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LibDay5: Monday: Meetings & Reference

Word of warning – This year I’m taking the “typical week” approach because I can’t picture a typical day.

Here’s how my Monday went:

5:00 am – Woke up as I usually do on weekdays. Fed my loud cat, had breakfast and made lunches. Then had 50 minutes on a stationary bike, riding 15.4 miles and supposedly burning 462 calories, a little more than one serving of Pop Tarts.

8:30 Arrived for work, turned stuff on. Looked at my schedule. Three meetings for today. My weekly meeting with my boss, the deputy director of my division; a meeting at 10:30 with the person who manages our integrated library catalog, and a 2pm meeting with my Micrographics Manager who does a great job of managing his Central Micrographics Services section.

8:45 Took the stairs one floor up and grabbed coffee enroute to my meeting with my boss.

9-10 Meeting with boss. This went very well, as it usually does. I try to take the time to prepare a summary of the past week’s activities plus updates on projects I know to be of interest to him. Then he asks me questions about the stuff I didn’t think of. I’m lucky to have a supportive and mentoring relationship with him. Some of the things we cover include Micrographics work at rearranging their work space for new digitizing equipment, ongoing web development and the use of the staff intranet to collect purchase “wish list” items.

10:15-11:25 Checked and responded to e-mail. My library system manager is out, so scratch one meeting. Read new release notes for our Userful public internet access system. Got information about a YouTube channel operated by the UAF Film Archives. Worked on my section’s monthly newsletter, a combination of news of our new section combined with short computer news and tips. I got permission to start it because our section is so new, there is a natural “so what DOES TIS do?” feeling in the air. I like to use it to highlight achievements of my staff.

11:25-12:15 Headed upstairs to the Alaska State Library Historical Collections to research a question about a historic building. They gave me a number of related materials shown below:

Resources used to answer a question.

One of the items was a manuscript called History of the Schools in the Gastineau Channel Area by Tillotson, Marjorie, and A. B. Phillips.

If you’re interested in either school buildings or early Juneau teachers, I highly recommend this work. I found what I was looking for and decided to experiment photographing the pages I needed with my iPhone instead of going to the copier. The condition of the paper and type on the page made me pessimistic about copy quality. The pictures seemed to come out decently well, but the iPhone 3G seems very sensitive to glare.

12:15-1 Went down to my desk and responded to more e-mails, including some on IT issues. I composed a response to the reference question I researched and sent it off to the patron. A few hours later I got a thank you note. I’d actually been stumped on this question for quite awhile before I asked the Historical Collections staff to try and find some likely sounding material for me. I’m blessed with great Division coworkers.

1-2 Lunch. My favorite time of day, mostly because I get to share lunch with my spouse who works in the same building as me. Partly because of the great views that are available from where we eat like:

View out of my lunchroom

2pm – Off to Central Micrographics to meet with my Micrographics Manager. I find him deep in room rearrangement. He seems so plainly on a roll that I don’t want to stop his flow with a meeting. I ask him to come see me when he’s ready.

2-3pm Start reviewing some proposed building integration ideas from one of our consultants and raised in a committee I’m on with the Head of Historical Collections and the Chief Curator of the State Museum. Answered some e-mail from the State Museum’s Sitka location about a state mandated software upgrade. Passed along Sitka’s concerns to our dept IT group who are managing the rollout for us. I’m very happy to have dept IT for our basic infrastructure needs. I also finalized our first formal Archives Catalog upgrade meeting with Minisis. The Archives staff and I are excited about this process because we’ll be able to manage boxes by barcode when we’re done.

3-4 Got back to reviewing the building integration materials.

4pm  Returned to my working through Access 2003 Bible through our library’s ebrary collection.  I try to set aside two hours a week to sharpen two computer skills — Access and PHP. I’m upgrading my Access skills because our parent agency IT section no longer formally supports Access and has halted the development of new Access databases.

I support this policy because the dept is trying to standardize software and become extremely proficient in support a relatively small set of standardized software rather than doing their best to support every program and application people feel like creating. The latter approach was running them ragged and their new approach is using their time and skills better.

However, the Division has been left with a number of Access databases that it hasn’t been practical to migrate to SQL, the new standard. So I’m aiming to learn enough Access to maintain what we have left and generate the occasional new report.  Sometimes the simple things are daunting, like changing a going price on a Micrographics invoice. I’ve managed so far.

I’m trying to teach myself PHP mainly so that I can be a backup for our webmaster and get a sense of what is and isn’t possible with PHP. More about that later.

But more Access will have to wait, as my Micrographics Manager comes in at 4:05 pm to say he’s ready to meet. We have a good meeting. The rearrangement work is going well. We talk about upcoming agency work for this year and a tentative timeline to set up our new microfilm and microfiche digitizers. I’m very lucky with my Micrographics Manager as when I came into this position I didn’t know anything about the production of microfilm and microfiche. No sense of the chemicals involved or the skills needed to be a good filmer. Or of the various cost-recovery arrangements we have with state agencies. But he’s been patient in teaching me and I’m steadily learning.

5pm Leave work, go home and take a walk in the sunshine in the first really good weather in two weeks.

That’s it! How about some feedback – too much? Hopefully not too little. Let me know. This is my first year doing Library Day in the Life.

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