Throughout the year, RBKC libraries welcome a number of volunteers and work experience students from neighbouring secondary schools. For many, it can be their first introduction to the world of work and for us, it’s a great opportunity to reintroduce them to the library service and the vast range of services we now offer.
Shimon and Mohammed both completed a two-week stay at North Kensington Library and share a little about their experiences there.
I am coming towards the end my work experience at the North Kensington library. I had only been to this library on a handful of occasions, most of them when I was quite young. I had the stereotypical impressions about working at the library, it would be shelving, shelf-checking, and maybe telling people where they needed to go if they needed help. As the week progressed, and I took my first few steps into the library, I noticed that there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes then I’d ever thought about.
While I did have to do some shelving and shelf-checking (which is important as it makes the library look organised and it’s so much easier to find things), it’s not all I had to do. I had three main responsibilities, Transits, Withdrawing and Newspapers. Transits are the books from all the different libraries, a lot are for customer reservations, some are for shelving and we would also get the occasional book that was sent to the wrong place – we sent those ones back. All these items needed to be sorted out and processed on the computer and there were always a lot to do.
The other role I did was to withdraw old stock. These books could be really old, damaged, or just very rarely ever borrowed. These would be taken off the catalogue, stamped, and the barcode crossed through. If you are wondering, the method used to ‘dispose’ of these books isn’t a simple ‘throw it in the rubbish and create further environmental problems’ sort of thing. Instead, the library sends its’ withdrawn stock to a company called ‘Better World Books’. This company takes the books which we do not need anymore, pay the library to take it off our hands, and sell the books onto other buyers to raise funds to donate to literacy charities. This is a great way of providing for people who do not have access to much needed resources.
Finally, the last main role I had was to sort out the newspapers. When people come in, the papers are a popular grabber. Unfortunately, it is not as popular to put the papers back in the right order. To make things easier for everyone I had to reorder them dating back to the eldest available copy, to the newest ones. To remind the customers, I placed a ‘Do not take away’ sticker on all the papers, so they know that the papers must stay within the library. I had a few other minor jobs here and there but these are the jobs I had spent most time on and I feel they have provided me with the biggest opinion on how the library works.
The part which I enjoyed most was withdrawing the books and anything else that allowed me to use the computer. Using the computer was fun for me; I am constantly glued to one at home. I discovered that computers were also available for the public. The OPAC is a great way to find books and it is so easy to use. By using the online catalogue, you can get an image of the book which makes it easier to find. You can even manage your account and place reservations on books at other libraries. I also really enjoyed helping out with the Summer Reading Challenge displays. Building the book dump was a little fiddly but we managed to get there in the end!
Many of the staff at North Kensington, took the time to show me the ropes – how to complete the reports, to use Sirsi etc. These wonderful people were the people I looked to when I needed help, especially as it was not easy to get used to the workings of the library straight away. In the future, I would like to get into Computer Software Development. A lot of the skills I picked up or developed further are transferable; I know they will be useful in that journey.
I have learned that the library is not just a place for people to sit down and read – it’s a community. The library welcomes people from all different backgrounds. Many will visit the library to read but a lot will also visit the library learn to new things, to have a chat and to meet new people. One of the best examples of this is ‘Baby Rhyme Time’. Parents come with their children and sing songs with. Everyone seems to know each other and newcomers are quickly welcomed. This is the ideal place for friendships to form.
I have developed more confidence working here, as I have talked, not only to the staff, but to many members of the public who needed my assistance and even those who were interested about my role in the library.
The work the staff at the library complete to provide the best possible service is often unnoticed. I know this as I have witnessed the rush that goes on behind the scenes – and I wasn’t even there full time! I want to thank all the staff I encountered – Neville, Leanne, Silvia, Mina, Sophie, Peter, Gaynor, Adisa and Anthony for welcoming me and helping me through my work experience.
Although my two weeks of work experience have come to an end, I will remember these days fondly. I hope that all the work I have put in to assist the staff has helped in some way and note that all the experience I have gained will not be forgotten. I look forward to returning to this library someday, whether it is just for a chat or a read, I know that however old I may be, the North Kensington library will still be looked after devoted librarians, doing the most they can to help out the community.
I asked if I could work in the library and I have spent two weeks learning all about the service.
Before I started, I was expecting to shelve books and help customers find books. But I learned a lot. I learned about the different types of reports, and I learned how difficult it is to complete them well. It was especially difficult to find all the books on the holds report. I worked on the transit reports with Neville each day and learned how to use Sirsi to borrow and search for books. I became good at using the self-service machines and the OPAC.
I enjoyed doing the transits and I got really good at doing them. I explored the book collections, especially the Arabic collection, during my breaks each day. Helping with the Summer Reading Challenge was also a lot of fun. Talking to the children about the books they read, their favourite characters and favourite parts was enjoyable.
I also enjoyed getting to know my co-workers. I was able to listen to their personal experiences at work and receive some good advice. They answered any questions I had and they made me laugh a lot too.
I’ll be preparing for my GCSEs in September, so I plan on watching a lot of TV and movies before that begins!
Thank you to all the staff at North Kensington Library for welcoming me to your team.
Many thanks to both for their hard work.