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Now that I’ve started a new job, it seemed an appropriate time to write a new post about a typical day in my librarian life…if there is a day you can call typical.
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Most mornings I get up around 7 am. I’m still not a morning person, but it’s nice to have more of a routine again. By 8:15, I’m at work.

The first thing I do when I get into my office (yes, I have an office with a door!) is turn on my computer. So much of what I do for the rest of the day will involve the computer.

After that I go find some coffee. If it isn’t already brewing, I’ll get it going. My full-timers are generally here before me, so they’ve already got the library opened up for the day. Often there are morning distance education classes, so one of my staff is somewhere in the building at that time making sure the classroom technology is working properly.

After pouring a cup of coffee, I sit down at my desk and check the library’s Google mail account. This is where we get our intralibrary loan lists and the overdue lists. If our part-time person isn’t here that day, I’ll take care of pulling and preparing the books for ILL. I always take care of looking over and printing the overdue notices, which I then set out for one of the evening part-time people to double check. She makes sure that we don’t have the book on the shelf before the notice is sent out. When she’s not here, I take care of that myself.

A couple of times during the day, I check for any loan requests that come through OCLC First Search. On a typical day we’ll get one or two requests. When they come in, I pull the books, get them ready for whatever transportation method they’re going by, and enter all the information in the ILL database I’ve created for those requests.
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The rest of the day is filled up with a variety of other tasks depending on the day of the week and how many part-time employees I have working. I do shelve books when our little cart is starting to overflow or when I’ve done something like taking books off the New Book shelf to move to the regular stacks. If an order comes in, I will often help with some of the processing involved, such as entering the received books into our spreadsheets or helping cover the books.
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Sometimes I help out when the mail comes in for the day. We tend to get mail in the morning and afternoon. It brings the usual stuff like catalogs, bills, and our periodicals. I’ll check in newspapers, magazines, and journals. This involves barcoding, labeling, and date-stamping them among other parts of that process.
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Now that the semester has begun, I’ll also be spending time preparing for instruction sessions. Since I can focus specifically on my job here, it seems like I have more time to really prepare for the individual classes that I’ll be working with. I look for reference books, periodicals, and other materials that I hope will be useful to the students in addition to databases and internet resources. I’d really like to see our print collection used more because we do have some good things even if we are a small library.

Soon, I’ll be working on our annual budget. I’ve already started doing some minor things with it, but I’ll have to complete it by April.

I also take care of the staff scheduling. This isn’t usually too complicated except when we have something going on or someone is going to be off. Most of the time, the schedule doesn’t vary much week by week.

I’ve also been spending some time most days working on ordering books. While I’ve done some actual ordering to get familiar with our vendors, one of my full-time staff does that. I do most of the selecting. Reading reviews can be time-consuming. I also have to do some digging around at times to find requested books or other materials that we should have on our shelves.

One big project that I started shortly after I arrived was the reference collection weeding and updating. It’s been awhile since that has been done and we have some things sitting out there that are out-of-date or just need to go away. I’ll also be doing some shifting in that area once I’ve got this first part completed.
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This may not sound like a lot, but it does fill up a day. Mornings really seem to fly by and there have been many days when I’ve looked up at the clock to realize it’s already lunchtime.

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I was tagged to write about how I developed my love of libraries. So here goes.

I wrote in my earlier post today about my love of books. My love of libraries came about later when I entered elementary school. I grew up in a more rural area that was outside city limits so I didn’t have free access to a public library until I was much older. Now the township has its own library a short bike ride from my parent’s house. I’m glad for the children growing up there now.

I don’t have many early memories of going to the library in my school, but I do remember it as a great place. It wasn’t a large room, but that didn’t matter. Some of my favorite times were spent in the library. As I got older, our librarian allowed me to stay after school to learn how to type and use the Apple computers. Just imagine the joy I felt being surrounded by books, in the quiet, on my own. This is one of my favorite memories from grade school.

Our high school library wasn’t all that large and it was far from my house (it was a 40 minute bus ride to high school for me), so I started using our community college library when I needed to do research. This is where I discovered the pleasure of microfilm. Not so much because I enjoy getting dizzy watching the pages flash by, but because I could look up all sorts of things and read old news. My family had been in the area for some time, so it was interesting to look at wedding announcements and other tidbits from the past. At the library! Who knew?!

