Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Surprisingly more interesting than it seemed...

My first thought of finding out my work experience was at Marshall Library made me think I was going to have a boring two weeks. Working from 9am to 5pm in a library sounded like a dull option but it was surprisingly more interesting than it seemed.

On my first day I met the library staff. They were welcoming about my arrival and the work atmosphere seemed relaxed and friendly. I was taught how they organised books and learnt to issue and return items to students. While I worked part-time doing a newspaper round, this was a new experience for me as I had never acquired the experience of doing a full-time job, nor have I worked in such an environment comparable to a library. The library system was efficient and coordinated; everything was precisely laid out making collecting books simple and easy. Since I am studying economics in school, I decided to take advantage of the resources around me; reading up on certain subjects and looking at the weekly The Economist news. During my stay here, I gained a good understanding of how a standardized library works, learning about the catalogue system and finding out about the extensive collection of dated books hidden away in the basement.

Going to work was quick and easy since I lived in Cambridge.  Travelling by bike, I could avoid most of the morning traffic, allowing me to get to work in roughly 20 minutes. I took a lunch break from 1pm-2pm, often going to meet up with my friends to have lunch on Parker's Piece.

During the week, Sue kindly organised for me to visit the Geography Library, and the Maps Department at the University Library. Andrew from the UL showed me one of the oldest atlases, and I saw the Map's basement, where I saw old maps of Cambridge. Geography is one of my GCSE subjects making it a good opportunity to understand what higher level geography is like. I was given a quick tour of the Geography Library and was shown example pieces of university dissertations.

It was interesting learning the catalogue system and how useful it is to the library. With a few words from the title of the book, we could find out the exact location of the book, alongside a description and publishing date etc. Before going to the University Library with Sue, we searched for a book in the catalogue  before finding its  physical location on the library shelf. It was impressive seeing how large the library was while still being able to home in on specific books easily.

Display case on Brazil: Poverty and Income Inequality

While most new experiences were fun, there was still a bit of repetitive data entry work to be completed, however I soon got used to the routine and became more efficient at it. That's what work is all about. Overall, I learnt a lot from my time at Marshall Library. It was a great experience which has benefited my understanding of work life. Not only have I gained an understanding of how a library works, it also increased my self-confidence and my appreciation of the work environment.

Garrett (work experience 15 to 26 June 2015)