Ever since I started my current job I've been trying to write a post to sum up the unique niche in which I find myself, but I think maybe my day last Friday, might be better (and maybe more entertaining) than anything I've tried to write up to this point. Just consider it a flashback to the old #librarydayinthelife.
The quick outline of my job: I manage (pay for) all the electronic resources that the reference department subscribes to (I have a counterpart in childrens, but when in doubt, our department usually pays for it), but I'm also a regular run-of-the-mill reference librarian with regular desk shifts, print collection development responsibilities (000s), and I manage our department's (mostly) high school student assistants who help patrons with the public internet computers, do a little shelving, and help everyone in the department with odd jobs.
8AM - department meeting
During August the library board doesn't meet, so we decided to fill the time we usually spend talking about what the board did with discussion of all things digital. For my part I got to talk about a couple of new databases we acquired while I was on maternity leave, as well as one of our old standbys that did a redesign that had thrown everyone for a loop. While demoing these products, I was reminded that the name of one needed to be changed on our website so it would be easier to see the next week when our teen librarian did the back-to-school event at the main high school in our district.
9AM - first desk shift of the day
Fridays are always weird days, probably because I spend 6 hours on the desk. My morning shift is with my supervisor who was also the last person to have my job, so she can appreciate my whining about annoying vendors better than anyone else. But, practically, it's also a great time to catch up.
This morning we were also amused by a rather comprehensive conspiracy theory laden rant that a patron had left at one of our public printers. While cleaning out our orphan printouts tray, something about the crazy scribbles caught my attention and I thought there had to be some redeeming qualities in this long ago abandoned paper. Sure enough, it covered nearly everything except black helicopters.
My email was also exploding with all sorts of things. We'd decided to add streaming to our music download service and they'd emailed as I was leaving the day before to say that they'd flipped the switch on this change. Of course that evening a patron came in wondering why it wasn't working right and so my inbox was full of both "Yay, your new service is ready to go!" and "Boo, why isn't this working!" Luckily, it was just a matter of telling the patron to update their app and refresh their browser and sending out a general announcement to staff to the same effect.
One of the new databases I'd mentioned in our meeting was working strangely with one of our other services, which I noticed before, but hadn't been able to duplicate, so just assumed I was crazy. But an email from another staff member was able to provide the information I needed to determine that it was definitely a problem with this other service. I added this to the list of things I needed to tweak with this other service on Monday when I finally had some time to sit at my own desk and concentrate on challenging things.
I also received an email back about a problem I'd originally asked about before my maternity leave but hadn't really heard anything useful about. The tech support guy decided to follow up with me and I was able to restate the problem in a way that made more sense to both us. Basically, some of our title specific links weren't working very reliably and he was able to provide me with a shorter direct link that should work a little better.
Noon - off desk time where I frantically try to fit in a lunch break
I called back a vendor who'd been trying to sell us a new genealogy database to let them know we were interested in adding their product. Promised I'd have the signed vendor agreement to them by the end of the day and printed it off immediately, but barely had time to look at it before returning to the desk.
3PM - second desk shift of the day
This shift always seems to be both crazy and busy.
On the crazy side, a patron informed me that the elevator in our lobby was stuck open. I went to check it out before calling maintenance and noticed that someone had stuck two pieced of gum on the door, presumably blocking the sensors and making them believe someone was standing in the elevator. I pulled off the gum (and bathed my hands in sanitizer) and the door magically closed.
On the busy side, a patron came in with her Kindle Fire wanting to know how to check out library books on her device. But after this interaction I am confirming my hatred for Kindle Fires, because other than Overdrive, Amazon seems to have decided that all other library e-lending services are out to destroy their business and has made the process of downloading their products to a Fire something that only the dedicated will do. I spent nearly an hour with this lady trying to get her Kindle Fire set up with all of these services because she had some specific, non-Overdrive titles she wanted to check out, and honestly, I had no idea it was going to be that hard. Finally she pulled out her smart phone and we used that for the last downloadable service she wanted to try. She couldn't have been nicer about the whole thing, but after this experience I am convinced that Kindle Fires are the worst of all the tablets (I own one and use it less and less because of this nonsense).
Also on the crazy side, one of our regulars called in with two challenging reference questions. One was for the phone number of a man who didn't seem to exist, but she remembered his employer and we found contact information for them. Then she wanted to know contact information for this small foundation that I just could not find while talking to her on the phone. While taking her information I finally remembered who she was and that, generally, when we can't find an answer for her while talking to her, we shouldn't go to any great lengths to find one because by the time we call her back, she's moved on to something else. Still, as soon as I got off the phone with her, it was easy enough to find that this foundation was based out of somebody's house and their home number was publicly listed. When I tried to return the call her voicemail was full, so I left it for the night crew to call her back about.
It happened to be time to sign timecards and the only one of my employees who hadn't signed his timecard also happened to be the one working that afternoon. The timing was great too because his summer schedule has been a little insane (he's a caddy) and so I had a chance to ask him about that.
The coworker I was on the desk with this shift had been working with me on a project to map our collection for a really neat service we're using that will allow patrons to know exactly which shelf an object is on when they look it up in the catalog. Now most public libraries might find this service overkill, but we have three levels and the non-fiction is squeezed into all sorts of weird places that aren't exactly logical, so we get asked more than our fair share of directional questions. Anyway we'd been having trouble with our part of the mapping process because the people we were speaking with spoke coder and we spoke librarian, so we spent awhile emailing back and forth with this company all week, but during our Friday afternoon desk shift we finally had a breakthrough and were able to send off an acceptable final product for the smaller of the two floors we were responsible for.
While we were crazy busy at our desk, the high school assistant didn't have a ton to do, so I had to think of things for him to do. Normally I'd have him pull some books for me from a report (low circs, etc.) but my area is pretty small and that happens to be one of the duties that I'm most caught up on. Luckily we hadn't had anyone working on our new books section during the day, so he had plenty of those to shelve.
Fifteen minutes before the end of my shift I remembered to email back the new genealogy vendor with the signed licensing agreement. In the meantime she'd sent me all I needed to get the product up and going on our site, but we'd been so busy at the desk that this was another thing that was going to have to wait until Monday.
I know I missed a bunch of stuff (like what kept me so busy during my off desk time besides reading a new licensing agreement), and that was a little more crazy than your typical Friday, but it covered nearly every aspect of my job, so seemed a good way to sum things up.