Category Archives: A Day in the Life

Library Day In The Life Round 8, Post 2

Library Day In The Life, Post Two.

Each year, I participate in Bobbi Newman’s A Day in the Life of a Librarian initiative, where librarians all over the world document a week out of their professional lives.  This is a great resource for library school students, or anyone interested in going to library school, as well as for people curious about what librarians do all day.  No, we do not sit around and read books.  Nor do we hush people.  : )

Let me first begin by explaining that I am the director of the Portneuf District Library in Chubbuck, Idaho.  Chubbuck is outside of Pocatello, and my metro area is about 50,000 or so people.  I serve a community of 21,000 people.  I’ve been director here for about a year and a half.  We’re a small operation and as director, I do a little bit of everything.  We work hard as a team in my library, and although there is a formal hierarchy, we are all valuable members of a team that works very hard to serve our community members.

Today begins bright and early organizing and preparing for our new temp hire’s arrival.  She arrives on time, and I spend a few minutes introducing her to the staff, explaining the schedule, and getting her set up with her Google Apps account.  She then spends the rest of her day training on the Landmark audio project and getting to know our ILS system.

Next, I go back to tackling my email organization issue, and after an hour, I’ve organized a month’s worth of emails from March of 2011 as well as deleting almost a thousand emails I thought I’d previously deleted in Thunderbird.  Fun times.

I then spend a few minutes working on SEILA, the Southeastern Idaho Library Association spring conference, of which I am chair.  Today I firmed up our state web guru to come and do a session on the Ebranch In A Box project, which provides small libraries with a drupal installation to use as a website.  Drupal has a steep learning curve, and many of our small libraries struggle to figure out the best way to use it.  Having the state’s web guru come and give a presentation will be huge for us!

I also talked to a nearby Barnes & Noble, who agrees to come to our conference and give a presentation and demonstration of their Nook devices and ebooks.  This is also huge, as most libraries in Idaho are unable to afford costly ebook packages like Overdrive.  Based on these two sessions and our smashing keynote speakers, this little conference is going to be AMAZING.

Finally, I get back into the nitty gritty of buffing up version 4 of my long range plan for my board.  I spend the rest of the day on that, and get it emailed off for review.  Shew!  That was a huge task and I’m glad version 4 is done.

I have tomorrow off, so I will be back with another day of my library life on Thursday!

Library Day In The Life Round 8, Post 1

Library Day In The Life, Post One.

Each year, I participate in Bobbi Newman’s A Day in the Life of a Librarian initiative, where librarians all over the world document a week out of their professional lives.  This is a great resource for library school students, or anyone interested in going to library school, as well as for people curious about what librarians do all day.  No, we do not sit around and read books.  Nor do we hush people.  : )

Let me first begin by explaining that I am the director of the Portneuf District Library in Chubbuck, Idaho.  Chubbuck is outside of Pocatello, and my metro area is about 50,000 or so people.  I serve a community of 21,000 people.  I’ve been director here for about a year and a half.  We’re a small operation and as director, I do a little bit of everything.  We work hard as a team in my library, and although there is a formal hierarchy, we are all valuable members of a team that works very hard to serve our community members.

So today I begin by spending an hour or so organizing my email.  When I took over here, there wasn’t any email, or a domain, or any of the fancy things big libraries have.  I moved all of us to Google Apps for Ed, and bought us a domain.  At that time, I chose to use Thunderbird as my primary mail client so I could also monitor other email addresses affiliated with our library.  About eight months ago or so, Thunderbird began to do things I did not like, which I no longer remember exactly what, but I quit using it.  When I started to log into my work Gmail account, I saw that Gmail wasn’t deleting when I deleted stuff in Thunderbird, but was instead archiving email.  That means I have *thousands* of useless emails that clutter up my search results when I need to find something.  It also means that I have no organization for my older stuff.  Nothing is labeled.  Nothing is categorized.  So, on slower days, I spend an hour or so going back through the old stuff to assign labels, delete useless stuff, and the like.  It’s tedious, but the process is making it far easier to find things I need quickly.

