Tag Archives: librarydayinthelife

New Orleans Public Library

I’m staying on in New Orleans to do some family history research. I’m hoping to find something in newspapers from 1867-70 about my mother’s great-grandfather, who was imprisoned in Jamaica and then deported. His obituary in the Jamaica Gleaner says he spent the next 3 years in New Orleans, and was recognized by the City for assistance during an epidemic.

However, family history research is notoriously full of plot twists and brick walls. So far, there is no mention of him at all in the card index to New Orleans newspapers, nor in the city directories for 1867-68. NOPL subscribes to NewsBank’s historical Times-Picayune, and again it was a dead-end.

So tomorrow I’m going to visit the New Orleans Historical Collections in the French Quarter to see if there might be something there that would provide additional information about this elusive ancestor.  Wish me luck!

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Exploring iPhone

Discovered the WordPress iPhone app this evening and installed it. Now I’m testing it’s usability by writing this post. so far, I can do everything except read my published posts.

This time around for Library Day in the Life, I chose to Microblog just one day. Previous rounds became obsessive, and this is a busy time for me – can’t take that much time to record my days just now.

That’s because I need to learn about iPhones before I take a 3- week vacation far from my laptop! I’ve got apps for tweeting, blogging, skyping; for rewards cards, family history, productivity, and photo editing. I’ve got apps for my Couch to 5k workouts and for Weight Watchers. I owe iTunes my next paycheck.

After all this practice, I’ll be more than ready for librarydayinthelife round 5, when I’ll be prepared to iPost my iDay from mu iPhone!

Saturday – Last Day in the Life

As with the previous two times I blogged my work week in detail, this has been a fun exercise.  Our library’s work patterns have shifted dramatically in the last year, due both to changing expectations from our public and from changes made by Boss that are bringing us closer to her ideal of what library service should be.  We are making significant changes to the layout of our building, to the size and scope of our collection, and to the way we staff our service points.  Like all other libraries, we are feeling the squeeze of an excruciatingly tight economy, and in addition, we are preparing for the arrival of a new library director. We are completing our first web 2.0 staff continuing-ed campaign (27 Things). In many ways the changes have been stressful, but I feel they’ve also pushed us to be more creative and responsive.  If I do this again next year, it will be interesting to see how this year’s changes have re-shaped the services and capabilities we will be offering then.

So – on to Saturday, the last day of my work week.  I tidied up all – well, most – of the loose ends from the last several days.  August Audiobook Bulletin, check.  Playaway review file for cataloger so he can correct item type, check. Those were the two biggies.

I also selected several books to share with 60 second-graders coming for a library visit next Wednesday, and made a checklist of topics to cover with them.  Who’s library is this? How much does it cost to borrow books? What else can you borrow from the library? Is the library online?  I’m covering for our children’s librarian, who is away for a couple of weeks, and it’s been a while since I’ve done a second grade class visit. Debating whether to read Pete Seeger’s Abiyoyo or Trivizas’ Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. Preferences?

We “soft-launched” My InfoQuest – text for answers – on our web site. We are participating in this collabortive text-reference project with about 50 other libraries across the country.  Our shift is on Tuesday night, and I don’t want to log in today and bollox up the librarians who have the Saturday shift.  However, being curious, I logged in last night after the service closed for the weekend, and discovered there were a couple of questions from Sacramento that sounded like patron questions and not like curious library staff testing the service.  Hooray!  Print publicity will be distributed by next weekend.

Next big project to consume me: preparing a computer class for the public on “Finding People Using the Internet‘” which is scheduled for August 15.  How do I divide it? Dead people vs living? Directories vs social networks? Free vs fee-based? Umm … let me think …

Oh, and five hours on the reference desk.

Friday – Day in the Life

6:00 Arise

6:30 Eat, scan headlines in local newspaper, etc.

7:20 Feed fish and head for bus stop.  Pause with hand on doorknob as I exit the house and say, “@#$%*” when I realize today is Friday, and I work 9-6 instead of 8-5.  I could have stayed in bed a half hour longer, or watered the garden, or gone for a walk …  I decide to go in early anyway and read the latest 27 Things blog posts.

9:00 Pick up book truck/mobile office from desk in Collection Management Dept. in basement, head to other desk on the 5th floor and put lunch in the fridge. Big agenda today, so I get right to work.  Scan e-mail, discover our new InfoQuest text reference service has been added to our web site and I can now  blog it. Update the TELIS TipSheet for telephone ref staff to include cancellation of the bookmobile stop tomorrow due to driver illness.

9:45 Prepare 4th floor and 2nd floor for opening: close internal doors to sorting areas and freight elevator, close restroom doors propped open by the custodians, turn on all the OPAC monitors and copy machines.  Log in to the staff computers and open the ILS and browser.

10:00 Showtime! From now to 6 p.m. I and the other Saturday librarians stand shifts sequentially at 4 different reference desks, with breaks before and after lunch.  We are encouraged to be available to our borrowers, meaning we appear approachable and helpful, not engrossed in e-mail or busywork. 