The community college library was where I first experienced shelf after shelf of books. That you could touch and read. Filled with all sorts of information and facts and stories. Of course, I’d been reading for a long time, but I don’t think until that point I really understood how much was out there to experience.

Our local city library was in an old stone building with lions guarding the entrance. I loved this building (the library has since moved to modern quarters in an office building). It was the epitome of what a library should be. Wooden floors, tall ceilings, the smell of dust and paper. I never spent much time there, but the few times were a treat.

Since becoming an adult and living on my own, one of the first places I find in any new town is the local public library. Even though I work in a university library, I still turn to the public library for my pleasure reading. And it’s always a good place to hang out. My favorite room in BigUtown’s library is the periodicals room. Comfy chairs and magazines. It’s great! LittleUtown’s public library is much smaller, but still as wonderful. I like libraries better than bookstores because I don’t have to feel guilty about browsing for hours and not taking anything home with me (although that rarely happens.)

To me, libraries are magical places. No matter where I travel, I always feel at home when I walk into that city’s library. What’s not to love about a place like that?

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One thing I’ve noticed this week is that I do feel more centered, more grounded. It was definitely a week that could have felt chaotic and out of control since I came back to a full week of instruction and desk shifts. There have been few moments when I haven’t been multitasking. While I like being busy, this can often lead to exhaustion and feeling unsettled. Unwittingly, I set my alarm incorrectly last night and didn’t have enough time to meditate this morning. And I can tell that I’m not as calm today because of it. This helps reinforce my commitment to the 2 hours a day minimum. Already, I’m thinking about how I can add another hour into my days.

Another thing that came out of my time at the retreat is a desire to start really improving my overall physical health. This means exercise. We have access to personal trainers here at LittleU and I’m looking into working with one. Hopefully this will make me more motivated. Often, being accountable to someone other than myself is a good motivator. I also plan to start doing Yoga. This will actually help me improve my ability to meditate.

On the work front, instruction is now in full swing. Between teaching, I’ve also had time to start doing some book/materials ordering. One area that I really want to grow this year is our selection of DVD’s. To begin I’m using the AFI’s Top 100 list. I had written a grant request for this purpose, but haven’t heard anything yet. I’m also working on plans for the KS One Book. We’ll be doing some discussion groups and other events. And I’m partnered with a very talented colleague in this project, so it’s pretty exciting. Might even turn into a conference presentation at some point if things go well. Besides all that, I’ve also got two presentations to prepare for that are coming up in October and early November. So the fall will be productive and full.

Still, there is always time for knitting and football. I’m slowly working my way to finishing the second pair. I have about an inch of cuff left before I start turning the heel. As to football, we are playing one of our rivals this weekend, so I’ll be staying in LittleUtown Friday night so I can go to the game on Saturday. Next weekend DH and I are heading of to HugeUtown for a book festival. I’ll be working at it for a couple of hours in the morning. Then it’s off to lunch at the local brew pub and shopping at the Yarn Barn. Fun!

LittleU as an undergraduate degree intended to prepare students for the future MLS program (which LittleU also has). Many of the student workers in the library are in that program with the goal of eventually becoming librarians. Watching them learn and grow (and doing comparison to outstanding librarians that I know) has led to some observations about who will do best in their chosen future profession. Here are my thoughts on what makes a good librarian (or future librarian).

Good interpersonal communication skills – There’s a mouthful. But this is vital since we do work with people on a regular basis. You have to be able to deal with even the crankiest customer and co-worker in an effective way.

Efficient – This may not seem like a big deal, but one thing I’ve realized often in working with college students and faculty is that they are often in a hurry (or at least they think they are *laugh&) and I need to be quick in helping them with whatever it is they need. So, we need to know the quickest, yet best, ways to find information/materials/etc.

Interested and engaged – This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve encountered librarians who couldn’t seem to care less about what they are doing. This shows through and isn’t inspiring to our library visitors. Personally, I get excited by the different types of problems patrons present me with. My job sometimes is like a fun treasure hunt and this is perhaps why people get referred to me. Of course, we’ll have days when we aren’t thrilled about being at work, but if that’s the norm and not the exception, it’s time to find something else to do. And let me add that this extends to being interested in innovations in librarianship. Those who are willing to learn and change are holding their libraries and the profession back.

