Sunday, 5 February 2012

Library Day in the Life - Round 8

I’ve decided to participate in Library Day in the Life Round 8. This is the first time I’ve taken part in my current role – last summer I was on holiday during the week allocated. I did take part this time last year, however, when I was working at Northumbria University on a temporary basis as a Senior Information Assistant. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in my current post for almost a year!

I work for an HE establishment which provides (mostly) postgraduate legal education. My role involves helping to manage courses on the VLE (we use Blackboard). Officially my job title is Team Member (Delivery Team) but considering that this means nothing to anyone outside the organisation, I tend to use the unofficial title Information Officer outside of work.

My job doesn't change all that much from day to day, so instead of writing about each day individually, I decided to write about a 'typical day'.

I normally get in just before 9 and have breakfast and a cup of tea while waiting for the computer to boot up. I check my emails and then start on the day's work. At the moment my colleagues and I are engaged in building a number of courses on the VLE system which are due to become available to students in a couple of weeks. This involves checking we have received all of the course materials from the designers, uploading the materials and linking to them from the course itself, checking all links are correct, all audiovisual resources are the right ones, and that everything is named properly and in the right place. Depending on the size of the course, it can take anything from a couple of hours to a day to finish building a particular course. At the moment I am working on LPC (Legal Practice Course) courses, but I have also built GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) courses in the past, and am responsible for building the courses we run in conjunction with the Open University. There are a number of courses for each qualification - they are divided by stage of study, subject and/or mode of study. Many students attend either full or part-time, but many are distance learners and the resources we offer on the VLE are particularly valuable for them.

As well as building courses myself, I also QA (check) courses that others have built, and they do the same for me - sometimes it takes a new eye to see if there are any mistakes. When you're adding links to lots of different documents and resources it's fairly easy to make a mistake and it really helps to have someone else go through it - a bit like proofreading.

At lunchtime, I generally stay in but sometimes like to go out and go for a short walk. Working in central London means that there is a lot to see, and as I work round the corner from the giant Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road, lots to buy too! I try not to go in here too much as I have a bit of a stationery addiction. I try to go the other way, away from the shops, and was rewarded on one occasion by finding this:

I love London, because you can find pieces of history like this around just about every corner.

In the afternoon I might have a Helpdesk session. We deal with student and staff queries via email, which can be very varied. The enquirer could have trouble locating or downloading a document, or a member of staff could be asking us to upload documents for a forthcoming course. Some queries have to be forwarded to the IT Service Desk, Library or another department, if they are not queries that we can deal with. In previous jobs I've always dealt with users face to face, so it's been interesting learning to handle queries via email. In some ways it's easier, as I prefer explaining things via the written word, but in other ways it's more difficult - getting the tone right, for example, can be a bit tricky.

Later in the afternoon, when the Helpdesk gets a bit quieter, I get on with another task - testing the VLE upgrade. We are due to move to a new version of Blackboard in a few months and I have been trying out the test version of the new system, building a test course to see what's changed and checking out the functionality. I have to give a short presentation to my colleagues during our next team meeting which is quite nerve-wracking!

This is a typical day in my job - no two days are exactly alike but they all follow the same rough pattern. It's not the sort of role I envisaged doing while I was studying my Masters, but it's been an interesting and different kind of experience.