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Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.

Weekend shift

April 20th, 2008

I’m in for my first Sunday of the term. Actually, I’m in for my last Sunday of the term. Each term staff of my level are assigned approximately one Saturday and two Sundays to work. This term I’ve been assigned one Saturday, one Sunday, and one Saturday reserve. Generally, Sundays are better to work than Saturdays as overtime pay is better, and the hours are shorter and (for me) more convenient. However, if I manage to avoid being called in on reserve, I only have two weekend shifts this term. We’ll see whether this works out well or not so well.

There are obvious downsides to working weekends, but I’ve got mixed feelings about this. In my old job I was an ‘access assistant’ which entailed working the hours which the core library staff didn’t support: 16.45 to 21.15 twice a week on weekdays, and alternate Saturdays, although there was a member of the core staff on with me 16.45 to 19.00 on my weekday shifts. In my current post the core staff work weekends on shifts, meaning that the load is spread. I can see the upsides of both systems. If you can get the same staff working at weekends they have a far better idea of what’s going on, and can provide a more professional service. But on the other hand, when I chose to work unsociable shifts in my old job this was a conscious choice on my part – in fact I was pleased to be able to work at those times. This meant I was far more enthusiastic and happy about working at those times, and didn’t feel put upon, as I sometimes do now when my weekend shifts come up.

This all ties into the professionalism debate in librarianship. I’m about to embark on training to become a professional librarian, but in my time in libraries I’ve fulfilled various roles and provided a lot of help as a library assistant. The thing I like about weekend shifts in my current job is that there are genuine librarians on-site whenever the library’s open. However, I wouldn’t knock the level of service I managed to provide as the sole member of counter staff in my old post. Part of the reason I was able to help people out was because I was a PhD student at the university, and knew my way around research and the library system, it wasn’t my job to know as such. However, with staff of a high standard willing to work unsociable hours, is it always necessary to have a qualified librarian on-site? I’m afraid I’m going to cop out, and say that I really don’t know.

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