Today in my library life…

First: there is now a wiki for you to list your site in if you’re playing along. It’ll be fun for us to read, and useful for library school students! Use “library” to log in.

Some general things that will be the same every day of the following week (and don’t need to be repeated):

  • I come in between 8:00am and 8:30 and I leave between 5:15 and 6:00pm on most days. Yes, that means I’m working up to 9 hours in the office on some days. It’s by choice.
  • The first thing I do when I come in the morning is to make a cup of tea and turn on the space heater. It’s cold here and I love tea. I make tea throughout the day.
  • At my desk, I start up the computer, I doc my phone, and open Outlook (my library’s email client and calendar of choice). I also open FireFox and start with a list of “daily tabs” I have saved to open on each specific day. This means some sites I open first thing every day, others I open once a week. The tabs that I open every day of work include igoogle, google calendar (I push this content to my Outlook calendar), remember the milk, facebook, and google reader. Facebook and google reader only stay open for a few minutes. They’re just to check in, while igoogle, RTM, and my calendar stay open all day long.
  • Then I use my starred content in Google Reader or in Instapaper or in LaterLoop to open about 10 pages that I know I wanted to look at later. I leave these open all day so that if I’m stuck on hold for a few minutes or get to a meeting a bit early, I can read in the spare time that pops up. These pages tend to be library and technology focused.
  • I also open several programs: Evernote, chat, Twhirl (this keep Twitter and FriendFeed open all day), and iTunes.
  • I listen to podcasts almost all day. These vary depending on what’s in iTunes, but today included several from EDUCAUSE, IT Conversations, and NPR All Songs Considered.
  • I then take about 20 minutes to answer email that popped up overnight or lingered from the day before, skim the titles of things in my reader (and I star them if I want to actually read them later). This keeps me in the loop if something big happened the night before.
  • I go through my RTM list of tasks for the day, see what is work related, and create a loosely-based todo list schedule for the day. Sometimes it goes according to plan, others it falls apart, but at least it keeps the Most Important Tasks in the forefront of my mind.
  • This gets me caught up with what’s going on in the library technology world since the evening before, and normally is finished by 9:00am, when the real work begins.
  • I have two inboxes: one in Evernote and one that’s paper based. I’ll explain it in today’s post
  • I normally take an hour lunch. During the summer I get off campus for lunch as much as I can. In the fall, I might get off campus one or two days a week. During the fall I might also work at my desk through lunch a few days a week, too. It depends on what’s going on.
  • The last few minutes of my work day are always spent sending trying to clear out my email inbox to as close to 0 as I can get it.
  • I normally check email a few times when I’m at home, and try to respond to keep my inbox small for the morning. I try to read what’s in my reader at some point in the evening.

The Morning

  • I had heard about Cornell’s video widgets at ALA, and it sounded similar to something we’re doing, so I found them and watched a few. They’re similar, but different. Very interesting work going on with video!
  • I followed up with a few people that I made contact with at ALA: scheduled lunch with one, sent feedback on an ALA infrastructure issue to another, etc. I also responded to a blog comment on a post related to ALA. I normally do blog related tasks and writing at home, but since this was on something work sent me to do, I justified the 30 seconds.
  • With the new fiscal year, we can order again! I am the liaison for Women’s and Gender Studies. I had several book and movie requests, so I placed those orders (books through our online system, DVDs the old-fashioned, paper way). I also went through the approval slips that had come since the end of our ordering cycle. A lot had come! In this pass I just got rid of things that we definitely would not want to order, and loosely put them into subject groups.
  • Following up with the Emerging Leaders program, I wrote up a little article on my group’s work and experiences for the IFRT newsletter. I used Google Docs and added the other group members so that they could add or edit.
  • People were talking about Lively in FriendFeed, and it sounded like it might have potential applications in my work, so I spent 10 minutes poking around with it. It’s Google’s answer to Second Life, and looks like it has potential. It says that you can add your room to your site. That could be very interesting and possibly useful for virtual reference and instruction. One of my online friends added a YouTube video, too:

    I will have to spend more time with this later.
  • Then, I did my most dreaded task of the day: I went through my inboxes. This is normally a pretty quick task, but in the past month I was on vacation for just over a week, at ALA, was out sick for a day, and took a day of vacation to go on a family reunion. A lot of odds and ends pile up over such a long period of time! One inbox is a folder in Evernote. I send email notes and photos there as things come up, and the iPhone has a nice interface for when I’m away from the computer. A TON of things were in there. My other inbox is a tickler file. I don’t deal much with paper, so there isn’t too much in that, but several things were there since I’m just getting back into the swing of things.
    • If something would take 2 minutes or less to do, I just went ahead and did it.
    • If something was still a discrete task, but would take longer, I assigned it to a specific date.
    • If something was more complicated, I made it into a project and entered it into my project system.
  • The last thing I did before lunch was to look at the LITA IG Handbook and refreshed myself with that

The Afternoon

  • After lunch I conducted a quarterly review. I’m trying to get in the habit of this to keep better tabs on what I’m committed to. I use Evernote as my personal project management system, and went through the project categories and lists; documenting and deleting completed ones, removing projects that don’t make sense to complete any more, and assigning priority levels and dates to the ones in the system. I also added in all the obligations from this ALA conference. My goal is to have all the attainable projects completed by the next quarterly review. This review actually took some time as I have the habit of coming up with all kinds of possible projects and signing up for all kinds of opportunities. I’m learning to be more realistic about what is possible and how much I can actually achieve in a given period of time. Weeding through it all gave me a much better sense of what I’m doing and what I should be doing. I think it’ll also make for a productive quarter. If I can get all that I’ve planned for July done, it’ll be great!
  • From there I looked at everything due in July, and mapped it out on the calendar in order to be able to achieve it. Some goals are small such as replying to a specifically challenging email or getting in touch with someone and making a decision. Others are large, like the two chapters I have to write this month.
  • I also took about half an hour to help the reference graduate student figure out how to make Google Scholar work off-campus without VPN. Most of our students are traditional and on-campus, so it’s not a common question at the desk, but it was good to find an answer. There was still one thing we had a question about, so he’s going to try to replicate the problem at home and see it he can get it working.
  • And then, at the end of the day, I spent about an hour on email. This is unusually long period of time for me, but I only glanced at it a few times today, so I had a bunch to respond to, as well as a few complicated ones that took a page or more to answer. It was good to have the email inbox back at 0.

The Evening

  • John is training for an athletic event, which gave me a few minutes at home by myself. I still had two websites open from this morning, so I read them first.
  • I also typed this up.
  • The main work event of the evening is going to be an extracurricular one. I’m writing a chapter on Blended Learning for a book coming out next year, so I’m about to write more of my draft and polish what I had written. I don’t do this type of work at the office since it’s something beyond what’s in my job scope. I just keep my fingers crossed that it won’t take too much time at home!

So, that’s a day in my work life! As I said, I’m going to keep this up for a week. Tomorrow’s post will be shorter, I promise! There can’t possibly be too much to say after listing my morning routine in this one! :)

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