The second half of this week has been all about one thing really. Meetings. And more meetings. Some people love them. others detest them. But one thing is certain: They are inevitable.
The calls and emails began in earnest on Tuesday and spilled into Wednesday. “Mark your calendars.” “Would you be available to meet on…?” “We need to schedule a meeting.”
So Wednesday became the day of
reckoning scheduling and rescheduling. All these meetings needed to be coordinated like an elaborate dance, and everything was converging on the backside of this week. It was amazing how much time I spent on this on Wednesday.
And then came Thursday and the beginning of the meet-a-thon. As a result, I spent much of the day in meetings (and the same will be true for Friday).
That pretty much sums up my Library Day in the Life activity for the rest of the week.
How do you feel about meetings? Do you run to them with enthusiasm or do run away screaming, “My name is Neo!” Whether you like them or not, meetings are a part of life. And there’s a smorgasbord of types:
- The long-planned, well-crafted agenda type
- The hastily-called
- The marathon
- The speed meeting
- The “all hands on deck” variety
- The one-on-one
- And everything in between, including my personal favorite
If it sounds like I am not a fan of meetings, that’s not really the case. Meetings are not bad in and of themselves. They can be productive and even enjoyable. Indeed, one of Wednesday’s meetings was time with the library staff that I have been looking forward to for a while. Our opinion of and reaction to meetings has a lot to do with our perceptions and attitude. When I enter a meeting with a negative preconception, I usually leave that meeting feeling the exact same way and pining the loss of time. Not good. On the other hand, when I go into a meeting expecting to accomplish something valuable with others, there is a much better chance that I will walk away with an upward attitude about the whole experience. “Upward attitude” doesn’t always mean that I will have enjoyed the experience, but it does mean that I will have valued the experience. I genuinely dislike going to the dentist, but I do it without complaining because I understand the value of doing so. Upward attitude.
The continuing saga of Library Day in the Life, Round 6…
Activities ran the gamut yesterday (Tuesday). From report writing, to planning for library instruction sessions, to dealing with the scanner (don’t ask), to budget work, to checking the building for leaks (it rained all day yesterday, and when that happens there are places that we need to watch…sigh), to evaluating gift books, to helping a student find that particular book in the collection–it was a typical exercise in a key skill of the trade: flexibility.
With that said, I did notice one theme was most pervasive and continued on and off throughout the day…
I didn’t plan it, but much of what I had my feet in yesterday was in some form or another related to growth or improvement in the profession. Activities serving as a sharpening stone or kiln, if you will. Shaping. Strengthening. Some examples included:
- Professional reading (I always encourage students nearing graduation to identify professional publications in their area of study/soon-to-be-profession and READ. I took my own advice.)
- Signing up for an upcoming webcast on Google ebooks (The topic of ebooks should be on every librarians radar.)
- Following and engaging in Twitter conversations about things of relevance to my job and library services (I even learned about the Google ebooks webcast in my twitter stream.)
- Planning for a special library staff forum (later this week) where we will talk about our library and try to get to the heart of who we are and how we go about doing things. (I plan to write more about this after we meet. It has the potential to be revolutionary for us.)
A closing word to library school students and others considering the profession:
Yes, the day may be filled with book-finding, leak-checking, and scanner-wrestling, but there is always a place for professional development. Don’t just be content with the bag of tools and tricks that you carry away from library school. Use them, yes, but build on them. Drag yourself over the sharpening stone. Get into the kiln. Continue to develop yourself professionally. Don’t find time for it. Make time for it. (That’s another post.)
It’s that time again. Round 6 of Library Day in the Life is underway. This week librarians from all walks of life, working in different types of libraries with various job responsibilities, will be sharing just what it’s like to be in their shoes during a typical work week. There are several reasons I have chosen to participate (this marks my 2nd year).
Day 1…yesterday…was Monday…and manic. It was…well, see for yourself:
5:30 a.m. — 6:30 a.m.
Quiet time. (This is important. Our days are so full of images, sounds, actions, demands, etc. that time for silent reflection is hard to come by. Well, here it is before the house awakes.)
Take out the dog. (The cat is self-reliant, of course.)
Feed the dog…and the cat (self-reliant? yes, but pampered? even more so.).
Wake the rest of the house, get ready, and head to work.
* I will mention this only once, but you may rightfully assume that it will occur throughout the day.
6:30 a.m. — 7:00 a.m.
Drive time. (Yet another useful time to turn off the radio and prepare mentally for the day. And, boy, did I need it.)
7:00 a.m. — 8:00 a.m.
Arrived at work.
First on the scene, so collected newspapers from delivery box, turned on lights, fired up computers, yadda yadda.
Checked email and sent some follow-up replies from the previous evening.
Morning scan of the social sphere (Twitter, Facebook, Google reader).
8:00 a.m. — 10:00 a.m.
