Librarian by Day Bobbi Newman | I'm not that kind of librarian

Library Day in the Life Round 5, libday5

07.28.2010 · Posted in A Day in the Life of a Librarian

This post is part of the Library Day in the Life Project. For those of you who don’t know me I’m a Digital Branch Manager at the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries in Columbus Georgia.  I have been here just over a year.

Big Dog6:00 wake up and get to work.  I drink coffee while checking my email and Twitter and Facebook.  Facebook includes checking my Librarian by Day page, Libraries and Transliteracy page, and Day in the Life Group since FB doesn’t send email notifications for activity on these I try to check them a couple of times a day.  I also walk my dogs and get ready for work.

8:15 arrive in the office. I have a Twitter class for staff at 9:00 so I go over my handouts and material and make some last-minute changes.

9:00 Twitter class for staff. Great overview and introduction including how to use twitter without having an account. The class went really well. I asked the Twitterati to say “hi” to the class. I got over 60 responses from all over the world so I plugged them into a google map, check it out.


View Hi’s from Twitter to Class in a larger map

10:00 After the class is over I stop by the office of the Head of Teen Services. We were both at ALA and are still waiting to get our reimbursement checks.  She tells me they’ve promised it will be deposited tomorrow.

10:15 Back to my office, there is a contact from one of the vendors in my mail box. I’ve been waiting for approval so I could sign and fax it back.  Approval received hurrah!  We are undergoing some restructuring so while we figure out who does what it is taking some extra time for decisions to be made.

10:20 Time to check my email.  Some days I get home and can’t figure out what I’ve done all day.  Thanks to keeping notes for libday5 I have figured out that most of it is reading and responding to email.

10:30 I look at Twitter. libday5 is going strong.  Its cool and sad to see that is had gotten so large I can not keep up with it.

10:40 more email.  One of the downsides of being a manager now is there is less about my day I can share on Library Day in the Life.

10:50 I need to return some phone calls, including calling the Treasury department to inquire about my reimbursement. while on hold I go through more emails.

11:20 I start dealing with the issue of the library’s URL. right now it is chattahoocheevalleylibraries.org.  Cool cuz that’s our name, bad because it is looooonnnnngg. Especially if you’re typing it in a phone there is a lot of potential for errors.  We have agreed we need a shorter option the obvious choice being cvl.org. Unfortunately that belongs to a group of Buddhist who want $10,000 for it.  ha! We look at other options.

11:35 Back to email (notice a theme here yet?)

11:45 Visit the Marketing office to help with the website. Until the Digital Branch goes live (September) Marketing is handling the old website, I offer technical support as needed.

12:00 I check Facebook and Twitter.  Yes I can see what my friends are doing, I also find news and library related issues from things they post and from organizations I’m a fan of like American Libraries Magazine, American Library AssociationALA OITPFederal Communications CommissionLJ/SLJ Ebook SummitKnight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, Library & Information Technology Association (LITA)Learning Round Table of the American Library Association, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation just to name a few.  Same with Twitter, most of the people I follow aren’t tweeting about their breakfast.  :-)

12:15 I start looking through my Google Reader folder for the library.  I come across a mention of our library in an event notification from a group that is charging admission for the event. This is a violation of our policy. All events during library hours must be free and open to anyone. I send an email to a couple of staff who deal with this sort of thing and spend sometime discussing the problem. Back to the RSS feeds, I respond to some tweets about the library.

1:25 Back to Twitter and email.

1:30 I walk downstairs to our cafe and get a hot dog for lunch to eat at my desk.  I don’t do this often, I wish our cafe had healthier and yummier choices. Back at my desk I look at my email, Twitter and Facebook again.

2:15 I look at some usability studies and make some notes.

3:00 Time for a test run of my Tech Talk with Michael Sauers on Wednesday.  All goes smoothly and we are ready for the webinar!

3:30 back to emails which takes up the rest of my time until I leave at 5:15.

Usually in the evenings I get on the computer and do some work and I need to be getting ready for my upcoming workshop in Missouri, but I decided I need a night away from the internet so I clean and read a book.

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47 Responses to “Library Day in the Life Round 5, libday5”

  1. you had a crazy day, sure. but you know what i find craziest about it? you didn’t address a single patron issue, or even acknowledge that patrons exist, in your entire day.

    i sincerely hope that you address this issue soon, privately and not as a blog post or tweet or whatever the fck “librarianship” means these days. yes, social media is important, but at what cost? you pissed the entire day away avoiding f2f; for that, you suck. dream on, your shit don’t fly like that.

    -grounded in seattle.

