Friday, July 31, 2009

Extreme Multitasking Thursday!

I've noticed that my blogging updates for this week's Library Day in the Life have been coming later and later: on Monday it was around 11pm, on Tuesday after midnight, Wednesday at 3am (!!!), and now I'm bringing you Thursday's entry on Friday morning. This is no doubt a function of how busy the week gets as it progresses, with the result that by the time I've made it to Thursday I'm usually in the process of closing out several major tasks and/or troubleshooting efforts so that when Friday does finally roll around I have a chance to catch my breath, open my mail, and make sure that my staff has also successfully made it through another week.

This Friday is going to be a little different, however- as I need to get my car inspected in the early afternoon I'll be working from the home office and keeping an eye on the Google Books Settlement Discussion at the Berkman Center at the Harvard Law School. Not only do the folks at the Berkman Center consistently offer fantastic and thought-provoking events such as this one, but they always webcast their content live (both in "real" cyberspace and in Second Life)!

But back to Thursday...

9:00am: Another stats inquiry from one of the other Scan and Deliver units- I suspect that I'll be getting a lot more of these as libraries start writing their annual reports for the previous fiscal year. It's funny how quickly I've become proficient in turning these things out in such short time- had someone told me back in library school that of all of the computer skills a person can have one of the most useful for a librarian is the ability to coax information out of Microsoft Access and render it into an Excel report, I probably would have laughed. Or cried. But numbers are power, even in the republic of letters!

10:00am: Time to fix the ILL scanner's resend capabilties. I set up a WebEx session with the vendor and away they go...

...meanwhile, up at the Circulation scanner, our student assistant runs into a completely different technical problem and calls our ITS department, who then come and find me. It seems that the last time this problem occurred they had to uninstall and reinstall the scanning program, a cumbersome fix that is not the best long-term standing solution. I'm just about to email the vendor again when I remember that I had handled this error before on my own- long story short, every once in a blue moon a scanning image will become corrupt and cause the scanner to choke unless you go into the C: drive and delete the offending raw scan. Yes, tech support is another essential part of your job, no matter what kind of librarian you turn out to be. Even if you have responsive vendors and one of the best ITS departments in the university behind you, there's never a substitute for understanding the technology that you use and being able to implement a quick fix on the spot instead of calling in the cavalry.

11am-onward: For the rest of the day I shadow the Handheld Librarian Online Conference, where I try to listen to the speakers, following the expanded discussion on Twitter, take notes, and somehow keep another eye and ear on what's going on in the office at the same time!

This is the double-edge sword of virtual conferences- yes, it's a great professional alternative in this era of slashed or nonexistent travel budgets, and yes, it allows you to theoretically be in two places at once (thus minimizing lost hours due to approved release time), but you have to work that much harder to focus on all of these great ideas and add to any discussions unless you're able to sequester yourself in a bunker while you're there but not there. My boss said that some of her past colleagues used to drape a stuffed animal on the back of their chair or wear a funny hat when they were not to be disturbed. I always laughed at the suggestion, but if virtual conferencing becomes the norm and not the exception, it's sounding like a better and better option to me.

So as I mentioned above, this will be my last post for the week's Library Day in the Life event. But it's been a blast for me, and I hope you've learned a little bit about what it is I do here at Widener Library as well. I can't wait to catch up on all of the other participants' posts!

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