The library covers a broad range of subjects including informatics, law, engineering & mathematical sciences, arts, social sciences and health sciences. Our readers are mainly the university's own students, both under and postgraduate, and staff, as well as members of the broader academic community. More than 40 per cent of our students are international, the majority of these from outside the European Union and all following a hugely diverse range of courses. This diversity is one of the things I enjoy most about working here; it’s great to have the opportunity to interact with people from hugely varying backgrounds.
At the moment, the library is executing a long term project making a significant portion of its resources, and the majority of its over 1500 current journals available electronically. This is being combined with a large scale refurbishment increasing the study space and providing a mix of group and informal, as well as individual and silent study spaces. Students are able to connect to the university's wireless network throughout the building and the library provides access to electronic information, including databases and electronic journals. In most cases these resources are available on all networked PCs and many of them are available remotely, enabling students to access material whenever and wherever they want without physically having to get hold of it. Phase one of this exciting project was completed last August, just before I started working here; phase two will take place this summer. Although personally I have my reservations about electronic libraries (for starters a library without many printed books is a somewhat sad sight!) it is certainly an exciting project and it is interesting to see it take form.
The digitisation of the library has had a huge impact on my own job as part of the periodicals department. The library offers an extensive collection of journals and is currently aiming to make all of its current subscriptions available online. Starting in January we have begun to make this switch and the vast majority of our subscriptions are now available electronically. Unfortunately the transmission to online resources has also led to the decision to bin part of our printed journals collection, including material that is not available online; to me this is the sad part of the job. My role in all this has been to double-check that our subscriptions have been changed as planned and to check that no mistakes were made when binning part of the collection. (Sadly, sometimes it turns out we have binned exactly what we wanted to keep and vice versa, but overall it seems to have gone according to plan.) I combine this with an extensive stock take of the whole collection. In addition to this, in a typical day I spend two to three hours working on the issue desk, I maintain our (very small) newspaper collection, and gather the readers’ requests for printed journals twice a day. The hours spent working on the issue desk are often my favourite part of the day. I enjoy the interaction with our readers and particularly getting feedback about the new electronic resources.
My professional background is in the rare books trade and when I started my graduate trainee year it was quite a change and I found it hard to adjust sometimes. But so far my experiences here have been very positive and I definitely would like to keep working for university libraries in the future. At some point I intend to take the MSc in Library and Information Studies at City. I have also thought of taking the course at UCL because of the rare books modules it offers. But the material these cover is quite similar to a course I’ve taken a few years back, and in the end City seemed the better option for me, as the course here seems more in touch with recent developments and changes in the information profession.