Libraries · University

Placement Day 16 – The End.

Four weeks later and my placement is complete. I’ve had a lovely final day, a great way to end things. I spent virtually the whole day working on project boxes, I completed the requests for a couple of schools and made a start on another couple. There was a really nice mixture of straightforward boxes, boxes I’d already had the chance to prepare for other schools and boxes that I had to really think laterally to work out what to put in them. At times I had to resort to standing in front of the shelves, subject index in hand, hoping for inspiration to hit.

I was given a copy of the report that will be sent back to uni, it was very pleasing and said nice things about me and what I’ve done over the last four weeks so that was all very nice. I’ve had such an enjoyable time with this team and I’ve learned lots. My learning has been both identifying gaps that I have in my knowledge, I already have a plan drawn up for how I’m going to address these over the rest of the summer (this will be a combination of reading and trying to organise to spend a day or two at some school libraries), and in recognising the things I do now know and increasing my confidence. On top of this the placement has given me the opportunity to meet and chat with a lot of school librarians and to attend some great additional training opportunities, and to actually spend some time with children and hear about the books that they love. Best of all though this placement has confirmed for me that this is most definitely the right career path for me, and that this is something I really am passionate about. I’m certainly going to go back to Aberystwyth in September buoyed and keen to make the very best of my final year.

Libraries · University

Placement Day 15.

And so I have only one more day to go on my placement. Today was really good, I spent a lot of the day working on more project boxes – I covered so many different subject areas today which was good as it meant I got to find books all through the Dewey sequence, something which I’m still rather shaky on as we use Library of Congress at university.

The highlight of the day however had to be meeting an absolutely brilliant and very inspiring secondary school librarian. She visited the SLS base to return books and to deliver the list of topics for the books they’ll have in September. It was great to get to chat to her and to learn about some of the initiatives she’s introduced into the library in the time that she’s been there. She’s also very involved with the Federation of Children’s Book Groups – I’m going to be getting in touch with her in a couple of weeks to offer some social media help.

Tomorrow will be my final day, I had to say goodbye to a few people today as they won’t be in the office tomorrow. I know when I leave at the end of the day I’m going to be feeling really sad – I really feel like I’ve settled in as part of the team!

Libraries · University

Placement Day 14.

Nearly forgot to write about today! There’s not actually a huge amount to say, I spent a lot of the day continuing to work on the project box requests. I did learn about some of the search functions of the library management system – this made it much easier when I was trying to find books suitable for nursery age children for the circus topic.

The one other thing I did get to do was to add items to a new stock order, this was after I found it hard yesterday to find sufficient books on the topic of nocturnal animals – this is a topic that is increasingly requested so it was felt that it would be worth buying some new books. It was good to get to see how new stock is requested, and to be able to use Bertram’s and work with their search options.

Libraries · University

Placement Day 13.

I don’t have all that much to say today, I had a good day getting on with things. The morning started with us returning to the room where we were building new shelving units last week and finishing the big tidy and sort. It was surprising how quickly the time passed – morning coffee came round very quickly!

The rest of the day was spent doing project boxes, there are a small number of schools who want to have their boxes for the Autumn term delivered before the schools break up in a couple of weeks time so there are lots of boxes to be made. It was really good to have a long list of boxes to work through, there was a real sense of satisfaction in ticking each one off. For each request I found an existing box, checked its contents and then added any extra books needed and removed any that weren’t quite right for the request. There was plenty of lifting to be done, and I got to use a dolly to move piles of boxes around – most people who know me wouldn’t let me anywhere near one so I enjoyed the opportunity to do something a bit different!

Libraries · University

Placement Day 12.

And then I’d completed three-quarters of my placement! This week has gone by so quickly, and it has ended with a lovely day.

This morning I went out on the mobile library again, we went to a lovely primary school that has recently converted to academy status. I’m still learning about academies and the differences between them and traditional schools as we don’t have academies in Wales and they weren’t really covered in my School Libraries lectures. Out of the 8 classes in the school 7 changed their books, 5 classes brought children to choose the books so I got to see far more children. I felt more confidant this week, I got more involved with helping the children to make their choices and felt like I had a better idea of what to recommend and suggest to them. I also got to see the process for returned books and got more of a chance to help to restock the mobile once we were back at the base.

