Sunday, 2 December 2012

A first book of nature...

I have purchased this beautiful book as a Christmas gift for the two year old daughter of a very dear friend. The cover [of course] is why it appears here but all the illustrations are lovely. The artist is Mark Hearld and here's a few more examples of his work...



Squirrel Library wins this year's ARLIS Christmas card competition!

Success at last!
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again :-)
These cards are now available to order from the ARLIS website right here.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interviews

This one was always going to be tricky as I have not attended that many interviews. To those people who read my posts regularly, this will come as no surprise. I’m not a person who jumps from job to job – I found a job I loved I stuck with it.

That said, I obviously have attended interviews and at times, been successful but, if I’m truthful I believe that may have been more luck than judgement.

If I had to give someone advise on applying for a job I would say that you need to prepare of course but… do not over prepare. Years ago, whilst I was a Museum Assistant here, I applied for a job in the Art Dept. I really wanted this job and had waited a long time for it to come up and both myself and another Museum Assistant [a good friend also] were going for it. The post was for a Curatorial Assistant for Applied Arts and I was quietly confident as I held an Art History Degree [whilst my friend did not]. However, as I became convinced that this was my dream job I over prepared and on the morning of the interview I started suffering with a serious attack of nerves. That said, the first half of the interview went ok but then a classic “curve-ball” question sent me spiralling in to an anxiety attack that ended up with one of the Art Curators leaning over and asking if I was okay [the shame!]. It was a disaster after that, my mouth went so dry that I had trouble speaking and at one point I couldn’t even string a sentence together and thought I might be having a stroke! Suffice to say, I didn’t get the job but [yes, you guessed it] my friend did.

The point of relating this sorry tale is to illustrate that it’s not good to want something too much and that over preparing can be as bad as under-preparing.

Okay, since I have already admitted my lack of experience in this area, I think we’d better take a look at people who do know a bit about it…

 Lauren Jury has written a very informative Thing 21, breaking up the post into three sections as laid out in the Thing 21 write-up:

Part 1: Identifying your strengths; capitalising on your interests
Thing 21 recommends “[Making] sure that you keep up-to-date with yourself, and if you are unhappy in your current situation, acknowledge what has changed and take action.” I know I’m capable of doing this (as do people who’ve got a more personal insight into my life at the moment), and it’s a strength I have that I didn’t know about. I guess you never do until you’re in a situation where you need it.
Part 2: Applying for a job
I don’t plan to be on applying for a job in the near future, but I do need to build up an accessible record of activities, experiences and skills because it’s increasingly important to keep track of this kind of thing. I do have lists of interviews, presentations and publications, which I update fairly regularly... I try to keep my CV up to date when I know I’m likely to need to send it to places – this isn’t just for jobs, but for bursaries and applications for other things, and if you’re considering Chartership – so it is very handy to be able to quickly send it off without too much effort updating it.
Part 3: Interviews
I found the advice for this part of the Thing pretty spot on. I’ve recently been on the other side of the interview table and had the unfortunate experience of interviewing some truly dreadful applicants. Here’s some advice that I hope nobody needs to pay attention to!
  • Dress smart…
  • Make eye contact…
  • Be enthusiastic…
  • Don’t apologise for what you consider to be a lack of experience. Big up what you do know and what you have done…
  • Let the interviewer finish the question before you start answering it! Don’t be afraid of (a little bit of) silence. Take the time to think of an answer if you don’t know where you’re going to go with a response.
  • Think of a couple of questions to ask at the end of the interview…
The full version of Lauren’s post can be read here and I strongly recommend reading it if you are in the process of applying for a job as she has written it from the perspectives of both interviewee and interviewer.
Another very well written Thing 21 is by Karen Pierce at dark-side-of-the-catalogue where she relates a similar interview experience to mine but in reverse – she says that one of the best interviews she ever gave was for a job that she knew she was never going to get so she just relaxed and got on with it and was brilliant. However, Karen also discusses her interest in European folk dancing and then relates how the skills and energy required for that has been easily transferred on to her work CV:

The ability to learn new skills, to apply these skills in practice, and combine them with previous knowledge, to work by one-self, and with other people, teaching others new techniques, becoming the secretary for a local group, which organises monthly events and an annual festival (lots of organisational skills there!).  I’m sure there are more things I could think of, but it makes my earlier interests of ‘reading’, and ‘walking’, and ‘art’ pale in comparison (not that there is anything wrong in any of those activities!).  These days (as I’ve got older and done more things) I am far better equipped to fill in the CV/application form than when I first left University  – as I would guess most people are.      