Knowledgeable – Again, another no-brainer. However, sometimes this extends beyond our four walls and the resources within. Library users often expect us to know “everything”. While this isn’t possible, it is possible for us to find what they need…most of the time. If you’re starting a new job in a new town, take some time to get to know a bit about the area and local resources as well. I know I’ve answered questions about things like local movie theaters, public transportation, and coffee shops. While I’m not a tour guide, I’m still in customer service and if this is what someone needs and I do my best to help, chances are greater that the person will return when they have a “real” research question.

Compassion – This may sound strange, but it’s actually a very helpful thing to practice. Part of this is being willing to bend the rules a bit when someone is really in a jam. I’m not advocating letting ourselves being taken advantage of, but using some common sense when approaching problems.

Strength – This isn’t about physical strength, although that is helpful sometimes when you’re lugging around boxes of books or tearing down shelves. What I’m talking about is that individual strength of character to stand up for what you know is right. Most of us at some point in our careers are going to face a situation where we have to stretch a bit and put ourselves out there. It could be because of a challenged book or a problem patron.

What other things do you think make a good librarian? Please feel free to comment. This is pretty general list and based on one person’s observations.

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DH helped me move the big stuff, bed and love seat, down to LittleUtown this weekend. So, I’m basically all settled in and enjoying the quiet. And I finally got some pictures to share with you.

This is the living room area. I like having a nice big window. And being on the second floor means that I look out into the top of a tree, kind of like living in a treehouse.

I have NO counter space in the kitchen which makes cooking interesting. And the front door is right there on the left side of the second picture.

Then there is the bedroom area. We had these covered shelves that work well to divide the space up. I have a nice window in the bedroom area also.

If you come and visit, here is the front of my apartment. I’ve got the welcome mat out for you.

I finally got to knitting group last night after a few months absence. It was nice to sit, talk, and work on my socks. I’m almost done! It’s good I haven’t finished yet because I forgot the new skein in BigUtown.

Last night at Kiwanis, I was inducted and made an official member. I got a little pin, a folder full of stuff, and a hat. The woman who inducted me was the first female member of the club here. Really quite the honor!

The students are now back on campus and classes started today. The library is getting busier, although it’s mostly people printing out class schedules and stuff like that. It’s good to see the campus come alive. We’re starting to plan our instruction sessions. I’m also working on some new displays. One is going to be about the National Book Festival coming up in September. One of these years, I hope to attend it.

Friday bright and early I’m headed up to see my brother, SIL, and parents in IL. While there I’m heading to Stitches Midwest. My plan is to bring only a small amount of cash so I’m not too tempted at the huge market. I’m also looking forward to checking out demos and generally being around other knitterly people.

I have finished knitting the heel flap on Sock 2 of Pair #1. (Sorry no pictures yet!) I will be turning the heel – maybe tonight. After getting the gusset done, it’s pretty much smooth sailing/knitting to the toe. Depending on how busy/tired I am this weekend, I will probably have a complete pair of socks by Sunday night.

Time to wind the next skein of sock yarn. It also might be time to stop by the LYS for some thicker yarn for warm winter socks.

Can you believe it’s mid-August? Looking forward to sweater and wool sock weather.

In moving news, I’m almost moved into my studio. Actually slept there on the air mattress last night. After that I’m really looking forward to having a regular bed! I’ve been unpacking things as I bring them over and am fairly settled already. One great thing about a small space is you have to be very selective about what you have. There is a large outdoor light outside my sleeping area window and I’m considering getting blackout curtains for that window. It’s nice having my own space here. I am sitting with my decision not to get cable, so I’ll either not watch tv during the week or I’ll watch movies.

Our Walmart now has a Redbox in it and I’ve rediscovered the joy of renting $1 movies. While I still like Netflix for those hard to find things, I like being able to drive over to Walmart and grab a movie quick. Seems like a decent selection of fairly recent stuff. And you can reserve online. (Okay, I’m starting to sound like a Redbox commercial.)

We did 14 tours for international students today at the library. I was responsible for organizing all of this and I’m very pleased with how smoothly it flowed. I’ve already shown you the brochure I designed. In addition to that, they also received 50% off coupons for the library’s coffee shop. I was glad we got to participate and hope that this will continue. There are some other follow-up things that I’m planning, but I’m sure that it will be less students than we saw today.