    • Moogie
      Normally I would delete a comment like this but it allows me to address an important point – my lack of interactions with patrons.

      You’re right I didn’t interact with any. It is one of the things I like least about my current position. Being part of management in a large system and being in charge of our online services limits the amount of time I can interact with patrons. When I can I offer training on our services and provides one on one instruction by appointment.

      I do not believe that means there is not value to my work or the work of others who don’t spend face to face time with patrons. My personal preference would include more face time, but I also know the work I do provides important services and access for our patrons. There are many facets to librarianship and all of them are important.

    • If you follow Moogie’s “logic,” the director and deputy director of my library piss each day away, too, since they don’t directly interact with patrons. I interact with patrons directly once a week, but only because I personally asked my supervisor to give me a desk shift. But in the Web Content department where I work, direct contact with patrons isn’t a job requirement.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t think about and address patron needs. Providing content on the web is a valuable service for patrons. There are all kinds of important jobs to do in a library beyond face-to-face time with patrons.

      Moogie, with your attitude, I sincerely hope you don’t have any contact with patrons. Your social communication skills seem…well, lacking is the most charitable way to put it.

    • Hi Moogie,
      Now that you’ve demonstrated your finely honed people skills, maybe you can tell us how your day went?

      Also, I have an administrative position in my library, but I’m quite confident that the work I do has a positive impact on the experience of our library users. Your line of reasoning would seem to suggest that staff members who work in back office positions are somehow less valuable than those who work in face-to-face ones. Perhaps airline mechanics are less valuable because they don’t serve peanuts? Maybe line chefs are unnecessary because they’re not the ones who take your order?

      I would say you’re right about one thing–you are certainly grounded.

      • I was gonna say something much like you did, but you just said it much better. I LOVE the comparison to a restaurant especially!

        And agree, too – I looked at Bobbi’s day-in-the-life, and saw a day FULL of working with and for patrons – just in a different way than “direct interactions.”

        • I’m going to let the replies stack up for a while and then address all of the issues at once, instead of piecemeal replies, for sake of efficiency.

  2. Interesting commentary on my #libday5 post – does no f2f interaction with patrons mean I’m not a real librarian? http://librarianbyday.net/2010/07/librar

  3. Wow. If “moogie” is actually a librarian, I feel sorry for his/her patrons.

  4. great job, keep it up.

    what’s your stance on censorship, btw?

    • i don’t spend my days figuring out a social media strategy, that’s for sure. i’m lucky enough to pick and choose my patrons (clients), but i still stand by my assertion that there are too many chiefs and not enough indians in the field.

      happy to see the response to my provocative post, and i hope it makes people think about their current “day in the life,” their job description, and why they entered the field to begin with. with all of the moogie-bagging, would anybody care to respond that their day is filled up with what the job description said, what they expected, or what their recent MLIS degree prepared them for (as they all seem young and naive)?

      • Yes, my day is filled with what my job description says it should be. It’s pretty much what I expected when I took the job. It’s not what I thought I’d be doing when I was in library school, but the world of libraries is big, with new roles coming up all the time. I graduated five years ago, when web content and digital services weren’t as big in libraries as they are now.

        Also, deleting asinine comments has nothing to do with censorship, and if you were half the librarian you seem to think you are, you’d know that. Freedom of speech and expression does not guarantee the right to comment on blogs. You’re always free to post on your own blog.

      • No. My job description does not include the care and feeding of trolls.

        Good day, sir.

      • My day-to-day work reflects my job description. I’m responsible for managing our electronic resources, and while that means there are days when I don’t interact directly with students or faculty, I promise you that if I wasn’t doing my job, their research would be negatively impacted. Besides, they aren’t my only clients. I interact daily with other library departments/staff, many of whom are working directly with students and faculty.

        I finished my MLS ten years ago, and the nature of my job today was only beginning to be realized at that time. I didn’t go into librarianship to do the specific day to day things I do now, but I’m also flexible enough to realize this is what I need to be doing today, and I’m ready for the changes that will come tomorrow.

        John Blyberg has more eloquently explained why behind-the-scenes library work is important, so I won’t go into it any further since you clearly are just looking to pick a fight.

    • if by censorship you mean deleting comments, my policy is stated on my about page

      Comment Policy: I reserve the right to delete any comment at any time.

      • Hi Bobbi, Your comment policy is short and to the point. Mine is somewhat longer http://alaskanlibrarian.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/comment-policy/. Maybe I need to simplify.

