Today (well yesterday) was another different day. Due to staff leave and unavailability, I was on my own and that meant manning the enquiry/issue desk, which I don’t do as much as I would like. I like to describe this as the ‘front-end’ of the library (possibly in a mafia style) and deals with the general/health promotion queries whilst also operating as a filter to me.
Being based within a public library has both it’s disadvantages and advantages – and today was full of examples of both.
Despite not being a core target group – we get a lot of what I would describe as ‘walk-in’ student usage and today we had the following join:
- A mature student from Chorley College who is doing a NVQ Level 3. He does voluntary work with students from Bolton University who had recommended us
- A Social Worker who is on a CPD course at University of Central Lancashire. She is a friend of a member of staff from the public library
- A nursing student from Salford University who could not find what she was after in the central library and had been signposted to us by one of their library assistants
Alongside offering student and professional support, a key service we offer is the provision of reliable consumer health information. Yesterday we had enquiries around epilepsy drugs and their side-effects and arrhythmia. For enquires like this we can provide the most relevant and up-to-date results from sources such as NHS Choices, NHS Evidence and Patient.co.uk . This is especially important when you view what is within a public library health section (seriously – next time you visit a public library, go to the 610’s and list how many fad diet or ‘alternative therapy’ books there are). Last year, in partnership with the local authority we tried to counter-act this by putting ‘approved’ information in all the branches as ‘Health information Points’. These had general health information as well as information that focused on the health inequalities of that particular area as laid out in the JSNA.
Another advantage of being located within the public library is the central location – as this gives people the opportunity to visit us – despite this not being our primary method of communication with our professional users. Today we had health promotion resource queries – mainly around posters and leaflets – use of the library computers, and a senior member of staff accessing the library office to finish of some urgent and important work. I also managed to have a lunch-meeting about health promotion resources and the safe-sleeping campaign. This was literally a lunch meeting as we have been trying to have this meeting for weeks so I decided that if she had a lunch over here, we could meet and eat at the same time!
The only real disadvantage to the partnership with the public library is time-based. And what does time cost?? My staff and I waste a lot of time dealing with ‘non-health’ related queries. Be this timewasters, trouble-makers or those who cannot find a member of public library staff to help them. I shall stop talking about this disadvantage as A) it is far outweighed by the positives of the location for the service B) I can’t say without going off in a massive rant and ruining the tone of this post – which I hope is positive.
The day also consisted of other ‘front-end’ service sue such as issues, renewals etc. – resource enquiries, a few document supplies and the such. Unlike a lot of libraries (I imagine) – we also class cataloguing and re-classification as ‘front desk’ duties. We have 2 x students in at the moment completely re-classifying the stock from our internal system to DDC23. I was not intended to do any, and had hoped to complete a couple of information consultancies in the afternoon. But due to HDAS not working, the PM (3-5pm) was spent re-classifying stock. I only intended to do an hour, but as is always the way – I got a bit lost in it! In total, I re-classified 68 books, but I cheated and did multiple copies so in fact it was probably only 15 titles. I over-ran so much I didn’t get to do my usual end of week checks and to-do-list for the following week. Bugger. The day ended, as Friday’s usually do – with a trip to the pub. Huzzah.
Overall I really enjoyed today. They don’t happen very often as I may just cover a couple of dinner hours on desk and often that consists of taking messages for my library assistant I never shirk from the ‘front-end’ duties I just realise that it is not what I am paid for, and my time should be spent (metaphorically) elsewhere. As depressing as that sounds. Now for the weekend, which shall mostly be CPD based will be covered in with the end of week reflection.