Tomorrow, I’m off to pick up a gift book collection for the library. Between all the teaching and everything else this fall, I’ll have another gift collection to process. It’s going to be a busy fall around here.

Part of my responsibilities for SWARM International was coming up with a flier to pass out to the students. Hopefully I’ve covered all the information new international students might want to know right away. We’ll be having some follow-up sessions on more specific things like searching the library catalog and using our databases. Those will be within the next six weeks.

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Reference Renaissance turned out to be a great conference. I have to applaud the planning committee for doing such a great job. The keynote speaker was spectacular and very insightful. He gave all of us there some things to really ponder in terms of the future of reference librarianship…or the possible lack of a future. One of the worst things that we librarians often do is react to changes around us and we can’t continue to have that mindset because we’re often far behind. If we want to survive, it’s time to stop breathing the dust in last place and start being innovative and proactive. There are people out there who are forward thinking and rather than letting fear, laziness, or whatever get in our way, we need to really start listening and being willing to change faster than our usual snail’s pace. This is one of my observations.

One of the presenters talked about the fact that we really don’t need a print reference section anymore in academia. While I see her point and generally agree, I also know that in most libraries, this isn’t going to happen. However, part of her point was that we really need to be carefully evaluating resources in terms of who will use them…and if they will actually get used. If we’ve got stuff sitting on shelves collecting dust and no one has used them in 10 years, why are we keeping it? Or why do we keep investing in newer editions of stuff nobody uses. This is timely for me because we are working on weeding our entire reference collection at my library. I’ll be going back over some things and canceling some standing orders for items that are not being used and weeding other things for the same reason. We are already trying to head for more digital resources, and this was something she recommended because statistics are showing that students are more willing to use these. I don’t know that we are necessarily seeing that, but I think with the right kind of marketing, we can definitely make that happen. Another thing that really got me thinking.

Another thing that I plan to propose for our library is a more formal training program for our paraprofessionals and student assistants. One speaker advocated for only having librarians answer “reference questions”, but I think that if you train people correctly (and this can include librarians as well), you can improve overall service and customer satisfaction. Our student assistants are really not trained on how to do a reference interview and on our resources. They also need more instruction on when to pass questions along to the librarians. There are a few ways that we can create something more formal. One more component of this is assessment. We need to have some mechanisms in place to determine if what we are doing is really effective. This isn’t my area of expertise (at least not at the moment, but I’ll be doing some research), but there is someone in our library who is working on assessment who would probably be willing to work on this. (In fact, there might already be something in the works.)

I also got to meet lots of people and share ideas. The informal conversations in hallways and over meals can be some of the best times to learn about new things that are just coming out. I usually try to sit with different people so that I can meet new people. Even if other librarians from my library had attended the conference, chances are I wouldn’t have hung out with them much because I can always talk with them when we return and I just might miss out on some tidbit that a new contact has to share.

And I had a great roommate who really gave me some insight on the supervisory side of libraries. While she seems like a great supervisor and someone that would be wonderful to work for, her comments and observations were helpful as I continue to navigate my way as an underling and relatively new librarian. I hope that I’ll get to see her at ACRL in the spring.

Like many librarians, when I’m in a new town/city, I like to visit the local library and Denver Public Library was recommended as a must see. Here are some pictures I took on Sunday.

Okay, I lied

Posted on: August 3, 2008

I wasn’t sure what kind of computer access I’d have this week while in Denver. But I was able to snag a few minutes at the hotel provided computer.

Just wanted to let everyone know I made it in okay. Had a panic attack because the place was a 17(?) seater and I’ve never flown anything quite that small. Got off in Salina for a few minutes and considered calling DH to come pick me up so I could just drive out. But I managed to get myself back on and got here without incident. (Panic attacks and anxiety are no fun!)

Today I did a bit of sightseeing. Hit the Denver Art Museum and checked out their extensive collection of Native American art. Impressive! Then I walked over to the public library and checked that out. Very nice. The best part is the awesome storytime room.

There was an opening reception this evening that I hit for a short while. I’m not much into the small talk, so after that appearance I headed off to find some dinner. And now I’m heading back to my hotel room (which is quite sumptuous, btw) to knit, watch tv, and generally relax. The next two days are going to be full of learning and processing and thinking and planning and networking and whatever else it is we do at these things.

