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.  : )

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