A Day Life in the Life… of the Casual Library Staff

Welcome to a day in the life of two casual staff members at the library, Greyson and Kate!

During term time our hours are flexible, both of us work between 16 and 18 hours per week. Our role includes shelving (aka procrastinating shelving), and sitting at either the upstairs or downstairs desk, where you’ll often find us writing essays, completing Talis reading lists, helping students navigate the library, or going through books marked for reservation.

However, over the summer holidays our role has completely changed. We’re working full time aiding the Librarians and Library Assistants as they complete a stock take of over 350,000 books in the library! Our day begins at 9am, or more accurately: when our first alarms ring. Let’s face it, we’re both in our early 20’s and really enjoy our work, but at 7am as with any young person, sleep is far more appealing. (Kate still marvels at how Greyson wakes up at 6:45 every morning!)

Once we’ve made it to the library, slightly sweaty, with eyes half open, the stock take begins. We’ll pair up with another member of the library team, armed with the catalogue spreadsheet, a book trolley, and a kick stool and find our location on the shelves. As one person reads the Dewey Decimal reference from the spreadsheet, the other will confirm if it’s on the shelf or not. The dreaded moment is encountering one missing book in a series of books with the exact same shelf mark and title. Then it’s down to barcodes to locate the missing one – we can rival Sherlock Holmes himself with these new powers of deduction.

Greyson Stock Check

From doing the stock take, we’ve gotten to work with a range of different people. Cramped with someone between two shelves for 90 minutes really helps you get to know someone. It’s led to bad jokes, puns and sarcasm! Engaging with a new person each day, helps build community and really makes us feel like we’re part of a team. Just as the great prophet Dolly Parton once said, what a way to make a living.

At 10:30, we reward ourselves with a break (Insert Kit-Kat pun!). The tea room is often packed with chatter, biscuits or cake and lots of tea and coffee! This is our time to talk about our favourite superheroes, what happened at the weekend, or what needs to be done throughout the day.

When the short 15 minutes is up, it’s onto the repairs of any broken or damaged books we pulled from the shelves earlier. But first there’s a small fight (or “disagreement”) over who gets the best available desk in the work room! Repairs can include: printing new labels, tacky-backing, new dust covers, gluing in loose pages, and the occasional spine repair. The worst thing is the glue or fabric tape, which delightfully smells of dog food and will linger on the hands of the victim for the rest of the day. If a book has lost all hope, it’s handed onto Dawn, who’s acquired an evolving heap to the side of her desk. (Sorry Dawn!) She is the judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to these poor books.

Kate Repairing

Then with stomachs rumbling, it’s lunch time! It’s great to be able to sit outside in the sun, and regenerate some energy before the afternoon ahead. Stomachs full and vitamin D absorbed, it’s back to the library to repeat the process all over again. It can be exhausting but after a day’s work, we feel productive and rewarded, knowing we’re helping the library function, and aid our students and potential visitors.

Thanks for reading and be sure to visit us over the summer!