Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Library Day in the Life

I've been following some of the Library Day in the Life tweets and blog posts, and decided to get in on the action. Here's what I did today. The times are rough estimates, since I did not plan to write this until almost the end of the day.

Arrived at work. Grabbed the mail from my mailbox and the weekly schedule clipboard on my way to my office.

Created the day's service desk schedule, which is on staff intranet. All of our reference staff work at all three service desks (youth, readers advisory, and reference), so we are all plugged in here and there for an hour or two at a time. Librarians work 3-4 hours a day on-desk. Reference Assistants and Interns are generally on-desk their whole shift. Today there were a couple of programs to work around and one person on vacation. Every desk was still covered. Yay! I write out the schedules a few at a time so I can just update the intranet in the morning with a schedule that was already designed.

Read email, which always creates work. Someone needed to swap work days, someone wanted an intern's help with a project, someone wants me to be a panelist for their fall workshop, an ILL pick-up notice, some ALA news, and the state library listserv (a glance and a lot of deletions). Sent an email to my Library Director about the need for more CD shelving.

Went through the stack of mail and papers from my mailbox (pitched most of it).

Dealt with a few time off request forms (TORFs) that were in my mailbox. Approved, wrote on clip board schedule, added to online calendar, filed form, returned approved (initialed) duplicate to employee. I. Hate. Torfs.

Penciled out next week's daily desk schedules. A few people will be on vacation, so if I need to line up subs I want to have time for that. This involved sending out some emails to offer a few part-time Reference Assistants an extra hour to stay late one day and to let the subs know what shifts are available next week. I spend a LOT of time on scheduling-related activities.

11:00-12:00 An hour at the reference desk. My favorite place to be is on desk. I enjoy all three service desks, but I love the reference desk best. It was busy! A few ILLs for a college student, a woodworking book for a nice grandpa-to-be who wants to build a cradle for his coming-soon grandbaby (awwww!), and resume help (well, "life" help) for a woman who has lost her job and has never touched a computer in her life. I talked her into signing up for three computer classes and typed up a super-quick resume for her. (Let's be honest, it was NOT going to happen for her until she takes a class. It took me approximately four minutes and was no trouble at all.) A few other questions too, but I can't remember what they were.

An hour at the youth services desk. Where are the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? What does "shelving cart" mean in the online catalog? Do you have the original movie "Annie"? Mingle this with LOTS of stamps and prizes for summer reading logs! I love giving out prizes. It's just a little squirty plastic fish thing this week, but when I told a little boy he could squirt his brother with it, his little face got the cutest, full-of-mischief look on it! His brother is in the older kids' program and got a bowling pass as his prize, so he was pouting that he didn't get a free bowling coupon like the brother did. I told him his prize was BETTER because he could squirt his brother with it. Seems fair to me! Thankfully, his mom laughed too.

Lunch time! Read my book and ate my lunch. Tweeted and checked for a reply to a message thread on Facebook.

Ran upstairs to see if/where I might find a library credit card. An employee asked to take an ALA webinar, but the only payment option is via credit card. The Business Manager was out sick. The Library Secretary said that the Business Manager has the card in her office. I'll bet the Library Director knows where to find it. I'll have catch her later because she was selling summer reading t-shirts with the Friends just then.

A TORF showed up while I was away. Checked to be sure I can spare a person that day, penciled it onto the weekly clip board schedule, noted it on the online calendar, approved the form with my initials, returned duplicate to employee, filed my copy.

Added to my monthly Board report. I work on it all month so I don't have to write it all at once. I'd forget something crucial if I did that. I added some program attendance figures to it from the last few days, as well as a link to some cool tour videos some employees made. (Check them out at!)

My co-author and I were invited to be featured on the Huffington Post Books page! I make a point of only working on Awful Library Books activities outside of work. I broke that rule today. I mean, it's the HUFFINGTON FREAKING POST! I drafted a blurb for them, chose my top ten recent ALB posts, and found a decent head shot to include. Emailed Mary Kelly (ALB co-author) for same.

Thought about, read about, listed, and asked around about potential projects for Reference Assistants. All the most interesting and exciting projects seem to go to Interns. The part-time Reference Assistant position exists for backup to librarians at the service desks. They are the reason our librarians only have 3-4 hours a day on-desk. RAs are not librarians or library science students, but have a lot to offer...and time to work on things between helping patrons at the desks.

Measured some unused shelving in the storage area with my Library Director. We then went up to the main floor and measured available space for that shelving. It will fit! This will spread out the too-full music CD collection.

Library Director got the library credit card for me. I spoke to the employee about the next steps in the webinar registration process. I'll need to get a purchase order filled out and copy her registration info so I have paperwork to attach to the PO. I wasn't sure she had an ALA membership, so I asked her about that too (she does). I didn't have time before I was due on-desk again, so I'll work with her on registration and PO paperwork tomorrow.

Back at the reference desk. Read my Google Reader feeds, browsed through posts on my Twitter account and clicked on some interesting-looking library-related articles, blog posts, and links. I was inspired today by reading #libday5 posts from earlier this week, so planned a blog post of my own (ta-da!!). I also read Library Journal and answered some reference questions.
1. Yes, we do have a rotisserie cookbook.
2. We also have a lovely architecture collection.
3. I'd be all-too-happy to help attach a picture to an email
4. ...and to print a lovely color copy of that picture too.
5. Yes, we do have a scanner! Yes, I will walk you through how it is used.
6. The travel section is just behind me here. Sure, here's France. Lucky you!
7. I'm sorry, all the quiet study rooms are full. There's an empty table in a quiet corner. Will that do?

Time to go home! I'm having dinner with a friend who's a Director at an area library. I always have good discussions with her. I'll take my husband's car so that meanwhile, he can fix my car using the Haynes manual that came via ILL for me today! (I will bring him something nice from the restaurant.)

And that, my friends, is what I did today.


  1. Measuring shelves, initialing and duplicating forms and writing for the Huffington Post all in ONE day! Sounds perfect!

  2. Wow, congrats on the HuffPo gig! I would say that's definitely where the spirit of the law is more important than the letter. ;)

    Thanks for sharing your day!!

  3. The time and effort required to process and schedule TORFS = pain in the neck.


    The goodwill that comes your way each time a TORF is approved = priceless.

    Trust me.