Monthly Archives: January 2009

A Day in the Life 1/30/09

Shew!  This day is done!  For a Friday, it was not bad.

I started the day by participating in the interview for our candidate for our Research and Development position.  They did a nice presentation, focusing on wide reaching technologies and tools for service, location, communication, and collaboration, instead of a summary of tools.  I enjoyed the theoretical approach.

Then, off to a meeting.  I’m chairing the Student Conversations group, and we needed to update and outline future work.  Like many libraries, we are in massive flux, reorganizing departments and units, and raising money for a new building.   Like many organizations, we want input on what our users think and want from us as we plan our change.  It’s a quick meeting, and then we’re off to the next event.

I head off to the second part of the R&D interview, the small group questions specific to instruction and reference.  It’s a pleasant gathering and the candidate does well.  We dont delve too far off topic too many times, which is good.

After that, I’ve got 20 minutes till I’m on the desk, and I’m STARVING.  I drop my bag at the desk, run across the street to the cafe on the graduate school campus, and look at the dismal offerings that weren’t snatched up by the lunch rush.  I’m left with an egg sandwich and chips… I dont have time to order anything from the grill, unfortunately, because this place makes a mean burger.  Ah, well… I settle on my egg sandwich (which turned out to be quite disappointing; onions and red peppers have no business in egg salad, btw), stuffing half of it in my maw while bolting back across the street.  I loiter outside the door in the sun, stuffing my face, making it to the desk with only moments to spare.

The desk is typically busy, and pass the two hours very quickly.  I should mention that at my library we have no reference desk; when I’m there my office door is open, and when I am not there, students and staff find me on IM or by phone.  So when I work the desk, I’m on the main library desk… and that’s always a challenge. Today, I help some young Japanese girls locate some articles for a paper on elementary education.  The language barrier is nearly impossible to work around, until I ask them to write out the keywords they’re thinking about.  Once I figure out what they want, I find them a few things, and send them a detailed email linking to ERIC and Google Uncle Sam, with some suggestions on keyword searching.  I also try to help a senior working on her thesis who returned “that book” that had all the crucial information on a particular painting… and she cant remember what the title of it was… we look and look and look for information on this painting, but I Fail at this sort of thing, so after 40 minutes I refer her to the Art librarian.  In between, I get some easy questions and a lot of circulation action.

Finally, I bolt from the desk and go hide out in my BFF’s office.  She’s giving me a lift since I am car free, and while she works I hammer out the last bits of my presentation for UIUC’s Science Refernce class next week.  Of course I’m using LOL cats.  : )

So now I’m home… and reflecting back on the week.  It’s been busy, but good, and although I’m looking forward to my down time this weekend, I know next week is going to be just as awesome.  : )

A Day in the Life 1/30/09

Heh.  So on Wednesday it felt almost like Friday because I had no meetings, no classes, no scheduled obligations for Thursday.  I was looking forward to getting my To Do list nearly killed… Did that happen?  No.  This image best typlifies how my life’s been lately.

busy1

Yesterday I got to the library, and ended up helping a coworker fix his printing.  For those of you who know me, you know that, for whatever reason, printing is the hardest thing I do every day.  Yea, I dont get it, either.  Anyways, it’s contagious and was even worse for my friend. Problem solved, then off to a relaxing picnic lunch with my BFF.

While I was at lunch, our director put out a call for 30 mins of coverage on the main service desk.  I agreed, and headed over there for the next two hours, because they were slammed!  I’m not even sure if I made all the ticks on our ref stats sheets, since it was one afer an other after another  times a bazillion.

I escape in a moment of calm, and manage to address my inbox before leaving for the day, and at least hash out the outline and rough points for next week’s UIUC guest lecture at Linda Smith’s Science Reference class.  I need to turn in my ppt and links by Monday, so today I need to get crackin if I dont want to work on that over the weekend.

When I got home, I checked in with my chemists for a few minutes, then turned everything off and made a doily.  Oh, and if you havent heard from me lately… check that image above.  : )

A Day in the Life 1/28/09

Today is a very busy day for me.  I’ve got a killer To Do list that’s pages long, plus I’m teaching two classes and have two meetings.  I was supposed to go volunteer at my daughter’s school library (she is in 2nd grade) but I bailed on that today as I just have too much work to do.  I love to volunteer at her school, though, as it is a totally different kind of librarianship.  I read them fun stories, we talk about what we read, and then I get to mingle with 20 7 year olds helping them find books on ponies, fairies, Star Wars, skateboarding, puppies, and a bunch of juvie lit I have no idea about.  It’s chaotic, it’s a madhouse, it’s barely constrained pandemonium, but boy, it’s fun.

