This is the fourth in a series of articles which outline the experiences of library staff from the University of Bath who were involved in a recent series of secondments at the institution and what they learnt from the experience. In the posting below, Katy Jordan talks about her experience of working as the Research Publications Librarian for 9 months.
Copyright The Library, University of Bath 2013
Was it what you expected? Yes and no. Kara had given me some insights into her work, so I knew in principle what lay in store for me. What I wasn’t prepared for was the scale and complexity of the work, or the sheer volume of it. I was expecting the routine work of keeping the repository populated with new publications from University of Bath researchers, but with REF 2014 just around the corner, there was a huge amount of additions to be added to the repository and they just kept coming! I was expecting to work with the University Research Committee, but what I didn’t realise was how much bibliometric and advisory work this would involve. Add in the sudden arrival of the Finch Report and the revised RCUK guidelines, and the need to advise the Committee on implications for the University’s research procedures led me into a whole new area in which I felt out of my depth (very good for me). I knew about the installation of Pure, the new CRIS, and this at least was much as I expected – a full-time job in itself, involving lots of dialogue with ePrints and Atira staff, with Katy McKen and team, and with bemused researchers. I was even aware I would be involved with a JISC project to establish a data archive here at the University of Bath, and this too led me into unexpected areas and at first felt very daunting as I struggled to balance the demands of this project with the rest of my workload.
What did work? For me, the best bit was working with the two systems, ePrints (the repository) and Pure (the CRIS, produced by Atira) and helping to get them to talk to each other effectively. The Pure dream team (3K+ M) proved incredibly effective in identifying the glitches and highlighting them for fixing by Atira. It was good to be working with such highly effective people, a real inspiration; and the sheer satisfaction of finally seeing data flowing into the right fields in the right way cannot be underestimated (geek alert). I enjoyed working with the Opus team too, with Katie and Nickie, who bore very kindly with my constant questions as I tried to get up to speed with ePrints, copyright, and office routines generally. And what worked most of all for me, which I have come to appreciate more than ever now I’m back in my Faculty role, is the way the work has refreshed and revitalised my approach to my normal work. I have a new and wider perspective, and renewed enthusiasm. I had hoped this would happen – it was a major reason for wanting to try the Research Publications role – and I have not been disappointed.
What didn’t work? Sharing an office does require a different kind of approach to working. I value my own space, and working with another person in the office required a bit of mental adjustment. You have to be aware of the other person, and it’s not always easy to have a free and frank phone conversation, or a confidential meeting. Luckily Katie and Nickie are good people to work with who made this as easy as it could be. The only area where I felt I struggled was when I really had to concentrate on writing a report. Maybe I’m easily distracted, but this was the time I felt I had to get away into private space. Luckily Kate’s old office was free at that time so I used that a fair amount: no phone distractions, no interruptions, just me, my overheating brain and a PC. No excuses!
What you learned from the experience: What didn’t I learn! I learned a lot about working with a major University committee: for instance, that you don’t always get the guidance or brief you’d like when being actioned to write a paper. In that situation I gained the confidence to decide what I thought they needed to know, and to present it authoritatively. I gained a working knowledge of copyright as applied to Open Access publishing, and a fair bit about Open Access itself, an area where I had only the sketchiest understanding previously. I learned a huge amount about data repositories, and how researchers currently store research data (don’t ask, it’s not pretty). I delved into bibliometrics of various kinds, really extending my knowledge here, and getting to enjoy the process of finding and presenting the data (geek alert again – I like stats!). I learned two new complicated database systems, Pure and Eprints, from scratch. And I re-learned what it felt like to have that uneasy and slightly panicky feeling that arises when one is in a new job, and trying to learn a whole raft of new things all at once and as fast as possible, so that you don’t look like a complete idiot when dealing with colleagues from the library and the wider University.
I learned that I was entirely capable of diving into a completely new area of the profession, and getting up to speed with it in very short order. This kind of short-term change of scene is a great way of revitalising one’s work and professional awareness. I would recommend it to anyone who, like me, has been in the same role for a good few years, who doesn’t want to move house and jobs, but who would like to refresh and re-energise their career.
 Katy (McKen), Katy (Jordan), Katie (Evans) and Mary (Loakes)