I really like the idea of something you love to do that is completely separate from your work self but that still enhances that work self and this ties in with one of the tasks related to Thing 21 -Identifying your strengths; capitalising on your interests.

I have all the “normal” interests: reading, cinema, theatre and going to the gym [no-where near as often I should though] but over the last few years another interest has recently taken over all of these and that is “crafting”. I make cards, gift boxes, brooches, pendants, note books, calendars, decorations and collages and sell them through shops and craft fairs. I use primarily recycled paper and card [99% of which comes from the library here!] along with magazine and general bric-a-brac type scraps. I’m not yet completely sure how this past-time might be used to enhance my work as a librarian but it has had a profound effect on how I see the books here in the library. I know find myself looking at the book as an object in its own right and not solely for its content. I’m starting to take an interest in the archaeology of the book and looking with new eyes at some of our rarer books as museum collections rather than library holdings. Of course setting up a craft business also takes a lot a hard work, concentration and dedication and these old fashioned attributes never go out of date J

Finally, I would like to point you in the direction of the ever brilliant thewikiman and his informative post What's the key to a good interview - beyond the truisms we all know already?

By the way, the images dotted over this post are all my own work [yay to me!] and if you’d like to see more please take a look at my Flickr and Facebookpages:].                                   

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Streptocarpus in August sunshine :-)

Every year the Librarian brings one of these in to brighten up the Library

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Thing 20: The Library Routes project

The homepage of the Library Routes Project states its intention as:

to bring together the thoughts and experiences of Information Professionals on how they got where they are today, and why they chose to work in libraries at all.

 And it is just that; a platform on to which have been uploaded many wacky and wonderful stories posted by librarians and information specialists on how they dipped their toes into our world of books [‘n stuff] and loved it so much they decided to build a career around it.

My story is not like that but okay here goes [in a nutshell]; shamefully disorganised [career wise] from a very early age I never envisaged myself as a librarian at all. When I left school I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do so did what many panicky and confused school leavers did… I started work in a shop. It was Laura Ashley [Cardiff] and I ended up staying for 8 [most enjoyable] years until I started their managerial training course and decided it most definitely was not for me so I left. A month later I started a degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University [Howard Gardens campus] in the History & Theory of Art and Design partly because I was confused and panicky again [still not knowing what I wanted to do]; a really good friend was starting it; but mostly because I had always harboured an interest in art history.

I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the course and came away with a not too shabby 2:1 and a plan to get a job in the Art Department [here] at National Museum Cardiff but had to wait until a vacancy came up so I got another shop job, this time at Next [Newport branch] and ended staying for another 3 [not quite so enjoyable] years. Eventually, I got a job as a Museum Assistant here at the Museum and [I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in a previous post] when a job finally did come up in the Art Department, I applied but didn't get it so I side-stepped over to the Visitor Services Department as an administration assistant  whilst rethinking how I could utilize my Art History knowledge within the Museum [because I was by this time ensared with love for the place and didn't want to leave] and then as if by magic [after about a year] a vacancy was advertised in the library for matenrity cover and the rest [as they say] is history.

I think you can gather from my story that I’m not the kind of person who is focused and driven to making plans and strategies. I tend to drift, bobbing along and seeing where the wind/tide/path takes me and in one respect, I’m doing okay. I love working in the Museum, it’s an amazing, vibrant and exciting environment. I really enjoy my work [primarily managing the journals collections plus many other things] and I’m now qualified with an MSc in Library and Information Studies. However, the downside to being so unambitious is that, qualification notwithstanding, I’m still working as a Library Assistant and at my age [please don’t ask] I should be on a much higher grade.

Hopefully you can see why I have not [yet!] uploaded my story on the Library Routes Project, especially when Laura Woods talks about it being a good resource for careers advice! That said, I do enjoy reading the posts [as any decent nosey parker does over their afternoon cuppa] and some recent gems are  Adventures of a Librarian, Librarians on the loose and particularly Librarians on the loose [Emma's story].

