Category Archives: librarydayinthelife

Library Week in the Life

The Library Day in the Life Project has come around and at a very fortunate time for me. I changed jobs back in August, moving from Las Vegas back to my hometown Philadelphia. I’ve been wanting to write something about the new position but have been too busy learning the new position to have much to say about it. But now I’ve been the Liaison Librarian to the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University Libraries for five months now and have, trial by fire, gotten a better understanding of what I am doing.

It is also good timing for me because I have just finished my tenure on American Library Association’s Notable Videos for Adults Committee. I have devoted most of my blog posts to reviews of films that I screened for that group and have been thinking I need to reinvigorate Tombrarian and get back to posting other things as well and feel like the Library Day in the Life Project is a great opportunity to jump start some new ideas for this blog.

For those who don’t know, the Library Day in the Life Project was started by my friend and professional colleague, Bobbi Newman, back in 2008 in response to discovering that someone had found her blog, Librarian by Day, by searching for “What’s a librarian’s day like?” She started this project to let the library community answer that question, providing library students, patrons, other librarians and whomever a resource for understanding what it is librarians do. Library Day in the Life has become a valuable, high profile project that really enhances the profession. Bobbi explains the project:

People participate by sharing a day or week by writing blog posts, tweeting, creating videos and taking pictures. Last round there were just under 250 people signed up on the wiki. There were over 800 people participating via Twitter.  It has grown to be an international project with participants from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, France, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore. Participants are from academic, public, college, special, school libraries, professional organizations and library vendors.

I have participated twice in the past, in the first two years: 2008 and 2009. You can find out more and see who all is participating at this year’s project page.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I have opted to not do a daily update but write a post highlighting some things I’ve worked on for the week. I’m far too busy and/or lazy to chronicle things day-by-day.

So, some highlights:

  • I have recently returned from the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference which was held in Dallas, TX. Mainly, I was there to perform some committee work. I am the Chair of the Video Round Table and, as I mentioned above, serve on the Notable Videos for Adults Committee. This week, I had to follow-up with some of that committee work, contacting a couple of people who volunteered to serve on the round table, submitted requests for meeting rooms for the annual conference in Anaheim in June, and worked with our web committee to post the results of the Notable Videos Committee, which screens nominated documentary films throughout the year and then meets to compile a short list of recommended films.
  • Dove into a project for revising the resource guides associated with the college I serve. Since there was no one in my position for several months, the guides were overdue for some maintenance. I need to make some changes, fix broken links, and clean up the code (those who know me know that I’m ALL about clean code).
  • Set-up a blog and twitter account for communicating with the college.
  • Assmebled a slide show of pictures of libraries I have visited and shared them at a space planning meeting.
  • Met with co-worker to discuss possibly collaborating on an article.
  • Met with a student contemplating library school.
  • Met with representative to analyze the book approval plan that had been established prior to my hire. Suggested some refinements but also need to take a close look to ensure that the plan is meeting current needs.
  • Attended a meeting to provide feedback on a video search interface that would allow more convenient online browsing of our VHS and DVD holdings.
  • Began testing library services and resources on the iPad.
  • Worked 4 hours on the reference desk and 3 hours of reference chat.


2nd Annual Library Day in the Life Project

A year ago, Bobbi Newman over at Librarian By Day, proposed a project asking librarians to chart what we do at work for one day. The results, which you can find at this wiki, were enlightening, mainly because no one seems to have a typical day. July 27, 2009 marks the 2nd Annual Library Day in the Life Project and you can get the lowdown here.

It’s an interesting time for me to take part in this project. I just past my 2 year anniversary at UNLV and I am currently working on my mid-tenure packet, so what I do all day is much on my mind. I had never had a tenure track position before, and I think the prospect of tenure persuaded me to become over-committed to work above and beyond my actual job. At my 2 year mark, I was feeling stretched too thin and decided as I rotated off some committees to limit myself as far as joining any others. I have my committee work under my belt for my mid-tenure packet and intend to focus more on the day job, so to speak. The Day in the Life Project comes at a time of transition for me.

