Colleen's Library Day in the Life: January 21, 2011

A librarian day in the life as Head of Access Services at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Lupton Library.

7:20am - 7:40am
Arrive at library in time to gather some materials and do some quick email checking before I open the library on the reference desk.

7:45am - 9:00am
Reference desk shift. It's the Friday of the first week of classes for the semester, so it's slow. Three hole punches, staples, "how do I format my Word doc" and some Excel formulas questions. I get some more time to reply to emails from faculty. I also find that though our textlinker will tell you certain journals live in open access databases, there's no way to get to those databases that I can find - not in our A-Z list, or subject guides. I send an email to see if the only way for our users to get to the Directory of Open Access Journals and others is to serendipitously search for an article or journal title, or if I am having an early morning brainfreeze. One of the interlibrary loan staff is out, so I cancel my 10am meeting with the ILL unit. I'll reschedule it for next week.

9:00am - 9:45am
Finish part of my collection development project. The past few weeks I ran through our PE section, and marked a spreadsheet abotu what I would recommend for discard, what needs updating, what's missing from the shelflist. I send it off to our data guru librarian, Andrea, who will make the list public and available for faculty review and comment.

9:45am - 10:00am
I made the final revisions to a tentatively accepted ALA LLAMA preconference proposal I pitched with Jenica Rogers and Mary Chimato, putting in Mary's revised description and adding that LLAMA SASS has agreed to be a cosponsor in-name-only (no funding). Scanned and emailed to the committee chair for final approval and submission to the official Annual program. Mental note to go beg for refreshments funding from a vendor. They should want to woo current & future library managers, right?

10:30 - 11:30
I meant to draft a library refund policy to pitch to the dean and send to administration for approval; instead, I took advantage of my dean's open door policy to plop down and chat. Hashed out some goings-on in the department, some personnel issues and plans to handle them, some staff development opportunities and funding sources, some schedule changes, some workflow discussions (regarding both now and imminent-new-building). Discussed ordering a new scanner for ILL, ILL policies for emeritus versus retired faculty, retrieved a book identified by a faculty member as incorrectly LC-ed. We talked about the LLAMA preconference I'm doing with Jenica and Mary, and had a good long discussion on library leadership and management, the lack of institutionalized training and development for it, the place a professional organization should have in that, and some ideas to fill that gap. I left feeling more energized than I have in awhile. (This is why I love talking to my boss.)

11:30am - 12:00pm
On the circulation desk. Lots of laptops in and out, the political science books on Montesquieu and Locke are popular, and a handful of returned books and DVDs.

12:00 - 1:00pm
Finish up preparing for a faculty research consult. The professor is interested in locating journal articles on leadership, strategic planning, board development, and conflict management in the context of nonprofit organizations. I happily nerd out, because I love this topic. I also check into Friendfeed to chat with some fellow LSW librarians about things like our current collection review, lurk on a discussion about involving other faculty with our relationship with library vendors, participate in some threads on library management and burnout, and some other interesting stuff. Forget to cook my lunch, it remains uneaten.

1:15 - 2:20pm
Faculty research consult. Demonstrated where to find the information needed, and offered to both design a quick research guide for the online course he professor is teaching so students have a research map and to send relevant articles on the class discussion topics to the professor by next Friday.

Swing by Head of Reference's office - empty. Mental note to let her know that I'll be building that study guide for that class, and to ask what delimitations of liaison responsibilities are and if she minds - I love this sort of work, but I don't want to stomp on toes by moving into reference & instruction's turf. We don't care much about turf here, I imagine it will be fine.

2:30 - 3:15pm
Scheduled a meeting for next week about ILL data issues and what we'll do to solve them. Checked ALA Connect to see if there's been any action from either the Emerging Leaders group I'm on, or the ULS ad hoc committee I volunteered for. Responded to emails, schedule time on the calendar for the research guide/article finding excursion I promised the faculty member earlier. Dashed off a paragraph as to why the scanner purchase request might be considered sole-source due to some unique properties of the scanner requested. Ordered a gift for a friend who is down. Made a list of 5 songs I plan to order from Amazon when I get home as a present-to-self splurge. Wished for an ipod shuffle.