The afternoon was taken up by this restocking process and then by helping to make up some new packs to go on the mobile – we’d been waiting for the bags to put them in and they arrived today so it was a nice Friday afternoon task to end the week.

Libraries · University

Placement Day 11.

Today has been the most tiring day and the one that has been the hardest physically but it’s been so worth it. This morning I got to visit The Hive, Europe’s first joint University and Public Library. It’s based in Worcester and looks like this:

The Hive, picture from

It is spread over five floors, and in addition to the public and university libraries brings together the Worcestershire Hub (dealing with county council issues), county archaeology service and county archives. There are meeting rooms and a small performance space – this currently hosts a fascinating display of the things that were discovered when they dug the foundations ready to build the library.

I was there this morning both to be shown around and to join the vast team of library staff who are all working every possible hour to get all of the stock onto the shelves ready for the opening on Monday. The tour around was brilliant, there are so many exciting features to see in this library – I’ve already planned a visit with my parents so I can show it all off to them, and also get to see the library with users in it. I felt that The Hive had a lovely feel to it, there’s lots of wood everywhere which helps to make it feel warm and inviting. There’s loads more I could say, but instead I shall point you to the website for The Hive here.

For the shelving part of my visit I joined in with the adult fiction shelving, they’ve combined the public and university library fiction collections, most of the books that can fit on the shelves are out now so we were filling in any gaps from the stock they have stored. Based on previous openings they expect anything between 25 and 50 percent of the stock to be loaned on the first day of opening so they have plenty ready and waiting to fill the shelves back up.

Once we were back at the base this afternoon I spent some time helping to assemble and move shelving units – I didn’t expect this placement to require the use of screwdrivers and pliers though I was more than willing to get stuck in to a bit of handywork. We managed to get the new arrangement of shelving half filled, finishing that will probably be tomorrow afternoon’s task.

I ended the day by spending time with the Service Development Coordinator for Children and Families. She explained her role and talked through the various initiatives that she and her job share partner are involved with. It was really interesting both in terms of hearing what they do and also in why the role was created – these service development posts came as a result of a service wide review a few years ago that changed the structure of staffing across public libraries.

One thing I did decide today was that I’m going to volunteer for the Summer Reading Challenge this year, it’s a way I can see through one of things I’ve been hearing all about on my placement and something that I think will be great fun.

Libraries · University

Placement Day 10.

Today was spent at the base all day but it was filled with lots of interesting things. The first half of the morning was spent in a meeting where the team started to put together the business plan for the next year. I didn’t really have anything to contribute to this but it was interesting to hear about how these plans get drawn up and how they fit together in the wider picture.

A lot of the rest of the day was spent with the stock manager who has the oversight for the stock across all of the public libraries in the local authority. He runs the stock management unit that shares the building with the schools’ library service, it was great to find out more about what they do. I was able to link what he was saying in with what I’d learnt in my Collection Management module, and it was nice to be able to ask questions about what I’d learnt and to get a better understanding of some of the issues around collection management. He also showed me a stock management system that they use called SmartSM, this appealed so much to my geeky statistics loving brain.

Today’s sorting job that I did was to put the fairytale and mythology books back into order. I enjoyed this because it meant I had the opportunity to see the sorts of children’s books there are in this area which is one that interests me a lot.

Libraries · University

Placement Day 9.

This morning when I arrived at the office my supervisor put me straight to work checking a long list of books to see if they were eligible to make it onto the longlist for the teen book award that is run in the county. I enjoyed doing this, the criteria are pretty simple – the book must have been first published in the UK within a specified year (runs November – October), must be suitable for readers aged 11 – 14 and must not be a sequel. There were a few books where I had to do a bit of investigating, Amazon’s increasing tendency to import US releases does muddy the water quite often. There were also books that I discovered were being republished so they couldn’t qualify. The list as it stands is looking quite healthy and I’ve found over the course of the day that I’ve thought of books that I know should be added to the list – I think the committee who will have to narrow it down to the longlist will have plenty to discuss at their meeting!

