Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Day in This Librarian’s Life, or "If It’s 10 O’clock, This Must Be an Assessment Meeting"

Here it is: my contribution to Library Day in the Life. From the website: “The Library Day in the Life Project is a semi-annual event coordinated by Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day. Twice a year librarians, library staff and library students from all over the globe share a day (or week) in their life through blog posts, photos, video and Twitter updates.” 

I took notes as I went through my day since I knew I wouldn’t remember little details. I was also hoping that, at the end of the day, I’d be able to look through my notes and see common themes or threads. I was right. A couple of themes did emerge. First, I work on a lot of different projects during the course of a normal day. Understandable, since I’m an academic librarian and summer is when I get my big projects done. It’s all with the same end goal, though, so I make it work. Second, there was fodder for at least three more blog posts within my notes. Many of these projects are crying out for further explanation, but you’re going to have to wait.


This day began the same way almost every day this summer has. I’ve developed a “first thing in the morning” routine that includes mundane but necessary activities like dropping my computer bag off in my office, bringing my lunch up to the refrigerator in the staff room, and chatting with any colleagues that cross my path. Summer mornings are a lot more leisurely because I arrive at 8 am, but the library doors don’t open until 9.

Before going back to my office, I gathered materials for a few ongoing projects. I’m responsible for a monthly-during-the-academic-year newsletter that highlights new acquisitions and book industry news, so I scanned the new books shelf for items that I want to highlight in the August issue. I’m also in the middle of weeding our fiction section – a collection that has needed weeding for years – so I gathered some likely candidates for deacquisitioning and headed back to my office.

Next up on my morning agenda was checking email. This can be such a time vampire if I’m not careful, but I’ve got decent systems in place and was able to work my way through the overnight accumulation pretty easily. I had a lot of typical emails – ongoing listserv conversations, computer network problems that were announced and then resolved, a forwarded joke from a family member – but there was a fun one in the mix. Another member of the GNLIB (Graphic Novels in Libraries) listserv wanted advice about developing a core collection of titles. This was a fun request, so I answered it right away.

After finishing with email, I worked on the newsletter. I added the new books I’d grabbed, then a link to an obituary, and finally links to and information about some recent book award announcements. Then, with a simple switch of programs, I worked my way through the stack of books I brought from the fiction collection. I’ve already discussed my collection development philosophy, but I think the actual process I follow in making decisions about what to add and what to remove is worthy of its own blog post – so stay tuned.

After that, I had to run to back to back meetings. I’m in the midst of gathering information from everyone on staff to help me draft up an assessment plan for the whole library. Wow is this a convoluted piece of work, and it is taking up a lot of my time and energy this summer. (More on this one in a later post as well.)

Finally, it was time for lunch. Yum.


After lunch, I worked through more emails. If an email is going to take less than 2 minutes to handle, I try to do it right away – that’s the stuff I do in the morning. Anything that will take longer, I leave for later. I spent the next hour working my way through some of the more complex questions/requests/situations that had arrived via email over the last week or so. Email, email, email. It gets annoying, but it’s how we communicate most things on my campus.

Then I had another meeting about the assessment plan – this time with our archivist. I had anticipated 30 minutes, but we went for an hour. If there’s one thing I wish someone had warned me about while I was in graduate school, it’s the way meetings can take up so much of my time. My job gets in the way of my job. Fortunately, though, the meetings I had today were all productive.

I spent the last couple of hours of my day between reading and responding to blog posts, going through the notes I’d gathered in my meetings, and other assorted activities. I had an impromptu meeting with a newer colleague – he wanted to show me his first official office decoration. I talked to a faculty member who dropped by the library. Lots of little things added up, including a few things getting crossed of my To Do list, and then it was time to head home.


However, this wasn’t a typical heading home. It was a “Go out for a drink with colleagues” heading home. One of the nice things about working at this college is that more than 50% of the faculty and professional staff (the weird not-faculty-but-not-regular-staff category into which librarians fall) have started in the last 5 years, and a lot of us have become friends. We try to meet up, for drinks usually, on a regular basis. It was a nice way to end the day.

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