and doing a bit of school stuff. This afternoon I have a meeting with Media Services and Joey said she will sort something out for me. Let’s hope as I am happy to work.
Just met with Joey who talked me through some tentative plans for a virtual library tour. They are wrestling with whetehre they go video, 3 D or keep with the slide show. To be fair nothing can happen until the budget for a refit or reorganisation has been decided. What the conversation highlighted was that we have much in common. we are both constrained by budgets. We both have issues with keeping up with online materials and updating. We both want to provide the best for our students. We both educate our students about digital citizenship and the use of the online resources. Obviously there are economies of scale going on but basically we face the same issues. I hadn’t really thought that would be the case and we would have so much in common. Next stop Media Services.
Just a few snaps from around the library.
Finally the subject guides are finished! With that job out of the way I was left with a presentation on book talks and motivating readers and updating the ProQuest search guide. Looking at the guide I think Joey had done most of it. I looked it over and added a few bits about Boolean search terms but I think that is it. I’ll take another look on Monday just to double check.
The library tour that I was supposed to take part in was cancelled today but I believe there is a large group on Monday to take around. I will only playing a supporting role, thank goodness as I don’t really know enough about the place yet.
The most interesting part of today was meeting Belinda from lending services. Now most people think librarians are check out chicks but believe me after sitting for an hour with Belinda I was stunned at the amount of work involved.
Over 20 staff work in the lending service section alone. More are employed on a casual basis during times of high demand such as the lead up to exams or assignment time. There are over 50,000 items to reshelve monthly with 28,000 of those being returns. My jaw hit the floor on hearing that as I have around 25,000 to 30,000 items in total. Circulation is not really that simple either. There are book drop services, inter library loans, inter campus deliveries and other items borrowed through the JULAC card and the document delivery services.
This means lots of collaboration between other librarians. 40 libraries are part of the document delivery service and this is linked to a worldwide network that attempts to get a document within 24 hours! I wondered if there was now less demand for documents due to the amount that is offered online, however many Chinese journals do not have electronic copies and older journals may not yet have been digitalised. The document delivery service also is a useful tool when new courses start. The collection may be quite small in the new area and may not be able to grow fast enough. If this is the case the document delivery service becomes a very useful tool enabling patrons to access the information they need quickly and efficently. All deliveries have to be ready by a set time as the courier only comes once a day due to the Institutes location. (some 40 k out of town)
Facility management and displays are also a part of this departments work load.
As with many libraries space is an issue and stake management and maintenance can be challenging. recently the intown library relocated and this meant 50,000 more items have to be shelved. Withdrawal and weeding is complex. There are set policies and procedures to follow including meeting with the library collection developemnt committe re any withdrawals. This is then taken to faculty level and other libraries within HK are asked if they would like the materials. The finance office must also be involved as it is the disposing of materials. It is not an afternoon job!
Books that are damaged do not have a high priority. The preference is to buy another copy unless it can not be replaced. time constraints mean that there is time to spend on fixing texts. belinda said this was particluarly true of materials for the children as they disliked borrowing damaged items.
The reserve collection is also managed by Belinda and her team. This means changing the catalogue each time new material is added to the course list and ensuring that the online lists are accurate.
Displays, patron records, library cards, monetary transactions including fines and missing items, are also dealt with here.
Ibooking of study rooms and group discussion rooms are monitored but this has to be done manually as the software is unable to detect if the room is actually being used. if the room is not used a member of staff has to change the booking to allow others access.
Today started the same as yesterday… subject guides! I am hoping to get them finished today.
This afternoon I attended an Information Workshop on plagiarism and citations. Issues are that students do not have to attend. Therefore many sign up but few actually attend. Attendance at these are voluntary unless lecturers make it part of their course.
The style of teaching was obviously very different to my primary school experiences but the PowerPoint and materials were very thorough and well put together.
An interesting experience.