My life has become somewhat simpler, in that I have gone from three part-time jobs to one full-time and one part-time job. So now I’m working in two libraries instead of three. My new full-time job is in a science library, and since I had only worked in humanities libraries before now, I had a lot of learning to do in my first week. Thankfully, my new colleagues have been very patient with me, answering my silly questions and demonstrating procedures without complaint. After a rather full on week, I feel as if I am starting to get the hang of how things work.
As the new job was in a library within the University of Cambridge system, I didn’t need to learn how to use an entirely new piece of library management software, and once I had adapted to certain elements of local practice, I was fine on that score. Similarly, a few times shelving books helped me get to grips with the classification scheme and I was fine with the more straightforward reference interviews I had to conduct. I haven’t yet had to sort out any fiendishly difficult IT problems, but I’m sure they’ll come with time, and so far it’s just been the standard kinds of problems with logging in, printing credit, and working the scanners. In other words, nothing I can’t handle.
The most daunting adjustment has probably been getting my head around all the new scientific terminology I will need to understand if I’m to do my job well. The last time I studied science was over a decade ago when I was still in secondary school, and as someone who’s been firmly ensconced in the humanities during undergrad and postgrad degrees as well as throughout the course of her professional life, academic scientific literature is well outside my comfort zone. I’ve been trying to get up to speed by reading various books lent to me by colleagues (as well as the handouts from an old course one of my coworkers took on scientific jargon for librarians), running test searches in various databases and planning search strategies for hypothetical literature searches. All this has been very educational, but a bit abstract and theoretical. Luckily, my boss has arranged for a lot of hands-on training. I have a two-week schedule that consists mainly of shadowing the various members of the team and experiencing each staff member’s main activities and areas of expertise. I’ve also sat in on four training sessions that my boss has conducted (three of which were one-on-one and one which was in a lecture setting).
In terms of induction training, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The programme put together for me has been extremely comprehensive, and is obviously the product of a great deal of thought. It’s very encouraging to me that the library team here is so thoughtful about giving new members an overview of everyone’s role, regardless of the new member’s eventual focus and main tasks. The thorough nature of the programme impressed me, as did the level of communication between the various members of staff, and their obvious enjoyment of each others’ company (there’s a lot of hanging around in the tearoom). The fact that everyone brings in cakes and biscuits is just an added bonus! All in all, I think I am going to enjoy working there.