Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hats off ... and on

Today was the type of day that exemplifies the difference between working in a smaller institution, specifically the charge of having broad based responsibilities and wearing many hats; it also showcases opportunity presented that may not exist for librarians in larger academic venues. My "to do" list was for naught as I moved from one job to the next, beginning with a morning appointment with a class in the resource center.

Thursday mornings are my mornings in the resource center, no student worker, no graduate assistant, only me, myself, and I working with the patrons. In all fairness Thursday mornings are also the slowest morning of the week, but be that as it may, I was the lone ranger on the second floor. I began the morning as the curriculum librarian and updated the Young Adult book bulletin board. This task was interrupted sporadically by database server issues, EBSCO had a power failure, but I was able to print, laminate, and feature eight new selections complete with titles, call numbers, cover art, and book reviews.

At ten o'clock I slipped on my adjunct faculty for the college of education hat and introduced a class to the resource center and the course I teach. It is a wonderful opportunity to get freshman education students into the library and resource center. The session rarely lasts more than fifteen minutes and then there are inevitable questions; all of which are good things. Invariably we see a nice little burst of class participation after one of these sessions as students log into the course management system and complete at least one of the assignments.

In between the bulletin board and class session I said farewell to my work laptop as a technician from information technology retrieved it - purportedly for only an hour - to finish fixing what ailed it; in this case refusal to utilize the wireless network upon login. Even though I had several students tell me not to let her take it (all in good fun), I assured them if anyone could sooth the savage beast, it was this particular technician. Sure enough, two hours later I was ready to go. However, losing my computer put a serious crimp in my workload since it has many programs the regular resource center computers do not. While waiting, I grabbed another hat, that of team player with the reference staff.

Before Christmas the boss requested I work with our newest reference librarian who was being put in charge of the library instant messaging project. As luck would have it, someone posted a question about libraries using Meebo to the EBSS listserv this morning and I was able to compile the responses and pass them along. It was an interesting coincidence, an email from a friend and library director earlier in the week included questions about IM and the fact that her university technology department was requiring them to use Pidgin instead of Meebo as a "multi-protocol" IM client. Much discussion ensued at the reference desk, especially as a student library worker also works at our IT department and mentioned Pidgin is what they use as well. Long and the short of it, we are going to load some software on our personal work laptops and play (oops, run experiments).

While I was being a good team player, and email arrived from the university web master answering my inquiry yesterday as to the status of our new library template. Attached to the email were three jpegs depicting possiblilites discussed at our meeting before the holidays. Before responding with a plethora of questions, I went to see the boss for input. He said, "you're in charge" as long as you understand the process, go ahead and ask. So ... I did. I also forwarded the proposed pages to the rest of the librarians along with the questions I was posing. We need to get this project to a place where work can be done. The template is great, we have university branding and library specifics, but lets go. I am now waiting for an answer and with luck will have something positive to report at the librarian meeting next week.

On my way out of the directors office he stopped me with a "by the way" concerning reconfiguring the electronic reserves worksheets for circulation. Back to being a circulation team player as well! Two years ago when we started using electronic reserves, I was on the committee making the initial recommendation for the product ultimately selected. As the "techie," I learned to use the system and then did some train the trainer. It was a simple process and the circulation staff caught on immediately. Now, I am only asked to do the odd task and update the library eres page once a semester. The request to update the form was a simple matter of finding the original in my files and making the changes. Ater all, circulation is using the form, they need to have the autonomy to change it as needed.

As the day ended two resource center patrons stopped me, they wanted to know if I did not love them anymore! Moving the printer out from behind the center doors and working several hours in my office meant I was not around for chatter, okay gossip, and reference. Guess it's good to know my hats and I were missed. Even better news, when I left shortly after five this evening it was still light outside. Really. Yes it is to be a generous 4 degrees overnight with chance of lake effect snow in the major and secondary snow belts, but spring is coming.

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