  • Checked email and updated to do list.
  • Took a look at a demo for Swank Digital Campus and contacted rep with a bunch of questions.
  • Set-up a meeting with the Systems Manager for the afternoon and created a list of topics to discuss.
  • Nominated Poisoned Waters for the ALA Video Round Table Notable Videos for Adults. Typed up some notes I made about it.
  • In looking up the links for the Round Table, I discovered that the video presented at the VRT program celebrating the 10th anniversary of Notable Videos is available on YouTube and I wrote a post.
  • Wrote post for our departmental blog promoting some new additions to the collection.
  • Took a look at a trial for American History in Video.
  • Met with Systems Manager and discussed progress on the fall image, getting IP addresses for new copiers, finding time to set-up and test a software trial, and providing access to streaming media content.
  • Worked on mid-tenure packet.
  • Worked on semi-annual report.
  • Updated stats for Media and Computer Services web site and other web services. In updating stats, noticed something amiss with a couple of the media pages, so fixed the problems.
  • Set-up meeting with Web Technical Support Manager for Thursday to discuss LabStats implementation for the public.
  • Google Reader
  • Back to the mid-tenure packet.

Of course, there were a lot of other little routine things during the day too, but these are the items of note. It was a rather calm day, which I haven’t had a lot of recently. Last week was crazy because I was catching up from being out for ALA.

How I Got Into This Mess

An interesting thread on FriendFeed as become a grander meme, which I shall help perpetuate. This thread is an off-shoot of the Day in the Life of a Librarian discussion begun by the heretofore tagged Librarian by Day. The follow-up questions raised by Superstarchivist are:

What made you become a library/archives/museum employee? Was there a person? A life-changing event at a reference desk? A tarot card?

My path to the library world was rather unintentional. I never had a burning desire to become a librarian but am rather glad that this is the path I ended up on. After a few rather lousy jobs in the for-profit world, I decided I needed a job “that wouldn’t make me nauseous.” That was actually the phrase I used at the time.

I had a couple of jobs during college, the main one being as a maintenance person (for lack of a better term) for a local bank. It got me through college but ended rather unpleasantly when I was fired at the Christmas party…outside the men’s room…in front of my date. Classy.

After college (during the first Bush recession), I had a rather difficult time finding a job. I was an English major, which certainly didn’t help. I eventually (through a relative) got a job as a proofreader at an ad agency. Their business was to place classified ads, and my jobs was to clip out the printed ads and proofread them against the original copy to check for mistakes. Zzzzz.

One of the things I like about the library world compared to the for-profit world is that it tends (tends, mind you) to be less rigid. The ad agency had a rule that everyone had to work until 7pm on Thursdays. Something to do with placing all the weekend ads. This had nothing to do with me, but I was still required to stay late. At that time, the train I needed to take began to run less frequently, so when I left at 7, I had to wait something like 45 minutes for a train. The train I took in in the morning got me to the job early, so I asked if I could leave 5 minutes early so I wouldn’t have to catch an earlier train. The answer was a categorical no. Everyone had to stay until 7. I got fired from this job as well.

After another bout of unemployment, I got a job working at a friend’s family’s print shot. When I actually got the chance to learn to work some of the printing machinery, I rather like the job. Unfortunately, that made up only a small fraction of my time. Most of the time, I was in shipping and receiving.

Again, rigidity was an issue for me. They actually had a buzzer that went off at the start of the day, at the beginning and ending of break time, the beginning and ending of lunch, and at the end of the day. I don’t do well in that kind of atmosphere, to say the least.

So, I began to realize that I hadn’t anything akin to a “career path.” Having an English degree, I figured I would teach, so I started in a graduate education program at night at the same school I got my undergraduate degree. Most of the people in the program were already teachers and were taking the next step. Then there was me and the roofer guy.

