So, after a full three weeks into my graduate traineeship, I’ve decided to finally write a little about the things I’m so rapidly learning. The learning curve has been so steep and having just been handed the upcoming training induction schedule sheet, it doesn’t seem to be on the decline any time soon! I wanted to give my perspective on all things so far whilst “in medias res”, as it were: in the middle of the learning curve.
My first week passed by in a maze-like haze; the building sprawls out from the deceptively small front entrance revealing a network of stacks, staircases and corridors. After meeting the other graduate trainee and having a re-introductory tour around the library on our first day, we were sent on our first task of book fetching. This has proved by far to be the best means of becoming familiar with layout and classification system. I also have my suspicions this has been the predominating factor in the swift development of my alphabet skills (alphabet skills meaning: my ability to decipher which letter comes next without having to internally sing the alphabet song). It is important to note that I would never have the audacity to admit that this was the process I used until the other graduate trainee admitted this was also her chosen method!
The latter part of the week brought aleph training; the library’s circulation software and we were thrown to the proverbial lions manning the desk! (Okay so I would hardly call the library members lions but I did say proverbial). Though quite daunting at first, the thorough training combined with the patience and understanding of the member services team meant that I quickly built up confidence and became comfortable navigating Aleph and learning how to deal with patron enquiries regarding circulation of their library accounts. To my absolute joy, I get to stamp the books in and out (red for returns, black for issues). The juvenile pleasure one receives from this is very comparable to that of discovering the dwindling necessity of the alphabet song.
Slowly but surely, light has since begun to shine on other mysteries such as the process for dealing with issuing rare or valuable books to members (which involves trundling up copious metal steps and fiddling with various different locks to release said material – not to mention the phone you have to take with you in case you get locked in or the fire alarm goes off and you can’t hear it!). General inquiries have become a little less frightening in correlation with a general familiarisation to the place and inductions with the inquiries team and the cataloguing team whose sessions have added a deeper dimension to circumnavigating e-journals, e-resources and the old printed catalogues.
Other significant developments are that I have been allocated my own stacks, to my great joy my section is H. England, social&. – H. Huns. The H classifies history and within this bracket falls, England, France and Germany. Due to one of the numerous quirks of the library; the World Wars also fall into this category. That is primarily because the collection was labelled The European War; in the unsuspecting minds of bibliographic services in 1918, there were no plans for a second war.
There are many more Victorian quirks that the library has retained over the years but I shall leave these delights for a later post.