Friday, 13 February 2015

17 - Suzanne Fisher, University of Wales Trinity St David

We've already had a post from Philippa at UWTSD Swansea, so now it's the turn of Suzy at the Carmarthen campus to describe a typical day from September 2014.

My name is Suzy Fisher and I work as a Periodicals Librarian on the Carmarthen campus of University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Whenever I mention to folk that I work in a library, I can see the images of twinsets and date stamps swirling into their heads. But what does librarianship really involve? Well, my role involves managing all of the print subscriptions for the Carmarthen and Lampeter libraries and the inevitable problems and conundrums that crop up along the way. It can involve spending long periods in dusty archives getting dirty in a search for a particular volume that has gone astray. It involves a lot of IT work – something I was not aware of when I started this post! It is about as far from the twin-set image as you can get! My journey to the library is a long and slightly convoluted one that leads me through working in a Faculty Office in Bristol and looking after Social Work students in Pembrokeshire. But when I finally did land here in the library in Carmarthen, I realised that being surrounded by the quest for knowledge and helping people navigate that journey was my natural home! I had always loved libraries from childhood right through university and learning to research on my Masters in Cardiff and into adulthood. Why wouldn’t I be working in a library?

I am currently a Distance Learning student at Aberystwyth University studying towards the MSc in Library and Information Studies. The first year of my course was CyMAL funded which was a great opportunity to discover whether the course is the right one for you before making the decision to work towards the qualification whether at diploma or Masters level. This week I put to bed another module – only 3 more to complete until I am faced with the dreaded dissertation! I can be found most lunchtimes at my desk poring over some reading or other, it really is a degree of stolen moments! Once I reach the next study school in April 2015, I really will feel like the end is in sight. With all assignment deadlines being set by the individual student, this course requires a steely sense of self-discipline and can feel like a battle between work and family. Sometimes I am amazed I manage to get anything done! It’s a wonderful learning opportunity though and studying whilst working is beneficial on both sides. 

It’s a hectic time of year to be writing a blog post in an academic library, we are awaiting a new influx of students here next week. At UWTSD Carmarthen we have already welcomed our International students as well as the Art & Design students from our partner college next door. All across the campus there is an air of anticipation as last minute preparations are being hastily made for the new arrivals. Desks have been moved around within the library to make more study space, the collections have been moved around to increase accessibility, we are implementing a single sign-on to our electronic resources. While all of these are positive changes, it is likely to cause much confusion in the coming weeks as returning students adapt to the changes. Although difficult and challenging, these scenarios reflect what is going on in libraries in many sectors as we try to do our best with what little we have, keeping our service relevant and up-to-date while budgets don’t quite match our ambitions.

We are also going head-on with our Social Media marketing campaign this year. Having just tipped 300 likes on Facebook and introducing a Pinterest page – we are using techniques such as quizzes and prizes to raise awareness of our services and, hopefully, bring more people through the door. Having recently attended a CyMAL funded workshop on Digital Marketing we are really keen to expand upon this avenue and use it to its full potential. This year the University has employed a number of student ambassadors to increase the social media presence of the University, especially in the run up to clearing and registration, and following these has been so informative. It really is useful to see things through the students’ eyes, and will definitely freshen up our approach and the way we formulate our own presence on Social Media.

As a merged institution, we are currently working hard to harmonise the libraries across all campuses so that they offer a parity of experience for all students. This is not straightforward as we have a number of local practices to consider and it requires a lot of give and take on both sides which can be challenging for all involved. While we want to offer an equal experience across all campuses, we don’t want to lose the individual identity of each library. Currently we are awaiting news of the shared all-Wales LMS, this will allow us to finally merge our records across all libraries. Once in place, we will consider ourselves to be properly merged!

So, as you can see, libraries never sit still. They are a vibrant, lively place to work, even when we encourage silence! What is all boils down to is that sense of satisfaction you get from someone approaching you not knowing how to access/find something and taking the time with that person until they learn that skill. That is what makes the job rewarding and no two days are ever the same!

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