Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Library Day in the Life - Part 3

(My previous Library Day in the Life posts can be found here.)

It occurs to me that my list of stuff I do all day is filled with library jargon. If the point of #libday8 is to reach out of our library/librarian echo chamber, then it is the non-librarians or other types of librarians that we should try to reach. So, this post is for my non-librarian and non-public librarian friends. You know, people who don't know what an ILS is, or what it means to be "on desk" and "off desk."

Today is Wednesday. That means I work 1-9. In public libraries, you can almost guarantee your job as librarian to include evening(s) and weekend(s). My library is open seven days a week and until 9:00pm Monday through Thursday. That means we need reference staff in the building during as many of those open hours as possible. Sometimes that means we have substitute librarians working in place of regular staff who are on vacation or sick or something, but they are still reference staff (though not necessarily "librarians." That's a whole another blog post.)

One of my duties is scheduling, and it is something I spend a lot of time on. I need to be sure that three service desks are covered by a librarian, an intern, or a reference assistant at all times. With a three-story building, it is a security issue as much as it is a service issue. We can't leave an entire floor unstaffed. Today I dealt with four time off request forms ("TORFS"), altered a co-worker's schedule for the next few weeks, and printed out the May schedule sheets (yup - we still use paper). I also created June and July schedule pages, but didn't print them yet.

Another project I'm working on is writing a collection management guidelines document. Our library has policies in place that define what we buy and what we get rid of ("Selection" is choosing what is added to the library collection and "weeding" is removing old/obsolete items from the collection). I wanted to create a document that covers all of the things that go into managing a library collection. We don't just buy stuff and remove stuff - we manage how they are used, where they are shelved, the condition they are in, where we buy them, and a whole book's worth of other things. (*Shameless plug: that book is called "Making a Collection Count" and I co-wrote it with Mary Kelly last year. Ha!) The library has all kinds of collections, not just books. We buy different kinds of books for different age groups, music, movies, video games, puppet kits, etc. The document covers each collection, and even hints at some we may collect in the future and what we don't collect (and why).

For the document I'm writing, I started with a template over 20 pages long and whittled it down to five pages. I sent it to the two other department heads - Teen Services and Youth Services - as well as my boss, the Library Director. I've gotten some great feedback from them, which I have been working on incorporating into the draft. Today I made the last of their suggested changes and re-sent the document. I think we're close to having a working copy that I can send to all the librarians for their input. I wanted to start with the department heads to make sure that the draft that goes out to about a dozen librarians a solid one.

Yesterday our Technical Services Coordinator needed to work with a vendor to place my February non-fiction order. She is working on setting up a new way of ordering through that vendor, and wanted to use my February order as the test. She finally got it to go through today, but in the process, my "upcoming titles" folder was changed to a status that won't allow me to put any more titles in it. I keep one folder for my next order (titles published the following month) and one for titles I'm thinking of ordering when they are published a few months from now.

I manage the adult non-fiction math and science materials. A report I got showed that one book in that collection went missing last month. It's an organic chemistry book, and I'd like to replace it with something more current anyway. I created a new folder in the vendor software for March math & science books and put a few organic chemistry titles in it to be purchased next month. I'll have to wait and see what the TSC can do with that "upcoming titles" folder. Some of the items in it won't be published until July. If we order them now, they will just get cancelled by the vendor in a few months. They need to be ordered within about three months of their publication date to avoid cancellation.

For no other reason than it's free and interesting, I'm learning to code in javascript. I'm using guided lessons in an online program called Code Academy. I finished the first section and am heading into week 2. The only computer language I know is html (like, the ORIGINAL html...), so this is really a challenge for me. I am alternately frustrated and exhilerated with the lessons. This is a great on-desk project.

What's "on desk," you ask? My library is lucky enough to have enough staff where we each spend time at the public service desks, like the reference desk, only about 3-4 hours a day. Being "on desk" means serving the public directly. These are my favorite hours of the day. When we're "off desk" we are at our own desks in the staff areas of the building, or sometimes working with the collections themselves or putting up displays - working on things that still benefit the public, but where we can focus, mostly uninterrupted.

Today I'm at the reference desk for two hours and the readers advisory desk for one. The reference desk is on the upper level (third floor) of our building, and it is where adult non-fiction and 20-some public computers are located. We also have six individual study rooms and two group study rooms up there. The questions we answer at that desk tend to be technology-driven and subject-driven (ie. "Where can I find a biography of George Washington?" or "Do you have books about organic chemistry?") The readers advisory desk is on the main level, so it is pretty busy. That's where we keep adult novels (fiction, mystery, sci-fi, etc.), large print books, movies, audio books, and music. It is also where the Teen Zone is located. It's the desk I work the least, but it's a fun one. We get questions like "What's #3 in the Twilight series" and "Do you have the movie 'The Help'?" and "Could you put me on hold for the audio version of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'?"

Every Wednesday we have an "Admin" meeting. That's where department heads (ie. Administrators) meet to talk about whatever we want. They take anywhere from a half hour to an hour, depending on who has things to discuss. Today we talked about potential goals for the library for 2012. Some great ideas surfaced!

Afterward, I met with my boss for 15 minutes or so to talk about our search for a new ILS. That stands for "Integrated Library System." Basically, it is the computer system that lets us check items out to people, keep track of the items in our collection, and includes the catalog that the public uses to look things up to see if we have them. Our current system works, but it is old and won't be supported by the vendor much longer. The vendor has upgraded a few times since this system. We may or may not go with the current vendor's newest product. We may or may not switch to an entirely new company's product. Either way, we have to choose our next system, and it is a huge undertaking. It will include making sure it has all the functionality we want for our staff and our patrons, at the right price, with the right kind of vendor support, and then migrating all of our existing data into it and training the staff and patrons how to use it.

I was asked to share my Excel handouts, which yesterday I said I was going to update. I didn't update them yet, but I did share the link. If you're curious, they're all available in my Scribd account, along with all the handouts for any computer class I've ever taught in the last decade or so.

I have one more journal to finish reading and two new publisher spring catalogs to go through. I'll do that on-desk tonight.

And that, my non-public-library friends, was my Wednesday.

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