We were also asked to look at Library Day in the Life Project, which I already took part in last year [read it here], I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely do it again soon.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Dorothy M. Wheeler

Image courtesy of the Enid Blyton Society

Image courtesy of the Enid Blyton Society

I've always been interested in children's illustrators and my all time favourite will always be Margaret Tarrant. However, Dorothy M Wheeler is a recent discovery and her illustrations of Enid Blyton’s books are adorable. The large image above is her cover for The Folk of the Faraway Tree and I remember reading this for the first time when I was about seven or eight and stuck in bed with measles. It is a story bursting with silliness and magic but essentially about friendship and learning to give second chances. The copy I still have is a much more garish [yet lovely] 1960s edition but I do love Wheeler’s version and [ahem!] the real reason for this post is perched halfway up the tree in all his bushy tailed GLORY. I remember in the book that the red squirrel’s job was to collect all the cushions from the foot of the slide [at the base of the tree] in a big basket and carry them back up to the top so everyone could use them to slide down – the slide spiralled down through the inside of the tree trunk. Well, I love him to bits and also love that Wheeler popped little squirrels into quite a lot of her pictures [see utterly cute example] so watch this space as I may well post more of her squirrel work J

Monday, 6 August 2012

We heart Manchester :-)

On Wednesday 25th July the Library enjoyed a day out in Manchester where we visited two iconic libraries: John Rylands and Chetham's. We toured the amazing cathedral like John Rylands Library first; one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts. Established in 1889 by the textile entrepreneur John Rylands, it did not open to public readers until 1900 as the building was 10 years in construction [designed by the architect, Basil Champneys].  It became part of the University of Manchester in 1972 and therefore has a busy and vibrant atmosphere which creates a fascinating juxtaposition with the striking gothic architecture.

After partaking of a most enjoyable lunch [at The People's History Museum] we then went on to Chetham’s. Founded in 1653, it is the oldest surviving public library in Britain and the building is older still, built in 1421 to accommodate a college of priests it remains one of the most complete medieval complexes to survive in the north west of England. We had the foresight to book a tour, and amongst the historical facts there was also a little magical fiction [?] in the tale of a burn mark on a table reputed to be the cloven-hoof print of the devil conjured up by John Dee during his Wardenship of the College in 1595.

Links were forged and a great day was had by all despite a freezing cold train on the way there and a boiling hot one on the way back!

John Rylands photographs first:

One of the finest examples of neo-gothic architecture in Europe

Reading space

Statue of John Rylands - founder of library and Manchester's first multi-millionaire

Window detail

Where old meets new: the red brick of the original building coming through in to the new wing

Main view of library showing temporary exhibition cases

...and now Chetham's

Our group [on the right] trouping in next to water sculpture

Medieval staircase and leaded window

Show and tell with Librarian Michael Powell
A "chained" library comissioned by Humphrey Chetham [1580-1653] - five of these were produced and placed in local churches 

Now called the Audit Room but originally this would have been allocated as the Warden's Room

Table [in the Audit Room] with mysterious burn mark...
 Cloven hoof print? You make your minds up :-)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Lovely spines...

More gems from our holdings of the Cardiff Naturalists' library

'Field Philosophy' by Douglas Gordon
[Published 1932 by John Murray, Albermarle St, W.1]

 'Wildlife in Devon' by Douglas Gordon
[Published 1923 by John Murray, Albermarle St, W.1]

Illustrative photography in both books is by Fances Pitt

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A big hello to the class of 2012

For those of you who just had a heart attack thinking that someone can work THAT fast [I just posted Thing 19 a few days ago]... calm yourselves; I started CPD23 back last June. I fell behind quite quickly but not because I was lazy or couldn't be bothered. A close relative became very ill and  dealing with that took up a massive amount of time; you really need to go through it to appreciate how exhausting worry and stress on that level can be. But, I'm not a quitter; I can be slow yes [infuriatingly so!] BUT if I start something I WILL finish it [with the sole exception of Kate Mosse's Labyrinth].
However, the main reason I intend to fnish this course is because I just happen to have loved every minute if it. I was pretty overwhelmed at first but qickly settled down and started enjoying meeting and greeting the new "Things" each week.  It's a nicely structured course, with detailed parametres [for those that require them], very clear and consice information about the Things, and lots of helpfull comments and contact details bouncing about the place creating a vibrant and welcoming community.

I have enjoyed writing this blog so much and along with all my CPD posts you will also find posts relating to daily life in my place of work, interesting and humorous books we hold in our vast plethora of departmental libraires and [of course] the cutest little picture posts relating to my bushy-tailed namesake. So do please visit my blog and sign up to follow me, I currently only have 11 followers which is quite frankly embarassing! I have also loved using Twitter and find it by far the best tool for keeping up to date with what's happening in the library community, especially whe you follow the hash tags for all those brilliant events and conferences you can't get to, it's almost like being there...well not really but it's better than nothing.

