Library Day in the Life 5: Be Yourself No Matter What They Say

The phrase that serves as the latter half of the title to this entry is a lyric and repeated chorus at the end of the song by Sting, “Englishman in New York”. Sitting at my desk in the office listening to these words as I worked between research and email, I thought of what I would write for the Library Day in the Life Round 5. My last entry was a warmly regarded hand written entry; it’s hard to know where to go from there. But when I heard the lyric, I knew just what to I wanted to write.

Librarians by their very nature are agents of change. Even in the most basic of libraries, the collection is being updated with new titles, periodicals, and other materials. The real question that lays ahead for the profession is “What is change, anyway?” There are any numbers of answers to the question based on external forces (e.g. technology, web content, computer access, patron preferences) and internal forces (e.g. community served, library type, collection size, budget). And, naturally, there are people who promote some answers as the right answer, the only answer, and anything less is an problem.

In bringing this back to the refrain, it is a matter of letting libraries “be themselves”. If the best fit for the community served is to be an internet cafe or quiet reading space or community center, then go for it. Patrons just want story times and book discussion groups and a place to meet with a librarian one on one? Do it. The change that happens should be a reflection of the surrounding community. There are very few absolutes when it comes to libraries; beyond our principles and beliefs, everything else from design to materials to furniture to services is up for grabs.

This notion that if the library is not doing something (like being on Facebook or Twitter, having e-books, having a computer center, providing job training space, and so forth) that they are wrong or ancient is ridiculous. It would be like going from Vermont to Florida and saying Miami residents were not current since they don’t have any snowmobile retailers. If your patrons aren’t on Twitter or Facebook or have e-readers, then there is no need to provide content via those channels. Libraries, just like all politics, are local.

(Now, if you wanted to debate on the breadth of the disconnect between libraries and their patrons, that’s a whole different post.)  

Coming back to the refrain again, it is my sincere wish that my professional colleagues would “be [themselves], no matter what they say”. This paragraph is dedicated to my friends in particular, for I’ve heard some stories of their work related struggles. Whether it is a coworker, supervisor, fellow librarian, or the outside world placing the pressure, I believe that at the end of the day what matters is being true to yourself and the approach you take to librarianship. You’ll be happier when you go to bed at night, the library world as a whole benefits, and you leave your distinct mark on this incredible profession. Let the refrain be a comfort from a friend, may it give you the confidence to tackle the issues, and ignore the naysayers.

 Be yourself no matter what they say.

 Be yourself no matter what they say.

 Be yourself no matter what they say.

Be yourself no matter what they say.

Library Day in the Life Round 4 Announced

Bobbi Newman announced on Thursday the start of the 4th round of her Library Day in the Life Project. Like the title suggests, it is a blog post detailing the day in the life of a librarian. Round 3 (for which I wrote an entry) had a fun array of takes on the library day, from Marianne Lennox’s Photo Diary to Julie Strange’s multipart post of the week (more of a ‘week in the life of…’).

I’m looking forward to another round of the project. It’s an interesting insight into the lives of my peers; sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s serious, but it always has a lot of heart to it. I find that I like these kinds of posts the most because it shows how much librarians love what they do.

Be sure to read the directions and then hop right in!

Library Day in the Life

Since it sounded like a lot of fun, I took up the Library Day in the Life Project started by Librarian by Day. Here is what my Day in the Life looked like; I took notes throughout the day.

8:33AM
The alarm goes off. And the cold war via snooze button proxy begins.
8:50ishAM
I finally arose after a good long wakeup time period. My morning routine is rather simple: shower, dress, grab breakfast and my bag, and head out to work. Except, of course, that I’m out of my breakfast bars so I have to grab one of my wife’s. And, based on how I am feeling, I grab a yogurt as well for snacking at the office. This day has the hallmarks of being “exceptional”; when I turned on the radio, I heard a lovely British voice on the BBC World Service slowly say the phrase, "actual rapes in prison". I quickly swap to the Preston & Steve Morning Show where they are discussing Penn State being named the #1 party school in the United States.
9:35-10AM
For the record, I am cursed never to arrive on work on time. Whether it is five seconds or five minutes, The Fates conspire to put time wasting obstacles in my path. Unless I leave at the crack of dawn, I will never be on time. Ever. This started long ago when I was flew past my birth due date by almost a month. My mother has not allowed me to forget this since then.

