Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's Up?

Every now and then I like to write a post about what I'm working on. Sort of like Library Day in the Life, but not necessarily for non-librarians. I never want to be the employee or the manager that everyone wonders about. ("What does she DO in there all day??") My work life reflects my personal life in one important way: transparency. I've got nothing to hide and I'm proud of my contributions to my library, librarianship, and society. So, here's what I've been working on lately:

My library is starting the process of switching to a new integrated library system. We've pretty much narrowed it down to the big three public library systems (Polaris, Innovative Interfaces, and Syrsi-Dynix) and we've ruled out open source. We've talked to the vendors at recent conferences. We've talked to some of their current customers. Next up will be official demos. We'll have to come up with a list of questions and specific things we want to see. We'll have to assign a team of staff members from various departments to participate in the demos. For me, the public catalog is important, mobile options are important, third-party add-ons like Library Thing and discovery layers are important, inclusion of our Overdrive e-book collection is important, reporting is important, and inventory options using our existing RFID system is important. I care deeply about the system as a whole, but those are my personal hot topics.

eBooks and eReaders
While I'm not the one who directly manages our eBook collection, I'm watching publishing trends very closely. It is important to me that our library is relevant to our users, and if e-content is what they want, I want to try to give it to them. I feel very helpless in some ways because we have a lot of money and training tied up in Overdrive. I understand the process of how Overdrive gets content from publishers, and that things are constantly in flux. We can't stop using Overdrive just because it's complicated or because our patrons find the process of downloading e-content difficult. We are sort of at a point where we have to "play through the pain" until there is another option. The fact is, there aren't a lot of viable options for us in providing the content that our patrons want. They want bestsellers from major publishers (ie. "Big Six"). Freading and 3M are probably wonderful products, to name a few alternatives to Overdrive, but they don't yet have the titles that will satisfy my patrons. So, I spend time reading reports, blog posts, Pew research, and internal usage statistics so that when and if there is another option, we will be positioned to move. I look at our budget carefully to see where the money could potentially come from if/when we need to buy more content from different sources, or if we decide to buy and circulate pre-loaded eReader devices. I pay attention to how other libraries are managing e-content. It's exhausting to keep up!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love interns. They are fresh and enthusiastic. One of our interns got a permanent librarian job elsewhere (Yayyy! That's really the ultimate point, isn't it?) and I'm working on replacing her. Along with our Youth Services Coordinator, I've updated the job description, posted the position, handled the incoming application materials, and I will participate in the interviews and the training. We have a LOT of great applicants. This will not be easy.

It never ends. I spend a good 75% of my time on scheduling-related activities. The daily desk schedule. Initialing weekly hour totals. The online time-off schedule. The Sunday schedule. The new intern's potential schedule. How many Librarians in Charge are in at a time? When do we need subs? Can an Intern or Reference Assistant work an extra hour instead of bringing in a sub for a short shift? Who's on vacation? Who has a program? Who's in a meeting? Who's at a conference? Which desks need double-coverage (on which days? at which times?) Which desks can be covered by interns alone? Which desks should we pair an intern with a librarian? With a Reference Assistant? Who's on desk? Who's off desk? Why can't I get a sub? WHAT WILL WE DO??

In a three-story building, we can't just not have someone on desk. It's a security issue as much as a service issue. We can't just not have a staff person on an entire floor. If it were only a matter of the daily desk schedules, it wouldn't be so bad, but there's so much more to it. I hate scheduling. I can't complain, because I knew going into this job that it was a part of the gig. It's not like I'm surprised. I just don't like it. Luckily, everything else about this job is rewarding and exciting enough to make up for it!

Collection Management
Duh. Collection management is my "thing" so it's no surprise that I spend time managing my collections! Probably only 10% or so of my time is spent on collection projects, but it's one of my favorite things to do. I love analyzing reports, reading reviews, selecting, weeding, setting benchmarks and analyzing whether my collections are performing to those benchmarks.

Outside Projects
At my boss's encouragement (well, she suggested it and I followed through), I volunteered for an ALA division called LLAMA (Library Leadership & Management Association).  I spent years being part of the state library association and library cooperative committees, so why not?

I'm speaking (with Mary Kelly, of course, wearing our ALB hats...) at the Rural Libraries Conference at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, MI and the Library of Michigan's Beginning Workshop at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire, MI.  Both are in early May.  We are doing two programs at each conference on a total of four different topics.  I've been updating Power Points for each of them.

That's what I'm working on. How do you spend your time?