Next, I caught my techie staff member and we finished up a project for a large sign for the children’s room.  Recently, we made a huge move, moving the children’s room into our large meeting room, doubling the space, and moving the young adult sections into the former children’s area.  It compartmentalizes space better for activity and noise levels, and gives both collections and community users more space to play and explore.  However, when my children’s librarian goes home, there’s no one in her room across the hall.  My techie staff member came up with a fun 2 foot by 3 foot sign my children’s librarian can put up that directs our users to the main service desk after she goes home.  We wrapped up the finishing touches and sent that off to a local company for printing on foam board.

Then, I caught my children’s librarian before she ran out to run some errands, and we talked about getting some LDS books.  We do most of our ordering on Amazon, but Amazon doesn’t offer many LDS books new and/or hardbound, so we need to work with Deseret Books to get those.  I typically like to consolidate services to one vendor when possible for simplicity’s sake, but in this case, Amazon does not fit the bill.

After that, I moved on to making the next week of scheduling, which I do about two weeks in advance, and started putting together a list for our new temp employee, who starts tomorrow.  We have a clerk who will be away for an extended amount of time, and I chose to hire a temp from a local temp agency for the short period.  I needed to make a schedule that included her, as well as come up with a training checklist to get her off and running when she comes in tomorrow.

Finally, I’ll finish up the day by working on version four of my proposed long range plan.  I have to have this version uploaded to our Google Apps by the first for review by my board.  We’re nearly there; we just need to put the finishing touches on the plan.  It’s been fun to write it, actually, to think about my ideal library and reverse engineer getting there.

So that was my first Day in the Life!  I’ll post another tomorrow, then take Wednesday off, then back for the rest of the week.  : )

Stay tuned!

A Day in the Life Round 5, #2

Tuesday, July 27th

Royce Kitts is right.  He’s a director of a Kansas public library, and he commented that when one works in a public library, you begin in one place, but you end up in an entirely different place at the end of the day.  Today, I had a pretty clear agenda – I needed to finish the edits and modifications to my chapter for the Embedded Librarianship book, finish the budget sheets for the board, and work on setting up our new website.  I got one thing done… the spreadsheets for the board.

First thing this morning, I got in and finalized the agreement with my chosen concrete guy for the necessary repairs, arranged the dates he’d do the work, and he said he’d get my contract faxed over first thing tomorrow morning.  I then settled down to try to sort out setting up the new website.  See, our old one is some hosted Drupal nonsense supplied by the state (I think) that I find very difficult to manage.  I would expect I could do some things, like make the blog the landing page, but I cant.  I also cant get it to make a Meebo widget happen no matter what I try.  As a result of my frustration, I decided to pay for hosting and have Blake Carver over at LISHost house our site.  I still need to register the domain and get things set up, and then I have the fun of putting our content together.  But… A lovely couple paid me a visit and want to donate a thirty year old Brassia bush to the library that’s gotten too big for their living room.  I chat with them and then hand off the address and pick up/delivery logistics to Dale to handle.

Next it’s time to wrap up the budget information for the board.  Not only am I in the middle of setting the basic budget for 2011, but I also need to balance the accounts and books for the month of July.  I work with my admin assistant and we get that all buttoned up.  I call a board member to come by and pick up the sheets for the board’s executive meeting and then decide to settle in and get this website up and running.  But… When Jason, my board member, comes in, he notices the trash hasnt gone out.  He’s a real trooper and he takes out the trash around the building and the public restrooms.  I make a note and leave it for my janitor.

I then head back to my office, but before I get there, an issue has come up about fines.  We use Horizon, and it does this odd thing when you waive fines, being that you have to specifically choose the item to which you are applying collected fine money.  Someone collected fine money but did not indicate the item to which the money applied, and it made a bit of a mess.  Two senior staffers and I work to sort it out, which reminds me, I need to plan Thursday’s senior staff meeting and get that agenda out.  I want to meet with the senior staff every week, and with all staff every month.  I also want to create a policy and procedures manual for the service desk so we’re all on the same page.