So first off, I get in and make sure that all of last night’s emails are addressed, requested books are ordered, and that everything is in order for the day.  Now, time to settle in and make sure I’m ready for the first of my two instruction sessions for the day.

The first instruction is for a bioengineering class, and it went really well.  It’s hard to tell if students are engaged or if they’re totally bored, but I know the professor enjoyed the class and thanked me for the reminder about Web of Science.  I did my intro ppt (full of LOL cats, which I still think is amusing), Web of Science, Engineering Village, PubMed, and Google Scholar.

When I’m done with that, I head down to Honnold (the main library) to meet with my boss.  We meet weekly to share ideas about current projects, share news, and to express where each of us might need help achieving our objectives.  It’s a good meeting – short – and I’m on the road back to Sprague.

I next meet with a math candidate for Claremont McKenna College.  We meet for a little over a half an hour, and I tour him through the library, showing off the collections and talking about our services and what we do.  We also sit down and I show him our indexing tools and electronic journal holdings.  He is from Germany and is astonished at the warm “winter” weather we have here, so I agree to walk him down to see the jewel of the Claremont libraries, Denison.  Denison is the women and gender studies and art library, and it is absolutely lovely, full of wood furniture, antiques, and stained glass.  The candidate is amazed and pleased with our libraries.

Finally, the last instruction class.  This one is also engineering – heat transfer.  I pretty much show the same things as the AM class, swapping out SciFinder Scholar for PubMed, and also a quick display of RefWork’s ability to create a bibliography, and more impressively, format in text citations AND the bibliography.  I get awe struck gasps for that.   One student fessed up to taking both classes, so I had him answer some of my audience participation questions.

Today was fun.  : )

A Day in the Life 01/27/09

Today begins with the typical check email/answer midnight questions/prioritize the To Do list, mixed in with a few IM chats.

We went live with Libraryh3lp last week, and it is SO COOL! We’ve got a widget on our website that looks just like a Meebo Widget.

askus

Libraryh3lp uses the jabber protocol, so you can use any IM aggregator like Trillian, Pidgin, or Adium (I use Adium) to handle the incoming chats. When a chat comes in, the chat window comes up on everyone’s computer who is logged in to the Libraryh3lp.  You can even see if someone answers the chat.  This is what the window looks like to the librarian.

incoming

As you can see from the image, you can also transfer chats to others who are logged into the system.  Clicking on the ‘transfer’ link will take you to a webpage that shows who is online and lets you send chats to them.  It’s great if, say, the music librarian is online and the question you’ve got is just out of your depth.

And, unlike Meebo, you can easily tell when the user has left the conversation.

outgoing

I REALLY like Libraryh3lp!  I’m impressed with it, how easy it is, and it’s awesome seeing all the chats that come in, not just when you’re logged it.  I totally recommed this for ANY library who does chat reference for their communities.

So after I got done with a few ref questions that came in, I had to wander down to the main library.  Once of my tasks was to follow up on one of the IM ref questions I got, that I could  not handle at my homebase of Sprague.  I also had a few other things I needed to take care of, and then a few meetings anyways.  I walk in, and the service desk at the main library is SLAMMED.  I jump in, start answering questions, checking stuff out, answering phones, and looking for books.  I easily killed an hour before my first meeting with my VIPEr chemists, and although I didnt get done what I wanted/needed to get done, I did help out and people were appreciative.

I next attend my web meeting with my VIPEr chemists and we talk about usability testing.  We are going to create a survey for registered users to see what they like, dont like, use, wish we had, &c, as well as plan some screen/video/voice capturing of specific tasks at the up coming CAS symposium in Salt Lake in March.

Then, I’ve got my managers meeting, where the director sits down with his direct reports to share any relevant news with us, and for us to share news with each other.  It is a quiet, quick meeting, for which I am thankful.

I finish up my day by preparing a ppt for an upcoming guest lecture at UIUC’s Science Reference class, which is next week.  The ppt is very simple, as I plan to talk most of the time, but will at least outline my major day to day responsibilities and provide contact info for future follow up, should anyone want to do that.

A busy day, but I didnt get as much done as I had hoped.  Ah, well… Tomorrow is another day!