        Some of the most valuable people to patrons never see a patron. I’m thinking of catalogers. Without catalogers libraries would be stacks of random books. Maybe you’d find something and maybe you wouldn’t. But with catalogers you’re pretty certain to find something or have confidence your library did not have a book on that subject, by that author, etc.

  5. [...] meaningful to the discussion. Library Day in the Life can be encapsulated in this tweet by Bobbi Newman, who started this event back in 2008: “non-library followers – what is #libday5 ? A [...]

  6. Strng_Dichotomy says:

    Moogie, after reading your comment about not addressing patron issues as a result of not helping them face to face I will admit that I was upset. I work in technical services doing electronic resources, electronic catalog repairs/updates/upgrades, and databases.

    Your narrow view of what “librarianship” is would make my job and what others in tech services (catalogers, serials/periodicals, and acquisitions) seem meaningless or subpar because we don’t help patrons/students on a face to face basis everyday. In all honesty nothing could be further from the truth. We help them by doing everything behind the scenes that help allow the library to run and function smoothly. We allow the other librarians to find materials for patrons, create clear defined information so they can find the resources and materials they need in house, on the catalog, or online via the library website.

    Please do not make generalizations about the worth of someone’s day because they didn’t interact on a physical level with a patron/student. We do great things for people and rarely get recognition for it, and seeing your comment doesn’t help this at all. In short, please reconsider and think about how other are helping even though it’s not what you do or are accustomed to in “librarianship”.

    • Hi Strng! I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment before posting me. You said it so much better than me! Of course, perhaps not being a cataloger myself helps a little when I say that cataloging is fundamental to libraries.

  7. Moogie,

    yes my job meets the description, expectations and what my Masters prepared me for. Some days it’s all patrons, others I see none- but pretty much everything I do is about improving the service for them.

  8. My job is definitely what the job description said, and it’s so much better than I expected! Also, my MLIS did prepare me for it, but so did my 11 years of paraprofessional experience in the system where I’m now an administrator/programming librarian. I struggle with whether or not I’m really a ‘librarian,’ since it’s not in my job title, but I think that’s a semantics issue, not really a problem with my job. Do the programs I plan serve patrons? Heck yeah. What about simplified policies? Of course. Staff who interact with patrons are great, but with 30+ branches, our system needs oversight, as well.

    Also, I would add: my organization underwent a massive restructure, paring down administration to as bare bones as possible, so I now do the work that was once handled by 3 people. Huh. That seems to go against your “too many chiefs” complaint, Moogie.

    • Jan Brooks says:

      Do you think in this profession we get too hung up on the job title and whether or not “librarian” occurs there? I think this discussion, in fact this whole week, might be calling attention to the fact that the varied tasks we perform all add up to better service for the patron. I believe that’s the end goal we all desire.

  9. My job as written wouldn’t obviously include direct patron service. I do an hour a day on the desk partly because I enjoy the love you get from downstream helping, and partly because we don’t have enough bodies in the building to keep the desk open unless almost everyone pitches in. But I would have to echo what Bobbi and many others have said – if you’re working in a good library, every position is crafted with the goal of improving the users’ experience in one way or another. Whether it’s collection development or catalog maintenance or paying the bills, it’s all needed to provide users with resources, spaces, and help that they need to do what they want to do. With diminishing demand for in-depth librarian-mediated f2f services, hanging your career on doing *only* that seems like a dangerous proposition.

  10. (I meant to add for an early-career librarian to that last sentence – can’t edit comments!)

  11. As a preservation librarian (meaning we repair damaged books and materials to ensure their longevity, thereby providing patrons with more access to these materials) I have no face-to-face time with patrons. Nor should I as dictated by my job description. But just because we don’t deal with patrons on a daily basis doesn’t mean we aren’t influenced by/help the patrons of our libraries. I’m insulted to have the work I do tossed aside like garbage simply because I don’t work at a reference desk.

  12. My current job definitely fits my job description and then some! Also, I rarely see my patrons IN PERSON. My patrons are all the librarians in our region: mainly public, but also academic and school librarians. Our main communication with them is by phone, chat, email, Facebook. I indirectly also support their patron through the library services we provide to them through CE, through resource sharing, through a large regional shared catalog we manage, through consulting, through board training, through tech support…. The list goes on and on. Each day I maintain a website that our patrons — again the librarians — use to stay informed of our services and news (just like a normal library), train remotely or in person, answer reference questions (remotely), catalog, provide ILL support, answer tech questions from staff…. If that’s not a librarian, I don’t know what is. Thanks for starting this discussion whoever you are. It’s fascinating to read everyone’s comments and thoughts and a good exercise for us all.

