June 5, 2010

Library Day in the Life

During my span of searching for work, I would come across various librarians' blogs describing their Day in the Life (of a librarian). I found this project, started by Bobbi Newman, so useful in having a better idea of what individuals in the profession really do on a day-to-day basis. Now that I'm a little over a month into my new position as a librarian for an urban community college in a big city (doing reference, instruction, and collection development), I thought it would be great to share what my day is like, especially for other recent or soon-to-be grads about to start their career.

No day is exactly the same, and as I progress things will be even more varied, but for the rest of the summer, most of my days will follow a general routine.


8:00 - 9:00 am - Work in my office for an hour while my supervisor starts off at the reference desk; there are only two reference librarians at a time at our branch (we rotate between our main campus downtown and a smaller satellite branch a little further west), so we just switch off back and forth for a total of about 4hs/day per person. What I do during this hour varies between:
  • Continuing to get familiar with the website, OPAC, subject guides, and course assignments involving the library
  • Learning the LCSH layout, even mapping out where everything is using Gliffy; once I finish the upstairs, we might have these diagrams posted to the website to help students find their way
  • Professional development activities: we're not required to publish (most community college librarians are not), so if I want to write something, I think about that at home; but at work I'll look at blogs, Twitter feeds, suggested books on instruction from my supervisor, and attend an occasional, free webinar
  • Read over library policies and strategic planning committee documentation I should be familiar with, as well as check district emails
  • And more recently, I've been getting more involved with my subject areas for collection development

9:00-11:00 am - On the reference desk. As I'm switching with my supervisor, I'll ask any questions I had from the previous day (if applicable), as well as go over some reference interactions I had, asking if I could have done anything better. This helps immensely.
  • Since I started during Maymester and Summer terms are approaching, it will be a little slower while at the desk; if no one has questions, I lately have been working on getting my share of LibGuides together since our library has just started to implement them. Each librarian is responsible for certain subject areas. If you've read New Librarian, New Job, our positions in my department fit the chapter on being a Liaison very closely
  • Our library has a close relationship with many faculty, so they will work with us on course assignments and using the library. Because of this, it's helpful to know the details of assignments so we know what the instructor is after to best help the students; this is part of the reason I look over the assignments binder we keep as well as course textbooks if I have time
  • A lot of time at the desk is also spent on monitoring internet activity because people will look at porn, try to do illegal downloads, or get around any of our other restrictions by using proxy sites. Because of this, we have software to restrict links and take control of a user's screen in real time; we can't violate copyright, nor do we want viruses taking over the computers, so I try to check the Net Support regularly, depending on how busy we are

11:00 am - 1:00 pm - Back in my office to continue with activities I mentioned earlier. Sometimes I will stay at the desk longer if my supervisor has meetings, or other times I will accompany her to the library classroom to sit in on library orientations/instruction sessions. I am fairly new to instruction, so I will get to sit in on a few more classes before going off on my own. Reading Char Booth's recent article in American Libraries really made me feel better about not being fully prepared yet (and she has good tips about instructional design, too).


1:00 - 2:00 pm - Lunchtime! We get an hour, so I'll usually spend a half hour eating in my office, catching up on personal stuff, then go for a walk for the other half but it's getting too hot outside so I'll need another plan.


2:00 - 4:30 pm - Back on the desk, same as before. I'm so lucky my supervisor is open to new ideas: she agreed to let me bring zines into the library to see if students are interested in them. We now have them on a display shelf/cart in magazine binders, and I'm hoping once the summer sessions start more people will start picking them up. Fingers crossed! If they prove successful (we have a tally sheet set up to keep track), there might be a chance to work zines into our budget (this first batch was acquired with my own money).

Then it's time to go home. During the summer, I have to go to our other campus 2x/week and work 11:30-8pm, and once Fall semester starts, it will be about that same rotation, plus one weekend day every other week or every two weeks. We're still short staffed even after hiring me, so hours are going to vary more. Once Fall starts, lunches might vary more too since during some months, we will have instruction sessions throughout close to an entire day.

But that's basically how an "average" day goes for me. My first few weeks were much heavier on shadowing at the desk, where I'd be out there nearly the entire day with my supervisor or a senior employee, watching them help students and then having them watch me a bit.

I hope to share more once I get into instruction because from my perspective right now, I'd like to hear about how a new librarian also new to instruction got started and got comfortable.