Return of A Day In a Life of a Librarian

Back in July, I participated in a web-wide librarian event entitled Library Day in the Life.  This event was created by the terrific librarian-blogger Bobbi Newman to allow people who work in libraries to share the great variety of work we do with students, patrons, and fellow librarians.  For more on what I do, check out my post from July.

A Day in the Life of an Information Lifecycle Management Assistant

  • wake up late after a rough night due to my son having frequent coughing fits.
  • once out of bed though, he seems alert and energetic so now it’s time to chase him down to get him to school.
  • my wife drives my son and I to the school.  He goes to the childrens’ center, I go to the library.
  • sort through my email and catch up on social media sites.
  • scan a few articles from Peter Kurilecz’s Records & Archives in the News (RAIN) update, but none of them seem worth in-depth reading today.
  • spend some time planning out tasks for the work week to come.
  • worked on a project to calculate the amount each administrative office at the school would pay for records storage (costs currently absorbed by the library).
  • lunch break:  the students are back so there are nearly no seats left in the cafeteria.  I’m able to sneak into a dark corner to eat my salad and write in my journal.
  • for one hour I’m on-call to page materials to the reading room from the stacks, but I’m not needed.
  • read articles from professional literature and blogs related to libraries, archives, records management and general news.  Tag some articles on Delicious.
  • place an order to retrieve a box of student records from offsite storage.
  • get a call from the Childrens Center that my son didn’t nap well due to coughing fits, and he’s a little warm but not feverish.
  • work on accessioning five boxes of videos which includes making a preliminary inventory, labeling & barcoding the boxes and preparing accession forms.
  • talk to wife on phone about coming to pick up me & our sick son on a miserable, rainy night.
  • close out day & head to the Childrens Center.
  • my “sick” son is cheerfully jumping up & down and playing with his friends.  As usual, he doesn’t want to go home.
  • supper, tubby time, bedtime for the boy & chores for me, and that was the day that was.

I think a lot of people are doing “A Week in the Life…” but for me I will end it there unless there’s some popular demand in the comments for more.

A Day in the Life of a Librarian

Librarians everywhere are signing up for the Library Day in the Life project as a way of showing what we do to fellow librarians, library school students, and anyone curious.  I missed out on this the last time it occurred so I definitely wanted to participate this year, especially since I’ve been looking for ways to kickstart the library content on this blog.

My position at my place of work (MPOW) is Information Lifecycle Management assistant.  The job title is not the most self-evident and in the year and one month I’ve been working in this position the responsibilities and definitions have shifted.  Basically, I work with people and records whether those records be active (records management) or permanent (archives).  My typical responsibilities involve accessioning records for storage or for archives, retrieving & returning boxes at the request of an administrative or faculty office, and answering reference questions related to archival material.

That scratches the surface, and hopefully this exercise will explain more.  With no further ado, I present…

A Day in the Life of an Information Lifecycle Management Assistant


  • wake up (late).  My son gets me up with zerberts and lots of giggling. Get ready for work.
  • My wife drives my son and I to the school.  He goes to the childrens’ center, I go to the library.
  • begin work day by checking emails, planning out tasks for the day and other administrative tasks.
  • check out Twitter and FriendFeed to see how my other library peeps are doing.
  • continue an ongoing reference project to learn about details of the lives of students from China who attended the school in its early years.  This involves reviewing registrar records, yearbooks, and alumni bulletins among other things.
  • at request from a faculty assistant, arrange to have boxes picked up and returned to offsite storage
  • prepare a student file for loan to the admissions office.
  • Lunch!  I eat a salad and read the Rex Libris graphic novel.
  • Spend an hour on-call to page materials from the stacks for patrons in the reading room.  Spend the time populating a spreadsheet for records storage stats and reading scholarly articles and blogs relevant to my job.
  • At request of my manager, I refile boxes related to a reference question we worked on last week.  Also photocopy a few pages of interest to the patron.  I cut my finger when trying to remove the staple.  Ouch!
  • Resume research on Chinese students.  Also work on a similar question about the school’s earliest research in India.
  • Close out my day of work.
  • Go to childrens’ center to pick up my son.
  • Take bus to public library.  I get teased for going to the library on my time off, but MPOW generally doesn’t specialize in stuff I’m interested in.
  • Ride subway home.  My son is inordinately fussy.
  • Relieved to get home, eat supper, put the boy to bed and go to bed myself.  Whew!

I’m glad to get that done.  Now I’ll have to find time to read what everyone else wrote.