My colleague Kristine recently organised a meet up for all you new CPD starters [in the Cardiff area] and I went along too and was really relieved to discover that I am but one of MANY who didn't make the finish deadline last year!

And I must say that librarians are by far the most friendy people but they do seem to have an insatiable penchant for CAKE and COCKTAILS :-)

Trout Heresy

Discovered down in our Cardiff Naturalists' library - surely, only the deepest indignation could possess a person to use the word "heresy" with regards to such a gentle past-time :-)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Rupert's little friend

Image courtesy of
How lovely is this Rupert Bear annual?
Now take a closer look at the attentive, plucky wee fellow on the right - is he not the cutest little red you ever did see?

To be honest, I was never a great fan when I was little - Rupert was alright and even as a child I appreciated the beautiful annuals [although nothing would ever match my beloved and unashamedly girly Twinkle books] but there wasn't much humour in the stories as there was with say Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear and he did have some really wierd friends like that hideous little twiggy thing that must surely still be the stuff of night mares to any child? I refuse to even post a picture of it here to illustrate my point - look it up and you'll see.

Rupert was originally created as a comic strip for the Daily Express during the 1920s by Mary Tourtel but when she retired the artist Alfred Bestall took over and he is responsible for these delightful annual covers. He tended to put the same characters on the covers so this squirrel shows up quite a bit.

There's a heart felt homage to Rupert here on Brian Sibley’s blog that also contains a link to a Chris Beetles’ sale  in November last year that contained some of Bestall's works along with all manner of other gorgeous illustrations [The Illustrators 1837-2011].

So here’s to the bushy-tailed, wide-eyed, flame-furred, little scamp clutching at his branch and gazing in adoration at dear old Rupert – Squirrel Library salutes you :-) 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Thing 19: Catch-up week/reflection

Some time to think about how you might integrate the Things so far into your workflow and routines...

Sunshine on our museology section
Well for starters, I really didn’t think I’d STILL be doing this course in May! When the news about the certificates came out back last year and we were told that in order to get one we’d have to finish by November, I remember telling my colleague Kristine [who by the way, finished on time] that even though there was no way I was going make the deadline, I’d definitely be finished by the end of January… famous last words.

When I first started CPD I was completely overwhelmed at all the things we were covering and thought I’d never have the time to integrate any of them into my working day. Then of course I got over excited and started using everything and got into a bit of a muddle and stopped the lot. Now, things have settled down and I’ve stuck with a few good tools.

A really big thing for me has been writing this blog; I love it and know I'll continue with it long after CPD is but a distant memory. I have created something that is unique to me and even though hardly anyone ever looks at it, I'm still very proud of it. It also works very well as a blogger news reel as I receive RSS feeds from an ever growing list of fellow bloggers and I get to see immediately anything interesting is posted. It has also allowed me to embrace my creative side as I started taking and posting my own photographs  and realise that I'm rather good at it.
Glass cabinets and folio shelves

Another great change is using Twitter and I feel about it very much the same way as Trinidad Librarian; I love using it but still don’t go on it anywhere nearly enough. I go through phases of constant use and then weeks pass by with hardly anything. I’m hoping this will change when I finally upgrade my tattered [yet beloved] mobile and get one with internet access, which I’ll do very soon. I have created lists of lots of librarians and organisations and enjoy seeing what they’re all up to [I’ve also created lists of celeb crushes but this is hardly the place to tell you about them J]. I think I get the most out of my Welsh librarians list; hearing about great work and best practice right on my front door step and have also made some valuable contacts here too. 

Finally, the most profound change starts with a negative; those other things I started but haven’t kept up with: LinkedIn, Evernote, Google Calender, Dropbox and Pushnote [to name but a few]. But, it was always going to be like this and the really important and positive thing is that I KNOW about these things now. I can tell people about them and show people how to use them and even use them myself if I need to [!] and this has had the biggest impact with regards to my workflow and routines - I'm different, more knowledgeable and therefore much more confident.

Monday, 5 March 2012

A shy little red...

