Tuesday, 22 February 2011

ARU library tour

While most of my trainee programme of library visits is just with the other University of Cambridge graduate trainees, now and again join up with the Anglia Ruskin University library trainees Natalie (Chelmsford campus) and Rachel (Cambridge campus). Today we got to go to the Cambridge campus library at ARU and get a tour around, as well as a natter over coffee and excellent biscuits and cakes!

'Home of Anglia Ruskin University' by engineroomblog on flickr
The ground floor where we came in is an open plan room with lots of round tables for group study, and was bustling. As Jen pointed out, this is already quite a contrast with our (University of Cambridge) college libraries - we rarely see our libraries this packed with students! As Rachel and Natalie began explaining how the library works it struck me that ARU's libraries have more in common with public libraries than we do. They are viewed as a business - students are after all, paying customers. Their "reader services" department has had its name changed to "customer services", and staff are employing techniques such as floor roving (resplendent in blue and yellow "Here to Help!" sashes) which is becoming more and more common in public libraries as self service machines are allowing staff to not be tied to the issue desk. As students will be paying fees of up to £9000 in the future then I'm sure the focus on customer service in academic libraries will increase rapidly!

Natalie and Rachel's roles as graduate trainees are also quite different from ours - they shadow librarians but don't answer enquiries themselves or do cataloguing (their books come in ready-catalogued and classified in Dewey and ready-labelled - they do have one cataloguer on the staff though).On the other hand they both do a lot of serials work and interlibrary loans which I don't do at all (the UL does most of the ILLs in Cambridge).

We also got to hear from other staff members - Jenny Cefai who is the Staff Learning and Development Manager (quite a rare role, sounded like an interesting job!), Karen Ready one of five Faculty Liaison Officers, and Jenni Kuziw, Assistant Librarian Trainee (again quite rare to have a trainee professional role).

Until today, all of the academic libraries that we have visited have been part of the University of Cambridge, so I was really glad to see how a different institution does things. Rachel and Natalie were great guides and all of the other members of staff we met were very friendly and chatty. And at the very end, coffee and flapjacks and cakes, oh my!

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