I found out that employees at that school got a major break on tuition, so I started looking for jobs there. My shipping and receiving experience landed my a job at the acquisitions department at the library. Part of the position was filling in some desk coverage in the media department. I held that job for about 3 years before moving up to be the student-worker supervisor for the circulation department. I was there for about a year before getting a job as a serials assistant and a small medical library. At that time, I realized that working in libraries did not make me nauseous, so I decided to get my library degree (having dropped out of the grad ed program a while before).

And that’s how I became I librarian.

In addition to Librarian by Day, I shall tag:

What is a librarian’s day like

Librarian by Day had someone find her blog searching on the phrase “What is a librarian’s day like.” She suggested that her readers post an answer to this question so that other librarians and potential librarians get some idea of what working as a librarian is like.

I’ll start by making some fairly obvious disclaimers. I don’t really have a “typical” day, which is one of the benefits of being a librarian. It’s not usually the same thing day after day. I’ve had those kind of jobs. So, I have picked today. Also, as an academic librarian, the summer sessions are quite different than the fall and winter sessions.

I’ll also point out that I am not living up to the parameters that Librarian by Day established. Namely, I don’t see to have the wherewithal to post everyday during the week as some people have. You can get a list of participants here.

So, what you’re getting is a fairly random assortment of things I’ve done the past few days. No real rhyme or reason other that these were the things I was thinking of when I thought to write.

  • The mornings usually begin checking email and looking at my to do list, which I recently (Monday) migrated to Remember the Milk. I was able to go through some of the stuff piling up around me and organize it and add items to RTM.
  • I had a meeting with the usability working group, of which I’m chair. The usability group is planning on a card sorting activity. One member of the group sent out some links to some card sorting software, so I looked at those and prepared some notes about my preferences. As chair, I also put together an agenda for the meeting. The meeting went well, as usual. I’m not saying that because I run the meetings. It’s a great group of people who work well together, and we seem to get a lot done. In addition to the formal usability test we’re running, we’ve been asked arrange getting some informal feedback on some mock-ups of new designs for our catalog interface.
  • In my role as a media librarian, I am involved with the National Media Market. The meeting takes place at the end of September. A group of media librarians decided to hold a special meeting the day before the market begins to discuss digital video licensing, which is a HUGE issue for us media types. We’ll be meeting with some of the documentary film vendors to figure out a reasonable pricing structure and distribution method. Gary Handman (UC Berkeley) and Lawrence Daressa (California Newsreel) have written a white paper outlining some of the issues central to this discussion. Although the discussion isn’t until September, I read this white paper, partly out of curiosity, partly because I want to dedicate some time this summer to figuring out what our library wants to do with providing online access to videos. If you’re interested, you can find the white paper at the blog that Gary set-up.
  • Got word that although our budgets haven’t been loaded into Millennium yet, our ordering department can start taking orders for the new fiscal year. However, I’m still waiting for some items that I ordered last fiscal year to get cataloged and sent down, so I checked my order list against the catalog to see what’s still outstanding. I don’t want to start ordering new titles until last year’s backlog thins out.
  • I wrote a document recommending changes to those sections of the strategic plan that affect my department.
  • Our multimedia design studio might be moving into a space recently vacated by our document delivery service, so I went over with one of my staff to take a better look at the space and began to plan some specifics. I wrote a proposal for moving to that space a while ago. I haven’t gotten formal approval, but many signs are pointing to use getting that space.
  • Wrote an evaluation for Kick Like a Girl for my work on the Notable Videos for Adults committee and posted it.
  • Attended a liaisons’ meeting and, among other things, learned our collections budget is not getting an inflation increase, which, in effect, means we have less to spend (boo).
  • Got word that the aforementioned move of our design studio has been approved (yeah). Spent time talking with Assistant Dean, Building Manager, Systems Manager, and my staff about plans for the big move.

So, there you have it.  A fairly random assortment of things that happened this week.

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