Today has been so busy I had no time to attend to any major tweeting for #libday8. This morning was spent putting the finishing touches to the Express Yourself exhibition and also manning the desk. This afternoon was spent trying to set up the audiovisual aspects of the exhibition. Needless to say this was fraught with setbacks but utilising my ninja librarian skills meant it worked eventually. Again this was while also manning the desk.
It’s always interesting to read about other librarians’ days working on enquiry desks/counters, issue desks, reference desks etc. There are so many names for so many desks serving so many functions. Our LRC has 3 floors. The top floor has a desk where whoever is manning it looks after computer bookings for that floor, can help with search enquiries, printing issues and password resets. Any requests for issues need to be sent to the ground floor. The same can be said for the two desks on the middle floor. The desk on the ground floor is where it all happens. Pretty much all traffic coming into the LRC is seen by the staff at the ground floor desk. It’s a large wraparound desk which was installed over a year ago. It’s a great desk because it’s bright, it’s funky and best of all, it has no obstructive upper part to it so we can see everything that goes on and the LRC users can see us too. It’s a very open aspect.
Any type of query you care to suggest will have been dealt with by the ground floor desk at some point or other. Along with all the usual library enquiries we will also get broader enquiries about college in general, transport enquiries, course enquiries, directions to anywhere in College. It gets manic at times and the noise levels can go through the roof. It takes a special kind of person to be able to work the ground floor desk. You need to be able to multitask, think quickly on your feet and diffuse situations before they arise.
In winter the ground floor desk is the coldest place in College. It is directly adjacent to the doors to the foyer, and consequently to the doors to the outside. Every few minutes we get up and close all the doors to stop the Siberian blast of wind that whistles through the wind tunnel created by people leaving all the doors open. If you are working on our ground floor desk in winter you need to double up the layers.
It’s also interesting to see how other institutions rota staff on their desks. Me? well my job is Desk Services and I run the ground floor desk. I’m there at 8.30am and I leave at 5.00pm. I have a short break in the morning and in the afternoon (sometimes not). I get an hours lunch. I do this 5 days a week. After some gruelling days it is so relaxing to get on the bus and just close my eyes. Or plug in some relaxing music and just unwind. The sheer volume of traffic that we get through on the ground floor desk can be overwhelming and thoroughly draining. Add to all that the need to maintain peace and harmony on the floor. Keeping noise levels down, reminding students that no food is allowed anymore, and that certain behaviour is not acceptable. Patience and tolerance levels can get tested and that’s when you need to step away from the desk, step outside, go for a walk or get a coffee.
Recently I’ve managed to get a couple of afternoons away from the ground floor desk and man the topfloor desk. This is the floor for quiet study. It’s a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the ground floor. Here I can look after my area of responsibility, the 900s. Check condition, shelving and stock levels. I can also take the time to catch up on projects I am currently working on. Projects that hopefully will be taken up and improve the teaching and learning of both students and tutors in College.
So that’s pretty much what I do in general terms. I man a very busy desk which gives out every and any information, help and guidance that is asked of it, I do this 7 hours a day, 5 days a week (with 2 half days in the quiet zone for good behaviour).