I’m participating once again in the Library Day in the Life Project, sharing just what exactly I do all day. I always benefit from reading and seeing others’ experiences, and I enjoy recording my own work.
I work mostly night and weekend shifts. I direct patrons in our 367,000 square foot building; and answer reference questions at the desk, over the phone, and via email.
Staff Development Day! I am on the committee for our Staff Day, which is this Friday. We have lots of last minute details to take care of, so I’m keeping very busy! Today we were stuffing folders, which will continue later this week. :)
eBooks Our library began offering eBooks through OverDrive earlier this month. We get questions from patrons very regularly – everything from “how do I sign up?” to “what titles do you have?” to specific tech troubleshooting. Other librarians who aren’t as comfortable with technology refer a lot of these questions to me.
Homeless and out-of town patron computer use We have a large homeless population downtown, as well as a steady stream of out-of-town genealogists. Our public computers use library cards to sign up for reservations, so patrons without a card must sign up with a librarian. We have many regular homeless patrons that visit us several times a day to get online. I’m glad that the library is a place where they can go and, like all of our customers, be treated with respect.
Tax forms I am in charge of ordering, receiving, stocking, and inventorying our tax forms. Since neither state nor federal forms will be mailed out this year, we have seen an increased demand. I work on the desk most of the day and sometimes find it challenging to keep on top of restocking. Some boxes of forms are stocked and all gone within the hour!
Sampling of questions so far today:
- Email request for eBook title purchase.
- Phone call for an out-of-town obituary. I redirected them to the public library for the city they were inquiring about.
- Employer tax form question. (We don’t offer tax advice. This question was about which forms we carry.)
- Information about Jack LaLanne, who died recently.
- Instructions on how to access statewide databases from our Web site.
- Difference between silken and regular tofu.
- Books on mythological beasts.
- Hold on a popular novel.
- Several interlibrary loans for books we don’t own.
- Purchase requests for new books coming out. (Two from me. I don’t do collection development in my current position, but I offer lots of suggestions to purchasers.)
- Correction to information that we had posted on some historic photographs in our digital collection.
- Received a call for the wrong “Allen” library - this has happened many times over the years. (It’s easier when you figure it out early in the call!) I got them the phone number to the correct library and hopefully left them with a good impression of ours. ;)
This semester my work week is Thursday to Monday; I am off the next two days after this. TGIM!
July 24, 2010
(The actual date for this round of Library Day in the Life is July 26, but I don’t work on Mondays in the summer.)
This is a look into my life as a reference librarian at a semi-large urban public library in the Midwest. On Saturdays, I work 8 hours on the desk.
Here are some of the issues I dealt with, and questions answered for patrons:
- Troubleshooting problems with our VOIP phone system
- “Can you use my ID to look up my library card number so I can use the Internet?” (No, I can’t. Patrons who live in our county must have their library card to use the computer or get free parking.)
- “When is the children’s chess tournament?”
- Place books on hold
- Find call numbers for books on: a psychological disorder, Native American religion/spiritualism, Australian travel, a Sumerian goddess
- Two interlibrary loan requests for titles we don’t have
- LOTS of validating parking tickets
- Which bands are playing at the outdoor concert tonight?
- “Does the library offer computer classes ?” (Not until September.)
- Yep, I did shush someone. :)
- “When did women in the US get the right to vote?” (Do I get bonus points because I knew which Amendment and the year it became law even before I verified it?)
- Which states have legalized medical marijuana?
- Phone number lookup (had to use both an online database and print city directory to verify, since the names were listed slightly differently)
I can’t resist participating in Library Day in the Life! I’m also tweeting about it: http://twitter.com/webchicken So, here is a peek into my life as a reference librarian in an fairly large downtown public library.
Worked with our nonprofit librarian to update Web pages in HTML (see pic below). I live for that stuff! :)
Most of the day I worked on the reference desk. It was insanely busy most of the day, so I didn’t record as much as I wanted to. Here is just a small sample of the questions/issues I dealt with today:
- Interlibrary loan a book that we don’t own.
- Help a patron find books on Web design for business.
- Track down audio CDs of motivational speakers.
- Help a patron navigate the part of our book stacks that are broken up into weird segments by the building’s architecture.
- Page books from our HUGE basement storage area.
- Give out plastic grocery bags that staff bring in for patrons to reuse.
- “Where is this call number?”
- Biographies on a 19th century abolitionist
- Free skin cancer screenings
- “Somebody called me from this number. Do you know who and why?” [We have a couple hundred phone extensions which all show up on caller ID as the same number, so, no, I don't know.]
- Computer Classes. We get several people a day asking about this. We do offer monthly classes. We get lots of people signing up and few actually showing.
The second annual Day in the Life of a Library was this past week. Since I don’t work on Mondays, I’m recording mine again on a Saturday (August 1, 2009).
- Signing up out of town patron for computer use.
- Phone call for past week’s lottery numbers.
- Reference question for a friend on Facebook regarding estrogen and memory.
- Co-worker found a 1980s children’s book series for my friend. Since our library doesn’t own them, I am interlibrary loaning the titles for their child, so they can read the books their parent enjoyed as a child.