A Day in the Life of a Librarian 01-26-2009

So today begins the second round of A Day in the Life of a Librarian, where librarians from all over and all walks of librarianship blog about their daily activities.  This exersize serves two important purposes – to share what daily life as a librarian is like for those coming into the profession, and to share what we actually do with the general public.  There are a lot of misperceptions of what librarians actually do, and what we really do varies greatly from library to library, and from job type to job type.  To see more of these Day in the Life posts, check out the list of librarians participating here http://librarydayinthelife.pbwiki.com/.

This morning I have a meeting with HR’s disability office, in an attempt to address the ongoing pain in my right arm from moving books last summer and a sketchy at best work set up.  Oh, and lugging about 500 pounds of junk around the 7 campuses and 3 library buildings in which I work.  As an outreach and embedded librarian, I travel quite a bit and am only in my office for about 50% of my on campus work time.  My users typically find me on chat or by email, setting up an appointment if they actually need to meet face to face with me about something, and my work peers typically call my phone, which forwards to my cell.

Anyways, once I get the paperwork to be seen for the physical therapy for my ailing right arm, I handle a call from my car insurance company.  On friday, I was in an accident, and my poor little Apple Car is in the Car Hospital for 2 weeks.  I am so very blessed, in that one of my chemistry faculty members loaned me his car for the days I must shuttle my Miss7 around.  I do not have words to express to the man how much this helps me out.

But, back to work.  So the first thing I do when I get to my office is chat with a coworking science librarian down at the other science library (mine is math, computer science, and engineering, on Harvey Mudd College’s campus, and his is all the other sciences on Pomona’s campus).  We catch up on a few logistics details for the next few weeks and I send him a list of the passworded journals and answer a question about Sakai.  I’m totally going to count that as a ref question!

about an hour later, as I’m settling into killing my To Dos and have sorted my email, a student comes into my office.  Apparently there should have been some books on reserve for his class, but they’re no where to be found.  Come to find out, the professor forgot to place them on reserve, and they’re checked out.  So, in the interest of letting students do their homework, I take a field trip down to the bookstore to acquire said books.  Of course nothing is easy, so I find the books, wait in line, get my purchase card declined, necessitating a quick trip to financial services to remedy the situation.  They’re full of awesomesauce, so shortly I’m back over at the bookstore solving the world’s (or at least HMC CSCI 154’s) problems.  Technically, I dont have to do this, but I dont mind a quick trip to the campus bookstore to make things easier for the students and faculty.

Next I sat down and tracked several other firm order requests.  I get a lot at the beginning of each semester as faculty place things on reserve for courses.  This is when they realize they’re using new editions or new books, and we need copies in the libraries.  We do not have a process in place that allows for us to immediately add a hold or any notes to indicate the purpose of the order, so I still have to track the evil things in excel and check the catalog each day to see if they come in.  When they do, I have to manually place them on hold in the system, fill out paperwork, and hand them off to the reserves coordinator.  I’d love for a formal workflow to be put in place, but part of our problem is political… So n So cant add holds, that is a circulation person’s job… So n So cant input information, that’s acquisition’s job… note – I am neither of these things, but alas.  This can be a real pain, because if I am at another building or on another campus, I have to make a special trip to manage these things.

Then, I get an unexpected reference question.  I am science, I dont do much with government stuff or IRS stuff, but this time of year, a few people will surface asking about forms or guidelines.  I look up the guidelines from the IRS for this particular faculty member, print them out, and send him on his way with a firm, “You need to talk to a real tax person about this.”  I hate having to look that stuff up; I just dont feel like I know enough to make sure they’re getting what they need.

I then settle in to work on the IONIC VIPEr site (https://www.ionicviper.org), which is this cool teaching website for inorganic chemistry.  The group of chemists is located all over the world, and they’re collaborating to create a teaching resource site full of learning objects on inorganic chemistry.  I know zip about inorganic chemistry, but I can certainly help them out by creating documentation on using the site, suggesting 2.0 technologies they can use, and helping out with usability studies.

I actually really enjoy this project, even if the chemistry is challenging, because it is a window into the faculty world I dont see.  I see how they struggle to create classes and activities for an entire semester, handle requests for letters of recommendation from students, deal with grants, data requests, finances, and how to best present chemical information for teaching and learning.  They impress me every day with how hard they work, and it’s really opened my eyes on the life of a chemistry faculty member.

I rounded out my day by killing a few more To Dos, following up with a few dropped, unimportant balls, and polished a bit more on my instruction outlines for my classes next week.  Overall, it was a very busy day, but I got a lot done.

Now time for Pizza and Mommy-hood.  : )