Tag Archives: A Day in the Life

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.  : )

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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.

A Day in the Life # somethingiforget…

So I know that technically the A Day in the Life project concluded on Friday, but I think I’ll try to continue the trend.  I realized over the last week that I am pretty down about my job right now.  That sucks, because I’ve liked it in the past.  But… change is inevitable.  I’m sure I’ll go back to liking it at some point.  And even if not, well, it’s still not the end all be all of my existence and I’ll make do because it does have its benefits.  Like a paycheck.

Anyways, I digress. I hope that maybe I can emphasize positive highlights in my A Day in the Life entries from here on out. I dont want my place of work to look like a horror movie for y’all or for me.

So…. what did I do today….

First, I stopped in on the Mothership and killed a half dozen Rats (Rats, for those of you havent heard me use that phrase before, are those things that rapidly pile up, breed like, well, Rats, if not tended to, and vary in degrees of importance.  I typically have an inbox full of them).  I needed to talk to some coworkers about the charity ventures that Ruth’s fiber friends are coordinating, so that the library’s donations in Ruth’s name can go towards those events.  I also needed to pop into BAS, AKA Bibliographic Access Services, and follow up about that CS linguistic database purchase.  We’d send in the licensing agreement last week, already!  Sure enough, they’d received it and had even charged our credit card, but failed to email us the download info.  Anyways, after negotiating with them on the phone I was up to IT to arrange for that being downloaded and hosted on the network, and proxied appropriately and all that.  Took a bit of time, but that Rat is killed.  Well, I still have to have it cataloged, so let’s say it’s in its death throes.

A quick lunch, then back to Sprague to negotiate with another science librarian, and the third via IM, about everybody’s favorite moving project.  After much heated discussion, I think we have an idea about how to go about putting the library back in order (at least, I *think* I got my way).  I then spent the rest of the afternoon moving books cubbyholed in the journals out of the way and to their new, permanent home.

Tomorrow I am taking my daughter to the beach.  I am leaving my phone in the car and my laptop at home.  We’re bringing sunscreen, towels, water, and a couple of pb&js. And that’s it.

Dont call me, I’ll call you.  : )

A Day in the Life #8

Oh…. lemme tellya.  This was one of the worse-er days I’ve had in a wee bit.

On the bright side, my trash was finally taken out.  Because I made a huge pile of it in the middle of the hallway in the library.

Now, back to our day.  So today I met with Math about the move in the library. The meeting was exhausting, with me as the target.  It went on for about 2 hours, and I felt rather pummeled within about 5 minutes into the discussion.  Math is angry about the lack of communication.  Lesson learned for me – dont trust other people when they say they’ll communicate things.  But when is the right time to trust someone that they’ll follow through with what they say they’ll do?

Math is angry that we live in this weird limbo.  See, we rent the building we use to house my library, and there’s always this tug of war game between the college that owns the building and the library regarding who is responsible for what goes on there.  Math is angry that no one entity, be it the library, the college, the council of presidents, or whoever, is stepping up to make a decision one way or the other about what is going on.  Math, like me, also feels out of the communication loop, and I tried to explain that in many ways I’ve been blocked from the Adminisphere, and in some cases, told out right “that I do not belong at that meeting.”  The last 4 years has been so frustrating for me because I have no power over the building in which my collections and services live, and no support for any decisions I make.  I’ve been a pawn.  And I was totally sandbagged at that meeting.  I am frustrated with the lack of leadership I have.  I’m frustrated with the level of responsibility yet lack of authority to do my job.

What’s the resolution?  I’m not sure.  Hopefully my Math peeps will resurrect the former math library committee that was dissolved before I was hired 6 years ago.  Hopefully I’ll get more face time at their department meetings.  Maybe I’ll even get some clout with their administration (and maybe even my own) that I know what I’m doing, and that I can put together a good library.

As it is right now, I’m disgusted with my job.

So, when that disaster was done, and I still havent talked to my Director about it, and how I may or may not have screwed things up and made things worse, I had a cup of coffee and tried to do something fun.

Yesterday, I obligated the library to create brief intro videos about Sakai for the colleges.  I’m happy to do this, as my Sakai cohort has Camtasia on her computer, and I’m down for finding something that will work on my Mac.  Thanks to the Twitterverse, I tried Jing, and immediately wanted to scream.  I cant get it to do anything longer than a minute, max, as it crashes rather unexpectedly.  If the damn thing would work, I think it would be pretty cool.

So, today was a total bucket of FAIL.  I think I’ll go play some solitare.