from the Library of Maura

Library Day in the Life

January 28th, 2011 by Maura A. Smale · No Comments

For the past 3 years librarians in many different libraries and countries around the world have collaborated on the Library Day in the Life project. Library workers blog, tweet, or post photos or videos to shine a light on what it is that we do all day. So far I’ve never participated — the project takes place in January and July, at times that aren’t during the regular CUNY semesters. I’ve always felt a little odd about joining in because I don’t really consider the days this week to be typical for me.

But I’ve been quiet on this blog lately, so I thought this might be a good year to jump in. My plan was to chronicle yesterday, but then we got 15″ (or was it 18?) of snow and the college closed (I took my kid to the park instead). So I’m going to try and reconstruct Wednesday’s work happenings.

I should note that most weeks during the semester I teach at least a few classes or workshops for students or faculty, though that varies from week to week. I also spend time at the Reference Desk, though not as much as I teach. And the meetings tied to the semester calendar haven’t started back up again yet either. So with that caveat…

On Wednesday I got into work at about 9:15, a little late for me (I had a routine doctor’s appt). Usually I try to get to the library by 8-8:30 and spend the time before I officially clock in working on research + writing. I’m most focused in the morning and I find that I’m most productive (especially with difficult tasks like writing) if I stick to this habit. Doesn’t always work out, but I’d say I keep to the plan more often than not.

Once my day officially started I triaged (answered, filed, deleted) email for about an hour. I also posted my handout on our staff wiki from the morning not-really-a-retreat we had in department the prior day. The theme of the non-retreat was productivity and connectivity, and we spent lots of time discussing email management techniques and how to use our new staff wiki for information we all need to access. I tried to use some of these email techniques this morning — while I’m not an inbox zero person I do try to keep my inbox relatively clear. I was bad about clearing out my sent mail folder last semester so I’m making a special effort to keep that manageable now.

Then I ran some errands around campus. First I went to media services to drop off a request for a media cart for our Web 2.0 Happy Hour faculty wine & cheese program in March. Next I took the handout and worksheet to the campus copy center to be copied for our English Composition I library instruction sessions, a required component of that course. Finally I headed to the grants office to pick up and drop off forms, and checked in to confirm that a grant I’m submitting is complete.

I don’t remember exactly when I had lunch, but it’s usually no later than noon. Most often I bring my lunch and eat at my desk (boring, I know). Probably did a quick email check and looked at my Google Reader briefly, too.

Next I spent some time crunching data from the surveys we ask students in our English Comp I sessions to fill out. Since we’ll be giving the survey to students during the Spring semester I didn’t spend too much time running the numbers now, but I like to take a look before the new semester begins to see if there are any unusual comments. This time a student requested additional materials for help with using the library from home, which dovetails nicely with our plans to create more online video tutorials and guidelines.

I also checked in on our faculty feedback form responses from last semester’s English Comp I sessions. Frustration in dealing with plagiarism was mentioned a couple of times. Unfortunately we don’t have time to discuss plagiarism thoroughly in our sessions (they’re only 75 minutes), so I emailed the instruction library faculty to pick our collective brains about strategies for helping to address the plagiarism issue.

After that I played around a bit with Zotero in advance of a faculty workshop I planned to co-teach this morning (but instead I was home with a sick kid — too much sledding?). I’m a bit sheepish that I haven’t used Zotero much in the past, and I’ve liked having an excuse to become familiar with it. I’m particularly excited about the collaborative features, which I think will come in handy for several projects I’m working on right now.

Next I made some coffee and prepped materials for our department curriculum committee to use to crossgrade student assignments as part of the collegewide assessment committee work I’m involved in. I’m on a few college and university committees and I genuinely enjoy most of my service work. It’s been a nice way to learn more about how things work and helps keep me thinking about how the library fits in with the broader institutional mission.

After putting in a request to CIS for student email addresses for a pilot program we’re trying this semester, it was back to email. I’ve been making the effort to keep my email to discrete chunks rather than checking constantly all day (I turned off notifications), but sometimes it’s difficult.

I headed out for home shortly after 5 today, when the library closed. During the semester we’re open later and I tend to stay a bit later, too. I try not to do too much work at home in the evenings, but I had a couple of time-sensitive things to get done this week. One of the students in my class last semester asked me for a recommendation so I wrote that up for her. I also did some formatting tweaking on the preliminary report of last year’s fieldwork that my research partner and I recently finished writing.

And that’s about it for this day. Next week this will all change, but I love the busy beginning of the semester after the (relative) quiet of January.

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