A day in the College Library

This Saturday is National Libraries Day, and in the week running up to it we are going to celebrate by sharing some ‘behind the scenes’ snapshots of our wonderful libraries here at Magdalene.

Annie Gleeson, Deputy Librarian (College Library)

1506611_10153679400801575_9022886990031039828_nYou can usually find me in the library office in Right Cloister. I work full-time in the College Library, with the help of Sophie in the afternoons.

On a typical day, I will begin by emptying the book returns box and scanning all of the books into Heritage. On a normal day there might be around 20 books that have been returned overnight, but at the end of last term we had 300 books returned in one day!

Once I have processed all of the book returns I send out the email notifications which are automatically generated by Heritage (“your books are due back soon”, “a book you reserved is now available” and so on).

These morning tasks are really the only things that stay the same every day. I’m here to help students and staff with any problems they have, so often end up doing research on all manner of odd topics. Although my main focus as a College librarian is helping with academic studies, some of my favourite questions are the ‘off-topic’ ones, such as helping a student to track down a beloved childhood book about a chicken, or looking up the Latin words of the King’s College grace for a Fellow.

We receive deliveries of new books several times a week. I spend a lot of time going through reading lists for every subject, checking them against Heritage and ordering new books to add to our collection. Students and Directors of Studies are also very welcome to request books to be bought, and I get as many of these requests as possible. (Email library@magd.cam.ac.uk if there is something you think we should get!)

When a new book arrives, it needs to be classified, catalogued and labelled before it is ready to be borrowed. I need to decide where in the library this book should be shelved, so that I can assign it a classmark (e.g. 9.EE.52) and then find or create a catalogue record for the book so that it appears on Heritage and LibrarySearch. The images below show how a book appears on Heritage, and the catalogue record that lies behind this. Often there is an accurate record already available in the database (created by another librarian at Cambridge University or further afield). However if it is a very new or unusual book that no-one else has yet, then I will write a catalogue record for it myself, which other librarians can then use if they get a copy of the book.

catalogue records

The final stage is labelling and stamping the book to show that it belongs to Magdalene College (which Sophie usually does) and then the book is ready to go out on the shelf!

In between enquiries and book deliveries, I’m working on a number of projects to improve the College Library as a space to study (and working with architects and Fellows on plans for a brand new library building). I want to make sure that the library supports our College community in the best way possible, so improvement and feedback will always be an ongoing cycle. We have student representatives on the Libraries Committee, and I have started putting up a feedback wall in the library entrance for a week each term, where comments and suggestions can be left.

I am very proud of our College Library at Magdalene, and I hope you are too. Happy National Libraries Libraries Week!

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