Library day in the life

This is my contribution to the Library day in the life –project (Round 8) through which librarians, students and other library-related staff share the events of their working day or week.


On 30.1.2012 at Oulu University of Applied Sciences Library of Music, Dance and Media, reported by Anu Liikanen, information specialist.

At 6:45 I drag myself up and get ready for work. The car is still super frozen despite the fact that it has been warmed up with a block heater for two hours. Then again, the morning temperature is -23 Celsius or -8 Fahrenheit, so it’s not really a surprise.

At 7:30 I arrive at work, and run the reports-script, which delivers all due-date notices, and prints listings on exceptions that were made in customer service on the previous opening day. I check the listings, and nothing unusual or urgent turns up. Then it’s time for my wake-up -tea, which is an absolute must during winter. I’m referring of course to the 6,5 hours of daylight, that we get in January on this latitude. The darkness (especially in the mornings =/ ) makes me feel like I should be hibernating like bears, frogs and other wise creatures, which don’t even try to function during the dark winter time. My solution is my special wake-up tea, and so far it has worked very nicely. 😉

During 7:45 – 8:30 I run through my emails (most of them are advertising or spam) and deal the urgent ones while sipping my morning tea. Today, I had one urgent customer email about our overdue charges, borrowing rights and how to lose them and other sanctions that we have so that our books don’t get forgotten or lost. I took my time writing the reply, since the message required a fair touch of diplomacy. =) Then I bite a quick snack, and off I go to the customer service desk.

At 8:30 it’s time to open the library. I make circles around the library snapping the check out -automat on, clicking the lights on, popping the customer computers on, ‘tsupping’ the information TV on and logging in to the customer computers and emptying the returns box. Then I notice that we have received several call slips AKA item requests, and I quickly browse through the shelves collecting them while customer computers boot.

Usually, the mornings tend to be a quiet time in our library, and so it is today as well. The church musician enters as soon as the doors are open, as she often does. She works briefly on one of our customer PCs and then asks for copies of sheet music. There is a singer, who had ordered a thesis from Sibelius Academy library as an interlibrary loan, who appreciates the thesis so much that he wants to copy the whole thing, since he is not allowed to take it home. There are a few members of staff that are reading the morning papers, and there is the technology student, who recently has spent a considerable amount of time in our reading places. I suppose it is, because our mornings are really very peaceful. I manage to catalog three new titles to our system before my shift ends at 11 am.

At 11.15 I’m back at my own desk. I’ve had a minor war going on against my cataloging pile for two weeks now, because November, December and a good half of January were very busy months with our new web site, information seeking tutorings, cataloging new theses and millions of other urgent tasks. In the beginning of January, my cataloging pile was actually quite impressive. Since there are still some titles to finish, and the mail brought some more, I continue with *surprise, surprise* cataloging. I usually listen to music or internet radio at the same time, which helps me to summon my “bubble” of solitude in a shared office.

At 12:20 I have my lunch. A colleague from the Library of engineering and the director of the library are in the kitchen as well, and we end up sharing some of our special customer service situations and some general feedback on the recently updated fees. A sandwich from the campus restaurant and a Mama’s shrimp-flavoured nudel soup make me and my stomach surprisingly pleased, and after a cup of coffee, it’s time to head back to customer service desk.

At 13:00 I’m at the customer service desk again. Normally, we have only one shift in customer service each, but today our third information specialist is having a day off, and so the two of us need to cover for her. I go back to my cataloging task. This time, the title is an old and prestigious work on journalism, which had been salvaged from a removals-shelf of the Library of engineering.

At 13:20 our network connections disappear with flashing lights and thus, I am stripped off all checking in and out tools, except for pen and paper and offline mode of our library system. I feel panic briefly (as I’m of the generation that has worked with internet since high school) and stand helpless for a few seconds, until I realize that I have plenty of work that doesn’t include computers. I organize all the returned books back to shelves, and then wrap a couple of new titles with book plastic. Those tasks are completely analog, and don’t include any kind of wires or typing or network connections. I’m like the librarians in the dark ages. =D When was that by the way? In the 80s?

At 14:15 network connection reappears. I use the rest of my idle desk time typing pen-and-paper -loanings and running the offline activity with a script to the system.

At 15:00 I hand over the desk to my colleague, who will take care of the last two hours of the day. The last 15 minutes of my working time I use checking my emails, and there actually is some, due to the black-out. As my last task, I check the school news from the intranet, so I will be at least partly aware of what’s going on in our UAS tomorrow as well.

At 15:15 I have an empty cataloging shelf and it’s time to go home. I’m very pleased that none of our new additions are lying around in the office, but are now available for loaning and browsing in the library. It’s such a shame, that whenever there are hectic times and tasks that need urgent attention, the cataloging task is always left behind to be dealt mañana or some other suitable time. I suppose we can’t help it. Anyway, the most important thing is that the new books and items end up available to our customers eventually. =) Besides, the process can actually be really very fast, when the titles are spesifically requested or reserved by our customers or they are known to be used as course books.

Such was the last Monday of my January 2012. Very peaceful day doing things that you would expect to do when working in library. Nowadays there are many other kinds of tasks as well, but it’s very nice that you still get to work with customers providing and locating for them the information that they need. After all, that’s why we are here. =)

P.S. Excuse me my hectic language and a-mile-long sentences. I didn’t quite have the time that I thought to polish it…

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