So with all that done, it’s past time to go home, so I jot down this post and collect my Lila.  She spent the afternoon here, and I had her putting holiday stickers on the children’s books.  : )

Library Day In The Life Round 5, #1

Round Five, Day One

And so begins Round Five, Day One, of  A Day in the Life of a Library.  This initiative began a few years ago by Librarian Bobbi Newman and it chronicles the daily activities of librarians in all types of librarianship, from public libraries to academic libraries to special libraries.

So, last round of A Day In The Life, I was an academic science librarian at the Claremont Colleges, in Claremont, California.  The last year at Claremont I was on the Research and Development team, but prior to that, I was the librarian at Sprague Science Library on Harvey Mudd College’s campus.  I adored my library, and I adored my community, but unfortunately my library was closed due to economic and real estate issues in the Summer of 2009.  It was a devastating blow to me, as my library drove my professional existence.  After another year in Claremont, I decided I needed to get as far away from California as possible, and I gambled it all and moved to Pocatello, Idaho.  A few months after making that fateful decision, I landed a job as the Director of the Portneuf District Library.

The Portneuf District Library is quite a change from what I’m used to… it’s a public library and I was previously an academic science librarian.  But… librarianship is about serving your community of users, and in that regard, the logistics are the same, and only the materials served are different.  I have a lot on my To Do list for this library, including a new website, forays into social networking, and increasing programming and the fun stuff I love to bring to my library and my community.

And so begins my next adventure into Librarianship.  : )

Monday, July 26th

I get into the library at 8:30 this morning, wanting an early start as I want to leave early this afternoon.  I clear out weekend email and prepare for the work day.  I have two primary tasks that must be done today – I have to bid out a concrete job and I have to finalize the draft of the 2011 budget for my board as well as prepare the standard paperwork for our meeting on Thursday.

The concrete job is really the most important.  In front of our main entrance the concrete is reducing to rubble and is a dangerous spot, just begging for an accident.  I arranged last week to talk to four concrete guys and get four bids.  One guy doesnt show up, and of the other three, Peter of Wiegman Concrete wins the job.  He is extremely professional in his appearance and demeanor, and, having 8 years experience as an engineering librarian at one of the finest engineering institutions in the country, I definitely sensed the young man knew his business.  I’m happy to know that I can choose the best solution for my library without lots of red tape to wade through.  Yes, this is plenty different from my life as an academic librarian, forever waiting on someone else to approve the decisions I want to make!

As I finish drafting up the information on the concrete job for my board, I get to experience my first problem patron in my new library.  The patron consumes the library’s time for the next two hours causing disturbances and making the library uncomfortable for the staff and surrounding users.  The other users are patient with the situation as they see the library staff working with her to get her comfortable editing her website and situated to do what she needs to do.  During the process, we discover that she does not have a library account although she is a regular visitor.  I document the situation and move on with my day.  This situation leads me to think hard about some sort of authentication software for our computers.

Other than that, the rest of the day had a few meetings with staff members and number crunching for the budget and the coming board meeting.  I have some great staff here!  Chris is preparing a gaming program, which we’ll do two nights a month.  He’ll do video games one night and board games and Magic the other.  He’s putting together a budget and proposal for me, and we only needed to talk about getting numbers for board games and assessment criteria.  I also talk to Karri, an MLS student, about bringing ideas and projects from her classes into the library, and about the two of us collaborating on writing and presenting projects.

So far, the new job is great!  I’m enjoying my library and getting to know my new community of users. I’m finding it delightful that I’m handling fun reading books instead of the Lecture Notes in Mathematics (no offense, my Math friends!) and putting together fun activities.  Also on my agenda – a weekly crochet group.  : )

A Day in the Life. Just One.

Last time we did the Day in the Life I had a library, and I don’t anymore.  It’s amazing to me how much the loss of my library affected my attitude towards my job and this profession.  These days, i don’t think libraries are taken seriously.  We are used when we are needed, and when we are not needed, we are stuffed aside, hidden in a closet, shut out.  We don’t have the voice in our communities our users do, our users don’t listen when they don’t need us, and we don’t have the ear to gain the tools we need to preserve our spaces, our initiatives, our livelihoods.  I see the incredible change libraries face, and I cannot help but feel the serious loss of respect, of place, in learning that libraries are suffering.  Now, our librarians must struggle to reach out for the attention of our users.  Now, our spaces hold less books, less browsing, and more ‘other stuff.’  Change is inevitable, it will happen, but I feel that learning environments are quickly overlooking the value of the library and the knowledge managers who work so hard to steward the information contained therein.

