Friday, 30 July 2010

A pleasure having you

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of seven-or-so members of staff from Cambridge University Medical Library came on a visit, led by yours truly, to see St John's College Library. This all came about after I met Isla, Reader Services Librarian at the Medical Library, at the CILIP future conversation held in Cambridge in June. She mentioned that she'd never been to St John's, I said I'd never been to the Medical Library, and a library visit swap was born. 

If you're interested in what we've got St John's, and what the visitors thought of it, then I highly recommend that you read Emma's, Anna's and Sheila's posts.  It's certainly been very intersting for me to read their impressions of the visit.  A library tour of this kind, in contrast to the tours I help to deliver to undergraduates in October, has no set goals.  I'm not trying impress anything in particular upon the audience - whether that's borrowing limits, fine rates, the friendliness of library staff, the usefulness of Newton, or the range of online resources available (although some of these might still interest the librarian visitor!) - but rather just to show what's here, and, hopefully to invite comments and reactions that can inform the way I introduce people to the library in the future, and also inform what we actually do as a library service.  It's something of an education to see which elements of the tour i must have been emphasising, and which stick with people enough to be repeated later.  It's not something one usually gets to find out, and is one of the features of Web 2.0 that is often commented upon: beware, reviews are instant and everywhere!

Anna's comment that I said little about e-resources was definitely fair.  I'm not sure that I mentioned them at all, in fact!  This stemmed from two things: 1) I  little to do with user education or enquiries answering in my current role, and 2) I suppose that I didn't want to show up my own ignorance in front of a group which I imagine makes much greater use of e-resources than we do here.  I shall definitely use the return visit to find out what the Medical Library is doing with e-stuff, and shall try in future not to let a fear of showing myself up stand in the way of a good learning opportunity.

Victorian staircase in St John's College Old Library by Wumpus on Flickr

It's hard to argue with the general agreement that St John's is a beautiful library, although it isn't without its little idiosyncracies. It's lovely to hear other people say that, and although I haven't been working here for very long, I do feel proud when people are impressed.  And it's good to be reminded, now and again, of what a remarkable building it is, and what a range of services we provide: on cold February (or even chilly July) afternoons it's all too easy just to curse the deficiencies in the heating and wish I was somewhere else.

So, medical librarians, thanks for coming. It was a pleasure having you!


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