  13. Ugh, so randomly malicious. I think I can speak for most of the commenters when I assert that if your opinion was expressed more constructively, this would have simply been a stimulating conversation about the insanely diverse expectations and responsibilities of librarians. The whole point of Librarian Day in the Life is to foster this kind of dialog across various platforms, among countless librarians. It’s a shame, Moogie, that you had to set such a negative tone.

    It unfortunately perpetuates another librarian stereotype: the stodgy traditionalist. I don’t understand, therefore it’s stupid and I hate you because you are CLEARLY vying for my job. Be as nice to your comrades as you are to these alleged patrons you are constantly serving with rainbows and smiles!

  14. Moogie – please ask yourself the following questions:

    *What good is face to face time with patrons if books, journals, magazines, databases, etc. are never ordered, received, or processed?

    *What good is face to face time with patrons if there is not sufficient data in the catalog for them to find and identify what they need? What good is face to face time if that data isn’t curated and maintained? If the catalog itself (server, public interface, etc.) isn’t maintained by staff behind the scenes?

    *What good is face to face time with patrons if the databases don’t work? If the online journal/magazine/newspaper access is denied? If the licenses aren’t signed? If the bills aren’t paid to ensure continuity of access?

    I highly suggest you reconsider and expand your very narrow minded view of librarianship. Everyone in a library has a role to play to ensure patrons have a positive experience, whether that includes direct f2f time or not. All of the above questions speak to jobs performed by those of us behind the scenes, who may or may not ever interact directly with a patron.

    To answer your question if my job is what I expected or if it was exactly like my job description when I was hired 4 years ago. No, it’s not. I never dreamed I’d be doing what I am doing now. And I mean that in the most positive way. The library world, and the world in general, has changed drastically since I got my MLS and in the 4 years since I started my current position. I would be a fool if I expected my job to stay the same. My MLS gave me a solid foundation to build on and grow from and my current job is also changing and growing in response to changing needs of our patrons.

    As for your definition of your comment as “provocative”, let’s call a spade a spade. You acted like a troll and posted something negative, inflammatory, judgmental, and borderline malicious. I’m all for dialogue, but that wasn’t inviting dialogue, it was an outright troll attack.

  15. cclibrarian says:

    I’m fascinated by this discussion, mostly because there are apparently still “librarians” out there who have no idea how diverse the field of librarianship truly is. Not every position in a library is a front-line, deal directly with patrons all day, sort of position. That does not mean that those positions have less value. In fact, depending on the library, those positions may be even more important. Increasingly, we are experiencing a world where technology is used and people have more of their interactions online, if they are even interacting at all with another person. As an academic librarian, I know that more of our students use the library through our website, whether it’s to do research for assignments, to find books, or to get information about the library itself. Very often, they have no need of face to face interactions. I strongly support the idea that was need to continue to work on our online presences, and the people who do that sort of work in libraries very often do now interact f2f with patrons.

    As to my job description, yes. I am doing what I thought I would be doing in my current position. Since I’m in a management position, there are days when I have little to no interaction with our patrons and this is as it should be. There are other days when I interact a great deal with the patrons. The variety is something that I like and wanted. On the days when I have little or no interaction, I’m not “pissing” my day away. Sometimes I’m preparing for instruction sessions. Other times, I’m in meetings for things like improving classroom technology on our campus. There are days I spend time working on ordering new materials for the library. All of these activities add value to the community I serve.

    I’d suggest that you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Your kind of attitude helps those who are arguing that libraries are becoming useless in a world where all information can be found online and few people read print books. If all librarians do is stand or sit behind a desk waiting to help that patron who comes into our physical space, we will get exactly what we deserve in budget cuts, less staff, and little respect.

  16. joshuamneff says:

    @librarianbyday That commenter is a fucking idiot & a troll. I’m writing my own response right now.

  17. reddite says:

    @librarianbyday No. It means some people have a limited and limiting notion of what a librarian is ;) I haven’t seen a patron today either.

  18. stevelibrarian says:

    @librarianbyday I started to compose my own reply to the f2f comment but decided not to feed the troll. Helping patrons isn’t always f2f.

    • @stevelibrarian I was tempted to delete it but think it addresses an important misperception in libraryland

      • stevelibrarian says:

        @librarianbyday My response was going to mention catalogers, who don’t work f2f with patrons, generally, but are definitely “Librarians”.

      • stevelibrarian says:

        @librarianbyday Also, I think that’s the strength of #libday5, to show the myriad things librarians do these days.

  19. @librarianbyday Wow, certainly a charmer! In all industries, usually the higher someone moves the further from the shop floor they are.

