October 26th, 2013 Brian Herzog
Instead of a single reference question this week, I wanted to detail a series of unusual things that all happened on Friday - none of which had ever happened before.
- A patron walked up with with a stack of about five books, and asked if she could leave them on the desk for a minute. Of course that was fine, and a couple minutes later she came back with another big stack. She then asked if she could put one of the stacks on hold, so she could pick them up tomorrow. That sounded odd, but then she explained that she had walked to the library and couldn't carry them all home in one trip. I suppose this is no different than someone placing items on hold from home, but I have never had a walk-up hold request like this before. But the best part was at the end - ask she was leaving, the patron said,
My daughter always tells me I have too many books, and I say you can never have too many books. I'm not going to tell her that she's right, but sometimes, you can have too many books... to carry.
- A patron came up and asked for help using a flash drive on the computer. She said she wanted to work on a Word file that was on her drive, but when she plugged it in the drive was blank, and she was worried our computer erased all her files. When we got back to her workstation, initially I didn't see her flash drive even plugged into the computer, but then noticed it plugged into the USB ports built into the monitor. Those have never been hooked up, and in five years no one has tried to use them (or at least asked me about it). We moved her flash drive to one in the CPU, and everything was fine.
- We recently added a public scanning station, which is just a regular flatbed scanner hooked to a computer. When we put it out, we decided we'd have a "scanner first" policy, meaning that if someone was using the computer but not the scanner, and another patron needed to use the scanner, we'd ask the non-scanning patron to move to a different computer. Today was the first time I had to do this.
- A patron came in and said that her car was hit in the parking lot yesterday. It turns out, the library's truck was also hit in the parking lot yesterday, but was parked about as far away from the patron's car as you could get. We've never had a hit-and-run in our parking lot, so two in the same day is either a coincidence or one very bad driver careening all over the place. In neither case was the damage very bad, but still - bad driving and library parking lots is a bad combination.
- Circ staff called me to the circ desk because a patron asked for help signing up for a SafeLink cell phone - but by the time I got there, the patron was gone. It turned out he only spoke Hindi, and one of our Hindi-speaking staff members was helping him. I checked on them at a computer, but they were doing fine - it's not often I'm dismissed from a reference interaction, especially a tech-support one, but I was absolutely irrelevant to this patron's need. Luckily, my co-worker wasn't.
- Near the end of the day, the same patron from #2 came back up to the desk. She had been working on her Word document all day, and said her computer restarted and she lost everything, because it turned out she'd been saving her updated document to the computer, not to the flash drive. She had printed a draft shortly before the computer restarted, so she had most of it, but had to retype the whole thing, and ask me to show her how to save to her flash drive to make sure she didn't lose it again. However, scanner to the rescue! We took her printed draft to the scanner, which has a "scan to Word" OCR function, and in less than a minute had a new Word document for her (and saved on her flash drive). I can not tell you how happy this made her - scanner win!
- And finally, the weirdest thing of all came when I checked my personal email right before I went home. In there, sent to my Swiss Army Librarian email address, was this message:
Hello, I am writing in an unusual case ... Some time ago, I used your services, and one of your employees face was familiar to me. At dinner with my wife, it turned out that he was a burglar, who 5 years ago broke into our home!!! This is ridiculous!!! How you can hire criminals? I found at least 3 bad entries for him at website for background check!! I am sure there are more!!! Please do something about it, things like that are ridiculous!!!
Now this seemed like spam, but just to be on the safe side, I looked the "from" email up in our catalog, and got no hits. I know spam is inexplicable much of the time, but this was just bizarre. And pointless.
So those were the highlights of my day on Friday. I guess this is more like a Library Day in the Life post than a reference question of the week, but it was an odd day.
January 17th, 2012 Brian Herzog
The next Library Day in the Life is coming up - it runs the week of January 30th through February 5th. If you haven't participated, think about trying it this time - it's interesting, and a lot of fun.
I've done the last few, and plan on live-blogging one of my days for #libday8 also. If you're interested, read Bobbi Newman's explanatory post, then check out the LibDay wiki, and follow these directions:
- Chose your medium – blog posts, tweets, pictures, videos, interpretive dance, whatever.