I’ve mentioned before that I hate presenting. Not because I’m lazy or unmotivated, but because I suffer from performance anxiety in the worst way. Yep. I get vultures (not little butterflies) in my stomach. I think they’re waiting for me to die of fright, which is a possibility.

I present at 8:30 tomorrow morning. I’m talking about using free screen capture software (specifically Jing and Camstudio. I know, some people hate these, but they’re pretty easy to use.) And in the spirit of looking at the positive side, let’s talk about the benefits of presenting.

1. It’s good to practice. As a librarian, I do presentations in various ways throughout the week, whether I call it that or not. When I teach, I’m presenting. When I pitch an idea or program to colleagues, I’m presenting. When I share conference info at a staff meeting, I’m presenting.

2. It’s a great way to share ideas and get feedback. I work in a relatively small library at a mid-size university. So there is a limited amount of opportunity to get feedback and share in person. Getting out where there are people from other places with other types of experience allows me to expand my horizons. At this stage of my career, I learn as much from what people ask or have to say about info I’ve provided as I do from actually doing the presentation.

3. It makes me research and try new things. Not that this would likely be a problem for me because I like learning about stuff, but presenting does help me gather my thoughts into coherent form. It also keeps me a bit more focused since I tend to be all over the map with my interests. (I think I’m slightly ADD, seriously!)

4. Maybe someone will learn something from me. I think it’s important for librarians to share. It isn’t possible for most of us to explore everything we want to and conferences are a great way to find out what’s going on and what would be useful for us to try. And by presenting, I get to add to the platter.

5. I get to meet people. This is one of the best parts. When I put myself up in front of crowd, I make myself accessible to others. I’ve had great conversations with people after I’ve finished a presentation and have met some wonderful people. As an introvert, if I don’t force myself to be visible, I’ll contentedly skulk in the last row with a few seats between me and the next person. (If you know me and see me skulking, please invite me over to sit with you. I’m just shy, not unfriendly!)

With a large coffee in hand, I’m ready to demonstrate screen captures tomorrow. The hope is that the audience will participate with some questions so it’s more of a workshop and not just me standing up there talking at people.


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Upcoming

Mar. 10 - Photography Class

Mar. 11 - Quad Cities SnB

Mar. 12 - Lincoln Reenactor performance at BHE

Mar. 13 - Annual budget due

Mar. 14 - SnB trip to Galena

Mar. 16-21 - Spring Break

Mar. 16-18 - On the Front Lines library conference in Springfield

Mar. 19-22 - In Kansas

Mar. 23 - Orientation in Quad Cities

Mar. 24 - Photography Class

Mar. 26 - Spring Break for Academic Librarians workshop in Peoria

Mar. 27 - Supervisor Development in Quad Cities

Apr. 2 - Using Social Technologies in Library Instruction workshop

Apr. 6 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 6 - My birthday

Apr. 7 - Photography Class

Apr. 9-12 - In Kansas

Apr. 10 - College Closed

Apr. 12 - Easter

Apr. 13-19 - National Library Week

Apr. 13 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 14 - Photography Class

Apr. 16 - Evening Instruction Session

Apr. 17 - Information Literacy Summit

Apr. 18 - A Day of Books and Quilts at Toulon Public Library

Apr. 20 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 21 - Photography Class

Apr. 22 - Renegade Reference meeting in Bloomington

Apr. 23 - Illinois Library Day

Apr. 24 - Quarterly Supervisors Meeting

Apr. 27 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 28 - Photography Class

Apr. 29 - Supervisor Training in Quad Cities

May 5 - Photography Class

May 12 - National Library Legislative Day

May 25 - Memorial Day - College Closed

June 4 - RSA Users' Group meeting in Peoria

June 6 - SIL's birthday June 6 - Brother and SIL Anniversary

June 8 - Nancy Pearl at Bradley University

June 13 - WWKIP train trip to St. Louis

July 3 - Holiday - College Closed

July 4 - Independence Day

July 10 - Mom's Birthday

July 10-15 - ALA Annual Conference in Chicago

July 17-19 - Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair in Crystal Lake, IL

July 31 - 10th Anniversary

Sept. 7 - Labor Day, College closed

Oct. 6-9 - Illinois Library Association Annual Conference in Peoria

Nov. 23 - Brother's birthday

Nov. 26 - Thanksgiving Day, College closed

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