Today I sat in a small office I share with an employee of Harvey Mudd College.  Last year, my library stood on this campus.  This year, my library is gone, and empty shell of a building still waiting for the developments and blueprints, furniture and initiatives.  HMC is very kind to me; they did not have to offer me a place to sit, but they did so as some understand the loss the library means to the users.  I feel it keenly, as well.  I answer less questions.  I teach less classes.  I see less people. Gone is the serendipity of discovery as a faculty or a student wanders through the library and encounters me and asks about a topic or trend.  Now, I am hidden away and harder to find.  Yes, I could work harder to re-create what I *had* in the library, and *create* a more obvious place to be, but I am tired.  I’ve tried for seven long years and lost what mattered most to me in my professional life anyway.  I don’t think I have much more I can give.

So now I am no longer the Sprague Science Librarian, but instead a numbered drone hiding away on the Research and Development team.  I have the ear of the innovators in the library, and that is nice, but it is not the same.  The flavor, the joy, is gone.  My days are empty exploration of people’s twitter streams and new tricks and tools via the feeds dumped into my email.  It’s so hollow, though, and void of depth and substance.  It’s just the shiny glitz, not the deep blue sea of yesteryear. Occasionally I visit my books, my precious bookies I once cared for, crammed away in the compact shelving on the first floor.  Their saving grace is that they share the floor with the cafe.  I’m glad for them, and I hope the young science learners come for the coffee and muffins, and run their fingers along the spines of the books, perhaps selecting one or two to take away with them.

So I think this will conclude my “Day in the Life” sharing; I’m losing interest, lost and listless, and I shall stand aside to let others shine.

Library Day In The Life – July 27, 2009

Well, life is not without its drama, to say the least.  This entire summer I’ve been quite consumed with closing my science library, then the other science library, and helping to consolidate significant amounts of our collections, from the closed libraries and other locations, into our offsite Records Center.  I’ve been working weekends at the Records Center, taking comparable days off during the week, thus, I missed yesterday’s post.

The Records Center

It’s been quite a challenge working here, I can tell you!  First off, we are consolidating and shelving from six different locations and therefore six different piles of boxes.  We first stage the boxes out from each location, and open them.  We have a hand made shelf list with spaces for surpise discoveries.  We then go through and number the titles in reverse alphabetical order (we are shelving from Z-A).  The students place the titles together on the carts, and we number them according to how they should come off the carts and onto the shelves.  Another team then shelves them after someone places them in numerical order.  Confused yet?  Heh.

See more pictures of the Records Center and the closure of the science libraries here.

I spent the AM at the records center, then headed over to the other science library (not mine) to make sure that closure was wrapping up, then headed to the main library.  I worked on an outline for a staff development class on Sakai (our content management system, kinda like Blackboard or WebCT) before heading to our weekly managers meeting.  During that meeting, we discussed the budget for the next fiscal year and other administrivia.  Then, off to teach the staff how to address Tier 1 Sakai questions.  We’re busy creating Service Level Agreements here, and one of our requirements for the Sakai SLA is that all service points across all campuses can handle basic questions.  The session went well, and I retired to my cubby to write this post, upload some more pictures of the records center and library, and finish up for the day.  I’m off tomorrow for Saturday, but there will be more come Thursday.  : )

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.  : )

A Day (week) in the Life

Back today…. I enjoyed some wonderful time away from work and mostly away from the Intarwebz for the past week.  My family, Dad, Stepmom, and Gramma, came in to visit from New Mexico.  They stayed the weekend and we ate, hung out, watched my kid be a very poor loser at checkers, and generally had a great time visiting.  It sucks having immediate family a few states over.