- Go to the wiki
- Create an account (it’s free), carefully read the instructions for adding your content.
- On the 30th start recording your day or week.
- Bloggers, Flickr & YouTube users tag your posts with librarydayinthelife and #libday8. Twitters use the #libday8
- Bloggers be sure to include an introductory paragraph explaining the project and information about your position for readers.
- Add your Flickr photos or videos to the Group on Flickr and/or join the Facebook Page
Unrelated to #libday8, I wanted to let people know the Swiss Army Librarian site will join other websites in going dark on Jan 18th to protest SOPA. If you're interested in doing it to0, here's a few tips.
July 26th, 2010 Brian Herzog
I'm participating in today's Library Day In The Life - it could be a good (interesting) day, but it also means I've been here for an hour and a half already and this is the first chance I've gotten to post anything - busy day.
- Arrive at work, go right to Reference Desk. Morning person is on vacation, so our Assistant Director was covering. Talk to her about how busy the morning was, problems from the weekend, and pending reference questions
11:15 - 12:30
- Field a flurry of reference question, even having to press our "emergency" button (wireless doorbell) to get someone from the backroom to come out and help. These vary from looking up book titles, reserving museum passes, finding books for patrons (on dream symbols, mythology, New York travel, books for middle school summer reading), check in newspapers, give newspapers to patrons, find parking map for local bike trail, and retrieve a lost cell phone for a patron
- We're also doing interviews today for our Head of Circulation opening - however, interviews were scheduled after I approved vacation time for this week, so I spent some time scrambling to find someone to cover the desk while I'm in the interviews
12:30 - 1pm
- Transfer call from Nashua (NH) Public Library to our ILL department
- Talk to maintenance guy about the huge mouse he caught in the library's garage ("it was black and this big," holding his hands about eight inches apart - I think that qualifies as a rat)
- Finally get a chance to post this
- A patron wanted travel books for Italy and Greece, and holy smokes, the Fodor's and Frommer's 2010 books for both countries were on the shelf. Usually they're checked out and patron needs to settle for past years, but this time we rocked it
- Help patron connect her Windows 7 laptop to our wireless network - I've had to do that a lot lately, so Windows 7 must be a little wonkier than XP
- Try to reread the resume of the candidate for a 1pm phone interview
- Reply to email message from someone who confuses us with the library in Chelmsford, Essex, England (it happens about every other month)
1pm - 1:30
- Phone interview. I'm sure the candidate is far more nervous to be interviewed than we are to interview them, but the whole hiring process seems just unpleasant all around - especially on a day when we're short-staffed and I just realized there is no one to cover my lunch break
1:30 - 2:30
- Back at the reference desk, check email and reread resume of 2pm interviewee
- Catch up with coworker who was on vacation in Vermont last week - although, being the only adult on vacation with three daughters + one friend each may not actually qualify as a vacation
- Take cordless phone and start pulling books from the shelves that were requested by patrons over the weekend (also eat a handful of almonds because of this lunch thing)
- Compile a list of staff on our email staff list, to see who hasn't been getting our all-staff announcements
- Explain to patron how to book one of our meeting rooms
- Holy smokes: apparently we haven't had a page in awhile, because we have about five fullc arts of adult non-fiction that needs to be shelved - ah, something else to worry about
2:30 - 3:45
3:45 - 4pm
- Check in at Reference Desk to see how things are going (busy)
- Sneak away for a banana lunch before 4pm interview
4:00 - 5:20
5:20 - 6:00
- Back at the Reference Desk for the rest of my shift, still haven't eaten that banana
- "Patrol" the floor, restarting computers, picking up abandoned books and scrap paper, and pushing in chairs
- Catching up on emails from the day. One email reference question has me puzzled - is it a real question or spam: "how can i download googled images;my photos 2 my facebook?"
