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Reflections on Library Day in the Life Project

This week I participated in Librarydayinthelife Project for the first time, recording my daily activities and posting them here on my blog.

The challenging part was remembering to record things as they happen and finding time at the end of the day to write everything up and post.

The week I recorded was both typical and atypical. I don’t have a set structure to my work, other than a few recurring meetings and my Information Desk schedule. Everything else changes as priorities change: classes get scheduled, other meetings, reference work for students (urgent).

After a year and a half in my position, I still need a lot of time to prepare for classes. This is good (I know I offer the best session I can) and bad (time consuming, especially during busy weeks). I also find I need downtime after a class to digest what just happened. I think it will help for me to actually schedule this time for myself to stop feeling like I’m ‘wasting’ time.

I let projects fall by the wayside and can end up spending a whole week taking care of issues as they arise instead of tackling long awaited tasks. I will schedule time to review my performance/annual goals on a monthly basis and commit the time to those projects. A librarian I met claimed to schedule a day per project in her week. This seemed luxiourious. Though I don’t have a whole day per week for each project, scheduling even half an hour to think about my long-term projects should make a difference.

I let things I cannot control affect my mood. My Tuesday’s class went so well I was ecstatic and inspired. My Thursday’s class (where no one showed up, in another city) left me drained and upset for the rest of the day. I tried to just move on to my other tasks. I should have taken the time to think about what happened.

Overall, it was enlightening to see the break down of my week. My New Year’s Resolutions included taking an hour long lunch break and leaving work on time to go to the gym. I’m doing pretty well with this so far. It’s made me more efficient at work, but sometimes  I feel like I should be doing more.


Library Day in the Life, Day 5

Last day in LibrarydayintheLife

Leigh Cunningham, Collections and Instruction Librarian, Medicine Hat College, Alberta, Canada

Follow-up to yesterday: I was also sad about this article 45% Of Students Don’t Learn Much In College

7:45 Arrive at work. Roads weren’t too bad, but everything will ice over today and ‘heavy snow’ in forecast for this afternoon.


Start working through piles on my desk that I decided to leave yesterday. Feeling better as I get organized. Make my way through the piles of potential weeds on my desk. Make list of things I *must* do today and this relieves pressure from my entire to-do list. Figure out what can wait until Monday. Answer some email.

Other librarian off again today (director still away, too). Reschedule reference desk hours. Other staff step in to cover shifts = awesome.


Post February shelving schedule for my student assistants and deal with wacky timesheet issue. Respond to request to be shelver’s reference in her summer job search (aww). Distribute posters throughout the college (help from co-worker = awesome). Organize our weekly staff trivia game. Each week I ask a question (weirdest food you’ve eaten, favourite movie) and the answers are compiled into a matching quiz. We have a monthly prize. It’s been a very successful social committee initiative and provides great water cooler fodder.


Work on reference question for distance education student.


Reference Desk shift: helping students with microfilm reader (always a blast) – they get an assignment where they have to find the headline from the day they were born in Medicine Hat News. Student responses to microfilm: “cool”. Other scavenger hunt items: first female member of parliament and date someone won a Nobel Prize. Put up Info Desk display for OBOC. Decide on dates for upcoming social committee events.

1:00-1:30 Lunch, reading UsWeekly


Prepare for meeting with psychology instructor.


Meet with psychology instructor regarding 3 different upcoming classes (5 sessions) for her students: Abnormal Psychology: Finding & critiquing peer-reviewed articles; Social Psychology: Writing a research proposal; Education Psychology: Researching theories &synopsis writing.


Tidy up and decide what to bring home for the weekend.

4:00 Leave work for hair appointment.


Library Day in the Life, Day 4

Day 4, LibrarydayintheLife Project

Leigh Cunningham, Collections and Instruction Librarian, Medicine Hat College, Alberta, Canada


8:30 Arrive at work.


Email. Finish preparation for class today and preparation for weeding at Brooks Campus. Answer reference question from Distance Ed. Student (drug prevention programs for grade 1).


Travel from Medicine Hat to Brooks, AB


Meet with staff at Brooks library


Offer drop in Study Skills workshop on APA and MLA formatting. Sadly, no one shows up. Feeling dejected.


Eat lunch on the run and travel back to Medicine Hat


Chair Social Committee Meeting. We’re going to see the Medicine Hat production of Evil Dead: The Musical.

3:30-4:15 Reference Desk Shift

Help a student cite something from a PowerPoint slide in Blackboard. I conclude that the instructor has incorrectly cited criteria from the DSM-IV and we end up not being able to find the criteria listed on the instructor’s slides in the actual manual. Great. Send student away with a cobbled together APA citation. Bring the DSM back to my office to find the correct info.


Feeling dejected and defeated. My desk is piled with papers. Do I tackle the pile or just head home for the day?

Library Day in the Life, Day 3

Day 3, Library Day In the Life Project

Leigh Cunningham, Collections and Instruction Librarian, Medicine Hat College, Alberta, Canada

Sleep in a little bit instead of going to the gym. It’s 5 degrees out! Plus, for the first time we are having snow removed from my building’s parking lot.

9:30am Arrive at work. Learn that there is a fireplace in the newly constructed wing of the college, but my hopes are dashed when I hear it doesn’t emit heat.

Phone call with coordinator of the B.Ed. program regarding some nutrition lesson plans I sent her. Discussion over printing out vs. cataloguing online resources….


