Library Day in the Life: Day 1 – A busy business day

This week I am taking part in the Library Day in the Life project, which is coordinated by Bobbi Newman. Twice a year librarians, library staff and library students from all over the globe share a day (or week) in their life through blog posts, photos, video and Twitter updates to record the joys and challenges of our profession and give those interested in a career as an information professional an idea of what we do. The views I express here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer. 

ICAEW logoI work at the Library & Information Service of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), a professional membership organisation supporting over 136,000 chartered accountants around the world. We are based in the City of London. Our team consists of 10 qualified librarians who all deal with library enquiries as part of their roles. Other responsibilities include collection development (acquisition of print and electronic resources), cataloguing, maintaining web content, managing customer services and publicity. The team is led by the Head of Library & Information Services and supported by four library assistants who run our document delivery service.

My job title is ‘Information Executive, Web Services’. I joined the ICAEW Library in October 2007 as Acquisitions Assistant just after I had finished my MA in Library & Information Studies at UCL. At the end of 2009 I was promoted into my first qualified role which consists of two main activities: maintaining library web content and dealing with library enquiries.

I normally spend between 9 and 12 hours per week on the enquiry desk. Today I was scheduled to do six hours of enquiry work which is rather unusual for one day. There are two of us at the enquiry desk at any one time, dealing with phone calls, email enquiries and library visitors.

My first phone call today was a member who wanted to access a document published by one of our faculties on the website. The document should be free to faculty members behind the member login but she was unable to access it. I said I would look into it and get back to her later in the day. I phoned a colleague in the faculty who was not aware of the problem but gave permission to supply the document in pdf format to the member whilst the web publishing team investigate what caused the problem.

ICAEW Business CentreThroughout the morning I took some more calls from people wanting to renew their books and dealt with a visitor who wanted to send a fax. I worked out how much we would have to charge and passed the document to one of the library assistants to fax.

In my morning break I found my chair occupied by the IT trainer who gave my colleague an induction session into the new Windows 7 desktops we have all been given over the last couple of weeks. It is a rather odd feeling when you suddenly struggle to do every day tasks because of a change in IT equipment and software!

Back at the enquiry desk another member phoned to find some material on contracts of employment for company directors. He wanted more information on the way how directors are employed, different options of remuneration (i.e. being paid by salary or share options) and whether they have to be paid the minimum wage.

I started searching the library catalogue whilst I was on the phone but then decided that I had enough information to look into the query further and get back to the member later. I downloaded a list of catalogue records of relevant books and journal articles. From the records I could not quite decide which books might be most useful so I went to the shelves. I selected three books and phoned the enquirer back after lunch to suggest that he could borrow these. One actually mentioned the relevance of the minimum wage which I hadn’t really grasped until here! I passed the books to the document delivery team for posting and emailed the member a reading list of recent journal articles I had found earlier. This allows him to read the article abstracts that our cataloguers have added to the catalogue record and request copies of any of the articles for a charge.

FT close-upOver lunch a colleague mentioned that we had received an email enquiry asking whether we know of a book in English that either outlines the requirements of the German Commercial Code or compares the requirements of the German Code to International Financial Reporting Standards. We had a similar enquiry a few weeks ago and as a native German speaker I looked into the query. Our latest edition of the German Commercial Code is from 1993 and quite out of date. At the time I checked for English translations of the Code on the websites of the German Ministry of Justice, the German-British Chamber of Commerce and a couple of specialised booksellers in Germany. I found out that there had been a newer edition published in 2003 but this is now out of print. Through a web search one of my colleagues found a relevant blog post by a translator who deals with the translation of business and legal documents from German into English. I got in touch with the author of the blog and found out that another translation agency in Frankfurt is currently involved in the publication of a book on financial accounting and auditing legislation in Germany. I asked for more information once this book would come out but had not heard anything for a few weeks and had almost forgotten about it. This morning (!) I had an email from the translation agency in Frankfurt telling me that the book is due to be published in the third quarter of this year. I would not have known anything about it without finding that translator’s blog post!

A long story, but that information was useful in replying to today’s enquiry. I gave a summary of the long story and said that we hope to purchase this new book as soon as it is published. I also emailed the member links to two web publications from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the ‘Big Four’ large accounting firms in the UK, which compare German accounting practice with International Financial Reporting Standards. I am not quite sure these are what the member wanted, but they were the most recent practical information in our library collection and I thought they were worth mentioning.

In my tea break I said hello to our new Acquisitions Assistant Megan who started today. My successor left recently and as I did that job previously, I will be involved in some of the acquisitions training later in the week.

Chartered Accountants' HallLater in the afternoon a member called to say he had identified a number of books and articles from the library catalogue and now wanted to know the best way of accessing these. He is based in or near London and will come in later in the week to look at the material. I gave him some general information on how to make the most of the information available from the catalogue. This seems so obvious to us information professionals, but our members tend to be very busy business and finance professionals and you don’t often get someone to ask how best to use the catalogue! In the end we agreed that he would send us details of the journal articles and books and we would retrieve these in time for his visit.

The day went very quick but I enjoyed dealing with these enquiries as they required me to use a variety of skills and knowledge that make my job so interesting.

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