- Checking out Glogster.com, which one of today's interviewees mentioned. I'd never heard of it, and after a quick look at the website, am not sure I get - sigh, I'm so 2009
6:00 - 6:30
- Reviewing notes I took during the interviews, both about the candidates and ideas they suggested (see Glogster.com above)
- This position is very much a readers advisory job, so all candidates are ask about their experience and the tools they use. Humorously, almost every person so far as named Amazon.com as one of their top readers advisory tools, and most have said it a bit sheepishly. It's okay, really
- But more on readers advisory: one of my notes on resumes was to not apply for jobs for which you are not qualified. This is the definition of not being qualified for a job: the job ad specifically includes readers advisory, and during the interview you're asked about your readers advisory experience - if your response is, "readers... what did you call it?" you are not qualified for the job
- I'm going to steal a candidate's idea for next tax season: hang a "federal and state tax forms are available at the library" sign in the post office, which usually only has federal forms (and never enough)
6:30 - 7:00
- Wow, everyone just must have finished dinner and came to the library to get middle school summer reading books
- Showed a group of three 12(ish) year old girls how to use our old-fashion-style crank pencil sharpener - they were not impressed
- Bring in the bookbox from the parking lot for the Circulation Desk
- Write a quick (and ugly) post about a new museum pass we're offering
- Time to go home, feeling like I hardly accomplished anything today (at least it's only Monday) - happy Library Day in the Life to everyone
August 25th, 2009 Brian Herzog
I feel bad when I complain, but here's a version of the Librarian Day in the Life for A Bad Day.
7:00 am, Monday
- Wake up before alarm, feel pretty good
- Play on internet, read, mess around house because I have lots of time before work
- Remember I'm supposed to meet printer repairman from Conway at library at 8:15 am
- Call library to let someone know I'll be late and to pass word to Conway guy; no one answers the phone
- Shower, shave, dress, pack lunch
- Spend five minutes looking for my keys - I never lose my keys - give up and use spare
- Arrive at library, find out two people have called in sick
- Talk to Conway guy, who is installing latest version of Envisionware LPT:One to fix all the bugs with current version
- Find out catalog is slow-to-stopped; call catalog tech support to report it
- Maintenance guy tells me this: he noticed water streaks on the inside of the library's dome, so he and the sprinkler repair man were up on ladders this morning looking for leak. It turns out it's a hole in the copper roof, not a sprinkler leak. But while moving around up there, one of them bumps a light fixture, which tips and water spills out (apparently, this light was right under the leak). Both guys go to grab it: our maintenance guy grabs the outside of the fixture, but the sprinkler guy grabs the edge, and when his fingers touch the water inside the fixture, he gets a (thankfully mild) electric shock. Neither guy falls off ladder, which is good
- Reference coworker arrives, and she tells me I asked both her and another person to work the same shift this past Saturday - I have no memory of this, but it makes me feel bad I made both of them get up early on a Saturday
- Catalog seems fixed, which is very good
- Find out two more people have called in sick; start scrambling to find desk coverage
- Circ staff says someone threw a full cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee in the book return box (two weeks ago it was an egg) - don't know how many books were damaged
9:30 am - Library opens to public
- Conway guy finishes up, everything seems to be working properly (for the first time in 10 months)
- Childrens room reports that a patron peed on the floor
10:00 am - 1:30 pm
- Many patrons calling in for museum passes, since this is the last week before school starts - almost all passes are already taken, and no patrons are happy to hear this
- Try to continue with updating policy manual (we revised all of our policies this year, and they were approved by Trustees in April. Ever since have been trying to get new policies consolidated into a single Word file and on website) - tedious but necessary, but don't get very far because of a lot of patron questions and calls
- Talk to Director about "changes due to budget cuts" announcements - changes include cut to hours at both branches, cut to materials budget, and change in how items can be requested from branch. During the conversation, I find out that no one actually understands the technicalities behind the change to how requests are handled, so even though patrons have been noticing it and calling about it, this section is cut because we don't know what the system is doing
- A computer support volunteer is updating our Amazon API (which broke last weekend) behind the reference desk. While I'm on the phone, I hear him offering to help patrons with their reference questions - does this bother other people as much as it bothered me?
