Returning books to the shelves
University libraries experience heavy demands for books around deadlines and exam times, and so employ shelvers. Carla Moore works at Lincoln University Library as she studies for a Masters.
Putting books back in place
In a busy library, books and journals need to be returned to the correct shelves as soon as possible after they’ve been used so they’re available for another person to look at or borrow.
"Returned books are put onto a trolley by the desk staff. I collect a trolley from the returns area and put the books in order. Then I push the trolley round the library returning books and periodicals to their correct places.
"The most important part is comfortable shoes. I must walk miles round the library!"
"As I go round, I pick up books which have been left on tables. When I’m replacing books, I scan the shelves to make sure books are in the right order."
"People see me walking around the library. Although I don’t wear a uniform, I have a staff fob round my neck – and, of course, I’m usually pushing a trolley. Sometimes people can’t find what they’re looking for so they ask me.
"The library’s on three floors, so users may need directing to the right floor. Or I can tell them which section to look in.
"Sometimes I show students how to use the catalogue PCs, especially towards the start of the academic year. We do library inductions in Freshers Week – which I would recommend – but I think new students have other things on their minds then.
"I also have to ask people to be quiet, especially on the third floor. This is the ‘quiet floor’ with no talking and no mobile phones.
"People can talk at normal conversational levels on the other floors. I sometimes have to remind people that they’re not allowed to eat or drink in the library."
Getting a job as a shelver
"I work 15 hours a week which I can arrange around my lectures. I work 11.00am to 4.00pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and 1.00pm to 6.00pm on Fridays. If I need to change this, I can, as long as I do my 15 hours.
"The job was advertised in Lincoln’s Student Union Jobshop. Back at home, I’d been a relief worker for the local authority. This included working in public libraries. I knew what the job entailed – and I think my experience helped my application.
"I work for the Head of Customer Services. I’m the only student shelver. There are four non-student shelvers. My work is exactly the same. The only difference is that my contract is term-time only. Having said that, I can choose to work the holidays as well."
Working in a university library
"It’s been helpful for my course as I’m much more familiar with the library and all the resources it has to offer."
"It’s a good student job – a nice working environment and I’m paid more than the minimum wage. The flexibility with the hours is a great help, too.
"It’s hard work, though – the trolley is heavy when it’s full of books. The dress code is smart casual, but clothes need to be practical as I have to lift and bend.
"The most important part is comfortable shoes as I’m on my feet for most of my shift, apart from my 10 minute break. I must walk miles round the library!
"It’s been helpful for my course as I’m much more familiar with the library and all the resources it has to offer and where to find them."