My Library Day In the Life

my office
my office

Yay! It’s Library Day in the Life time again! I am a big supporter of this project. I think something like this, while I was in graduate school, would have helped me think a bit more about the different types of work in the field and what I might want to end up doing.

In the past, I’ve tried to do a post per day for a week, but this year I’m just going to post about today. It’s a fairly typical Monday, so I don’t think you’re missing out on anything. 😉

Up and at ’em!

I often check email before getting out of bed. I’m really, really not a morning person, but seeing what emails are waiting for me in the office often gets me motivated enough to get on up. Today I had an email about my annual review letter needing a slight modification. Since I wrote it on my Mac using Pages, I had to get that fixed before coming in, so the workday started a bit earlier than normal, with a cat by my side. Once the letter was updated, PDFed, and emailed in, I headed on into work.

First things first

Monday mornings kick off with a 9:00am technology meeting. I’m part of my library’s Reference, Instruction, and Technology Services team. I report through technology, but am a “bridge” position to reference and instruction. The reference meeting happens later in the day.

To get ready for the technology meeting, I have to have a solid list of what’s on my agenda for the week, so I started up with checking my email, calendar, Remember the Milk, saved Twitter searches, and Facebook. I put things on the calendar that needed to be there but hadn’t been there yet.

Then I ran by Starbucks on the way to my meeting. My nutritionist would like to see bigger weight gain, so I grabbed a few things to get me through the morning. Once in the meeting, we had a round-robin of what everyone had on tap for the week and shared any relevant information across the group.

Email and lunch

I was out for Midwinter for a few days, then in the office, then my sister had a baby(!!!), so though I’ve been on top of what needed doing, I still have a lot that was piling up in my inbox. I spent the next few hours working on that and taking a lunch break. Sometimes (like most people) I get a little frustrated that it feels like I spend more hours dealing with email than anything else. However, I’ve started to batch process them according to topic, and now it feels like I spent an hour of that email time on instruction related communication, about half an hour on responding to specific requests people had of me (a meeting with a new faculty member to share information about what I can do for her, scheduling a one-shot session on the whys and hows of podcasting, agreeing to review an article for a journal), etc. So though that time was all about email, it feels like it was about specific tasks.

Getting to know reference

The Monday afternoon reference meeting is primarily about switching scheduled shifts. For example, I have a class that will meet during my reference shift, so this was the meeting where others volunteered to take that slot. Then we do something similar to round robin if there’s big news, and we get news about the team from the assistant director and director. I sometimes linger after this meeting to chat with the reference folks since this might be the only time during the week that I see them, but I had enough catching up to do that I scuttled back to my office.


We’re quickly approaching our deadline for ordering monographs, so I put in a big order for one of my departments, Women’s and Gender Studies. I’d had the list of likely titles for a while, but had a few other things to check on before placing the order. Gobi (the site we use to place orders), for me, was exceedingly slow, so while I waited for various pages to load I scanned/read the most recent issues of American Libraries and College & Research Libraries News. I also checked out the American Libraries website to bookmark a few articles I’d like to read in further detail later. That website is AWESOME. Sean Fitzpatrick has completely rocked it out.

Staff development planning

This year, I’m the chair of my library’s staff development committee. The committee organizes some library-specific staff development opportunities, and I make sure our system includes other staff development opportunities that people are offering to larger audiences. We ended last semester with several things in a row, and I haven’t been pushing as hard this month since we’re all getting back in the swing of things. However, we’re getting into the semester, so I wanted to get in touch with the group to see if we needed to meet in person to ready all the upcoming events (including topics like grant writing, stress management, a tour of art in the library, and a fieldtrip).

Gearing up for tomorrow’s classes

I have three classes scheduled for tomorrow, so I spent some time getting ready for each of them:


On tap for tomorrow: MLA and APA citations. We’re going to focus on finding resources from citations, the differences between MLA and APA, and using Zotero.
I’ve taught this same series of lessons as part of one class before, so wasn’t too much planning. I mostly modified the worksheet I have used in the past and refamiliarized myself with the highlights I want to hit. I also needed to set up Thursday’s class so that I could assign the homework to prepare for that lesson as well.

Podcasting for advanced exercise physiology:

Again, I do this type of session fairly regularly, so I found a handout I’ve used in the past, modified it a bit, tested the software on my computer, and ran through the basic demonstrations.

FYS on information ethics:

This will basically be a lab. I taught a session for this class last Thursday, and will be present to help with research tomorrow. There are several groups, and I’ll be walking around to help as needed.

Dossier work

As mentioned previously, I’m up for promotion next fall, but need to work on my dossier now since I’ll be out this summer. I started working on this over the holiday, and realized that to really do it the way I want to do it (and make sure I have accurate and complete information in my CV, dossier notebook, cv website, and institutional reporting system), it’s going to take the full semester. Today’s tasks were: updating the CV for consistent formatting (still need to correct a bunch of dates) and finish adding things to my notebook that I have in my office. I made good headway on the CV part, but the notebook will have to happen later this week.

Always online

I was also online for most of the day, monitoring Twitter, making sure the post I wrote last week showed up on ALA Learning when it was scheduled (as well as the one scheduled to post here to point back to the ALA Learning one), blogging last week’s field trip for my work’s professional development blog, and generally just trying to keep up with information as it showed up.

And now that it’s 5:30 I’m headed home. I used to take a lot back with me, but since I know I won’t have that luxury in the fall, I’m trying to leave more in the office and just be (even more) effective with my time. So, though I’ll do a little email this evening, it won’t be anything like what I was taking home last year at this time.

So that’s my library day in the life! What’s yours like?

My name is Lauren Pressley. This is where I think out loud, document what I'm doing, and share the things that I like. I'm the Director for Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries and author of a few books. This blog focuses on libraries, education, information, & the internet. When not at work or blogging, I spend most of my time with John and our son, Leif.

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