Monday, August 3, 2009

Library day in the life

This is my contribution to the "library day in the life" meme. I think we're supposed to do this for a whole week, but I happen to be going on vacation tomorrow, and when I come back, my job will be a bit different (30 hours in Tech Services, 10 hours on the Reference desk), so I may re-visit this later.

The assignment: "Whether you are a librarian or library worker of any kind, help us share and learn about the joys and challenges of working in a library. Join us by sharing details of your day for a week on your blog. Not only is this a great way for us to see what our colleagues are doing and how they spend their days but it’s a great way for students who are interested in the library profession to see what we really do."


6:22: Alarm goes off--up to watch the local weathercast, into the shower, smooch the honey (who is already up and sitting at the computer), and leave the house by 7:00.

7:25: Arrive at my suburban library armed with coffee and donut; the only other people around are housekeeping folks. (Pic of darkened computer room at right.) I like to get here early to look at the New York Times online and maybe bang out a quick blog post, movie review, or tweet, or pick a few songs to DJ at

8:00: At my desk in Tech Services, downstairs, a wall-less cubicle. I catalog and process all the non-fiction books (except reference), DVDs, and children's books. Processing is minimal, as the books come in already wrapped; I stamp and put call number labels on books, and put rating and library address labels on DVDs. Fascinating, I know, but I do enjoy my work.

8:15: I buzz through a shelf of new titles, checking to see how many have full bib records in our system already (we are part of a consortium and share records with several other small libraries).

8:25: For those books without full bibs, I go to BookWhere to import records. For the handful I can't find there, I go to WorldCat, try to find a full record, and cut and paste what I can. For what's left, I compose an original bib record. The rest of the morning consists of me editing the records and attaching item records for each individual book.

My TS desk: note movie posters, Silver Surfer, pictures
of Jeremy Piven, Marx Bros. bears, and
year-round Christmas tree.

10:30: My buddy over in Acquisitions and I take our break together, our first 15-minute walk of the day, through the lovely shady streets of the suburb in which our library is located. Gossip and vulgar chat usually, with an occasional foray into philosophy.

12:30: Finished with my non-fiction books, I take my hour-long lunch, today at Qdoba, though I have a choice of many fast-food places (McDonald's, Taco Bell, Panda Express), slow/fast places (Panera), and sit-down restaurants. Any spare time during the hour I use to flip through newspapers and/or visit with my friends up in Reference.

1:30: Back at my desk (TS overview at left) with a load of DVDs, mostly catch-up on films for YS (Youth Services), like Jetsons: The Movie, and Wonder Pets: Ollie's Slumber Party. Boxed sets are a bitch, as they need to be totally re-packaged, with covers photocopied and/or cobbled together. Only one such set today.

2:20: The Secret of Loch Ness is giving me a problem. It's a DVD from one of several cheapie knock-off companies that market films that are kind of like other, more popular movies--a few weeks ago, I cataloged Plan Bee, an animated film marketed to look like Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie. This Loch Ness DVD looks like The Water Horse, but is actually, from what I can tell, a German made-for-TV movie. It's difficult to find out much information about it. I use Amazon, DVD Empire, or IMDb to flesh out bib record info that is not present on the product, but even the IMDb page for this film is fairly skimpy. Still, I got the bare minimum. It's actually "problems" like this that make my job challenging and fun.

3:30: Walk #2, with a Mounds Minature to get my flagging energy up.

4:45: Home stretch: cleaning up the desk, brushing blank labels and unneeded work slips into the trash, dumping empty coffee cups (yes, plural), trying to look busy for the last 15 minutes of the work day ;-)

5:00: On my way home, iPod plugged in so the car will be rockin'! Tonight, it's REM, Rolling Stones, The Go-Gos, Neil Young, Marvin Gaye, and the Decemberists.

The rest of my day is mostly non-library related (cooking dinner for Don and I; watching Jeopardy, Daily Show, Colbert Report; writing a blog entry, net surfing, watching a DVD--from Netflix, the library, or our extensive collection of mostly older movies). For me, this is how library work is different from my years in academics--as a grad student and teacher, "work" was always brought home, one way or another; here, it very rarely is, unless I'm still stewing about a squicky decision I might have made about a bib record. If I weren't going on vacation, it would all start again tomorrow at 6:22. But maybe I'll sleep in until 7:00!

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