At any rate, I enter and bid everyone a good morning (including Socrates, pictured right). I check in with my boss Suzi and help pull patron holds. One of the books on hold eludes me till I call over others to double check me and realize I’ve read the number completely wrong. Exceptional day, indeed.
10AM-1PM
I’m on the reference desk this morning, so I log into my email and Twitter there. Mercifully, the inbox has not full of dire emergencies that need my attention RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Quickly I catch a few easy reference requests and questions and then things settle down. I put a reserve on the Job computer and the one next to it for my Job 1 on 1 later today.
No lie, it takes ten minutes to catch up on Twitter. Apparently, there are people who start working before 10AM and have access to the internet. I have to keep clicking till I reach my own last post. I click on links in order to open them in other tabs so as to read through them as the morning goes on.

As the morning turns into afternoon, I get a call from my coworker Joan about the text message pilot program. We are working on putting the final touches on publicity so we can start advertising as soon as possible. This is the final week of preparation before we start churning out publicity for the text message pilot program. A quick call up to Nancy Dowd at the State Library and we’re back on track. Also, I remembered to share all my Google Documents with the rest of the team for this program while I was thinking of it. And finally, I got to polish off the wording on the staff instruction; now, it awaits some graphics (more on the later.)

During this time, I was have a steady stream of patron interruptions in the form of fielding questions, calls, program registrations, and meeting room signups. I did have a nice conversation with one of my previous Job 1 on 1 participants who has found a job. It’s not in his field, but he’s happy to be employed and the hours give him time to find something better. I felt pretty relieved since, out of all the participants I’ve had so far, he’s been the most desperate to find work.

I was able to chat on IM with The Strange Librarian. We were able to arrange for our library based double date (my wife is a librarian, her boyfriend is an archivist), chat about customer service (summary: fines bad, but people gaming the fine system worse), and the lively chat on Twitter regarding librarians and the Martyr complex. And, oh yes, the lusty libido that the library lodges.

But the real question is figuring out what to get for lunch…

1-2PM
…which ended up being a tuna salad on sesame bagel from one of the local  places. (They make a pretty stellar bagel.) “You Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest was on the radio; it certainly felt like the theme for the morning.

I ate lunch with Suzi and Jackie (our circulation staff pit boss) and talked about library technology and swapping library system gossip (an always educational time). After lunch, I got to my desk and organized myself for my Job 1 on 1 and everything else that needed to happen later that day.

2-3PM

This was my Job 1 on 1 appointment. These can vary from people who need help with their resume and cover letters to people who are looking for search term help. At the very least, I introduce them to our Jobs & Career LibGuide, talk about social networks and its value in the job hunt, and try to coach where needed. For the patron this afternoon, it was some resume updating and helping with places to look online. We ran a couple of searches and got her some leads, so it was fruitful for her. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing her at the library on a regular basis so I can check up.

3-4PM
Finally, I get a chance to sit at my own desk and sort through the heaving living mass that is my workspace. I’m a note person so there are scraps of paper all over my desk full of reminders, ideas, plans, messages, and stuff I don’t remember writing. I get to check my emails, Twitter, and Google Reader as I relax into some serious desk time. (I can’t help but smile as a couple of items relating to the Ben & Jerry’s group come through the Reader and Twitter.)

I spent a good deal of time trying to take a photograph of my own phone for the staff instruction sheets for the text message program. Between the auto focus, the phone lights turning off, and trying to get the right angle, it was good lesson in micro-irritation. I got a couple of shots to come out which I will use on staff sheet.

 

I hope this little visual aid will help my colleagues with the rest of the instructions.

4PM

Most days, when the time chimes to 4pm, I am overwhelmed with the desire to nap. It doesn’t matter whether I’m on a desk, a program, a meeting, wherever; I want to just curl up in a corner and take a rest. Today was no exception.

4:01-5PM

One of the Rivershark people I know sent me a request to post a flyer for Epilepsy Awareness night at Campbell’s Park on the Camden Waterfront on August 21st. So I printed out enough copies for all our branches, wrote a note on each envelope, and sent it off to all of our branch managers and the coworker who handles publicity at our headquarters location. Hopefully, this will make it more likely for them to post it and get more people interested in the event.

From there, it was play time on Twitter and Google Reader as I checked out all of the links, posts, and whatnot that I had saved up through the day. The one that leaps to mind is TwitPaint which seems like a fun tool. From there, it was a matter of catching up with everything else and putting things into place for tomorrow’s work day. But, soon enough, the clock hit five and I hit the bricks. It was a day that got better as it went along and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

As always.

I thought this would be more of a rigid timeline of my day, but adding context felt like the right move to do. It’s been fun to write, fun to dig up all the links, and fun to do overall. I’ve been enjoying the Library Day in the Life posts I’ve seen so far and look forward to seeing more!