Friday: A Day in the Life

Well, we’re almost at the end of my work-week. Fridays my shift is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and we’re always a little short. Central Library is staffed 7 days a week, so half the staff works Sunday-Thursday, the other half works Tuesday-Saturday. Four of the seven days are chronically half-staffed as a result, Friday being one.

So – since I have an extra half hour this morning because of the shift change, I rise at 6, scan the headlines, pack my cup of decaf, and drive a couple of miles to Pocket Curves. They will be closed by the time I get home this evening, so I slide in a morning workout on Fridays (evening workouts on Mondays and Wednesdays). Return home, have a bowl of cereal and a banana, shower, and catch the 8:05 bus.

8:45 – Arrive at work. Retrieve booktruck from my basement desk in Collection Management and elevate to the 5th floor. Briefly scan e-mail and answer another OverDrive tech help question. Check in and shelve the new Telephone Reference issue of the Kelley Blue Book.

9:00 Attend meeting of group working on a system of incentives and acknowledgment for staff – the group decides to call itself the “True Value Task Force”, and brainstorms ideas for ensuring staff feels valued and validated.

10:00 Library opens – I’m off-desk for two hours, woohoo! I answer a dozen of the “contact us” emails sent to the library. Someone else does it the rest of the week; it’s my job on Fridays and Saturdays. Topics range from address corrections, PIN problems, reserves, donations, volunteerism, claims-returned, and yes, a couple of thank-yous. (There is another e-mail address our borrowers use for reference questions: “askus”; other reference staff are responsible for handling that account.)

10:30-12:00 Eat snack, because lunch will be an hour later than usual today. Give new Webmaster a flyer for the October Internet Librarian conference in Monterey. I explain that, since he himself admits he needs to learn more about libraries, this is the perfect conference for him. Troubleshoot access problem with an EBSCO e-journal’s record in our OPAC; decide it’s because the database identifier in the 856 field is wrong – need to go to my desk in the basement to retrieve the database codes to verify. This will have to wait until Tuesday, since Collection Management is closed on Saturdays, and I am off on Mondays.

Enter reminder in Franklin to schedule a tour of the Sacramento County Public Law Library for Central Librarians. We’ve previously e-mailed back and forth and decided that August would be good – now I’ve got to set the date and firm it up. This library is only a couple of blocks away from Central, and there is a good bit of cross-referral going on – thought it might be fruitful to visit the library and meet its staff.

Take a phone call from a hopeful Vendor. He has an interactive history/science/map product, and also an ESL electronic product. We chat for 10 minutes, and arrange for him to meet with me for a 30-minute demo next Thursday, my eResources day, at my downstairs desk.

I spy the Youth Services Librarian in the supply room and waylay her to tell her about the “kissing bug” – an old babysitting trick I learned from one of the moms when I was an active babysitter, 30+ years ago. I thought it would be appropriate for her toddler time during this “Catch the Reading Bug” summer. She persuades me to be part of a children’s renaissance fair she is planning for October – would I be interested in playing recorder duets with another of our reference librarians as “mood music?” Okay – it wasn’t too hard to twist my arm – I agreed.

Call our Telephone Vendor to schedule some system tweaking – this is a follow-up to an e-mail a while back, and to which he has not replied. He is “out of the office” for a few days – I leave a message.

12:00 Answer phones. Take a callback for identifying a quote by G.K.Chesterton about Christianity and an upside-down viewpoint.

1:00 Lunch – buy a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich from Subway, across the street, and some lemonade and vegetable chips. Notice it’s smoky again from the wildfires that have been burning for the last 3 weeks.

2:00 Second Floor Reference desk: Attempt to answer the G.K.Chesterton “upside down” Christianity quotation question I took at 12 and couldn’t answer.

Have long discussion with elderly and hard-of-hearing gentleman with a very strong Chinese accent about which tax form he needs. I can’t determine whether he needs the 1040A for the tax incentive rebate or the 9000R form for the renter’s rebate. He has a tax form number, but it doesn’t match anything the IRS has listed on its web site. I give him everything we have and write him a note explaining I can’t give him tax advice because I am not a tax professional. He reads it and laughs. I include the local IRS phone number, in case he wants to call them for clarification.

A lean, rumpled and sunburned gentleman approaches the desk and asks for the “military books”. I direct him, he retrieves a couple, and sits at a table near the reference desk, proceeding to have an animated conversation with an invisible companion for the next 40 minutes. It’s kept just below the threshold at which I would ask Security to have a chat with him.

A Vague and Confused gentleman asks for the bus schedule for a neighboring county. I don’t have hard copy, so I offer to look it up online. I spend about 20 minutes with him, although he claims the bus is leaving in a few minutes and he doesn’t have time to wait for an available Internet terminal to look it up himself. He mumbles, and he changes his question several times. Finally I offer to print the timetable for one of the routes that will get him to his destination. After perusing it, he informs me that I have messed-up, and points triumphantly to the print-out: I should have used the “printable view” link, got that? Did you get that? He lopes off with the schedule in hand. My hackles are up now, but I smile and assure him I “got it”.

I print the wi-fi FAQ for a gracious woman who was unable to connect today – though she has successfully connected in the past. We speculate as to whether Mercury is retrograde (it is not.)

Still trying to find the Chesterton quote.

3:00 Third floor reference desk. Find my colleague helping the Bus Schedule Man. He also spends about 20 minutes answering the same question I did. the Man leave happier than when he left me on the 2nd floor.

The Print Manager for most of the public PCs is not communicating with the computers. We put in a trouble ticket and manually release print jobs for free, as needed.

I get a Real Reference Question from a young Student, who wants articles supporting a continuing War on Terrorism for a debate.

I check the “contact us” e-mail account in between patrons and send off another half-dozen replies. Still haven’t been able to answer the Chesterton quote question.

4:00 Telephones for 45 min, then I take a 15 min. break. I decide to work on the Chesterton quote tomorrow morning before we open.

5:00 Third floor again. Someone has attended to the print manager, but now it will only take paper money! I coast, this hour, and spend some time helping walk-ins use our computer reservation system. At 5:50 we begin shutting down the unoccupied terminals and picking up newspapers and magazines in preparation for closing. All systems shut down automatically at 5:55, and another work day is done.

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