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2016, the year that tried to break me..

Well, THAT was a busy year! And it's not going to get any quieter this year either....

So, why was it so hard? Well, last year involved these things in the library:

  • Implementing a brand new Library Management System
  • Getting the core library materials (textbooks and looseleafs) recatalogued (1,200+ items by the end of the year) on the new LMS
  • Reclassifying all library materials to a new in-house classification system
  • Setting up the subscription records for hundreds of journals and looseleafs
  • Relocating all stock to match the new classification system, over a three floor library
  • Driven to the Borders and back three times, to pack and relocate 40 sacks of books and law reports
  • Setting up and stocking a new room with library materials
  • Coping with recruiting and training three different assistants in six months*
  • Spending a month running the library on my own
  • Me having two different managers
  • Managing a mid-year wholesale move of the library from the oversight of one department in the organisation to another
  • Dealing with the associated chaos related to every single thing that had previously worked smoothly when we were in the original department 
  • Hosting a pre-law intern for two months
  • Hosting a Masters student on placement for a month
  • Gaining the assistance of a librarian volunteer to help with the recataloguing project
  • Writing a demanding but successful business case
  • Going through the process of successfully recruiting a Doctoral candidate to work on a proposed archive project
  • Taking on a temporary promotion in order to focus on setting up a new library service
  • Drafting job descriptions for both my own promoted role, and two new library roles 
  • Starting the internal and external recruitment process for two new library roles.

So, not all bad things, but definitely a huge amount of work for two (or at times just one) people to have done, often utterly phyically exhausting work too - book relocations from the Borders, and manual moving of all stock over three library floors.

We have been hugely assisted by the amazing volunteers we had/have, in the form of EM (top legal research and analysis skills, eternally cheerful book relocator) and LM (amazing cataloguer and super focussed relabeller). WT our Robert Gordon placement student was an absolute star, and came in at a point where discussing how the library worked (or didn't) helped to identify things we should be looking at reviewing. Plus, she left us a fab marketing plan to use in future!

Also, KM the Assistant Librarian has been the brightest point in the year. She came in to a situation where I was drowning in workload and struggling to keep things to the high standard I expected the library to provide. She immediately started taking on responsibilities, without me having to task them to her, and I quiskly learned that could trust her to do the work to the same level (or higher) than I would have done it myself. She is a wizard with spreadsheets, and she's built on the excellent work of KB, to bring order and clarity to the budget spend, renewal dates, predicted invoicing and all sorts of things that were just impossible for me to get to. She's rapidly developed advanced research skills (she already had a good headstart with her law background) and can do pretty much anything that comes in as an enquiry. She has almost certainly saved me from having a breakdown this year, because I was able to begin taking time off, and know I wouldn't just be coming in to all the work I'd left, plus more that had built up when I was off. I was able to discuss plans for the library, and her input helped shape them in a way that was right for the service and our work capacity. If KM hadn't come in, I don't know how I'd have got through this year. And now she's going to be able to continue her work, as she will be covering my librarian role as I step away from running the library service to temporarily take on a new role.Together with KB, the Assistant Librarian who will return this month, they are going to be an amazing team in the library, and I'm really excited about what they're going to be doing with the service when it's in their hands!

Next year promises to be equally hectic, with me taking on responsibility for creating a new library service within the organisation.This will involve getting the library location fitted out, ensuring the resources are there for the library staff, integrating the existing LMS with the new service, creating a user portal for each element of the service (existsing and new), recruiting the new staff, training the new staff, communicating to the organisation what is going on, and anything and everything else that comes up.

I am quite sad in some ways about my new role, as it involves stepping away from the day to day work of the existing library service, in order to oversee the creation and management of an equivalent service to meet the needs of the other part of the organisation. I've never been in a library role where I didn't have responsibility for doing legal research or user training, and I don't know how I'm going to cope. The research work is one of my favourite parts of the job, so it may be something I'll really miss. Or maybe I'll enjoy the policy work more - one of my tasks in the new role will be to develop and implement service-wide policies: collection management, stock selection, disaster management, stock insurance policies...

And I have a lot of other stuff to do to: I have an ILM qualification I'm close to finishing but I can never find time for (other than at home and weekends, which is not how a work-based qualification is meant to work), the Informed award that I'm involved in, and I'm inching closer to getting my Fellowship portfolio together. So I'd like to get those cleared off my plate so I can focus on other things.

So, 2017 - I can do this!


* The turnover wasn't because of me, it was because one person went on maternity leave, and a different job opportunity that came up for the first maternity cover person, meaning they needed to be replaced by a third person within three months.

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