This little gem of a book is just one of many beautiful covers from the New Naturalists Series [now published by Collins]. The series has been going for almost 60 years and has produced over 100 volumes of the most exquisitely illustrated natural history reference works. We have many well used [and rather dog-eared] editions dotted about our Botany and Zoology libraries and I found this one tucked away a corner of zoology [and just down the shelf a bit sat this gorgeous heron one]. They are still being produced and we recently purchased the following new titles: Badgers, The Marches, Plant Galls and [a personal favourite of mine] Bird Migration. Lots of information on forthcoming titles, cover art and authors can be found on the New Naturalists Online website.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Thing 18: Jing, screen capture and podcasting

I was not familiar with any form of screen capture tool so the first thing I did was read other people’s posts [I tend to do this anyway J] and a good example of down-to-earth thinking can be found [as usual] on Karen Pearce's blog extolling the virtues of screen capture [and podcasts] as an alternative to those intensely awkward phone conversations when you’re trying to acquaint someone with your OPAC or Intranet and they just aren’t getting what you say and then the computer goes really slow [and inevitably freezes] and you get those awful pauses … oh hang on……it’s going slow…..I’ve over clicked……any minute now……it always does this…….here we go….oh no……it’s frozen again.......I’d better call you back and er....can we start again? You get my drift? It’s not like we all haven’t been there.

How much easier to have an illustrated step by step guide to every little click? Something you can email in an instant to your willing and eager recipient? Well, this is supposedly one of the great advantages to using screen capture soft wear like Jing and according to the website it can save you hours and hours of repeating yourself!

Next I looked at Trinidad Librarian's brilliant post where she goes one step further and actually created a guide to reserving a book at her Library using Jing and its brilliant! Clear, precise and easily understandable [and I didn’t even hear any of it as I don’t have speakers on my work PC!]. This kind of thing would be a good project to embark on here. Don’t get me wrong, we want people coming into our library but if they don’t, the next best thing is for them to use our resources remotely and therefore we need to make it easy and a presentation like this would be great. Our systems are not that difficult to navigate but they’re not the most user friendly either and at busy times, if something doesn’t “click” straight away, a lot of people give up and move on to something else and that’s not good for us. I have downloaded Jing onto my PC at home as I couldn't do it in work so will have a good old play around with it and discuss with my colleagues about using it to create some user guides for the Library.

And finally, I recommend a read of Helen Murphy's [as always excellent] alternative post on the less positive side of screen capture tools and a very passionate ramble about The Killing. I haven’t watched any of this programme yet but so many friends and colleagues say it’s brilliant and worth watching if only for those darn jumpers J

Ps. One of the [many] great things about doing this course is that it makes me look at my own organisation [and many other things] with a more enquiring eye and yesterday I discovered that our Museum website holds a number of podcasts on various subjects including A tour of St Teilo's Church, an introduction to our Origins exhibition and oral recollections of the Davies sisters.

 I believe they may have been there for some time but let's not quibble......I know now!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Folio shelves...

As you come in through the main door these are our folio shelves on the left... 

...and these are the folio shleves on the right.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Book Ins reading aloud event February 2012

I did another of the BookIns reading aloud events here at National Museum Cardiff on Saturday February 4th and once again thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it was different this time; firstly I was on my own and for this reason I feel I missed out on things as having my head down reading [and not knowing anyone else there] I have had no-one else’s views on it. Also, and I think this was because I was alone, I was quite sure [and told everyone] that there were more readers this time but according to Leona’s report on the Book Ins website, there were in fact, fewer readers!  The first reading aloud event was held at Chapter Arts Centre back in December 2010 and the subject was the works of Shakespear, the second event held here at the Museum coincided with [and therefore used the subject of] International Women's Day in March 2011 and the third event again held here at the Museum [and the first one I did and which I wrote about here] covered the subject of travel.

This most recent event coincided with LGBT History Month and therefore I decided to read one  of my most favourite Oscar Wilde stories The Happy Prince but [me being me] I left it too late to dig out my copy and so in a mad rush on Saturday morning I grabbed my sister’s copy of  The Fry Chronicles and drove through the snow [it didn’t last] into Cardiff. As before, we were given the choice to either read in the Main Hall or in one of the art galleries and I opted the gallery; this time it was one of our brand new contemporary art galleries and the atmosphere was completely different from the Welsh Landscape Gallery last time.  Instead of being subdued and quiet these new galleries are big, light and airy with giant colourful canvases dotted about [artists include Laura Ford, Shani Rhys-James and Howard Hodgkin] and there were a lot of visitors walking through. And as if to match this atmosphere I was aware that my fellow readers were speaking more loudly. Last time I wrote about our “quiet cacophony” but this was much more like an excited and buzzing tangle of voices gamboling through words and at one point I was even a little concerned that the visitors might object to the noise! It was quite an experience.

