Natalie and Cameron's working day at Explore York

This story is to introduce York Explore and explain the work that we do as volunteers here.

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Outside York Explore, near the Museum Gardens.

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Location, location, location!

York Explore Library and Archive is at Library Square, York YO1 7DS. You can find it next door to the Yorkshire Museum Gardens and round the corner from the Art Gallery and York Theatre Royal. We find it easiest to get here on the bus from home.

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The staff room door with the keypad. Staff and volunters enter the pin code which allows them to enter the room. If you need help you can ask at the information desk.

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The first thing we do is say good morning to staff in the office, sign in and put on our volunteer badges.
We then hang our coats and put our bags in the staff room for safe keepings.
To get into the staff room you need a code to get in (I can't give you this information).

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Signing in is important for fire safety .

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Dom hanging her coat up in the staff room. Helps keep the coats tidy as well as the staff room.

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Returning items using the scanner.

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One of our jobs is to help customers with the book scanners. If you want to take a book out or bring a book back you scan your card and put the book under the scanner and the machine lets the Library know where the book is. You can ask for a receipt that tells you when the book needs to come back. If a customer is not sure how to use the machine, we can help.

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Putting books in the returning bin.

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The lift and stairs are sign posted to help you find your way around.

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If we're working in the archives, we usually go upstairs to Catriona's office. Catriona works with Laura in Archives and they are the only people who can go into the stores to fetch material which needs cataloguing.

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This is the door to Catriona's office.

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The shelves in the stores, full of boxes and old memories.

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If you're wondering what an archive is, it's a room where lots of books, plans, important documents and objects from the history of York are stored for safekeeping. It's really cold in there to help preserve everything that's stored there.

One of our jobs is cataloguing old plans so the general public can find them, if needed, but only to look at. We give them numbers so they're easy to find.

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Catriona and Cameron looking at old plans.

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The sliding shelves in the archive open electronically. There are lots of old plans. I catalogued them on the PC, about 5 a day.

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Cameron and Dom taking plans back to the library on a trolly. Cameron likes working with job coach Dom because she makes him laugh.

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Catriona gives us a stack of plans and a drawer number, tape measure, pencil and stickers. We have a copy of the database that we use to catalogue the information. We give each plan a number, which has to be written on using pencil (not pen!) and sometimes a sticker if the plan is in protective plastic. We look at the plan and write a description, the scale used, date, measurements, title, what it's made of and if it needs repairing.

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Using a tap measure to measure the plan for the archive catalogue.

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We need to record details such as the scale, size and title of plans.

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A side-room of the library on the ground floor.

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This is what the library looks like inside. You can read in the quiet room (we don't like it in here so much because you're not allowed to talk), use the microfilm readers, have a drink or a meal in the cafe or buy things in the shop.

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An upstairs workspace where we like to work.

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The archives reading room. Volunteers sometimes work here but you need to be quiet in this space.

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The explore gift shop. If we're not too busy, sometimes we help to keep the shelves clean and tidy.

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Natalie and Dom (arms of Dom). Dom is showing Natalie the surname of the writer of the book.

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If we're stuck with something or have any worries or concerns we can ask Explore staff to help or our Job Coach from Blueberry Academy, Dom, who is here to help us with our tasks for the day.

Cameron brings a packed lunch and likes to eat this with staff in the staff room. Natalie likes to eat in the cafe with Dom and other volunteers. Everyone is really friendly and always happy to help. There's a warm atmosphere. We especially like working with Kate, another volunteer. We get on really well.

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The cafe is nice place to sit and chat or use the computers. Alternatively, staff and volunteers can take breaks in the staff room.

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Hot food, sandwiches, cakes and drinks can be bought in the cafe.

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Natalie and Dom collecting books which need to be put back on the shelves.

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Natalie's favourite job is shelving books. Around the library you will see black trolleys with books on. These are books that have been brought back and need to go back onto the shelves. We look at the spine of each book to check the number and see what category it belongs to. We then find the right shelf and look at the author's name and, using the alphabet, we find that author's place on the shelf.

We also have a list of books customers have ordered which we have to find. This is ok, unless you have a children's picture book to find. This is because they are not in alphabetical order!

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We check the spine of the book to work out where it needs to go on the shelf.

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Finding the right place on the shelf.

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Natalie and Cameron are scanning books at the computer in the office to send them to different libraries.

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Cameron's favourite job is scanning books that have come back and finding out which library they are from, so they can be returned. We scan the book and the screen shows us which library it comes from. We then write on a strip of paper the code. For example, Tang Hall would be TH. This then goes into the plastic containers called 'baths'. When the baths are full, Darren takes all of the books back to the appropriate library.

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