- Email: Troubleshooting library account problems for a homebound patron.
- Phone: “What time is the children’s Tie Dye program?” [It was listed incorrectly on our events calendar; I quickly updated that.]
- LOTS of holds placed over the phone.
- Tabulating July statistics for our email Ask a Librarian service.
- Removed unapproved literature from community information tables.
- Update display wall: take down July children’s events calendar, put up a “Everybody’s Chicken Out Books”
- Report problem to IT: bing.com is not saving Safe Search settings, will only accept Strict option.
- “Where are large print books?”
- Email: “Do you have this forthcoming fiction title?” I can’t find any record of the title about which they are asking. I emailed back to see if they wanted the one listed as upcoming on the author’s Web site.
- “Can I get this book from Reshelve?”
- “Where can I get a library card?” (Always lots of these…)
- I’ve been taking Library 101 photos for Michael Porter and David Lee King’s video project; will see what I can do today.
- ACT study guides
- Help with PIN
- “Can I have that poster when you take it down?”
- Phone: Questions about our digital sender which scans documents/photos to email. (They later came in and I helped them use the scanner.)
- “Where is a photocopier?”
- No longer need a book that is being held at a branch.
- Phone: Need a hold transferred to a branch for pickup.
- Book from Storage collection not available. We did have a (non-circulating) copy in another department.
- Chat with regular teen patrons.
- Definition of a specific legal term.
- Email question about a book review publication.
- Lottery lookups for regular patron.
- Phone: looking to see if a particular movie is in. The entertainment movies can not be placed on hold, so we get many calls for people checking on shelf status.
- “Do you have X Box games?”
- Study guides for middle school math.
- Phone: book from storage sent to a branch.
- Phone numbers of music stores at the local mall.
- Study guides for math. (Yes, another one.)
- Questions about issuing a card and what a person’s legal name is.
- Phone: Actor’s date of birth.
- Inebriated patron.
- Help with PIN.
- Email: How to place holds on specific magazine issues.
- Where do I pick up my holds?
- Email: Problem signing in for downloadable audiobooks.
- Phone: Where is the library?
- Phone: Question about whether a branch is open on weekends in the summer.
- Where is the closest ATM?
- [At 5 minutes to close]: I need a library card and this book…
*The views, opinions, and judgments expressed in this post are solely those of the author.
I noticed in my previous Library Day in the Life post that I referenced several of our regular patrons. Now, don’t get me wrong – we have great patrons who come in regularly. Wonderful people who are delightful and engaging. They enjoy using the library’s services and we love to help them.
But many of our regular patrons are “difficult”, or just plain crazy. Each has their own unique brand of crazy, or the specific things they do that drive us nuts. I sympathize with mentally ill people and many of these people are just being themselves. But it can make a trying day worse. And many of these people take advantage of the situation and berate us as is their imagined right, since they are Taxpayers.
The abuse we, as public service representatives, endure can be hard to take. I relaize this situation is not limited to libraries, but that doesn’t make it any easier when someone is screaming or cursing at you.
For example, our library is dealing with upcoming budget cuts which are quite severe. Popular services have been cut or altered, and people are understandably upset. But when airing these feelings on our library blog, many of them have pulled out all the stops — they are demanding, condescending, and downright rude. The online nature of the conversation removes any civility they might have in person or on the phone. I do understand their frustration with the changes. But as the blog administrator, it can be hard to not feel personally attacked.
My current position is working reference (in person, phone, and email) at the main reference desk at our central library. I work night and weekend shifts – many people are horrified by my schedule, but it works perfectly for me.
This Saturday we have an ethnic costume symposium inside our library, and a summer festival parade outside. It was a bit drizzly out, but not enough to keep the parade masses away. This should be a busy day at the library.
Questions/issues I dealt with on the desk:
- found a recent obituary on the newspaper’s Web site
- updated one of the library blogs
- provided directions to two out of town visitors
- answered email reference about library hours,
- helped a patron find a variety of books and audiobooks
- showed a co-worker how to use our digital sender
- got someone started researching their historic home
- handed out prizes for our adult summer reading program
- found where people can take construction materials to be recycled
- assisted one of our regular mentally ill patrons with her endless quests
- out-of-town phone listings
- realized we had run out of computer class fliers and made some more
- regular phone caller who requests phone listings for a specific city – sometimes the listings exist/are easy to find, other times it’s a wild goose chase (and she doesn’t want it to end)
- added catalog links to one of our children’s booklists
- yes, we do have Playstation 3 games
- troubleshooting public scanner
- advice for someone starting to use our downloadable audiobooks
- uploaded pics to Flickr
- tracked down some urban fiction titles
- regular patron who always has questions about local government
- travel books
Since the weather held, I visited one of the local farmers markets over my lunch hour. I got a fruit/tea smoothie, bought some cute pottery and two bouquets as a present. I also visited the Art in the Park event, part of the summer festival.
Friends on FriendFeed tipped me off to a Library Day in the Life blogging project. I’m excited to participate and also to read about the lives and jobs of other libraryland people. The project begins on Monday, July 14, which is my regular day off, so I’ll start my librarydayinthelife blogging on Tuesday. See you then!