A Day in the Life: April 23

The YALSA blog recently started a series where Teen or Youth Services librarians write about a single day on the job (see the posts here and here). Abby the Librarian also does posts like this from time to time. I love these kind of posts. I like seeing how other librarians manage their work, how they balance the many tasks of youth services, what kinds of projects they’re working on, whether they work at a public service desk, and if so, how much of their day is spent there, who they meet with and why – there’s a lot you can learn by reading about a single day. Anyway, I like these posts so much that I decided to do my own, and I think it was surprisingly useful! It helped me think about how I use my time, when I waste it (see 8-9 p.m.) and why, and what I’m prioritizing.

What follow is a rundown of Tuesday, April 23 – a pretty typical day for me.

12:25 Arrive at the library. I’m on the evening shift today, so I have five minutes to check my mailbox, put my dinner in the fridge, and generally get ready for my day.

12:30-2 Reference Desk. Although my job title is Young Adult Librarian, I’m also a member of the reference team and I spent quite a bit of time each week staffing the reference desk. It’s close to the teen space, so it’s easy to jump up and pop in there if it looks like someone needs help or if I need to grab something. I spend the first 15 minutes (12:30-12:45) checking my email and touching base with the other librarian on desk. Today, everything is going smoothly, but if there have been any issues or there’s anything I need to know about, this is when she’ll fill me in. From 12:45 – 1, I post the trailers for the upcoming movie on the Teen Space Facebook page. I show a movie on a Friday after school once a month, and I let the teens pick one of four choices, so right now I’m finding trailers for all four choices, getting the posts ready to go on Hootsuite, and scheduling them to go up as the middle school crowd is arriving at the library.

For the next hour, I answer reference questions (Do we have When Doctors Don’t Listen? What’s the title of the newest Lisa Gardner book, and do we have it?) while working on a new teen volunteer program I’m starting this summer. We have teen volunteers at the library, but there’s not a formal process for hiring them. There’s a lot of demand for volunteer hours because the high school has a community service requirement for graduation (140 hours), so I’m hoping a more structured program will accommodate more teens and make it easier to keep track of projects. Around 1:30 I get up for a quick walk around the teen space; I hate sitting at my desk for long periods of time, and I like to check on the teen room at least once before school lets out. I pick up a few stray books, straighten some shelves, and fill a few holes in the new book display.

2:00-3:00 Website committee meeting. We were in the middle of a website re-design process when the previous director left last May. It’s been tabled since then, so I’m excited to get back to the project with our new director. Today, we mostly review what we’d done before and talk about how to move forward. I leave with homework: come up with a list of the most important things for the front page and find some good library websites to share.

3:00-4:15 Teen Space. When I started at this job, one of the first things I did was advocate for a desk in the Teen Space. Now I have one! It’s small – just enough space for the computer and a planner or binder for whatever I’m working on, but I think it’s important for me to sit in there. It facilitates a lot of interactions and relationship building and it (sometimes) helps keep the noise at bay. While I’m at the desk, I post a bunch of teen art to the teen space Tumblr, respond to a few emails, and help a patron hunt down a copy of Mockingjay – we end up only having it in large print, but she doesn’t mind.

4:15-5:30 Dinner break. It’s standard practice to tack one of our 15 minute breaks on to our dinner hour, and with a break that long, I’m able to go home, eat dinner with my husband and play with the dog before heading back to work. I listen to an audiobook for Amazing Audiobooks on my way home and back.

5:30-6:15 Reference Desk. During this shift, I do another walk-through of the teen room, picking up after the post-school day rush; I take down the current display and restock the display shelves with new books – there are lots of sequels and highly anticipated titles out lately and I want to be sure patrons see them. I also visit with another co-worker who’ll be covering the desk this evening; she usually works in technical services, so we don’t touch base all that often and it’s nice to check in with her.

6:15-6:30 set- up for Anime & manga club. Set-up for anime and manga club is pretty simple; I just need to turn on the computer and projector system, gather drawing supplies, and set out snacks.

6:30-8:00 Anime & manga club. Anime and manga club has been slowly dwindling from an all-time high attendance of 22 last October to just me and one kid last month. Tonight I have six, which is ok, but I’m putting the club on hiatus indefinitely – at least until fall. Still, this is a pretty good meeting. I buy Japanese snacks from the asian market in the next town over (tonight it’s Yan-Yan), we watch Death Note and Omomari Himari. One of the boys spends most of the program telling me about how he’s learning Japanese online and shows the group some vocaloid videos on YouTube. 

8:00-9:00 Reference desk. There’s almost no clean-up with anime and manga, so I’m back up at the reference desk a little after 8. The last hour of the day is always rough for me, productivity-wise. I read a couple of review blogs, check Twitter to see if anyone’s responded to a question I posted earlier about teen volunteers, and respond to an email from a volunteer who needs to leave early tomorrow. The 15-minute closing announcement goes off at 8:45 and the other librarian and I do a sweep of the building, picking up any stray books, noting how many patrons are still here and whether they look like they’re packing up. I always check in with any teens left in the building at this point to make sure they have a ride on the way. We have to be out of the building AT 9, so we try to gently encourage patrons to be getting ready to go. The second announcement goes off at 5 to 8, and at that point I ask anyone who’s still here to put away their things. All the staff are required to be out of the building at 9, per our union contract, and usually we’re pretty punctual. I head home for a snack and some audiobooks before bed.

And that’s it! Most of my days look kind of similar to this; I spent quite a bit of time (25-28 hours/week) staffing either the reference desk or the teen space, so I’m used to getting work done at the same time, but I have to admit that I’m much, much more productive during my precious off-desk time. I’m always curious to see how other librarians organize their days, so if you’ve written a similar post, let me know!

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