Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Day at the Library: A Love Your Library Week Post

[caption id="attachment_674" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="This is where the library magic happens...."][/caption]

Hey guys, its Love Your Library Week.  As a library worker bee, I thought I'd use this opportunity to describe MY typical workday at the library.  First some background:

  • I work at an academic library at a small, private college in Georgia

  • I'm not a librarian, but a library assistant.  To be a "for real" librarian you must have an MLS or MLIS (graduate degrees in library science).

  • My title is "Research and Instruction Assistant".  I actually don't help much with instruction, my main function is running all of our Interlibrary Loan and Item Delivery functions.  I also have a few office manager duties (that position was cut a few years ago) and I handle all of our patron account maintenance (i.e. I'm the fine collector).

Okay, on to my day, Thursday 04/14/2011:

7:55am -- I arrive to work nearly 10 minutes late (I called and let the librarian know).  Atticus was having a bad morning.  He cried when I put him down, so everything took longer to accomplish.  BTW -- it is impossible to put on your pants and hold a baby at the same time.  After dropping GrumpyPants at daycare, I whooshed to the library -- luckily it is very close by.

My first task was to fix a cup of coffee.  Then I discussed yesterday's meeting with a coworker -- especially the graduation schedule changes.  Then coworker and I stared at the schedule.  We have to use all our vacation by July 1st -- the start of the new fiscal year -- so lots of people are out.  Our library is open over 80 hours a week and staffed by 5 librarians, 3 assistants, and nearly a dozen student-workers.  We also have four regional campuses in addition to our main campus and an online program.  We work hard and one person out makes a huge difference.

8:21am -- Game plan.  I quickly jot down several things I need to complete today.

8:23am -- I start by checking my personal email, our Interlibrary Loan email, and our Library Inbox (patrons can email library questions to this box).  I forward a reserve request to another assistant, print out some Interlibrary Loan requests from patrons, and note some emails that need attending to.

8:29am -- Schedule changes.  I put my name down to cover a dinner shift in late April.

8:31am -- Patron account clean-up, this involves removing unnecessary notes from patron accounts.  Then I replied to a few staff emails.

8:36am -- Time to help thesis students!  I have a student who is writing a thesis and needs books out for an entire semester.  Lucky for her, we're able to do that for Thesis Students.  I update her account and email her enhanced due dates for her books.

8:41am -- A little bit more coffee and I check my mailbox.  Next I chat with coworkers about some work stuff and some non-work stuff

9:00am -- I look up some information on our university's flex spending account for child care and make a note to talk with our HR person about it.  While I'm at it, I print update my timesheet.  Then I email my supervisor that Hope has a doctor appointment in the morning.

9:20am -- Bridal shower planning for a non-library coworker.  I great an evite, answer several emails, discuss gift selection with my party co-planner, and start a gift donation envelope for the office.

9:57am -- bathroom break and I grab some water and two clementines.

10:03am -- I text the daycare teacher that I'll be over to feed Atticus in a bit

10:11am -- I finish up a Library Account Hold project.  I go through a list of all people with graduation/registration/transcript holds (folks with egregious overdue fines and lost items).  I check each patrons account and note which folks need holds removed (yay) and changes in amounts.

10:30am -- I write a note to my boss about the Library Account Holds project.  She will go through the list and remove/update holds on our university system.

Next I talk with my library director about the continuing problem of devising a way to cover the glass wall of my office so I can pump.  Currently, I'm hijacking unused study carrels and offices.

10:52am -- I'm appalled that I'm humming a Ke$ha song.  I check the library email box to make sure no new items have arrived

11:00am -- I head to the daycare to nurse Atticus

11:13am -- I arrive back at the library.  Atticus was sound asleep and I didn't want to wake him.  I heat up my leftover baked potato, porkchop, and broccoli in the microwave and catch up on reading Interlibrary Loan listservs.

11:45am -- Atticus is awake.  I head back to the daycare to feed him.

12:34pm -- I'm back!  I have a note about a patron with erroneous fines.  I correct her account and email her back immediately.

12:40pm -- I look at some lovely books with my supervisor on sustainable clothing design

12:58pm -- The librarians are clearing out for a faculty meeting.  It is just me, another assistant, and a work-study student.  I make my to-do list for Interlibrary Loan

1:00pm -- I open up several packages of books on my desk.  I take a stack of articles up to the front desk for a student to scan and email to me.  Then I'll forward the articles to the patron's who requested the material.

1:14pm -- Time to handle lending returns.  These are items that my library has lent to other libraries across the United States and they are now being returned.  I'll spare the technicalities, but there is some online system updating, a bit of paper work, and some re-filing.

I check to see if any libraries we've lent to need renewals.  None today!

1:22pm:  Lending requests, I check out Interlibrary Loan system to see what US libraries need materials from us.  I find two items we can fill (one book and one article).  A few of the things we couldn't fill because the items were already checked out or we are unable to lend them (i.e. someone requested a really rare book from our Special Collections)

1:31pm:  Okay!  Time to take care of our Interlibrary Loan patrons!  First I go through our Interlibrary Loan System to see what items came back as unfilled.  There's two:  one item is embargoed and the other is a book I requested :)  I notify the patrons and then update our stats.

1:40pm:  Answer a few staff email

1:43pm:  Time to place interlibrary loan requests!  I have only 14 today, but several are for international items that are difficult to obtain.  I place the requests, update the paperwork, and then update our stats.

2:27pm:  Holy filing cleanup Batman!

2:40pm:  I deal with another schedule change.  Then I send back items our library patrons have borrowed via Interlibrary Loan.  This includes checking the item in, deleting it from cataloging, updating our Interlibrary Loan system and corresponding paperwork, and printing out the mailing labels so a work-study can package them items and mail them.

3:10pm:  pumping time

3:20pm:  Finish up processing returns.

3:35pm:  The student-workers come back from the mail.  I open up the new packages and sort them.  I'll deal with them tomorrow.  They are all returns from other libraries.

3:41pm:  Bathroom break.  Hunt for my keys.  Clear a path on my desk.

4:00pm:  I leave for the day.  I'm off to hug the kiddos!

We'll there you go.  I didn't SHELVE OR STAMP A SINGLE THING!!!


Linda said...

It's my dream to work in a library so I loved this post. It sounds busy but very fun. At least your post made it sound fun!

Nannette Turner said...

I too am a library assistant and I love it. I work in a small college library and really enjoy the open source resource environment. Great to know we have something in common!

Elisabeth said...

Like Linda I would give my eyeteeth to have a job like yours. Any hints as to how?

Chelsea said...

What a day! Sounds nothing like my old days as an assistant children's librarian, but I guess it just goes to show how much diversity there is to be had in working at a library!

Andi said...

I looove it!!! Thanks for this peek inside a typical day!