A Day in the Life

Your campus librarian, Cynthia

It’s finals week here, and while students are stressed to the max, this is my week to take a breath and dig into long-term projects. While I’m at it, I thought you may be interested to know just what it is that your librarian does all day (when she’s not unjamming the copier, helping someone figure out a flashdrive, or giving pointers on APA formatting).

Arrive for the day. Get a big cup of coffee (hey, I have an infant at home), open up the library, gather the daily newspapers, start wading through email, look through the day’s to-do list, and find a good quote or fact for the white board.

Teach a lesson on information literacy. Perhaps I’m in a Composition class talking about how to critically evaluate information sources, perhaps I’m in a Vet Tech class introducing new databases. No matter the subject area, this is one of my favorite parts of my job – getting to work directly with students and help them navigate the academic information universe. After teaching, I evaluate myself and write down ways to improve for next time.

Collective development! (This is library jargon for shopping). I received a few requests for new materials from the Paralegal program chair, so I search for and order these from our book supplier. I know that our Business chair is looking for a couple DVDs on leadership skills. I search through executive catalogs and media reviews to come up with some quality suggestions. A box of new books arrives – I inventory the contents, check them against my orders, and process them (“process” basically means square up the invoices, get them into our online catalog so they are findable, and put them out on the shelves).

Time for a 2nd cup of coffee. Continue with collection development work. Sign on to “Chat with a Librarian.” The Globe University/Minnesota School of Business librarians take turns covering this feature. While I’m signed in, I help students from any campus with research questions via IM.

Noon tends to be a very busy time in my library. Lots of students in and out, and this is when I often have questions coming one right after the other. One student wants to learn how to copy double-sided. One needs help sending a Word document to their instructor. Another is looking for information on diabetes for their presentation. And yet another would like a second pair of eyes to look at their paper’s References page. Between these questions, I’ll check on loan requests from other libraries. On any given day I send materials across town to the Madison West campus or across state lines to the University of Minnesota. It’s all part of a giant cooperative agreement among libraries to share resources.

Lunch time! Hey, a girl’s gotta eat.

Organize the results of website usability testing. I am helping to redesign the library’s website and am getting input from student volunteers on how to best meet their needs. Prepare to present findings in an upcoming meeting.

Librarian conference call. Once a month all the Globe/MSB librarians gather around phones and computers for a meeting. We discuss issues like the website redesign, which magazines or databases to discontinue/renew/add, updates with our catalog system, etc.

Work on making sure that instructors have the textbook materials they need for the upcoming quarter. In addition to being the Campus Librarian, I’m also the Textbook Coordinator, which means that I’m responsible for staying on top of which classes use which textbooks and working with publishers to get the material here for instructors.

Check in with my boss – Sandy Riley, Dean of Faculty. We keep communication going so we each know what is on the other’s plate. My textbook work helps her as she’s hiring new instructors or working to fit current instructors into new classes.

Staff members check out a display during Banned Books Week

Plan the next big thing. From book clubs, to maker breaks, to displays, to open houses, to research awards…there’s always something that needs planning. I create advertising flyers. I serve as a judge for our campus research award. I research good books and interesting discussion questions for the book club. Oh yeah – I write blog posts too! 😉

Wrap it up! I try to clean up my desk, or at least put things in neat-looking piles. Take another look at my to-do list and write a new one for the next day. Plan out an evening of tasks for that day’s library assistant.

The library assistant arrives. We chat a bit about any questions that came up from the last shift and I go through what should be done on this shift. Assistants do a lot of work in the library. Like I said earlier, they are responsible for most magazine processing. Assistants also shelve books, weed old magazines out of the catalog, help create displays, and are generally game for just about anything I throw at them. I work to keep their research skills sharp so they can provide assistance to students when I’m not around.

I’m out the door and ready to rest up for another big day.

Phew, that’s exhausting just writing it all down! In addition to my work on campus, I am also involved in city and state-wide library organizations. You may catch me wading through University of Wisconsin library school scholarship applications, going over an upcoming speaker panel at the Wisconsin Library Association annual conference, or discussing Inter-Library Loan details with colleagues from various universities. No matter what I’m working on, you’re always welcome to say hello or ask a question.