Wow, university libraries are so different. I’ve been here a few weeks now and am amazed by some of the differences.
1. People are quite happy to listen to instruction.
Me: Well I know you need to know about how feminist theory has destroyed micro-lending schemes in Cameroon, but did you know you can find this all out yourself?
Student: No, really? I’d like to learn that.
Me: Really? Where’s the hidden camera?
Student: What hidden camera? I’m very excited about finding journals through your databases.
2. They write all over the toilets. Whole stories. With drawings. And people add comments. It’s like a web 2.0, except in the toilets, so would that make it dunny 2.0? Social looworking 🙂
3. The crazy people are intelligent. They can actually prove that the aliens are reading their mind (although I must admit I’ve not really had crazy people here, everyone is quite nice).
4. Staff talk at a much higher level than what I’m used to. Who uses ‘ennui’ these days? And when talking to people? Pfft. I’m going to need to buy a dictionary to translate what some of the academics here say.
5. EMBATAPLH – even more bloody acronyms than a public library has. There are so many of them that they gave me a glossary of UC library acronyms when I started. I had to carry it around for 2 weeks to work out what was going on (add to that the point above and it’s like I’m talking to someone in German… I can understand every 8th word, but most of that is the word ‘the’).
And some of the non-differences.
1. Still a bureaucracy. The IT department and most HR functions have been outsourced to India because it’s cheaper. So if I have a problem with my pay or my computer, I ring Mumbai.
Actually, come to think of it, the bureaucracy thing covers all the non differences. Tasks are a tad less fluid than a public library and I’m always worried about overstepping my authority or stepping on someone’s toes, but at least I usually know who to send things to.
All in all I’m enjoying things. All of the stuff that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do, I’m allowed to do. I’ve done training (a little anyway), reference stuff, research. I’m even in charge of two subject guides (software engineering and information systems). Oh, and I don’t really even have to catalogue (much). It turns out I’m in charge of copy cataloguing…and I can copy well!
If I remember, I’ll write my next blog post on some of the odd things that people write their theses about (being in charge of them is quite amazing).