On the brink with Twitter & FriendFeed

In my efforts to be more connected with the professional community at large in library world I’ve been a member of Twitter and FriendFeed for about a year.  I liked it at first reading other people’s thoughts and ideas, sharing my own, and seeing what news and links others posted that I might not have seen otherwise (or may have ignored until a critical mass all post the same story).

Lately, I’d not been feeling the vibe:

  • Too often I was reading a lot about the mundane daily life of people I don’t even really know.
  • Some of the people I follow can “tweet” an awful lot in a short amount of time.  I’m sure they’re wonderful people, but I don’t have time/patience to read all that.
  • Since I’ve been working in records management since last summer, even the library-related content wasn’t too relevant to me.
  • I admit that I’m egotistical enough that I’m miffed that people rarely respond to anything I post.  Even my comments on FriendFeed seem to be thread killers.

One day last week I came close to deleting my Twitter and FriendFeed accounts.  But then I decided, it’s probably not them.  It’s me.

So instead, I:

  • Un-followed some of the folks who I was finding were posting the mundane/overly-frequent content.  Again, wonderful people I’m sure, but I think if this is going to work for me I have to reconcile to the fact that a “follow” is not a binding contract.
  • Put my real name into my handle to make it more professional.  It was easier on Twitter where I’m now LiamTSullivan, but on FriendFeed I have hybrid real name/nick name liamothemts.
  • Since I’d not found many people in the RIM field on Twitter on my own, I asked for good people to follow on, where else, Twitter.  Since I’m also now an assistant to the archivist at my library I also asked for good archivists to follow on Twitter.  I got an excellent response with some good suggestions from some unexpected sources.  There’s even a blog post for 25 People All Archivists Must Follow on Twitter sent to me by my wife’s cousin.
  • I’m making a concerted effort to be more participatory myself, posting work-related stuff, and responding to others.  And I think it’s working.

And thus the story of my social media midlife crisis and how it’s been satisfactorily resolved.  Now if I can just get through all the people complaining about the redesign of Facebook.

PS – Feel free to follow me on Twitter and FriendFeed and tell me I’m being a pompous windbag if you so feel inclined.


I’m a Twit

So, I finally gave in and registered for Twitter even though I really do not understand the practical purpose of the tool. I mean I understand what it’s for – telling people what you’re up to at every minute of the day – I just don’t know what it does for a shy guy like me and especially what it does professionally. Yet, I read library blog after library blog hailing Twitter as a great social networking tool. So I caved and decided to give it a try. Don’t want to be classified as a troglodyte who’s afraid of change after all.

Long-time readers will recall that I went through the same process with Facebook last year. Even though I found some things that Facebook is good for (Susan compares it to collecting one’s friends like Hummels), and find it fun to play games with my friends, professionally I’ve done zilch. Seemingly the moment I was convinced to sign up with Facebook was when Facebook-backlash began. Now people frustrated with Facebook offer plaudits for Twitter instead. So maybe I can be ahead of the curve, or at least on the curve this time. So far I’ve found that Twitter is a good forum for writing Haiku and publishing Overheard-type comments. If you want to follow me you can find me at

Here’s a typical article Why Twitter Matters from iLibrarian.

library links for 19 February 2008

To start things off today a fun Sesame Street clip, “No Cookies in the Library” (via the new WorldCat Blog):

And now a couple of links about reading and writing:

Peter Brantley Lecture

The following are notes I took at a lecture I attended recently by Peter Brantley. The notes are a bit scattershot since Brantley spoke fast and I had trouble reading my own handwriting. I was impressed that he referred to a lot of current articles in his talk, so I’ve linked them where ever possible

DLF: What Rupert Could Tell Libraries

A lecture by Peter Brantley of the Digital Library Federation

Presented Jan. 24, 2008 at Harvard University

Generation Gap

Newspapers as a comparison point vs. libraries

  • Newspapers are similar to libraries in that they make information available and hold to higher standards and ideals unlike for-profit ventures
  • Newspaper ad revenue is plummeting, off line advertising is moving online, and the result is not good news for news
  • It’s hard to make money on online advertising
  • Three ways to build an online media business to $50m in revenue by Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Feb. 26, 2007
    • broad reach – To get to $50m in revenue you would need 50 billion pageviews in a year, or just over 4 billion per month
    • demographic targeting – To get to $50m in revenue you would need 10 billion pageviews in a year, or just over 800 million per month.
    • endemic advertising – To get to $50m in revenue you would need 2.5 billion pageviews in a year, or just over 200 million per month
  • Could the ‘Wall Street Journal’ go free? According to this data the WSJ would need to increase online traffic by 12 to offset loss
  • According to the New York Times: “The strategic challenge for newspapers is not cutting costs, but how to attract a larger share of online advertising and make money off the millions of people who read them free online.”
    • They Wish Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine?, Dec. 18, 2007
  • Newspapers are ignoring obvious opportunities to operate more efficiently
    • Example: The Tribune papers cut an Orland Sentinel reporter known for being the best writer on NASCAR in the nation. He now publishes a successful blog on his own. There’s no reason he couldn’t have done the same thing for Tribune and brought revenue and readership to the company’s websites and papers.
  • Your real competition by Ryan Sholin, Invisible Inkling, Jan. 11, 2008
    • The competition is the web, this is not the time to wave them off
  • Newspapers and libraries are part of a larger information landscape


