There are no typical work days for most Curators at the British Library (also compare to Susan's previous post, covering this from a different angle: see http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/dach/2009/07/counting-the-days.html). Of course, there are recurring tasks, such as checking the incoming post. In 2009 we received 349 donated items via post. All need to be considered, and either forwarded for processing, returned, or disposed of in accordance with BL policy. Today it’s only a Swiss local almanac which has used an image from one of our books – I will pass this on to Permissions, as they will need to see it first.
Another daily task is to look at the German-Enquiries inbox (german-enquiries[atsign]bl.uk): there’s a note of a new book published in Germany, which I forward to Susan and Dorothea who select from Germany. I then briefly discuss with my colleague Barbara what has been happening with Dutch Collections in the last few days, as Barbara is taking over checking incoming communications from me today.
My own inbox includes a follow-up email about requesting digital scans; this is part of Imaging Services so I will need to refer the requester to their web order form.
As I’m scheduled later to supervise a historian being interviewed for a radio programme on a book about German prisoners of war in the UK, I check my background information on the book and topic; often curators get asked about something relating to our books. Indeed, they wanted to know why access to this book is “restricted”, which it isn’t: it can be ordered by anyone, but must be read in the Rare Books Reading Room.
After lunch, I deal with German DSC requests. But as often, one request is not straightforward: it is a book in a set of volumes, and the catalogue record doesn’t make it clear which we have already received. When I check the shelf, the volume in question is there.
I return a couple of books and collect a book for Susan; it’s something which also fits in with one of my research projects. I briefly inspect this book’s features against my checklist, and pass it on to Susan.
Although the library offers many talks by internal or external speakers, I don’t manage to go to many of these. But today’s was about Digital Research and how libraries could facilitate this, as digitising material is only the beginning. This will be relevant for the British Library in the near future. I hope that we will get a chance to work as curators in this field.
Back at the desk, I’m going through a duplicates list from one of our German Exchange partners, some of which are of interest to our collections. After this, I look at a draft for a blog post by Susan, and send out another version. I now also have time to follow up an email which indicates that one of the web pages where I changed a broken link hasn’t been loaded to the live server properly (I edit web pages for all Western European languages.) I also just spotted a new broken link, reported on a French page.
For the remainder of the time in the office today I will look into a presentation I’m scheduled to give to some postgraduate students in a couple of weeks’ time. Unfortunately, I don’t get very far, something for another (non)typical day in the life of curator.