Day in the life of a Liaison Librarian

St George’s Library supports a diverse group of users, including  academic staff and student, including many opportunities for face-to-face help. Have you ever used our Research Enquiries Desk (located in the Quiet Study Area) or contacted your Liaison Librarian?

Your liaison librarian is available throughout the year to provide specialist help and support with the Library’s print and online resources.

  • One-to-one support for staff and students.
  • Information skills sessions: practical training for all on a range of information literacy skills.

The article below by Anna, gives you an idea of what Liaison Librarians get up to in a day.

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A day in the life of a liaison librarian

9am

My day starts with checking my voicemail and email for new messages, and the intention to respond to anything urgent.  As I am running a scheduled session on advanced literature searching for dissertations, for an undergraduate course at 9.30, I won’t have time to respond to anything else immediately.  No voicemail, which is common since people seem to prefer to send emails.  Among the general SGUL emails and messages from colleagues, there is a query about offsite access to a particular journal, a request for us to run a training session for a particular course, and various emails from mailing lists containing potentially useful information.  I make a note to read most of them properly later.

After checking the named journal in the email about offsite access, I discover that I too cannot access it, so I forward the message to our journals librarian with a request that she contact the publisher to alert them and ask for our access to be reinstated. I also email the person concerned apologising and informing them of situation, stating that the journals librarian will contact them when access is restored.  I also check my diary to see if I, or a suitable colleague, are free to run the training session that has been requested.  One of us is available, so I will make the appropriate arrangements later, because it is time to make a last minute check of the materials for my teaching session, and make my way over to the training room.

9.30am-11am

My session starts promptly (not always the case) and seems to go smoothly.  It has been timetabled to coincide with the students firming up their dissertation titles, and part of this process is conducting an extensive literature search.  This means that the students are engaged with the session and asking appropriate questions.  Talking to academic staff about the most appropriate time to schedule library training in the students’ curriculum has paid dividends.  I finish a couple of minutes early which always pleases people!

11-12pm

RED Orange Zone

I spend an hour covering our Research Enquiries Desk – commonly known (to us anyway) as the RED.  This timeslot is often reasonably quiet – the busiest times are 12-2 at lunchtime, which is to be expected.  This means that I am able to make the arrangements for the training course requested via email this morning, and read some of my other emails.  A student comes to the RED with a referencing query, and I show another student our Hunter search system, which allows our users to search all of our subscription electronic journal articles, and access the full text of them.  We discuss their search topic and they leave with a few potentially useful articles for their work, which has a looming deadline.

12pm 

Team Meetings

Liaison team meeting. This is shorter than usual since it is nigh on lunch time and everyone is hungry.  And also because another colleague has a teaching session at 1pm.  Biscuits have been provided to assuage the hunger pangs.  Good job too as Librarians are famous for their biscuit eating capabilities!   On the agenda, among other things, is our Widening Participation project.  We are developing an online platform to answer common enquiries from new students, using bespoke software.  Funding for this comes from our successful bid to SGUL’s widening participation programme last year, so we are working to a deadline for getting it up and running.  We also discuss staffing issues since one of our team has left and there is a delay in recruiting a replacement.   We also discuss how we support SGUL’s researchers, in the light of SGUL’s restructure.   Various people have suggestions.  Subscriptions (the expense!) and reading lists also feature.

1pm

Meeting is finished and I gratefully sink into a chair in the staff room and have some lunch. I also think about the afternoon ahead.

2pm

Attend a Staff-Student Consultative Committee meeting.  These are a fairly time-consuming, but important part of being a Liaison Librarian.  It is a way of publicising new library developments to both students and staff, and also getting feedback on a first–hand basis.  Knowing what is going on in a course is also very useful in enabling us to provide the right services.   I provide a written library report which will be included in the minutes of the meeting when they are published.

3.30pm and the rest of the afternoon

Back at my desk.  I take a call from an MSc student asking for help with finding research evidence for their dissertation.  I book them in for a tutorial in 2 days time when we are both free.  I start rewriting one of the helpsheets that we provide via our website, since the database provider has changed their interface considerably with very little notice, and the information on our website needs updating quickly.  I bring this to the attention of the colleague who updates our website and also give her a link to a youtube tutorial offered by the database provider, which she will link to immediately on our website.   I also ask her to put some information about this on our blog so that our users are aware that this database has changed.

I take a call from another student about their login details for electronic journals offsite.  It turns out that they have a login for Moodle, but did not realise that this was also their SGUL login, so I am able to reassure them that they do have access to our resources.  I also mention Hunter, which the student remembers from their induction, and remind them that this can be accessed from the Library’s homepage, and they can use this to search for full text journal articles on their search topic.

The Liaison manager has circulated (via email) some information listing how we currently support researchers and the various suggestions that were made in this morning’s meeting.  She has invited discussion on how we can take things forward so I spend a while musing over this, although I don’t reply straightaway, although I can see that already a couple of my liaison colleagues have responded.   I speak to one of them about an idea they have suggested.

Finally it’s time to head off so I shut everything down, saying goodbye to my colleagues still running the Library Helpdesk, as I make my escape for the evening

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We will be holding a Pop Up Library on Wednesday 19 February 12-2pm  in the Social Learning Space outside the Library, 1st Floor Hunter Wing.

Come along to meet the Liaison Librarians and to find out more about the help we offer at the Research Enquiries Desk.

In conjunction with this, we’ll be using the hashtag  #sgulRED on Twitter to give you useful tips and advice during that week (17 Feb – 21 Feb)

Follow us on Twitter twitter link @sgullibrary

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