Getting Thrown into the Deep End

So I started at CILS 3 weeks ago, and oh boy does it feel longer. My first week was a lot of getting settled in sort of thing (which means orientation and a lot of paperwork), and being given the simplest of stuff. After the first week, I was thrown into the deep end.

Liaising with New Students

My first major responsibility was taking over liaising with new students. We have a standard welcome email that goes out to students, but then I also need to follow up with a phone call typically 2-5 days later. Usually, it’s to get a sense of what format works best, typically balanced with what is produced the fastest. Sometimes we get requests for what is perceived to be the best choice, or just what they’re used to, which is fine, but frequently a format, which can be produced faster, will work just as well.

Every student is different of course, which is why we try to do a follow up. Partly, it’s also to manage expectations, to emphasize that if we don’t hear from them, we assume everything is going well.

Producing Work Orders

Whenever we (or one of our ILL-type partners) does not have the material in the particular format, a work order is made for production from print version or a conversion. Getting the work order itself is simple enough using the template that we have, but what really got me at first was cataloguing the material.


Copy cataloguing is simple enough, except due to the fact that our material is a version of the original, we put things in slightly different fields. We have templates for these, so after doing it a few times, I’ve gotten used to it.

The hard part is doing original cataloguing. With standard items, it’s easy enough, but we get course packs and trades materials. The worst was the first course pack I got, was for trades, but was not a standard trades package, nor a standard course pack. The package I got also contained material for multiple courses, which complicated things even more.

In the end, I catalogued each course’s material as separate records, but using the same work order number. Sounds logical enough, but it took some discussion with other team members and apparently it’s the weirdest thing they’d ever seen as well. Just my luck that it was my first one!


Thankfully, many of the standard processes are documented. Doing the daily reports is simple, easy to do with the instructions, and if I forget, I don’t have to bug my coworker. This just proves that documentation really helps new people. First place I’ve started where there was documentation!

My coworker has been adding more, and I hope to contribute more as well.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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