Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday- no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

(This is my Day 2 of Library Day in the Life: Round 7)

6:50am- Wait. I'm supposed to wake up at 6am, right?


8:02am- I send an email to one of my bosses, whom I'd run into when leaving the library yesterday. I had mentioned a document/link that was relevant to some of the big changes currently taking place in the Harvard Library system and I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to send it to her, even if I did forget to get out of bed this morning.

8:06- Emailing my staff and supervisor, letting them know I'll be late. Fortunately my wife is willing to drive me in to Cambridge after dropping our daughter off at camp...

10:20am- Finally at the office, bearing empty calories for my peeps no less. I'm a big fan of keeping staff morale high, and love to bring in cookies, Hershey's Miniatures, or Swedish Fish whenever I can to keep the resource sharing fires stoked.

A quick round of office rounds ensues. Fortunately nothing is on fire this morning, so I can settle in and try to get myself caught up.

10:30am- I tweet this: "I'm seriously contemplating a Ph.D. in library science. Anyone have any advice/strong opinions?"

I get an equal number of responses divided between genuine offers of advice and colleagues asking me if I've lost my mind. It's true that I'm seriously thinking about it, as I really miss teaching and doing my own academic research (rather than facilitating the research of others). Getting a Ph.D. would allow me to adjunct and encourage me to explore some topics in library science that fascinate me, while allowing me to continue along my current career path.

10:50am- Going through my email, I respond to one of the coordinators of next week's IDS Project Conference in Albany, where I'll be presenting on the topic of International ILL. Although I am not from New York, I have been following the IDS Project for years now and look to their work for inspiration in implementing my own resource sharing initiatives here at Harvard.

The budget woes for New York libraries happened years before they hit the rest of us, forcing them to become a laboratory for resource sharing innovation. The best part about the IDS Project, however, is that they embrace a philosophy of sharing these innovations, so I relish any chance I get to hang out with them and learn something new!

10:57am- Time to put on my troubleshooter's hat. I am the first line of ILLiad technical support between our own IT department and OCLC/Atlas, and I've been wrestling on-again, off-again with a strange error that keeps on popping up at another resource sharing unit. This kind of troubleshooting can be difficult, as it involves keeping the asynchronous communication between the vendor, the local IT contact, and the affected staff member moving along, as each party is always waiting on the other two.

11:53am- More troubleshooting, this time assisting a new Harvard unit in setting up their ILLiad for ILL and Scan & Deliver operations. It's fun because we're excited to welcome new libraries into the fold, but it's a little frustrating because I realize how dated and scattered our original implementation documentation is. I root around my Gmail archives for a while, however, and manage to rustle up the docs we were looking for.

12:27pm- Two quick emails to colleagues overseas, thanking one for allowing our Preservation department to cut the pages on an item we borrowed whose pages were still attached, then replying to the other about a thesis we wanted to have copied for our patron. Dissertations often require a signed Copyright Declaration Form from the patron, so I forward the form while letting the lending library know that we are still interested.

12:39pm- Another ILLiad email, this one about webpages. Yes, I wear all kinds of hats.

12:46pm- A question to our Finance department about ILL shipping costs for FY11, as it's one of the few remaining numbers I don't have for this year's annual report.

1:01pm- Status check from my supervisor about a statistics problem I've been tasked with. I let him know we're making progress (in fact I've been working back and forth on this very report with our stats guru while knocking out other actions items).

1:17pm- Answering an email from one of our Collection Development librarians about the special loan of a microfilm set to a patron at another university. I particularly enjoy working with our Collection Development department, as they really do understand the basic tenet of positive resource sharing karma that you need to give in order to get. I can only think of one time in my three-plus years as Head that a special ILL request was rejected, and even then the librarian had a pretty good reason for nixing it.


The rest of the day is devoted to a last-minute stats request from one of my Big Bosses. Whereas the other statistics project on my plate involved data that was already available, I'll need to generate a whole bunch of monthly reports in order to solve this particular problem, then cut and paste each set of twelve months into a new aggregate spreadsheet. Why the vendor in question doesn't offer the ability to download data in a time format other than month by month is quite beyond me, as it makes answering these kinds of questions extremely tedious.

Fortunately I have my new musical toy Spotify to keep me company, so as I cut and paste my data I rock out to a Covers playlist I've been assembling (it's a collaborative playlist, so please add to it if you're a Spotify member!).

4:35pm- Email to a colleague about my vision of resource sharing and the changes ahead at Harvard. I love these opportunities to think aloud about the Big Picture, and am confident that there will be more of them as our transition continues.

4:42pm- A chance IM with another colleague about Xtranormal, the online animation tool which she is currently using for training purposes. I think it's a clever application, but we discuss about how it is sometimes perceived in a negative light in some circles. I guess some people don't think fuzzy bunnies are worthy of the Ivory Tower!

Time to call it a day, though before I leave I begin to sketch out my Monday post for Library Day in the Life. I'll continue working on it on the train, then finish it from the home office, at which point I'll plow ahead and start writing today's summary. So while I may have started the day running late, at least I get to finish it on schedule.

I can't help but think back to the question I Tweeted earlier in the day about getting a Ph.D., however. It's not like me to worry about things like this, but I catch myself wondering if I'm too old at this point to be going back to school. After all, I am 39 years old. While I've always been squarely in the "you're only as old/young as you feel" camp, for some reason I have been thinking more and more about the passage of time. Had I come to librarianship ten years sooner, I'm sure I'd already be on my to a doctorate, if not finished already, but alas, my career path took a lot longer to become clear to me.

Part of me wishes that I could send a message in a bottle back in time, telling myself to stop dithering and get my ass into library school already. But who's to say I would have found my vocation at all, had I not chosen the path less taken in the first place? More about this in my Wednesday post, when I talk about why I chose librarianship-- or, perhaps mote to the point, why it chose me-- but I wonder if the theme of lost time is a common concern for "second career" librarian-types such as myself?

...or maybe I should just lay off the Pink Floyd!

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