I had meant to post over the weekend this summary of my Friday activities for the Library Day in the Life project. Alas, responsibilities from other corners of my life demanded my attention. With that said, here’s the Friday rundown.
Library Day in the Life, Day 5…
When I arrived on campus at 8:00 a.m., I answered my first reference question of the day before ever entering the library. As I was walking from my vehicle to the building, a young woman pulled up next to me in her car and rolled down her window to ask if it was OK for her to park in the lot next to the library. Obviously, she was a visitor, had business to take care of on campus, and wanted to make sure her car was going to be there when she returned. I proceeded to tell her that she was more than welcome to park there because it is an “open” parking lot. We exchanged pleasantries, she moved towards a parking space, and I continued on my way to the library. Nothing spectacular, mind you, but it was a reminder that opportunities to offer assistance are not limited to the reference desk–nor the library building itself. I renewed a personal charge to move throughout each day with “librarian eyes wide open.”
After I made it inside the library and settled in, the highlights of the day included…
- Submitting a blog post recounting my Day 3 experiences for Library Day in the Life
- Reviewing a federated search product proposal presented by our ILS vendor to the 7 libraries on our shared system
- Sharing with a library staff member some information that I had researched for them the day before (Equipping the staff? …Check.)
- Doing some prep work for our staff meeting later this week
- Downloading some library pictures from the camera for possible use this upcoming academic year
- Engaging in some afternoon writing (riding on a wave of writing productivity from the day before)
This was the 5th round of Library Day in the Life, but it was only my first time participating. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to jump in, but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope to participate in future rounds.
In addition to being down right fun, participation has also been a helpful exercise. Intentionally tracking my daily activities for a typical work week (albeit, during the summer rather than a school semester) has verified for me how many different things I am involved in on just about any given day. Granted, I have always known this to be true. The one-job-with-many-hats is well-lived by many of us. But when you are able to see it visually charted, the dynamic role of a librarian is clearly evident. Actually, I think that is one of the key things that drew me to the profession.
Finally, I hope that this project has been–and will continue to be–of value to library school students and others who are considering a career in librarianship. What an excellent way to peer into the real-life world and activities of librarians in all types of settings. Not to mention the fact that it is a fantastic way to meet librarians and potentially build your professional network.
Day 4 (Thursday) of Library Day in the Life was largely dominated by two exercises for me: reading and writing. There was little traffic in the library, so I was able to stay in one place most of the day and focus on the one thing right in front of me. Once the academic semesters kick in, this becomes much harder to do. The summer, then, is a good time to spend some quality time on professional reading. Primarily I worked through my Google Reader feeds, devouring one blog post after another. One, in particular, that stimulated some thoughtful reflection was a post about library fines by Andy Woodworth (@wawoodworth).
There are a lot of librarians with a talent for sharing the written word and an easily-accessible platform (blogs) for demonstrating that skill. If you aren’t already taking advantage of these contributions to the profession, I strongly encourage you to do so.
In addition to reading, I also spent a great deal of time writing on Thursday. Sometimes you get in “the zone” and just have to keep riding the productivity wave. You know what I’m talking about. I was able to work on a book review, blog posts (including an effort to catch up on my Library Day in the Life posts), and some materials that will be used this coming academic year with students.
One additional activity worth mentioning is the time that I spent brainstorming for a 2010-11 library marketing campaign. I came up with a few conceptual ideas that I hope to share next week in our regular monthly staff meeting.
I guess you could say that to the casual observer, it probably looked like my day was fairly unproductive. For most of the day, a person looking into my office would have found my head buried in a computer screen or book. On the inside, however, the “wheel of creativity and productivity” was spinning furiously.
Catching up on posting for Library Day in the Life…
The Wednesday (7/28/2010, Day 3) installment reveals some of the diversity in my job.
Arrived at work to discover that I was the first one there. Collected the morning’s delivery of local newspapers and turned on the lights. Stood in the silence for a while, reflecting on the day ahead. It was kind of like standing on a playing field in the middle of an empty arena before the action, energy, and rush of a big game. Anyone else enjoy moments like these?
7:30 a.m. — 9:00 a.m.
Enthusiastically took up pen and paper the laptop and wrote a letter of recommendation for one of our recent college graduates who was a top-notch library student worker while here. He is hoping to get a job in the university library where he is now working towards a masters degree. This makes the 5th former library student worker who has asked me to serve as a reference for either a library job or library school. What a great start to the day’s activities!
Shifted to the morning email and social networking scan. Need to work on reducing the size of my email inbox. Yikes!
9:00 a.m. — 9:15 a.m.
Wednesday doughnut break! One of our library staff members (thanks, Shirley!) has started something of a staff ritual. Every Wednesday, she brings in a box of doughnuts–freshly baked that morning–from a local bakery. And like metal too close to a giant magnet, we gravitate towards the staff break area and enjoy food and fellowship. I highly recommend this type of activity among a library staff.
9:15 a.m. — 10:15 a.m.
During our Wednesday doughnut break, my chat with a couple of staff members turned into a valuable “water cooler” conversation about (1) mobile phones and (2) our library database usage last year. Spontaneity at its best.
10:15 a.m. — 10:45 a.m.
Spent time in the book stacks and reference area for anyone who might need assistance (“itinerant librarian”).
