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Day in the life: College Librarian

Pat Aske, Librarian and Bye-Fellow at Pembroke, shares a page from her daily diary.

Friday 7th August 2015

There is no such thing as a typical day in the College Library but the day I chose to keep a diary turned out to be unusually calm and relatively normal – a welcome break.

8.15am Set off from home on my bike. Only tutted at one driver who was straddling the crossing on East Road when the lights changed.

8.30am Outside the Library met Nick, the Head Gardener, and we discussed the weather (of course) and the state of the garden outside the Library. The silver birch has grown very big and forms a canopy over the seating area; it is also showing signs of decay. If the Gardens Committee agree to replace it this may have the effect of letting more light into the Library, which I am always asking for.


8.40am Thank goodness for our maintenance staff who responded to the call straight away to unblock the loo.

8.45am Emails. Not too many at this time of year, and no complicated rare book enquiries today, but sad news about the loss of one of our Benefactors. Sent a message of condolence to the family.

9.10am Summer is when we sort out left-over problems from the year behind and tidy the Library office, so we needed to make decisions on what to keep and what can be recycled. We are making space for the incoming Assistant Librarian (a new post) who starts work on Monday.

9.45am Quick cup of coffee for me before inducting the ten Programme Assistants for the Nihon Special Lecture group who arrive tonight. So good to see some familiar faces amongst the Programme Assistants – in fact quite a few Pembroke students reappeared today to stock up on books for vacation reading. This is when I realise how much I miss our students.


10.45am Put up a notice on the cloakroom door to indicate where the loos are. The notice is in Kanji ( and I’m not really sure what it says) but I hope our Chinese and Japanese visiting students will understand it. (I usually need to check with IP that I am putting it the right way up!)

11am Meeting my counterpart at King’s College for a discussion on how PKP (the Pembroke King’s Programme) is going. It was helpful to us both and he has such a good sense of humour that he always cheers me up.

12.30pm Lunch. Today we had lunch together as a team, as the Graduate Trainee Librarian wanted us to meet his mother before he leaves us at the end of the month.

1pm Emails again and responses required – mainly to do with HR since we have a number of new Library Supervisors who cover the Library out of office hours.


1.45pm Sent details of books offered by Sir Roger Tomkys to the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies to see if they are interested in taking them.

2pm Cataloguing. At last I can work on getting some new books catalogued and on the shelves. I am ordering books for Michaelmas now and working through reading lists supplied by the Faculties.

4pm Fit new donations from Lady Dearlove into our informal lending library. She has kindly donated a large number of really good books – but, as usual, I am now running out of space.

5pm The Graduate Trainee Librarian leaves and I hand over to the postgraduate Library Supervisor. I can then head upstairs to my office to finish off a bit more work before heading home at 7.30pm.


For more information about Pembroke’s Library, see our website.

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