Monday, 24 January 2011

Library Day in the Life - Monday

This week I'll be recording what I get up to as a librarian for the librarydayinthelife event. For more about this event see here: and!/search?q=%23libday6.

About me:
I'm the E-Services Manager for the Library in the London School of Economics. I work full time, and I've been at LSE for about 4 years.

First thing: 
I'm Email backup this week. That means that if any of the staff answering the enquiries sent to address need help, I'm their man. This could mean I get a lot or queries or none at all - pot luck really.

EU Data:
Quickly I'm into Data Librarian mode. We have a fantastic data collection at LSE that I'm managing while the post of Data Librarian remains vacant. We have all sorts of data, but by far the hardest to administrate are datasets from the European Commission. We're licensed to hold EU-SILC and EU-LFS, the Survey on Income and Living Standards and the Labour Force Survey respectively. We get these from Eurostat, and access is highly restrictive. We have to get individual permissions for each researcher using the data. This can take months. The data is delivered in encrypted format, which we have to locally decrypt using passwords. Today I get an application finished for EU-SILC - one very happy researcher - and arrange for a new version of the LFS to get decrypted.

It's essential work if we want to support researchers using data, and we know how highly they value having the library's help in getting the data from Eurostat.

LSE Research Online:
An enormous amount of work is happening in the team at the moment around LSE Research Online and its potential use as a source of information about LSE research for the REF (Research Excellence Framework). We're talking to each and every department trying to get all of their post-2007 references uploaded to the repository.

A lot of this work is advocacy around the benefits of using institutional repositories, which gives us the chance to show off our lovely spectrum:

Collections blog:
I'm responsible for the electronic resources collection provided by the Library, and this year we're buying resources for 'new' subject areas; those new to LSE at least. Those include healthcare, climate change and parts of law. I'm involved in every part of the process - selection, negotiation of price, local budget administration, setting up of access (in our case EZproxy or Shibboleth), contributing to the catalogue record and then promoting the resources.

Each purchase gets a blog post in our collections blog: We use a RSS feed form this blog to feed the Eresources webpage:, my email signature (email me if you want to see!) and our monthly newsletter. This prevents a lot of copy/pasting and works really well. I am also an obsessive web stats nerd and often check to see which are the most popular blog posts using Google Analytics. This morning I put up a couple of new posts.

As usual, lunch is hurriedly purchased and consumed at my desk while I jog my memory about the next meeting. My job is very busy, but who's library job isn't busy these days?

2pm - Supplier meeting
Along with a liaison librarian colleague I meet a representative from a big supplier of data to us for coffee. He's in the UK for a week, and makes us a very good offer for a big run of ebooks manuals of company data.

We'd love to take it, but funds are tight. We talk about the price and options, and we agree to talk again at the end of the financial year. Right now we can't commit, but there's always the chance that we'll have some money left come July that we can use for a one-off purchase like this.

Help Desk
A few times a week I'm scheduled for the Help Desk, our enquiries point. I don't sit at the desk, as a library assistant does, but if they need any help they have a buzzer they can ring which will summon me out. Some days it'll be quiet, others hectic. I never mind being called out as you only deal with the queries that the library assistant can't. This means reference questions and more challenging sort of queries than the run-of the-mill. Today I'm called out loads, and I strike lucky because each person I deal with is a delight. It's not like that every day!

One person is looking for articles on health care. Fantastic - I show her some of the trials we're running and email her the links so she can try them out. It's so unbelievably important that users of the Library realise how much work goes into providing access to eresources. It's too easy to assume that it all happens by magic. When I get the chance to speak with library users, I always go the extra mile to help them because in these tough times we must show our value to the university. I want every person who uses eresources here to know the Library makes that possible.

I should have left by now, but of course I haven't. It's like that most days, but as with most librarians I know, I'd rather leave with everything in good order than just walk out of the door.

Monday summary
Today was pretty representative. Every day in my job is a bit different, and you'll see that over the week, but the themes are the same all way through: people, collections and all the stuff in between.

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