Realize I forgot to eat lunch today, and the clock says I have no time to make and eat the oatmeal before my desk shift. Boo and hiss. *stomach growling* Emailed Head of Reference about that consult and study guide so that she knows what's going on. Find out that liaison work is collection-development only. Oops, okay. Now I know. Experience slight panic over emailed reminder of an article due February 1. Decide to ignore it until I have time to deal with the writing next week; tonight and my weekend are already packed. Hope for the tentative three-way call involving my philosophically-close and geographically-far girlfriends. Send staff member home who worked halfway through her lunch due to my long conversation with the dean when I was supposed to be on the desk.

3:30pm - 5:10pm
On the circ desk for the final hours. Printed out a number of articles on librarystuffs (leadership, management, and access-services related stuff) I want to read over the weekend once I finish my coursework reading. Email about new finals hours back and forth with the dean. Finish up the desk work, clear the floor and ask everyone to finish up, check everything in, herd them out, and lock up. And chase out a guy who scurried to use the bathroom after closing despite my disgruntled glaring. Finish locking up, grab reading material for tonight and over the weekend, drive home with a massive headache and a hunger worthy of Mordor.


Alison said…
Do librarians frequently help out at the circulation desk like you did? I find it interesting because the only way for us to get a librarian to help is if one of us needs a lunch break, but even then they don't know how to do anything. We are the only ones who know how to open and close the building. Does your library have a set policy about librarians helping out in that way? I'm just curious.
Colleen said…
Alison - at my current place of work it is common. As the department head, I work the desk on a semi-regular basis, particularly when staff are out sick or on vacation, or when backup is needed. My ILL librarian also works the desk, and opens the building on a regular basis, and closes when asked. The ILL librarian and I are the only librarians in the access services department, plus seven staff. We also all rotate Saturdays, so everyone needs to know how to open and close. (Our dean also volunteers to work circ one saturday a semester).

We also have a number of reference librarians who asked to be trained on circ, as well as staff from other departments (reference, the dean's admin assistant, and special collections staff), so we have a number of cross-trained folks. They dont open or close the building, but it is very helpful when we want to have a department meeting that we know there are folks in addition to our student help who can staff our desk for an hour or so and still provide service.

I will say that I think this is rare - at other places I've worked, it's been like pulling teeth to get anyone else to work the circ desk, and the librarians in those departments (especially larger departments) in ILL, reserves, etc were very busy, and only worked the desk rarely. At UTC, we have a culture of helping, whcih makes it a real pleasure to work there, since it's easy to find folks to help when needed.

You mentioned that librarians only work your desk if you need a lunch break, 'and even then they don't know how to do anything.' To me, that's a service concern. I may not know the ins and outs of some rarely-done transactions, but I can run the desk for a few hours. I find it helpful to know what is going on on the front lines, and I think that it helps my staff think I'm useful :) I'd definitely approach it if you think you need the help, or for the librarians to really know what to do on the desk. I'd also recommend, if you're interested, you chat with the Appalachian State folks; they actually merged their reference and circ folks so their librarians can run the desk; they presented about it at the Access Services conference in Nov 2010.
Alison said…
Oh that is great to know! I love the idea of a helping culture, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be the norm where I am. One of the librarians that helps is a friend of someone at App State, so maybe we could talk with her. I would love to get my hands on that presentation...

I come from two years working for Marriott, where the culture is so wonderful that if we could achieve half of it I would be thankful. It is my wish that my library could work the same way. When we're helping either other, we help our patrons/students too.

Thank you for your comments. You have given me MUCH to think about!
Anonymous said…
Colleen, would you mind if I used this blog post for a paper I'm writing in one of my LIS classes? I wanted to get your permission before I used you as a reference.
Colleen said…
Alison - of course you may! Thanks for letting me know. And if you care to share the paper once it's written, I'd love to read it (if not, that's okay too :) )

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