Tag Archives: libraries

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 1/28/09

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 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.  : )