Prepared and sent a library update report to the academic dean. This was requested last week in preparation for an upcoming February meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees. I used it to focus (yet again) on continued support for our statewide academic library consortium. With state funding the way it is these days, some things can never be said enough.
Communicated with a sales rep and a music department faculty member to iron out some decisions and details concerning a database trial for the spring semester. Negotiator. Liaison. Mediator. Roles worth being prepared to do in the business.
10:00 a.m. — 12:00 noon
Monthly meeting of campus VPs and directors with the president. This is something new the president has started in an effort to improve communication among the leadership. Lengthy, but informative. Open, cross-connected channels are good.
12:00 noon — 2:00 p.m.
More work with a fellow faculty member. This time, planning library instruction sessions for two literature classes this spring semester–World Lit II and a 400-level course on Twain.
Activated IP address recognition access for three new reference e-book resources and added links in the library website database list for a soft launch. (Drafting a promotional news post will have to come later in the day. Need to move on now.)
Switched hats from ‘local librarian’ to ‘board member’ of our statewide academic library consortium. Reviewed a draft letter the board is planning to distribute to all the library directors. Feedback and discussion via email with other board members. (Skype would have been helpful. Maybe next time.)
2:00 p.m. — 2:15 p.m.
Something resembling a quick lunch.
2:15 p.m. — 3:30 p.m.
Final prep work for a library orientation session scheduled with a group of new distance ed students. They are from the New York area; they are on campus this week for some intensive courses to begin their enrollment in a graduate program; they are Korean. Part of my prep work was some final cramming to learn how to say “hello” and “I am John” in Korean. A southern boy attempting to speak Korean can be…uh…painfully comical. This is going to be good!
3:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.
Time for the library orientation session with the Korean grad students. I began with “ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo” (“hello”) and made a connection with them that drove the rest of the session. Meeting people where they are: Priceless.
I am going to enjoy working with these students this week. So full of life and eager to learn. (Sorry for the quality of the picture. The camera on my phone could never get stabilized because we were all so pumped!)
4:00 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.
Worked on some book orders for the library.
Created the promotional news post for the 3 new reference e-book resources mentioned earlier.
Got out from behind the desk and helped a few library users needing assistance. (If you don’t already do it, I highly recommend walking away from the desk and into the places where the users are scattered throughout the building. Many librarians have figured this out, and it works.)
6:30 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.
Headed home for the day. Again, the drive time is cherished time. I call the drive home the “decompression” phase.
Very late evening:
Worked on an ongoing project compiling results from a library survey.
It was just another manic Monday. But a productive one, for sure.
Next week (Jan 24-30) marks the 6th round of the Library Day in the Life project–an ingenious creation by Bobbi Newman. For those unfamiliar with the project, it is a way to share and learn what a typical work week is like for those who work in libraries. I participated in round 5 last year, and I plan to be back for more. Here are the main reasons why:
- It is a great resource for those considering the profession. If you were interested in a particular career, wouldn’t you like the idea of being able to read the activities and thoughts of people already in the trenches of that type of job? I would. If that’s you and your career interest is libraries, Library Day in the Life is for you. Go to the Library Day in the Life wiki, and check back often.
- It can help those questioning their place in the profession. Are you already a librarian? Have you ever had doubts or low points in your career/job? If you’re like me, you’ve been on the roller coaster and the answer is ‘yes.’ Here’s a thought: The contributions coming out of this project could be of value to those already in the profession and currently wondering if they made the best choice by becoming a librarian. Sometimes it helps to see the bigger picture in order to find your place. For example, you could learn from other librarians what it is like to work in other areas of the profession or in other types of libraries. You just may discover something that you connect with. At the very least, it can be a source of encouragement or motivation.
- It forces me to reflect on what I am doing as a librarian. By reporting on my daily activities, I can’t help but see a snapshot of my day-to-day efforts in a typical work week. It’s an opportunity for professional self-assessment. Granted, it only records one week of activity out of the year, but it is real activity nonetheless. Are there things that I can improve? (Time management? Goal adjustments? Priorities?) Can I validate my contributions to the profession? (I really accomplished all that today? I must have been on my game! Now that particular task was something I can feel good about and keep doing.)
- It can be an outreach tool. Let’s look away from the inside of the profession for a while. Library Day in the Life is an excellent “tool” for conversations with people outside the library who are wondering just what it is that librarians do or why we need libraries. Librarian and blogger Daenel makes this point very well in a recent video post. Collectively sharing stories about what we do in libraries has the potential to show others (to quote Daenel) “the lives that we touch and the impact that we have on communities.” Good stuff.
So next week, I will join many other librarians taking part in Library Day in the Life. You can participate too–whether as a contributor or an inquisitive reader. Follow all the Library Day in the Life activity on:
- Posts from Library Day in the Life (Round 5)
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.
John Kennerly...library director, technology dabbler, and information handler. More bio
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