Meet City Business Library’s Library Assistant Lis Dew

It’s not just stamping and shelving books. It’s a job of both variety and repetition and never dull. Of course, there is stamping and shelving of books, but that’s just one element of it.

My job is a support role in the day-to-day operations of a library – in my case the City Business Library. I do a lot of work behind the scenes – process and receipt new stock via the library management system; create box labels; print stock and publicity; produce events posters and displays; financial responsibilities; events support; presentations to tour groups; manage a book sale and contribute to social media. And small things like checking there’s enough paper and water cups in the right places – quite important!

A key part of my day is to get new stock out onto the shelves as quickly as possible for our customers. A periodical (Magazines or Newspapers), for example needs a security label attached that is stamped, dated, checked in and shelved. A new book or monograph will have a security label on the inside, is stamped on the first page with our logo, date stamped and then the classification number on a tape label attached to the base of the spine before it can be shelved. I have a great collection of stamps on my desk as part of my ‘kit’, along with an array of stationery.

It is also part of my role to maintain the order of the stock on shelves – it’s an ongoing task as quite often items used by customers can end up in odd places, so this helps the librarians and the next customer. We have a section on trades and industries that contains many specialist periodicals, which are helpful when planning researching and planning a business. Recently I had the pleasure of putting 3-years’ worth of the weekly Drapers magazine back into order after a customer had done some very thorough research into the fashion trade.

On the public side in the library itself, I work on the Enquiries Desk dealing with membership, general customer enquiries, public computers, resolve IT/printing problems, keep the library tidy and give directions. I’ve been here for 11 years so I’m familiar with the collection and able to answer library stock questions, but any that delve into the workings of the business databases are referred to a Business Librarian.

Not all my work is based in the library. Sometimes I to go to networking events to promote the library and the great services we offer, and we also attend the twice-yearly Business Show at the ExCel Centre (Docklands) that I often help set up. We are often asked why we are there, a library??
We explain we are a specialist library offering free access to credible information and events that can help someone with a business or start-up idea. Did I mention it was free!

It’s a nice part of the job, helping to promote what we do – to keep breaking down the idea that libraries are redundant in the age of Google. If anything, librarians are needed to sift through the forever-expanding mass of information now available to all and pinpoint the valid, credible resources and publications. When it comes to doing something as complex as starting a business, people still want to talk to a knowledgeable person and ask questions. Our busy Enquiries Desk is proof of that.

After 11 years of working in City Business Library, I recently decided I would also like to become a qualified librarian. I’m currently studying for an MA in Information and Library Studies long-distance style alongside my full-time hours. Just 2 years to go….

Written by Elisabeth Dew


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