This is my very first blog. Just to repeat I have never blogged before. This is a very unique experience for me to have unseen others read this particular blog. I have always regarded myself as a little bit of a techo-phobe so this is a challenge for me.
I have been working in an academic library for over twelve years – mainly on a part time basis as a library assistant but recently I was offered a full time position doing front of house work.
Reflecting on the perceived requirements of Thing 2, I have decided to write a brief account of the book donation policy of the library.
Mary Immaculate Library is a place primarily dedicated to serving the needs of trainee primary teachers and undergraduates studying a variety of subjects such as history, theology and languages. In recent years, the college has developed a vibrant post-graduate community in both the educational and academic field.
The diverse nature of the college is reflected in the types of books donated by academics, students and the general public to the college library. – everything from books on Heidegger to cookery books and the latest romantic best sellers.
To cope with the increased donations, certain simple and practical procedures were put in place over the recent months. These procedures are discussed and agreed upon by the staff at Issue Desk Meetings. These meeting are held at least twice a month with most staff present so as to achieve a consensus of opinion on the practical, everyday concerns of the library.
The first series of simple steps is concerned with the receiving of the books from those giving the donations. The assistant at the issue desk is asked to get the full name and telephone number/email from the individual who is willing to donate books as well as cursory information about the types and amount of books to be donated. The assistant librarian will then contact the donor to arrange a suitable time to drop in the books to the library. The books are stored in the top office while awaiting processing and an acknowledgement slip is placed on the inner cover of each book detailing the name of the donor.
However in most cases, the process of receiving donated books is a little more haphazard. Individuals just arrive with boxes of books in various conditions from damp to practically new. In a recent episode, an elderly man arrived with books he has stored in the boot of his car for a couple of weeks and most were damp and frayed at the edges. However his intention was good and I took in the books and got the necessary personal information from him so that his generous gift would be acknowledged by the library management.
In the main, the fabric of the majority of the donated books are of good standard. Those in need of substantial repair or are deemed not suitable (in a thematic sense) for the library are then donated to Betterworld Books or placed in the the Free Basket which is kept at the issue desk. Betterworld Books is an organisation which trades in books to benefit the third world. The library occasionally sends books to this organisation especially those which are outdated but in good condition.
The Free Basket was essentially an idea from a former student of the college who wanted to donate text books to the students studying primary teaching. The lady in question brought in the books in a large open basket which proved ideal as a display unit because it could be tucked away at the side of the issue desk allowing students/staff to quickly browse through the display and take their choice of books. The Free Basket has proved very popular with students, staff and visitors alike and it gives a sense of collegiality to the atmosphere at the issue desk because it acts as a conversation point between staff and students thus reducing the mechanical feeling of the I-it relationship associated with a mere transaction.
Staff also are allowed to take books from the Free Basket. One particular book that I am reading at the moment is the biography of Lord Haw Haw written by Nigel Farndale. The book is called Haw Haw, the Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce. The opening chapters gives a riveting account of how William Joyce and his wife were captured in Germany after the end of hostilities and then the story moves to Joyce’s early life in America and Ireland paying particular attention to Joyce’s disenchantment with the political and social situation in Ireland after independence. The opening chapters then detail the rise of fascism in England under Mosley and Joyce’s complicity in fascist violence. I have yet to finish the rest of the biography but so far it has been a very enlightening read.