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librarians, libraries, librarydayinthelife, service, students

Day in the life of an academic librarian

A few years ago Bobbi Newman started her A day in the life of a librarian project. It’s now undergoing its sixth round. Essentially it’s a way to share with everyone what librarians do since often there are misconceptions and there are so many different types of librarians, library workers and libraries that it can get confusing as to what we all really do!
So, you wanna know what we’re up to all day? Check out the list of librarians on the Library Day in the Life wiki or try searching Twitter for #libday6!
As for my day, here’s how it went. I got to work later than I hoped, but early enough to make copies of the in-class activity I was going to use in my workshop for the day. I gave a basic research skills workshop in the library’s electronic classroom to a group of students in a College English course (mandatory for all students, the course, not the workshop). They’re working on just a simple essay and need to find newspaper and magazine articles. I showed them Academic Search Premier and Opposing Viewpoints in Context. They did a hands-on activity with the latter and then I reviewed some MLA basics and showed them where to find our MLA guide. That session last until just before 10.
During the workshop I realized I had a whole section in the slides on finding literary criticism that this class didn’t need so I edited the PPT for the Friday workshop I am doing for the same prof and course. I also emailed the professor the slides and instructions on how to add a MLA tutorial and quiz into BlackBoard for his students.
I started going through email. There were a few from our Information Literacy team on how & where we should be tracking statistics on our library tours. There is an IL statistic form that staff fill out after each IL activity, but until now library tours were *not* considered IL unless there was an accompanying website demonstration or activity. So after some thought and a little chat with my office-mate, I wrote a reply as well to give my 2 cents.
I then sent an email that I drafted last week to all Information Literacy staff asking them if they would let me sit in while they give a class. I really want to understand how things work here and how they approach information literacy and bibliographic instruction. I want to learn how they do instruction. They have implemented some interesting initiatives the last couple of years and so I want to see how that is going. Of course, I also offered for them to come see me teach too. A couple of them already replied as to possible dates when I can go into their workshops – I’m hitting one this Friday even!
At one point another librarian dropped by my office. She wanted to make sure that I had a copy of the “Checklist for Library Instruction” that we give to faculty. She heard how last week in one of my workshops the professor just didn’t show up (until the end when the class was going to go to the classroom). We talked about how it is mandatory for profs to be *with* their class when we are giving instruction. She shared some tips on polite ways to remind professors of this obligation and we also discussed ways to keep instructors engaged – from little things like having them help hand out worksheets or pencils, to encouraging their comments and questions during the class.
After that chat, I sent one of my managers an email with a few notes I jotted down in a meeting with her a couple of weeks ago. She asked me for them last week since she wants to make sure we’re both on the same page as to my responsibilities and what I am to be working on in the next while.
I then went on the reference desk from 12 to 1. I had a few questions – mostly basic ones that were just showing students how to look up articles or books in the library. I had two sort of stumpers though. One was just a case of search terms being so broad that it picks up a lot of false hits. A couple of students were working on a project where they need to find newspaper and magazine articles talking about how to research prospective employers. Of course, though, our searches kept coming up with general “how to job search” articles, not much focussed on finding out info on the employers. In the end I suggested thinking of techniques and looking those up specifically. The other stumper was a library worksheet three students were trying to fill out. It asked which stack a book was on, but for the life of me (and another staff member) we could figure out what book the prof meant because the title as written did not exist (yes we tried Google too).
After my reference shift, I returned to my office and started working on the slides for tomorrow’s workshops. I’ll be using the same ones as last semester that another librarian created, but I fairly dislike clip-art so I subbed in photos instead. I rearranged a few things, added, deleted, etc. The workshop will not be in a classroom so I had to come up with an activity for the students to do in class that won’t require a computer. I thought I had it all sorted out when I looked at the students’ assignment they will be working on and realized that my in-class activity was way too close to a portion of their assignment that they are marked on, so that wouldn’t work at all (it was a define & create a research statement worksheet). In the end I decided I would just have the students do an evaluative exercise. I noticed in their assignment it specifically asked for not only academic articles but also articles from professional magazines, so I made sure to create a slide comparing articles in newspapers, magazines, trade publications and journals (yes, made – I have no idea where the pre-existing ones are I’m sure I’ve used before!). Then I made a few copies of a couple of articles from journals and magazines (and I think one newspaper). Tomorrow I’ll have them look at the articles and decide if what they have is peer-reviewed (and discuss other characteristics, etc.). To get those articles and double-check the info on slides, I did a bit of searching in the database coming up with a topic that was similar to what the students are learning, but not too close to one of the assigned topics.
At around the same time, I started writing a blog post for my teaching journal. The teaching journal is something I started last week for a course I am taking, Foundations of Teaching and Learning, that is required of all new faculty hired. I started the course two weeks ago. I never did finish that blog post; it kept timing out before I was done. I decided I needed a break so I got up to go for a walk to scope out the classroom that I’ll be teaching in tomorrow (I didn’t get the library’s lab). It was a regular classroom, right by the cafeteria. Since I was down there I bought a snack before heading back to my office (fruit cup).
I think the rest of my time was spent going through emails before leaving, making sure I had responded. One coworker was sick today so training was cancelled (which was fine). I followed up with a couple of instructors who requested library workshops but then never got back to me. I created a couple more folders in my inbox so that I could clear more messages from my inbox by filing them correctly (oh how I wish everything just labelled & archived like Gmail). There were a couple other little things I did today, but I think you get the gist of it!
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About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.

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