My choice of book was good; I had not read Stephen Fry before but have always loved him on the television [my sister met him years ago at the Hay Festival and has had a thumping great crush ever since]. I read from the opening chapter which described in heart-breaking [and someties disturbing] detail his childhood addiction to sugar [especially sweet breakfast cereals and chocolate bars] and the trauma of starting his first term at boarding school where he was forced to eat more healthy food so had to scrimp and hoard pocket money for the tuck shop. I like the conversational tone of his writing and will try and finish it at some point.
Photographs of the event can be seen here J

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Library Day in the Life #8, part 2

Main Library door is top right
Managed to get in by 7.30 this morning [needed to boost flexi time] – and since I was first in I “did the rounds” which includes lights on; cabinets unlocked; heaters on; copier on and change date on all stamps. Then I got to work: checked emails for enquiries, stamped and displayed newspapers [we take the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Times and Independent], sent circulation journals down to Geology Dept [they get last week's Country Life and New Scientist to keep in their tea room for a week], processed journals for the Cardiff Naturalists' Society [we house and manage their library and do the same for the Cambrian Archaeological Association] and then I popped down to check on some accession numbers in the Botany Library. Then I did a bit of a tidying up and clearing away as we are taking part in the CLIC Cardiff Library Tours event tomorrow to celebrate National Libraries Day on Saturday. CLIC requested that members open their doors to other Librarians as a kind of “show and tell” so we are having two group tours at 10.30 and 2 o’clock. My part will be to show half of the morning group a selection of our departmental libraries along the east wing of the building and my colleague Kristine will be taking the other half on a tour of our west wing libraries; more about that tomorrow!

Vintage botany library

Didn’t get to the post until after lunch and today’s journal offerings included BSBI [Botanical Society of the British Isles] News, Current Archaeology [March issue containing extensive article on our very own Origins exhibition], Quarry Management, Museum Management and Curatorship and Vormen uit Vuur [Netherlands journal on the history of ceramics and glass]. Later on my colleague and I took some of our newly printed leaflets [and an Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales poster and stand] over to the Welsh Government building so they can display them for us tomorrow when they too take part in the CLIC library tours. It was only a five minute walk but it was freezing outside! The rest of the afternoon was spent getting everything ready for tomorrow; we needed to print off our visitors' list for the Main Hall reception desk; send emails to museum staff warning them we'd be out and about tomorrow polluting the peace and quiet of their precious libraries [if only for 10/15 minutes!]; letting security know what's happening and [finally] deciding what treasures to lay out for our guests to see. We've decided on a few special bindings, some of our old cuttings albums, a selection of vintage photographs showing the library in the "olden days" and an album with photos of some royal museum visits.

Today was such fun but by the end of it I was exhausted! I got in early around 8 o'clock and spent the next hour going through emails, tidying up around my desk and reading through the notes I'd written up for my part of the tour later. However, at 9 o'clock we all trouped down to the Main Hall for coffee, sweet pastries and an informative talk from our Director General on our exciting new exhibition The Queen: Art and Image and then went for a walk through it and oh boy it's fantastic! Organised by the National Portrait Gallery it contains 60 portaits of the Queen to celebrate her 60 year reign and whereas it does have some brilliant contemporary portaits [Chris Levine's light box is quite incredible] my favourites by far are the stylishly beautiful photographs by Cecil Beaton and Dorothy Wilding.

Some of our treasures

We were back up in the library by 9.45 laying everything out and before we knew it, it was 10.20 and we were in the Main Hall meeting our 12 guests! Among others there were quite a number from the various Cardiff University libraries, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Library, Welsh Government Library and Rhiwbina Library. We took them up to the Main Library where Kristine gave them a brief talk on the history and general running of the Library and then they were free to wander about and ask questions. After they'd had a good look around we split the group into two and I took one lot on a tour of our east wing libraries [Art, Geology and Botany] and Kristine took the others on a tour of our west wing [Zoology, Archaeology and Lodge Store]. I'm not used to talking to visitors en masse and was quite nervous to begin with but they were such an appreciative group I was soon enjoying myself and before I knew it, it was all over! After we said our goodbuys I went on a quick lunch and then popped along to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Library for a great tour of their facility which I throroughly enjoyed; and at this point the Librarian was looking after our second afternoon group. 