1:30 pm - 2:00 pm
- Lunch break - or so I would think. Computer volunteer comes to find me about 1:40 to talk about update; spend ten minutes testing to make sure the update worked (it seemed to, which is a good thing). Hurry to finish lunch of very unexciting salad
- On my way back to the desk, I find a woman wandering in the back room looking for the Director. She's out of the building, so I talk to the woman. This woman has been in the library every day for the last eight months asking for a job. She will not get a job because: 1) we had to lay people off due to budget cuts, so, obviously, we're not hiring; 2) she can barely speak English (excellent communication skills is a requirement for a public service position); 3) she has actually yelled at library staff when we repeatedly, every day, tell her we are not hiring. Today was my turn again
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
- Group in meeting room needs projector - go get projector, bring it to them. Two minutes later they ask for Mac adapter dongle for projector - spend ten minutes looking for it, but it is nowhere to be found. Go to meeting room to let the group know, and they're using one they brought (so why'd they ask for ours? And where has ours gotten to?)
- Find out that the email announcement about the change in hours listed the wrong hours. Sigh
- Work on updating the schedule for coverage at the Reference Desk. Anytime I try to change the schedule, everyone gets upset with me, and this time is no exception - this has been a tense topic for the last week and a half
- Patron looking for summer reading books is upset that none of the books her child wants are checked in - one week before school starts, this should not be a surprise
- Notice one of the YA computers is missing. Which is odd, since it was there this morning, and no other tech person is in the building. Check logs, and the last activity was that it was a session ended by user at 1:39 pm. Ask around, no one knows anything about it, so can only conclude that it must have been stolen. Monitor is still there, and so are all the cables - it looks like someone just unplugged the CPU and walked away. Look in all corners and bathroom of library, but it is nowhere to be found.
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
- Patron question: "I have a tenant who wants to open a day care in her apartment - can I get the legal form for that?" Look in all our landlord and legal forms books, but patron doesn't see what she's after. Look online, can't find anything. The closest thing I can find is a commercial lease rental form, which covers running a business from a rental property, but patron (inexplicably) says that's not what she wants. Request books of rental agreements from other libraries for patron, but patron is clearly unhappy she might have to contact a lawyer. Patron also is not interested in referral to Lowell Law Library or BPL's business branch
- A different patron wanted the transcript from Obama's recent interfaith conference call - couldn't find that, but could find a site with a video. But all the computers were in use so the patron couldn't watch it right then, and she didn't want to wait for a computer, so she left (annoyed)
- 5:00 pm - evening desk staff comes in. Have you ever noticed that when you're in a bad mood, everyone else seems to be in a really good mood?
- Go to grocery store (which I do not enjoy). The Hannaford by me recently remodeled, so in addition to not knowing where anything is anymore, when I do find the right section, it seems they no longer carry a lot of the brands or sizes I used to buy. And then the cashier acts put-out that I bring my own cloth bag and don't want plastic bags
- Get home, unpack groceries, find keys (way down between couch cushions), eat popsicles and watch Danger Mouse (which is great, but I can't find any Bananaman - oh well)
Tomorrow can only be better, right? But I still wonder what happened to that computer.
July 27th, 2009 Brian Herzog
Today, July 27th, 2009, I'm participating in "Library Day in the Life Project" (more here) I'll be live-blogging what I do during my 9-5pm shift at the reference desk. And today might be more interesting, since my coworker called in sick.