Patrons bring lost and found items to me at the desk: a staff coffee mug (it’s empty and clean, and I know it’s a staff mug because of its shape and distinctive logo), and two drivers licenses and original Social Security cards left in the copier.  Another patron asks whether anyone has turned in her lost originals left in the copier.  I have returned the drivers licenses and SS cards to their owner, so I refer her to our Lost and Found Depatment on the 1st floor.  As she reaches the elevator, I discover school papers behind the reference desk and run them over to her at the elevator. She recognizes them immediately as her missing originals and is effusively grateful!  

I send a third trouble ticket to IT for that troublesome database access problem – it’s so intermittent, we haven’t been able to pin it down from either the Vendor’s side or our side. I also send an e-mail to our public services staff with a status report, because it’s taking longer to fix than normal.  And I thank another Vendor for sending additional information about transferring downloaded files to an iPod shuffle – he thinks it’s not possible.  I ‘m stubborn, so I’m going to try.

Reference questions include finding pictures of a certain plant; locating a circulating book that describes mental illnesses; printing a list of trading posts in three states and the contact information of another, identified by name; location of our computer tech books; a circulating street atlas of California. In Kids’ Place, I help locate Berenstain Bears, craft books with how-to projects featuring food items, place holds on chick lit for a young mom with a toddler, and show a mom and teen how to find programs for college-bound students using our online event calendar.

Other assistance includes resetting PINs, helping patrons create computer reservations, placing holds, explaining – again – that even though we have 35 public computers, it IS possible for them all to be booked and in use, and no, there is nothing I can do about that except show how to get a reservation for a little later today.

Between times, and while moving from one floor to another, I touch bases with the Collection Development Manager about the pervasive audiobook type mismatches, which we now suspect was caused by the reloading of our MARC records minus the material type changes we had made to the original records. I also touch bases with the Marketing Director, who shows me proofs of the print publicity we requested for My InfoQuest text reference.  I ask permission to share our PR with the other InfoQuest participating libraries, and he agrees. I show a colleague how to check whether the laptop battery is fully charged because she will be taking it to the Depression Glass Show  tomorrow morning.

The day ends with the August Audiobook Bulletin still unfinished; it MUST get done tomorrow, because it will be published automatically on Sunday morning. 

At home, after dinner, I download an audiobook from the no-shuffle Vendor’s collection. I succeed in converting the files and getting them into a playlist in iTunes, but am unable to either listen in iTunes nor transfer them to my shuffle.  Rats! Time to hit the discussion boards to see if anyone else has figured out a workaround.  Maybe tomorrow, after the Book Bulletin is finalized.

Thursday – Day in the Life

6:00 Arise.

6:30 a.m. Bake cornbread muffins to take to work.  Attending an all-day web conference with no breaks; will probably need sustenance.

7:15 hop on bus with fragrant, warm muffins.

7:45 arrive at work; do quickie e-mail and Google Groups check, and call Vendor’s tech support for a list of the domains used by a database we’re adding to our collection. Begin composing e-mail to our IT department with name of product, intended link location on our web site, description for fly-out, URL, domains used, and web address of Vendor’s tech support page.  Save draft, because the first-ever Handheld Librarian conference is about to begin online!

8:00-2:30 Attempt to log in to conference; no dice; ultimately find alternate location via the conference Twitterstream. Select sessions to attend; take copious notes before discovering that I can print the slides and scribble on the copies. Exciting text-ref stuff from the likes of Gerry McKiernan, Tom Peters, Boopsie, Yale University Science Libraries, Orange County Library System, My InfoQuest and other luminaries. They shared many compelling stats about cell-phone/smartphone market penetration and how people use their texting capabilities, and what this means for library service in the near future (1-3 years.)  Noted that the sessions had from 150 to 650 attendees each!

Got really tired of just sitting in front of the computer tethered to the headset, so felt compelled to bug out of a session for a few minutes just to stretch and take a comfort break, and also to enjoy a cornbread muffin.

2:30-5:00 Recheck e-mail and follow up with questions from library staff about our database subscription, complete and send the IT service request for the new database, as well as another reporting a broken link to our Fast Facts homebuilt database.  Bring Collection Manager’s attention to the audio book type mismatches in our catalog and get approval to run lists to make corrections. Sample sweet-potato tortilla chips shared by co-worker (they are VERY good!)  Read 27 Things blogs updated since yesterday, acknowledge announcement that deadline for completion has been extended 2 weeks to accommodate staff who had been so busy with summer reading program they couldn’t finish by original deadline. Accept request to go to a school library next month with the laptop and air card to sign up students for library cards and advertise our online resources and services. Scan some of the back-chatter about the conference on Twitter.  Brain fried. Going home.

Wednesday – Day in the Life

8 am  Arrive at work, go to 5th floor to pick up my book truck (aka “mobile office”) because today is one of my “downstairs” days wherein I do e-resources things all day long.  Hele on down to basement to my desk in the Collection Management Department.   Check e-mail, follow up on a few items left over from yesterday: send e-mail to volunteer asking whether he can call every branch’s hours recording to check for errors, fill out time sheet, send official Outlook meeting request for vendor meeting with Collection Management next month.

