Last week I went on my first work shadowing visit as part of the Penumbra programme run by Cambridge University. This first visit was to Selwyn College Library and I was very lucky to have the wonderful Sarah Stamford and her team show me round.
Next I was given a tour of the library. Despite being somewhat smaller than the library I’m used to, it was a very warm and welcoming space. I especially liked the silent study room where not even computers are allowed. I was impressed that this was an idea which came from the students themselves. I think that the idea of the library as a space to study in peace is often overlooked. I know that I've been in to the library on my days off just because I know that I can get some peace to get some work done. There is a lot of emphasis right now on how libraries need to adapt to accommodate changing study patterns such as group work and whilst this is important, I think that the need for a quiet place shouldn’t be overlooked. There are precious few places that people can go to get true peace anymore and I’m pleased that the students (and the library) recognise this.
Sarah also took me through some basic classification, which is an area I am very keen to get more experience in. I have to say, she explained it a lot more clearly than any of the books have been able to! One interesting point that Sarah made was that the book should be placed in the section where it will be of most use to users, regardless of where the ‘politics’ dictates it should be placed. The library uses a Dewey system which is different from the in-house system that I’m used to but the session provided a lot of useful theory for me to think about. Hopefully one day I will have a chance to put what I’ve learnt into practice...
Photo credit: qatsi.