Archive for July 25th, 2011

My name is Lane Wilkinson and I am a librarian.

Specifically, I am a reference and instruction librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and this is my “library day in the life” entry for the week of July 25, 2011. I’m writing this for the benefit of future librarians who would like a snapshot of the day-to-day activities in an academic library.

7:30 – The library opens in 15 minutes, so I’m patiently waiting at the reference desk for the first students. I should probably take this opportunity to describe my library. UTC is a mid-sized, urban university with a “Masters/LCarnegie Classification and an enrollment just shy of 11,000 students. (If you’re thinking of becoming an academic librarian, I highly recommend that you think carefully about the Carnegie Classifications while looking for jobs.) The library is primarily a teaching library, rather than a research library, by which I mean that library services are primarily in support of the undergraduate curriculum. As a reference and instruction librarian, I teach an average of 30 classes each semester and each week I spend 5-10 hours on the reference desk each week and handle one or two in-depth research appointments. Most of the reference work involves formatting papers, finding scholarly articles, and helping students refine their research topics/arguments. As the liaison to the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the College of Business, I work with faculty to build the collection and I work closely with honors students, upper-level undergraduates, and graduate students in these areas. And then there are the committees…good lord there are a lot of committees…

8:20 – 35 minutes into the reference desk, and I haven’t had a question yet. Given that it’s summer, this isn’t surprising.

8:39 – Here’s my agenda for the day:

  • Go over the suggested edits a peer-reviewer sent regarding my LOEX conference proceedings.
  • Order at least $500 of titles for the College of Business.
  • Write a mission statement and philosophy of instruction for the library instruction website we’re designing.
  • Work on a proposal for extending library instruction into the Department of Philosophy and Religion.
  • Start working on storyboards for new video tutorials.
  • Create 5-10 advertisements for the digital displays we’re installing around the library.
8:47 – First reference question of the day: “Can I borrow a pen?”
9:37 – Finished “fixing” the LOEX paper. Now, on to some CD.
10:10 – Scouring LibGuides at other universities for new and interesting business books. I find an recommended title, compare it to faculty research interests and courses offered, look for a review, add it my spreadsheet, and throw it into my account in Ambassador.

10:31 – Switching to digital displays for a little while. We are installing digital signage around the library and we need lots of content. So, I’m trying to churn out ads for our hours, collections, library services, technology, etc.. Here’s one that probably won’t get used:
10:58 – A word of advice, Photoshop and Illustrator are expensive. If you’re on a budget, GIMP and Inkscape are excellent, free, open-source alternatives.

11:35 – Just got a copy of a synthesis essay assignment from a first-year composition assignment. I’ll need to go over the assignment in preparation for tomorrow’s library instruction session. (One of the things I like best about the library instruction team here at UTC is the way we’ve embedded ourselves in the Freshman English program to the point that we work directly with faculty to develop the curriculum and assignments.)

12:45 – I’ve finished the digital display content, ordered my books, edited my paper, and now it’s time to turn to the storyboards for new video tutorials. The subcommittee I’m on has until the end of August to create a half-dozen or so videos. Our goal is to put out a series of short (30-60 seconds) videos targeted at specific library services (ILL, printing, etc.) and a few longer videos for classroom use.

1:05 – Back on the reference desk until 2:00.

1:11 – The reference desk is a great place to clear out all of those listserv messages in my inbox.

1:16 – Reference question: A student needs a chapter from a book we do not own. I explain how we can either have the book mailed through interlibrary loan, or have the chapter in question scanned and emailed directly to him. He selects the latter. As I’m walking him through the ILL request menu I ask him to fill out the “Not wanted after” field. He says he needs it for a class in two hours. Wow.

1:23 – Internet Reference Service Quarterly is seeking manuscripts. I’m tempted to send them something, but I would have to transfer my copyright over to Taylor & Francis. I’ll probably send them something, but if I have to trade away ownership, I don’t see the need in putting too much energy into it. They should just reword their call for articles to read, “send us a half-assed paper that you don’t care about ever seeing again.”

1:54 – Reference question: A patron needed help searching he Tennessee Code Annotated. It took a while to explain that the Tennessee “Code” was located under State “Statutes”.

2:30 – Trying to figure out how best to sell library instruction to the Department of Philosophy and Religion. I would suppose it’s pretty much the same at most university libraries: library instruction is used heavily by a half dozen or so departments, and infrequently (if ever) by most departments. Here at UTC, English, Education, Social Work, Business (Accounting, Marketing, Finance, Management), and the medical disciplines (Nursing, HHP, Physical Therapy) are heavy users of library instruction and support services. Interestingly, there as many instruction sessions for grad students as undergrads. But, I digress….

3:15 – Had a great chat with Khristy (my wife) about her lecture on Doestoevsky and Plato. Maybe I’ll write a Doestoevsky, Plato, and libraries post in the near future. I’ve been looking for something fun to write.

5:26 – So, I sort of forgot to update this for a while. Oh well. Let’s just say that I librarianated for a while then came home to hang out with the little guy.

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