Call database vendor’s tech support to report we’re still having random access problems, both in the library and remotely. Tech tweaks our IPs and I e-mail the person who reported the problem to let me know if it continues.  Read the recently-updated blogs of our 27 Things participants and comment where appropriate. Print and review updates to text ref policies and procedures draft before noon meeting.

10:30 Attend vendor-sponsored online My iLibrary demo to learn about this new downloadable collection.  Glad all titles can be transferred to iPods and most other players – but not to the Shuffle, which is the iPod I own! Vendor promises to e-mail me in a day or two with additional information about his product and Shuffles. I make plans to relay info to ref staff so they can answer patron questions about this new service.

12 noon Sign in to the My Info Quest advisory group meeting to debrief after the first week of the text-reference pilot. Meeting runs a little late, but is productive.  We agree to meet again in 2 weeks, after new participating libraries come on board.

1:30 lunch

2:30 – 4:55 Work with new Digital Services Librarian to get InfoQuest pages up on our web site. Publicity is coming, and we will launch for our patrons on August 1.  Discover, while looking for titles to add to Audiobook Bulletin, that most of our non-print books have been labled as “book on CD”, regardless of the actual format.  Discuss with Serials Librarian whether the i-types of our audio books need correction, because she is the Millennium wizard.  I decide to consult with Department Manager tomorrow – hoping to create a few lists and ask Cataloger to make a batch correction.

Compose and send e-mail to all staff announcing the imminent roll-out of My Info Quest text reference service for public, inviting staff to test it and txt it so they can promote it to our patrons. I invite interested staff who would like to learn to staff the text-reference desk during our shift to identify themselves, so I can schedule training for them, and receive an enthusiastic (ME ME ME ME ME!) response in seconds! Answer Webmaster’s question about a broken link to our Homework Help Now service.

4:55 power down PC, pick up my purse and fly to catch 5:04 bus. Work day done.

Tuesday – Day in the Life

This week I’m blogging alongside others who are documenting their work days.  This time, the object for me is less about self-discovery than about illuminating the umpteen things that never made it into the official job description, but without which you couldn’t get your job done.  The self-discovery happened last time, and I resolved never again to get so enmeshed in the minutiae of “process” that I overlooked the real reason I’m working: to make it easier for our patrons to find and get the information they seek.

So.  I’m a combo e-resources and reference librarian, and I work in the central branch of a large library system.  The e-resources part is a system-wide responsibility.  The reference part involves both personal service at the library’s various reference desks, and also management of the centralized,  system-wide telephone reference service.

On to Day 1.  Tuesday is the first day of my work week, and it begins for me at 11 a.m.  I check the reference desk schedule first thing, because the library is already open.  I see I have no desk assignments until 1 p.m., but there’s a conflict at 3: I have a meeting with Boss, but am scheduled in Kids’ Place.  I negotiate a swap with a colleague.  Next, comes the weekend’s collection of e-mail and voice-mail – and follow-up from the sneak peek I got yesterday evening. I work a little bit on my next Audiobook Bulletin, which will be automatically published on August 2, ready or not. I take a short break to have a half sandwich at noon, and then run down to admin to pick up an August bus pass.

At  1 I have my first telephone reference shift.  I get the Skid Row caller, who called a half-dozen times last week with the same question: what are the boundaries of Skid Row in Los Angeles? Today, the caller needs the address and cross streets of a business anywhere in Skid Row, because the cabbie won’t go there without an address, and also the names and addresses of the missions on the Row.  Because of the number of callers in the queue, I get a callback phone number, which happens to be in Los Angeles.  Since I am hundreds of miles away in Sacramento,  I enquire politely whether Los Angeles Public has been consulted, since this is such a local question … it hasn’t … so I provide their reference number and move on to the other callers. When I am done on the phones, I will look up a business in Skid Row and get back to the caller. Caller agrees to call LAPL about the missions.

2:00 – an hour in Kids’ Place with a new librarian shadowing me. Between issuing the bathroom keys, monitoring the kids’ Internet computers and finding some “really scary” books for a youngster,we discuss blogging and I introduce him to the Library Day In the Life Wiki.

3:00 – meeting with Bosses about our the text of the messages on our main system phone number.  Too many calls appear to get misdirected to other departments, and we take a look at last month’s call report and adjust the greeting a bit.  We need to check the branch recordings for accuracy and once that’s done, we will re-record the main greeting.

3:30 – I’ve identified a business in Skid Row and call the patron, who is staying in a motel near LA, with the info.

4:00 dinner

5:00 Three hours on the phones.  We have a centralized telephone reference desk, and staff from Central library, both librarians and paraprofessionals, handle calls for all our branches. We provide hours, place holds, reset PINs, explain how to manage accounts online, and provide information about library programs. After 6, the number of calls drops off, and I use the slack time to work some more on the Audiobook Bulletin.

6:00 I log in to My Info Quest, a pilot text reference service that launched last week.  My two hour shift coincides nicely with Telephone Reference and I multi-task happily until we close at 8:00. Few callers, zero txt questions tonight. Shut down computers, and head home to blog.