A day in the life of… a Research Fellow

A day in the life of

I’ve really enjoyed reading the ‘Day in the Life’ posts from my other library colleagues, so am sharing my contribution. My role is a very unusual one so it’s probably not a typical library day in the life, but then maybe there isn’t a typical one really as our roles are so varied!

My job title is Research Fellow and I work in a small department within the library called Evidence Base, which is a research centre specialising in library and information services. I’m a chartered librarian and used to work as an academic librarian but now my role is one that predominantly supports other librarians rather than library users. Some of our research is for BCU Library and Learning Resources, but much of our work is external.

Our work is all project based, so the types of things I do vary depending on the projects I currently have on. At the moment I have three main external projects I split my time between, plus additional tasks to support BCU Library & Learning Resources. Below shows a snapshot of some of the things I worked on one day recently

My day began early with my alarm going off at 5.15am. I’m not a natural morning person so this wasn’t the easiest of starts, but I was travelling so needed to start early. I travel quite a bit with my work – this week I spent two days in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, one day in Birmingham, and two days working from home (in North Staffordshire). Today I’m in Birmingham for an event with other BCU library colleagues. It’s an event focusing on the value of CILIP membership and CILIP Professional Registration, and I’ve been invited to speak about my experience with CILIP Fellowship so far (I’m currently working towards my Fellowship and hope to submit my application in the next few months).

On the way to the event, I took the opportunity to visit my office (in Perry Barr) and returned some items I no longer need that might be helpful to my colleagues. We do a lot of phone interviews which need recording and transcribing, and I used to do these via a landline but I’ve recently moved to using Skype to call out and have recording software on my computer so no longer need the equipment I used to use. As my work is mostly external and I live a distance from the University, I have a flexible working agreement that means my main workplace is my home office. I find this really helpful as I’m far more productive this way – there are less distractions and I can focus on my work for extended periods of time. It does mean I have a lot of calls though, so most days I will have one or two scheduled calls to fit tasks around. I work on the go a lot too; as long as I have an iPad and mobile internet access, I can do most of my work tasks from anywhere.

During the journey, I spent a couple of hours catching up on emails and planning my day. One email was to my line manager about survey software options. We do a lot of surveys, and have a Pro account to Surveymonkey. This suits our needs, but we only have an individual account and recently more people in the library have been wanting to use it. We’re looking into upgrading our account to enable multiple users (which will also ensure data is kept confidential when it needs to be). Coincidentally, as I was looking into this recently I received an email about LibWizard by Springshare which has similar survey functionality. I mentioned this to my library colleagues and they’re currently arranging a trial so we can check it out and see what would be best for the library. Customer feedback is very important and surveys are one way we can collect that.

I arrived at the event venue a little early so had plenty of time to load my presentation onto the laptop and make sure everything was working OK, as well as grab the all important biscuit (librarian events seem to always involve biscuits or cakes!). It also gave me chance to hand over some craft supplies I’m donating to the library for sessions they plan to hold for students to help relieve stress during the exam period.

I really enjoyed the event and was pleased that all of us who had been invited to speak shared similar tips and advice. There was time to chat afterwards too, and I spoke to a library colleague about CILIP Chartership as he’s interested in working towards it.

As we had external speakers, one of my colleagues offered to take them on a tour of Curzon Library. I joined the group and spotted things I hadn’t noticed before. It was lovely to see the space being utilised by the students in a variety of different ways – some on desktop computers; some on laptops or mobile devices; some working independently; some working in groups; some working in silence; some in the social zones. There are so many different types of spaces in the library so hopefully something that suits anyone who wants to work in there. I’d be interested in doing some observational research to see how the spaces are being used, especially as it’s a relatively new library and is very different to the previous main library.

After lunch in the canteen with a colleague, I set myself up in an office that can be used for hotdesking. I had my iPad with me so didn’t need the desktop but it was nice to work somewhere quiet and private (there was no one else there). During the afternoon I caught up in some of the things I’d missed whilst I was at the event, and worked on a couple of things I’d assigned to do that day. This included:

  • Providing guidance for student researchers who are working with the library on some research with first year students
  • Sending out details of guidance materials a colleague had produced for a new ebooks usage statistics service that we are due to launch at the end of the month (to help librarians understand how their resources are being used)
  • Tweeting on behalf of the projects I work on to share useful resources with librarians
  • Reviewing survey responses to a recent feedback survey I administered
  • Setting up a feedback survey for a CILIP Leadership Programme event I ran earlier in the week
  • Emailing colleagues an update on a leadership development programme I’m coordinating which will launch next month (for library and knowledge services staff in NHS)
  • Doing some additional planning for some upcoming workshops and conference presentations I’m delivering in the next few weeks
  • Responding to a request for an additional booking for a workshop I’m running on how to plan and facilitate focus groups (unfortunately it’s fully booked so the booking form is no longer active)

So there you have it – a day in the life of a Research Fellow in Library and Learning Resources. This one was fairly typical in some respects as it included travelling to an event, giving a presentation, and working on each of my projects. The location of my work does vary quite a lot, but the types of activities I do stays mostly the same – largely involving research activities and providing support for librarians.

^Posted on behalf of Jo Alcock