Monday, 26 July 2010

A day in the life

This my first post as part of the fifth round of Library Day in the Life a project started by Bobbi L. Newman, Librarian by Day. I only heard about Library Day in the Life on Sunday, so I've not followed any of the previous rounds and this is something of a leap in the dark.

I ought really to start with a post explaining my rather cryptic job title ('Hoyle Project Associate') and my place of work (St John's College Library, Cambridge, UK), but I'm going to leap right in with Monday, and will try and fill in the gaps later and/or as I go along.

I work in the Library's Rare Books Reading Room, a place for readers to consult, under supervision, items from the Library's special collections.  Today saw two phone calls and one email arranging three separate reader visits to see one medieval and two post-medieval manuscripts.  We also had two readers in the room, one looking at a post-med manuscript, and one using the photocopier.  Most photocopier users outside of other Library staff require some assistance with the machine, and interpreting its repertoire of cryptic error beeps, at some point or other.

Emails sent and answered today included:
  • receiving the thanks of another College department for supervising the Old Library during a reception on Friday evening;
  • Contacting a member of the public who donated sound recordings to the Hoyle Collection to ask about permission to use them on a Hoyle-related website;
  • Confirming the details of a medical librarians' visit to the Library on Wednesday;
  • Reminding attendees of an informal meeting tomorrow evening to discuss organising TeachMeet in Cambridge.
I'm currently undertaking the CILIP Chartership process, and am also participating in the 23 Things Cambridge programme. Today I read through the Thing 18 post about Zotero. Noticing that Zotero is a browser-based tool, and looking for something web-based that I can use from home, work, the UL, and all points north, I had a quick look round the Mendeley site, noted the Mendeley Web feature, and that it supports MHRA-style citation.

The bulk of my workload is cataloguing Fred Hoyle's personal papers.  Today I started a new box (the papers have all been transferred from the filing cabinets they arrived in into archival-quality boxes) which demonstrates the flexibility of the term 'papers' in this context.
Personal papers in folderBox of personal papers
These pictures show not only a folder of papers removed from the books in Hoyles' library (also held at St John's and catalogued on Newton as the Hoyle Collection), but also a film reel of Stonehenge, volumes 2 to 5 of a children's encyclopaedia of science (articles within which include 'Phosphorescence' and 'The earthworm'), and a number of issues of the Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The other main strand of my work is outreach to schools, special interest groups and the general public.  Forthcoming events include participation in Open Cambridge and the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas.  Much of this morning was spent designing a flyer to advertise our Festival of Ideas event (an exhibition of literary manuscripts and free expert talk from College fellows).

Tomorrow's to-do list
  • Continued cataloguing;
  • Chasing up contacts regarding a possible Autumn event to mark the re-publication of a Hoyle science fiction novel;
  • Bringing some of my Chartership notes into order;
  • Genning up on TeachMeet.


  1. Very interesting post - I love finding out what other people do. I wonder if my day in the life posts will be worth reading [rushes off to add "genning up on TeachMeet" to my to do list for tomorrow]

  2. really useful reading considering our visit tomorrow - really looking forward to it!

  3. @Isla Ah yes, I didn't think of setting you some preparatory reading!

    @Celine I'm looking forward to hearing about your day. I think everyone tends to think that their own work will look dull to other people, but I'm sure that's not the case.

  4. Really interesting post, thanks! Especially the bit about the photocopier, no one ever told me that becoming a librarian would require the development of photocopier-whispering skills...

  5. @Helen Seriously? Photocopier-whispering is a big part of my life. And I wish the copier would whisper more itself - it's a really noisy thing, with a wide repertoire of beeps, whirrs and grinding noises.