Monday I took my little one to see Wall-E, which has got to be the best damned kid movie I’ve ever seen.  It was really powerful… I felt the full range of emotions one would expect from a grown up movie, and I was amazed at how much they could communicate without languague.  Quite profound, the image of fat humans plugged into a chair with a screen in front of their face, and the subsequent lack of interaction.  The dismal image of Earth, cluttered and filthy with trash and advertisements is a shocking reminder where we’re going if we dont change our ways.  Bravo, Pixar.  Bravo.

In addition to the movie, my kid and I wandered around the local hot spots, walking, hitting the bookstore, lunch, and all that fun stuff.  I bought a set of jacks at a local toy store, and quickly learned that my Lila doesn’t do that ‘bounce/catch’ thing so well.  She wanted to modify the rules so that I bounced the ball while she picked up the jacks, but I stood firm on her need to master hand/eye coordination on a teeny superbounce ball.  She elected to go find bugs after that.

It was great to have some time away from it all.  I generally ignored work email, only surfing for reference questions or queries from users, stayed offline, limiting my internet fun to games and my crochet groups.   But, back now, and the time away refreshed me to get motivated and ready for fall.

So today I taught my first class of the year, for HMC’s summer institute program.  27 newbie frosh brought in for leadership training asked brilliant questions and were generally engaged in my session.  I forgive the poor girl who napped through the hour, because everyone else was on the ball.  I continued my new trend of using LOL cats, GraphJam, and images from Fail Blog, which was a whopping success. I’ve never seen students so interested in a ppt about library research before.  And of course I dazzled them with a few Google goodies, like Scholar and Uncle Sam.

After that, back to my desk and finish those Sakai videos.  I finished two, and I am pleased with how they turned out.  I also exported the vids for iPod/iPhone, and boy, that was hella cool.

So it was a good day.  I got a lot done, and I’m about as near as ready as I’ll ever be for fall.  Tomorrow, I’ll log into RTM and see what else I need to take care of.   : )

A Day in the Life – Work

I’ve been really busy lately, mounting a semi revolution and generally attempting to take a stand ’round these parts.  I was motivated to re-think things at that math meeting a few weeks back.  One of the mathematicians stated frustration that no one stands up and says, “THIS is what we are going to do” about the library.  I’ve had my ideas nixed by coworkers, I’ve waited for my admin to make a move or a decision, I’ve waited for HMC to do something, so I am just as guilty as anyone else in this mix.  But, I can change that.  And I have.

A few days ago I decided we’d do three major things here that I want for our new collaborative work space.

1.  The third floor will be a designated Food and Beverage Okay area.  That means people can have pizza or thai delivered for all I care.

2.  That floor will be accessible to the math community 24 hours a day.  ‘Safety’ of the books be damned; I’ll buy another one if I need to.

3.  The downstairs kitchen will remain unlocked and therefore open to users.

This was all prompted by the math department’s request to have the Math Club use the new space.  So, I gave them an always locked study room (dont ask – I could never get the staff here to just LEAVE THE  THING UNLOCKED (the staff here do not report to me, hence, no authority to make them do anything)).  I wrote up this pretty little document indicating what I wanted to happen.  I then immediately emailed it to our brilliant director soliciting approval.  And I got it.  And I then told my boss what I’d decided, with a ‘put on your tough pants, this is happening’ stance.  If my users need someone to be stronger about advocating the library, well, so be it.  Change is happening around here, and I am going to make sure I instigate as much as I can that will benefit the users and the library.  I am not afraid to take risks, and see what works, and change what doesnt.

So, I feel much better about work than I did say, 2 weeks ago.

Other projects… making videos for the Sakai Administration Team and a few for math or whatever else strikes my fancy.  I am using Screenflow, which is so freakishly easy… except that I cant automatically make a big, giant arrow and text box about something.  There’s this ‘insert media’ feature, that I am going to try to monkey with next.  I gather I can make ‘media’ that is an arrow and text box and insert it somehow.

So I guess I should quit messing around with blogging, pictures, flickr, and whatever else I’ve done for the last hour (which, I guess can technically count as lunch.  I *was* eating while doing most of this) and get back to work.