  20. gcaserotti says:

    @librarianbyday GROAN. already got some gr8 responses 2 that jerk.

  21. elloyd74 says:

    RT @librarianbyday: interesting commentary on my #libday5 post – does no f2f interaction with patrons mean I’m not a real librarian? ht …

  22. rubybeth says:

    @librarianbyday I commented on your post in reply to your commenter. Seems very narrow-minded to say that librarians must have patron int.

  23. librarymistress says:

    RT @librarianbyday: interesting commentary on my #libday5 post – does no f2f interaction with patrons mean I’m not a real librarian? ht …

  24. lauramac95 says:

    (2/3) @librarianbyday As a #cataloger, I roundly disagree. ^_^ Strng_Dichotomy already hit that one out of the park in his comment.

  25. ThatAndromeda says:

    @librarianbyday I loved the public service work I did as my school’s scheduler; never f2f with a student but expanded more (1/2)

  26. ThatAndromeda says:

    @librarianbyday (2/2) horizons & created more educational opportunity than I ever did in the classroom. public service for introverts ftw ;)

  27. i am finding myself wanting to respond to this even though i know it will come across as a personal attack – sorry. i disagree with moogie – i don’t think that face to face time with patrons trumps other library work. but….it seems like…well…you didn’t really do anything all day. maybe it’s implied in your statement that you can’t share stuff now that you’re a manager, but…i think a lot of back office people are kidding themselves when they think they’re doing just as much as those who actually do stuff, like order materials, provide reference services, develop programs, research new resources, talk to vendors, etc. i guess i just don’t get the whole “my job is the big picture” thing. what do you DO all day? (not you specifically, bobbi, but everyone in a position like yours.) either you guys aren’t doing enough or you need to be more conscious of how you are viewed by your staff and provide them with more information about your responsibilities, because otherwise there’s going to be backlash.

    • I can’t speak for Bobbie, but some of the things I can’t share as a manager are:

      - Internal workings of computer security activities – state confidential information.
      - Any disciplinary talks I’ve had with employees – privacy, union contracts.
      - Serious difficulties with other departments. I don’t have any, but if I did, speaking of it publicly would not be helpful and would not be appreciated.

      There are other things of this nature. Some of my fellow managers can think of them.

      Another thing to bear in mind is that most of us in LibDay5 aren’t trying to account for every single moment of our days. If we told you every last task that we worked on, the blog entries would be endless. At least they would be for me.

    • Toots
      I don’t see this as a personal attack because I have never said publically or privately that one position in a library is more important than others, in fact I’ve said just the opposite.

      Instead it comes across as a comment from someone with a chip on their shoulder. There are plenty of people in the library who do not interact with customers that I have NO idea what they do all day. The lady in finance who process payroll and answers my questions when I have to fill out a new form, the office manager that I ask for binder clips and highlighters, Tech services who make sure our content gets to patrons, I think these are all incredibly important positions. I’d wager that you do to. That leads me to believe your real problem is my title, Digital Branch Manager, and my blog.

      Since I blog using my real name I can’t discuss some of the major issues I deal with at work. I can’t tell you about the meetings where I am the ONLY branch manager arguing for something that benefits our patrons or against something because it doesn’t. Trust me everything I do every day is for the benefit of our patrons.

      For the record I am the person who deals with our database vendors, I provide programs to patrons, and research new services. I would LOVE to order our titles for OverDrive, but I’m not permitted. However I don’t see this “stuff” as more or less important than the other “stuff” I do.

      I get called at home on nights and weekends on my personal cell phone by front-line staff who have questions about our services or some issue of technology. I take one on one appointments with patrons to help them use one of our services. When I do this I have to bring in my own laptop from home. I spend my evenings and weekends reading about the digital divide and national broadband plans or creating training for staff.

      It is clear that you don’t know me or what I do or what I stand for. Rather than suggestion I be more conscious of how I am viewed I suggest you get the chip off your shoulder and stop thinking that what you do is more important than what I do. We both are serving our patrons to the best of our ability in an important role.

  28. [...] on, included many times this morning in response to a “certain” comment on this post by Bobbi Newman, but what I’ve gotten the most out of this week is using the libday5 tag for my Delicious [...]

  29. i should now admit that i am a systems librarian. i do not interact with patrons, customer, or clients at all.

    but they’re still #1 in my mind and job, even as i do the managerial or back-end work. i’ve been around (for 20 years or so), but they are my boss, not some cookie-cutter manager who tells me what to do and when to do it and how to format it.

    i just wanted everybody to take a step back and think about their role in providing effective services (the ideal that we started working in this field to begin with).

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