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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!

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 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 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 – 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.