I've only written the briefest synopsis of today for this Library day in the life entry but I'm planning to write a fuller post later.

Thank you and goodnight :-)

Library Day in the Life #8, part 1

This is my first contribution to the Library Day in the Life project so here goes... My main job is managing the journals collections in the Library at Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd - National Museum Cardiff. This entails managing subscriptions; checking in issues, distributing them to the relevant departments [Archaeology, Art, Botany, Zoology, Geology]; accessioning annuals; display, circulation, shelving and claiming missing issues. I also accession all books [assigning them with a 6 figure identification number] and maintain an accessions register which comprises of print outs of all numbers used along with corresponding book details, deal with enquires, manage an online journals list, sort all post and generally run about the place. Now, whereas my work can hardly be described as full on it is none the less relentless – there is always that list of jobs that I am forever trying to get to and sometimes during one of those rare quiet times that occur in amongst the mayhem [the silence in the eye of the storm if you like] I am able to feverishly pluck a random entry and fly through it and oh the joy of striking a line through that task that has been squatting like a black toad on the list for ever such a long time J

The Main Library [my desk is on the right]

One other thing you should know about my job is the geographical layout of our Library. I work in [what we call] the Main Library  that houses general reference material; conservation and museology books and journals; Welsh society transactions; rare topographical books and special bindings. However the Museum's departmental libraries [which we also manage] are dotted around the building so we are invariably dashing about between them [which is a rather nice aspect to this job]. And because of these multiple locations, we operate on a trust system whereby staff can go into any library and take whatever they need but they must always leave a loan card so we can tell at a glance where the item is. The obvious draw back to this system is that not all staff complete loan cards and I can’t tell you the hours of fun we have when that happens.

Okay, to business and here’s my week…

Spent the morning working through a large pile of post, there’s always loads on a Monday and sometimes it can take all day to sort through. I open everything and then separate it all out, enter journals and art sales onto our LMS [we use ADLIB] and then stamp and circulate them to the departments. At this point, if we have missed an issue I will chase it up with the supplier. I then process any renewal forms and correspondence and pass them to the Librarian or any other library staff they might concern [there are 5 of us]. This morning however, the pile wasn’t too big and everything was done by lunch time. Monday is an odd day as the Museum isn’t open to the public and apart from an eerie quiet around the building I also can’t meet up with colleagues for a mid morning coffee in the main hall restaurant downstairs L

Morning coffee in the Main Hall

I started off this afternoon by working through my emails and like everyone else I get so many these days! Working in a big organisation you get bombarded with messages about everything that’s going on and hardly any of it concerns you. So after deleting A LOT – I got down to the business of answering a few enquiries. My pace has been a little slow this afternoon as I went out for lunch with two colleagues and I had lasagne and chips and then had the dreaded carb lethargy L

In nice and early this morning! I do like a Tuesday because [after Monday’s assault] there’s hardly any post and from 10 o’clock onwards I hear the lovely quiet hum of visitors in the Mail Hall below. I got to work early on accessioning a small pile of books left over from Friday, processed four renewal invoices and sorted trhough my emails. Went for coffee at 10.30 and the post was waiting for me when I got back at 11 - just managed to get through it before I left at 1 o’clock [half day today].

Managed to get in fairly early again [8.15] and got to work immediately on the new pile of books ready for accessioning. The Assistant Librarian does all cataloguing and then leaves the items for me to accession and she’d been working on this pile most of Monday and Tuesday. Sometimes it’s very tempting to down tools for a bit and browse the more interesting books such as this one […but not this one!] however, time is short so I nobly plough on.

Have also noticed two alarmingly large boxes filled with back issues of an old geology journal [someone’s been accepting gifts again!]; therefore at some point I will need to decant, check contents, create a record on the LMS, stamp/emboss and then find a home for them in our increasingly cramped Geology library. Post all done between break and lunch and this morning’s journal offerings included Museums Journal, Art History and Country Life [anti browsing will power stretched to the max with Country Life!]. This afternoon was spent processing renewals invoices; December and January is a busy time for these so there are quite a few. We also had an offer of some Scott memorabilia which I passed on the relevant curator; timely indeed since we are currently hosting our very own Scott exhibition Captain Scott: South for Science.