Prepare for class at other campus tomorrow (Brooks, Alberta – about 1 hour drive on the Transcanada, but treacherous if bad conditions). A little concerned that I haven’t received any answers from the coordinator of the session. Check weather forecast and road reports. Since I will be at Brooks, I contact library clerks there to let them know I’ll be visiting in the morning and prepare weeding project for their collection. Consider what I have to finish before Friday since I’ll be out of the office tomorrow.

Revise press release for OBOC for campus-wide posting – always makes me nervous I have a typo when something is going out to everyone!

Get called out to help a student in the computer lab – CPU is falling off the wheeled holder due to missing screws. Call facilities to fix. Fix paper jam in the printer while I’m out there. There’s always tonnes of printing before 11:00 classes.


Information Services (Reference Desk Staff) Meeting: review of our new email form service, more discussion on database cutbacks, review of ebrary collection, discussion on upcoming visit of junior high school students to the library (aww), ongoing noise and wireless issues.


Lunch. And fire drill. Because it’s a beautiful day, I guess. It’s always fun kicking students out of the library – they move soooo slooowly.


Answer emails. Look at my big to-do list for the year (ending July 2011) – progress is pretty good. Unfortunately, what I’m leaving to the end is “develop collection management plan”. Perhaps I should schedule some time to work on that?!


Ran reports and prepared mailings for Distance Education students enrolled for February.

Ventured into the stacks to find books on “informed consent” and got side-tracked when I found nursing legal resources from the 80’s – yikes! Brought them back to check for newer editions.


Services to Students Meeting (Student Services, Registration, Library, and reps from Student Association). Pizza is served as incentive to get the students to attend. Library related topics: more Macs on campus, more outlets for laptops in library, improve wireless internet access.

6:15 Head home. Here’s hoping my parking space is snow-free when I arrive!

Library Day in the Life, Day 2

Day 2 of Library Day in the Life.

Leigh Cunningham, Collections and Instruction Librarian, Medicine Hat College, Alberta, Canada

Got to sleep in a little bit then went to the gym. Working a late shift due to an evening research class.

10:45 Arrive at work.

Check email. Director is on holidays and other librarian is off sick today, so I’m in charge.


Reference Desk shift. Lots of problems with wireless internet, helped students visiting from China, emptied the hole punch receptacle in the printer. Answered some email. Some collection development for chemistry.


Talked about (ongoing) personnel issues with Circulation Supervisor.


Talked with co-worker about books we are reading.


Scheduled library classes for February, and scheduled a meeting with the instructor for Friday afternoon.


Respond to emails/email backlog, review press release for OBOC, update OBOC website and reading list.


Late lunch. Catching up on facebook, personal email and news.


Collection development in sciences. Emails. Preparation for class on Thursday.


2 hour library research class for first year psychology students. This is one of my favourite classes (I’ve taught it twice before for same instructor) because I have lots of time for hands-on work and really getting students to think about their topics beyond just ‘anorexia’ or ‘sport psychology’. 24 students showed up and we had a great session with lots of fun topics: dream interpretation, impact of shift work, PTSD in paramedics. It’s so nice to have an attentive and engaged class (especially an evening class). Instructor asks me if I’d be willing to review her APA style for her PhD thesis (hmm…).


Spend some time talking to my student assistant and the evening shift coworkers.

8:30pm Leave office for home.

Library Day in the Life, Day 1

I will be participating for the first time in Library Day in the Life. My days and weeks vary greatly, so this will be a snapshot. Last week was particularly busy, so this week is a bit slower, thankfully. I am an academic librarian in a rural college of 2500 FLE. I’ve been here just over one and a half years, having moved upon graduation from library school in 2009. One thing I’m curious about is how much time I spend on “urgent/non-important” tasks compared to tasks aligned with my performance goals/projects “non-urgent/important”.

Leigh Cunningham, Collections and Instruction Librarian, Medicine Hat College, Alberta, Canada

Today was not a typical day, as I didn’t have anything scheduled in my calendar today. I spent most of the day taking care of the backlog in my inbox and making arrangements for the rest of the week.

8:15 Arrive at work


Respond to email and organize calendar for the week. Send out agenda for meeting I’m chairing on Thursday afternoon. Confirm travel arrangements for Thursday. I will be heading to other campus to teach a library session as part of a Study Skills workshop. Look into report that streaming media is being blocked on library computers. Switched shift with Director, so I will be working a reference desk shift today after all!  Find out that manager at regional library system is leaving. Help coordinate last minute farewell lunch.


Respond to book suggestions for annual One Book One Community (OBOC) Event and communicate with committee and volunteers. Question our criteria for paperback status and what makes a “Canadian” writer.


Coordinate with faculty regarding upcoming library sessions in February. More email.


Review presentation for psychology library research class tomorrow evening. Print handouts, gather materials.

12:00- 12:30

Reply to a few more emails.


Lunch and reading Cool Water by Dianne Warren, a possible contender for OBOC.


More discussion about upcoming research class with Information Literacy coordinator. Looked up books in our collection on informed consent for possible psychology research session. Get OBOC posters approved by College Advancement department for posting on campus. While I’m at it, I’ll put up some posters for a public library event.


Some collection development  for education area.

Uploaded photos from staff get-together to Sharepoint.

Get confirmation from instructor about joining an upstart creative writing club on campus.


Reference Desk Shift: spent 20 minutes with a new student orienting her to the business databases. Handled a noise complaint from a student. Fairly quiet shift – got some collection development in too. Normally, the desk is too busy to even check email.


Discuss noise issues (again) with other managers.

4:30 Leave office