Thursday, July 28, 2011

There is no Thursday, only Zuul

(This is my Thursday entry for Library Day in the Life. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, here are links to Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as well!)

5:30am- Wakey, wakey. As my Coordinator is out for the day, it'll be on my head to get operations rolling, which means if I have any hope of getting both her job and mine done today I'm going to need to take the early train...

6:54am- On the train, putting the finishing edits on my Wednesday entry for Library Day in the Life. I thought it was going to be easy to talk about how I became a librarian, but as my "adaptation" of my library school admissions statement evolves into a full-blown rewrite with bonus extra footage (let's call it the Director's Cut), I realize just how much of myself I was putting out there, and I want to get it right.

8ish- Riding the MBTA for most of my adult life now, I've learned one thing-- there is no such thing as an exact arrival time when travelling via public transportation.

8:30am- I'm at the office, already busy at work processing new Scan & Deliver requests. Scan & Deliver is our electronic document delivery service, and since our launch in 2009 every summer has seen a pronounced increase in traffic over the previous year as more and more of our patrons discover the joy of accessing the Harvard Library's print collection from afar.

9:40am- It takes me a good hour or more to have our requests ready for pulling from the Stacks. Tedious though it may be, I always look forward to the days when I get a chance to do some grunt work. I call them "Library Fundamentals" days, and I like them because they remind me that every workflow can stand to be improved upon. Nevertheless I'm glad I finished with time to spare before ten o'clock, because I still have a spreadsheet to analyze...

10:00am- Time for my weekly 1:1 with my supervisor. I'd have to look it up to be sure, but I think it's almost a year to the day that he took over as my boss. Although for various reasons-- some within my control and some way beyond it-- last August and September were a complete disaster for me on the job, my supervisor was in my corner all the while nevertheless, which made a world of difference in setting things right again. Now that my division is in a good place, he and I can concentrate on making things even better, and that's exactly the tone of our meeting today.

11:15am- Why am I so hungry already? Riiiight, I took the early train this morning. I dig into my leftover pasta and (contrary to my own sage advice) try to squeak a little bit of outside work into my lunch hour. I'm editing a chapter for the next edition of Magazines for Libraries and the deadline is looming, so I do a little fact-checking from the computer to see if all of the titles that Ulrichs says are still in print actually are. Guess what? I catch three of them that Ulrichs missed-- advantage Wikipedia, guys-- making it five publications out of 16 that folded since the last time I did this chapter in 2009. Truly, it's been a bloodbath out there for magazine publishers.

Noonish- Back to the grind. I knock out some emails requiring simple answers-- setting a borrowing library's at ease about a returned book (and learning that the Canadian post has been on strike in the process!), coordinating with my boss about a graduate information festival later next month, resending a couple of Scan & Deliver requests, then freaking out about an email notice about a change in the ILS that might seriously impact our operations.

12:29pm- I put together a quick statistical query for my boss all by myself using Access and wonder when exactly it was that I leveled up.

Sidebar. After slogging through library school you will no doubt be of the opinion that your mad PowerPoint (or Prezi) skillz and a copy of AACR2 are all you need to get ahead in the go-go world of professional librarianship. You are wrong. I have no idea why none of my courses towards the MLS required me to show at least as much proficiency in putting together a spreadsheet as it did writing a paper, cataloging a monograph, or coding a finding aid in XML, but trust me on this. You need to know how to make your data dance-- the sooner in your career as a librarian, the better. Got it? Now back to the show...

1:28pm- Whew, false alarm about the ILS change. Glad I asked for clarification, though!

2ish- Working with one of our new student assistants, whom we're training up on Borrowing request processing. He's run out of requests to process-- a happy tragedy, to be sure!-- so I turn him loose on a ginormous data cleanup project that I've been waiting all summer to foist onto someone. At least he won't be running out of work anytime soon.

3ish- Working with another one of our students, who will be leaving us in a couple of weeks for greener pastures. Saying goodbye to our graduating student assistants every year is one of the hardest parts of the job, and this particular student is one of the best we've ever had. Her work training other students over the past year has been absolutely top-notch, so before she leaves us for good I've had her documenting her training tips and tricks as much as she can. I get a chance to read a draft of what she's written and it's good-- really good. Maybe she'll consider working as a long-distance consultant?

4pm- Time for an all-staff meeting. Our Access Services department is so large that we need to have three separate showings in order for everyone to attend, and this is the last of the encore presentations. Our department head (my boss's boss) speaks about the Harvard Library Transition thus far and our library's goals for the next several months. Needless to say, there's still a lot of uncertainty in the air, but it's good that we're meeting to discuss the future as a group.

5:25pm- It's come to my attention that there's been entirely too much laughter going on in the office today- most of it from me. It's been a long but rewarding day, and despite having to serve double duty (making me feel more than a little like a man possessed all day), I find that I've really enjoyed myself. There's just something about those Library Fundamentals, I guess!

And now it's time to go.


6:14pm- Remember that bit this morning about there being no such thing as an exact arrival time? That was FORESHADOWING. Because lo and behold, I manage to miss my regular train home.

6:45pm- I finally settle into the later train and start to write today's post.

8:00pm- Home at last! The worst part is, I have another early day tomorrow...


Jessica Olin said...

You really have weekly meetings with your boss? How long are they, usually? I only meet with my director on a monthly basis now, but used to do it weekly when I was brand new at this library.

Tom said...

The weekly meetings usually run for an hour, although to be fair we have been known to scuttle our meetings if we've met enough working on other stuff during the week or if one or the other of us is just way too busy.

Our departmental management team, on the other hand, has gone from weekly meetings to every other week. To me that makes a little more sense, since I get most of my action items from my boss and not my colleagues.

And then I like to meet with my own staff every morning for about 15-30 minutes before I start my own day. It's informal, but I try to make sure I touch base with everyone.