#CityLIS Student Perspectives: Volunteering at CityLibrary by Isabel Martinez Carrasco

Student Perspectives is our series of guest posts written by current #citylis students.

This post is by current #citylis student, Isabel Martinez Carrasco and is about the volunteer position she undertook at CityLibrary last summer.


Lyn Robinson informed us recently that new volunteer positions are available at City University Library this summer for #CityLIS students, so I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my previous experience of doing so.

Last year, from July to September 2016, I was participating in a very interesting project at the Northampton Square Library inputting data from the University access control system (PLAN) into LibAnalytics (a data management package) and testing methodologies for analysing the data.

The project aimed to identify, using statistics and data analysis, the real circulation flow of student visits by features such as school and course of study, ensuring confidentiality, at the different libraries locations at City, University of London. With that, the University intended to be better informed about the libraries’ use routines and design a Library Services Operational Plan through which to know if additional resources were needed, report the results to the Library Committee and provide evidence.

My tasks consisted in collating all data in Microsoft Excel, editing, categorising, sorting and filtering it according to parameters set out, and then uploading them to the data analysis program LibInsight. I also collaborated briefly in the data management of SCONUL annual library statistics and library staff training records.


At the beginning, I was not confident if I would be able to cope with it because it required the use of advanced functions in Microsoft Excel with which I was not entirely familiar, but rapidly the supervisors of the project, Derek MacKenzie (Head of User Services) and Martin Edwards (User Services Librarian, Law) made me feel at ease. Indeed, their instructions were always clear and very well-defined, and they suggested to me a project timeline in which tasks could be completed reasonably and feasibly.

The project required a commitment of approximately 4-6 hours per week over a 2-3 month period. I must also say that, at that time, I was involved with some personal circumstances that forced me to travel to my country during the summer and both supervisors were always very flexible and understanding to rearrange my schedule, providing that I comply with the agreed hours.

I knew that other #CityLIS classmates were collaborating in respective projects related to content digitisation activities at the main library and contributing to the improvement in usability of the library website at the Cass Learning Resource Centre, and they too were happy as well.

I am very thankful and satisfied for having had the opportunity of volunteering at City University Library. It was a great experience for me and I really enjoyed it. All staff are very nice, and I could use all the facilities, see how the library looks ‘behind the scenes’ and how it is a working really busy information environment. I gained invaluable skills at data analysis and I learned how to use pivot tables and dashboards in an Excel spreadsheet, knowledge that I am quite sure will be useful for my master´s dissertation.

For that reason, I encourage everyone at #CityLIS interested at volunteering at City University library to apply.

You will not regret it.


You can follow Isabel on Twitter.

If you are interested in studying Library and Information Science, our next Open Evening is on June 14th from 5.30-7.30pm – you can book your place here.

If you are a current #citylis student or alumni and would like to contribute a post, please contact our Editor, James Atkinson.

About James

Information Assistant (Academic Services) in the Library at City, University of London.
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