9:00 am: - Get to Library
- sort mail, make "to-do" pile for the day
- find out catalog is down, put out-of-order signs on lookup stations
- check Reference Desk email, respond to 2 emails
- start pulling books requested by patrons over the weekend (we call this the "pull list")
9:30 am: - Library opens to public
- grab cordless phone and keep pulling books
- field lots of phone calls from people requesting museum passes
- 9:50 am - catalog comes back up; can start placing requests for books that I'd been keeping on note paper so far this morning
- Update events listing on homepage, and book sale drop-off schedule
- help someone locate a lawyer in the area; make note to improve "find a lawyer" section of our website
- 10:40 am - all public computers are in use
- assorted reference questions
- take recently-returned books off shelving cart from circ desk to put on sorting shelves; put pull list books on cart to take up to circ desk
- sudden rush of in-person patrons and calls, need to IM director to come to the desk for backup
- date and shelve latest Banker's & Trademan, Morningstar, CQ Research, Central Register and Goods and Services Bulletin to collection (which arrived in the mail this morning)
- patron calls: "what was that Glenn Close movie from the 90's where she died and came back in someone else's body?" I didn't know, so went to IMDb and read her all the titles from the 90's, and then 80's, before she recognized "Maxie" (from 1985)
- open mysterious "fragile - glass" box from Ebsco - hey, we won an award (more on this soon)
- trying to help patrons and type about helping them at the same time is really difficult
- try to coordinate lunch breaks, so ref desk is covered while I'm eating
- patron asks: "if I give you someone's name and social security number, can you tell me their address?"
- show a student how to log into databases to research the science of attraction
- finally finish placing requests for all the items on my note paper from this morning
- well into the lunchtime lull - slow enough to spend a few minutes straightening the 520's, which I noticed were a mess while doing the pull list this morning
- too bad today isn't one of the days we track stats (by counting the number of questions asked) - it was a busy morning, but not with questions significant or interesting enough to type here
- print 1 and 0 to participate in Library 101 video
- working my way through to-do pile - all mail and catalogs dealt with, now on to magazines
- just extricated myself from one of our chatty regulars - 10 minutes of monologue; I just listened, but I'm exhausted
- 1:30 pm - time for lunch (my first break of the day) - yay
- back from lunch (turkey, lettuce and tomato on wheat from Subway)
- the August BookPage arrived - two patrons asked for one while I was taking them out of the box
- Patron called to ask for the phone number of Sotheby's, Christie's, Leslie and Leigh Keno, and Skinner's. After I gave them to her, she asked if I thought they would auction something she was going to send to them as a photo from her camera phone
- Circ desk called to tell me there's a pizza delivery guy here with three pizzas, and do I know anything about it. Turns out, some kids called and wanted them delivered to the front steps for a study break on the library lawn
- today must be spring-cleaning day; I've had three calls from people asking how they can donate books to the library - why, on our drop-off days or using our new drop box, of course
- quiet afternoon means I was able to add a big stack of new magazines to the catalog with only two interruptions (usually Tech Services adds items to the catalog, but I'm filling in while someone else is out sick)
- scan some recipes for a coworker to email to her mother
- while adding magazines to our catalog, I noticed a couple not listed on our website's periodicals listing. So, I printed the webpage to compare to our latest Ebsco list
- trying to find empty carts - some of our pages have been off on family vacations, and we've had so many books returned in the last couple days that we're running out of room
- started creating a Legal Information Resources subject guide webpage - needs much more work, and isn't linked-to from our website yet, but it does have a feed in from our Delicious account
- just did an Abbott and Costello routine with phone patron on reserving museum pass: "you'd like the pass for the twentieth? No, the twenty-eighth. Okay, the twenty-eighth. No, not the twentieth the twenty-eighth. Yes, the twenty-eighth. No, not the twentieth..."
5:00- - Bonus Time (staying over to cover for someone to take her dinner break, because she's been here since 11am and is working to 9pm)
- Things I have not done today that I wanted to do: read rss feeds in Bloglines, do selection (via rss and journals), sort donated genealogy books to see if they should be added to collection
- patron: the computer I'm on isn't playing sound. me (after walking over to the patron's computer): oh yes, I'm sorry, the sound card on this computer isn't working (I say this as I casually point to the hot pink sign taped to the computer). patron: so that applies to me, too?
- actually getting some selection done - made it halfway through 7/09 Library Journal
- 5:30 - time to go
- last job of the day: check & empty the new book sale donation box on the way through the parking lot
Thanks to Bobbi Newman, aka Librarian by Day, for this great idea. I don't think I could possibly do an entire week, but this may be a more-than-once-a-year project for me.