10:45 a.m. — 12:00 noon
Explored and assessed with our systems manager a test version of our library catalog with an open source discovery layer. Loving the possibilities there!
12:00 noon — 12:15 p.m.
Participated in a conference call of the Board of Directors for our statewide academic library consortium. I do believe it could be the shortest board conference call on record–ever. Nice.
12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Fielded questions from our archivist concerning (1) a current digitization project and (2) online versions of special collections finding aids.
1:00 p.m. — 2:00 p.m.
Polished up my assessment document of our 2009-10 library goals and objectives.
2:00 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.
Did some research to find a well-recommended dehumidifier to replace an older model that we are currently using in one of the archives rooms. Consumer Reports to the rescue!
2:30 p.m. — 3:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Worked with our library’s A-to-Z journal finder list to clean up an issue with how some titles were displaying.
4:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m.
Put together some book orders for sports medicine/athletic training titles. Earlier collaboration with a faculty member really paid off.
Headed home for the day.
From flipping light switches, to recommendation letter writing, to doughnut consumption, to R&D with the library catalog, to “water cooler” conversations–what a ride! All in a day’s work.
Continuing with participation in Library Day in the Life, here’s a snapshot of what filled my workday on Tuesday–Day 2.
Morning activities included:
- Some professional reading. Mostly blogs, but I am also finishing Brian Mathews’ book, Marketing Today’s Academic Library.
- Library calendar planning for the 2010-11 academic year
- Talked with a faculty member who is connecting the library with a potential book donor (fine collection of books on the German Resistance and Bonhoeffer)
- Listened to our circulation manager bounce off some new ideas about our copy/print card vending service. (It’s great to work with people who are always looking for ways to improve.)
And highlights from the afternoon included :
- A welcomed break from the “director” bubble to do some front-line work…Helped troubleshoot an issue a student was having with emailing a list of WorldCat records. (It was great to see the student using the “Lists” feature in WorldCat. Word is getting out.)
- Back to administrative work…Signing library invoices
- Created a news post highlighting some 2009-10 library facts (Top-10 most-used databases and borrowing statistics)
- Joined in a Twitter conversation with three library guys who always have great ideas to share–Justin Hoenke (@justinlibrarian), David Lee King (@davidleeking), and Jan Holmquist (@janholmquist). The conversation was already in progress and centered around the availability of local music in the library. From there it moved to ideas about digital streaming of live music/radio from the library. Collaboration like this is happening all the time among librarians, and it is great to be a part of it! Think about it: Four guys located in Maine, Kansas, South Carolina, and Denmark struck up–with the simplest of ease–a spontaneous conversation about music, libraries, and “going local.” That, my friends, is what I call progress in collaboration.
- Received an email out of the blue from one of our recent college graduates who also worked in the library. He was hoping for a letter of recommendation to apply for library work at the university where he is now earning a masters degree (and working towards a doctoral degree). What a proud moment. Serve as a reference? Absolutely! I love hearing from former students, especially those who worked in the library. It’s so great to hear what they are doing now.
I love my job.
This week I am joining the many other librarians who are participating in Library Day in the Life. This year marks the 5th round of the project, but only my first. The goal? To paint a picture of my daily activities on the job. So here goes…the librarian and administrator…play by play…Day 1, Monday.
Arrived at office, shook off the weekend, and scanned the day’s “To Do” list. Coffee.
7:30 a.m. — 7:45 a.m.
Jumped right in by discussing with a staff member a couple issues concerning dissertation binding and electronic dissertation submissions.
7:45 a.m. — 8:15 a.m.
Fired up the laptop. Checked the email inbox. Did a morning scan of the Twitter accounts and Facebook pages (personal and library) and left running in the background for ongoing monitoring of posts, comments, questions, etc.
8:15 a.m. — 8:30 a.m.
Talked with the archivist about a possible book repair and recommendations. A community user had approached me over the weekend asking for help with a damaged book.
8:30 a.m. — 12:45 p.m.
Majority of my morning was devoted to compiling annual library statistics for the 2009-2010 academic year. Lots of progress here. Just me, the data, and the spreadsheets. With office tasks like this, however, I like to take occasional breaks to give my eyes a rest and walk out into the library. In addition to stretching my legs, I am able to interact with library visitors and simply be visible as a roving librarian available for on-the-spot help.
12:45 p.m. — 2:00 p.m.
Participated in an email conversation centered around planning for expansion of our small, start-up branch library on the Columbia, S.C. campus. Helped an administrator seeking resources on planning for educational facilities.
2:00 p.m. — 2:15 p.m.
Helped a staff member clarify a personnel issue with Human Resources (Equipping and ‘standing in the gap” for a great library staff. That’s a key part of what I do.)
2:15 p.m. — 2:45 p.m.
Grabbed a quick (and late) lunch. Switched from coffee to iced tea.
2:45 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Followed up on some more email and returned to work on the annual library statistics.
4:00 p.m. — 4:30 p.m.
Made a phone call to the systems librarian responsible for our integrated library system–a system shared with six other independent college libraries. Had a good conversation regarding library system planning for 2010-2011.
4:30 p.m. — 5:30 p.m.
Left the office a little early to visit a nearby university library and use a resource that they made available to me. (It’s great having other academic librarians in the local area with whom we cooperate and collaborate.)
Overall, a productive day.
John Kennerly...library director, technology dabbler, and information handler. More bio