I also was given the opportunity to help with the selection of another project box, this time on the topic of China for year 7 (11 – 12 year olds). This was a different process to last week’s box, we found an existing box that had been made up for the topic, checked to see how suitable its contents were for the target group and substituted a couple of books. There are more requests now coming in for project boxes so next week I should get to do more of this. I’m looking forward to this, it should be a good opportunity to extend my knowledge of non-fiction, what’s suitable for what age group, and Dewey (we use Library of Congress in the university libraries I work in so my Dewey knowledge is worryingly poor).

I finished the morning by putting together an initial suggestion of a session plan for the public libraries who will be holding Reception class visits for the Booktime pack when it’s launched. The books that will be included in the pack have now been announced though the resources to go with them aren’t on the website yet so I had to be rather vague. It’s definitely a starting point that can be used when they have the planning meeting though.

This afternoon was spent at a meeting for the teen book award. It was mainly agreeing things about the organisation of the next award, a lot of these discussions came out of the discussions that had taken place in the meetings I’d attended in my first week so it was really good to have seen both ends of the discussion and to see how my supervisor negotiated representing all the views that we’d heard on some of the issues. It’s very interesting getting to see behind the scenes of a book award, there’s even more to the organisation than I’d imagined and there are issues to be dealt with (like schools’ attitudes to some new technologies) that were quite unexpected.

Libraries · University

Placement Day 8.

I’d been looking forward to today for a while, I finally got to go out on the mobile library and visit a school. I’ve loved everything I’ve done so far but I was very aware that I hadn’t experienced this side of the Schools Library Service yet. Since I was a little girl I’ve always thought mobile libraries are magical so it was great to be able to go on one.

It turned out not to be the busiest school visit, there had been a breakdown in communications which meant the individual class teachers didn’t know we were going until today so four out of the seven classes chose to keep their books until the next visit rather than struggle to find them all at such short notice. Of the three classes that did visit one sent a single member of staff to choose all of their books and the other two sent a member of staff with four children. I got to help the children to choose their books (each one had a set number to pick) and then to issue them all.

It was a really enjoyable way to spend the morning, seeing how enthusiastic and excited the children all were about books and reading was wonderful. I quickly realised however that whilst my YA book knowledge is now pretty good I have huge gaps in my knowledge of fiction for younger children, I’m going to have to make a concerted effort over the next year to read more widely across children’s fiction. Top of my list will be Jacqueline Wilson, Jeff Kinney, Jeremy Strong, Andy Stanton and David Walliams – both groups of children asked for books by all of these authors.

This afternoon I learnt how to do the admin that is generated by a school visit and how to sort the bus ready to go out again. Then I tidied the picture books for older children back into alphabetical order before helping out with shelving the key stage 1 and 2 fiction – I think this is going to be a job that carries on through part of next week as there is a lot to do!

Libraries · University

Placement Day 7.

I’ve had such a great day today. I started the day by meeting with the Service Development Coordinator for Young People and finding out more about what she did. Her role’s really interesting, since she was appointed she’s been able to develop the role herself and she’s a very dynamic and enthusiastic lady so she’s involved with some really exciting projects aimed at engaging young people.

Following this I was let loose on the Key Stage 3 / teen room. There was plenty of fiction that needed shelving but the shelves were close to bursting so I started off by weeding the collection. I was pretty intimidated by of weeding, particularly the idea that I might put something to be removed that should really stay. The rules were quickly laid down though, the collection held a lot of multiple copies both of books that had been on the Carnegie Medal shortlist and books that had been on the local teen book award shortlist and so depending on their age these were reduced to 2, 4 or 6 copies. With these guidelines I was soon well away, I think it was easier because they weren’t my books though there were a couple of titles that were written by authors I love – it was a little harder to add these to the pile. Once I’d finished the weeding I was shown how to withdraw the books from stock, another thing to put in the Things I’ve Learnt column.

The other thing I got to do today was to put up a project box. The Schools Library Service makes up hundreds of these boxes for loan, they keep a stock of the popular ones and then make up any newly requested ones. The one I made up was for an activity day about languages, they’d requested a box of books in a range of languages. It was really good to have a go at making up a box, the stock of books to choose from was reasonably small so I didn’t have too much choice but it was still good to have to think about the age range of the children attending the activity day and finding books that could interest all of them.

I came home this evening having really enjoyed my day. It was great to be given tasks to do and complete fairly independently and to feel like I’m actually contributing.