  • Not good. Tragic. Staff cuts.
    • $23B zapped in news stock value by Alan Muter, Newsosaur, Jan. 1, 2008
    • Making Changes Sharon Waxman, WaxWord?, Jan. 10, 2008. Former Times reporter resigned to work exclusively on her blog. “To me, this is a very exciting time.”
  • The Search Party by Ken Auletta, The New Yorker, Jan. 19, 2008
    • The nature of media may change as libraries have
    • Eric Schmidt – internet allows users to consume media in a different way
  • Comparison of library metrics over the last generation
    • Reading room visits at Libary of Congress decreasing
    • ARL Reference Queries decreasing
    • Circulation decreasing
    • ILL requests increasing (people are borrowing more books because they can see more books)

What would Rupert Say to libraries?

  • Kick butt with warm, fuzzy internet spaces and new media centers
    • Gathering spaces for studey and group work
  • Outsource redundancy:
    • relocate library contract specialists to campus business service
    • other organizations catalog books and things so you don’t have to
    • build things that will advance core values

Core Values

  1. Making information publicly accessible
  2. Preserving a record of past and present
    • No one else will do these things

Libraries must now strut our stuff

  1. Help put education in the heads of those learning
  2. Assist scientists in the discovery of our world
    • Both are really about a new sensitivity to data
  • Intervene with simplicity
  • Embrace the unexpected
    • Example The de Havilland Mosquito, a WWII bomber that excelled when all the weaponry was stripped off so that the plane was faster than anything in the sky
    • Lesson: there is something to be gained by simplicity as opposed to complexity
    • Example: Use tags instead of complex metadata (although Brantley added that “good core metadata is important” when questioned on this)

Libraries Suck at Change

library links of the day

I’m so far behind on these “of the day” posts.  I’ll start this one off with a fun clip from the Star Trek animated series:

via Librarian In Black

And now the links, focusing mainly on Library 2.0, library humor, and all of the above.

Library Links of the Day for 22 January 2008

Library Links of the Day for 11 January 2008

  • On being in bed with Google by Paul Courant (Au Courant, 11/4/07) – a response to the criticism of the University of Michigan Libraries collaboration with the Google Book Project. Some of my earlier posts on this topic include Boston Athenaeum Lecture Series: Libraries and Copyright and Library Trick or Treat.
  • Pew Internet & American Life Study has prompted numerous responses
    • Networking with the 20s and 30s (Library Stream, 1/3/08) – as a positive response to the report, suggestions for ways to market the library to people in their 20’s & 30’s (I was going to say Young Adults, but that means something else in library-land).
  • Another controversial topic is library book weeding, such as this article in the the December issue of AHA Perspectives by James W. Cortada: Save the Books! and in the Washington Post Hello, Grisham — So Long, Hemingway? by Lisa Reins (1/2/08). It seems to indicate that libraries have not been as effective as we like in pr since Nicholson Baker’s Doublefold was released, and the general public is still under informed about what libraries can and cannot collect. For example, if there’s to be a collection of every computer book ever published just in case, why aren’t the publishers pressured to keep in archive instead of criticizing libraries for not keeping every single book? :
    • But where do we keep the stuff? (Required Field Must Be Left Blank, 1/6/08) – As always for librarians it comes down to the justifying choices based on space and budget allowances: “Maybe Cortado can make a donation to a university that’s long had a strong computer science program – so they can use those funds to process and house these items. I can’t justify keeping much of it where I work.”
    • Does Library Book Weeding Lead To Less Student Reading (The Kept-Up Academic Librarian, 1/7/08) – this actually connects weeding back to the popularity of libraries described by the Pew study.
    • There’s also good discussion of this issue on the January 9 podcast of Uncontrolled Vocabulary, which includes the following great quote:
      • “I kind of think of Interlibrary Loan as facilitating the long tail of libraries.”
  • Whaddya do with LibraryThing? (Librarian in Black, 1/3/08) – what do I do with LibraryThing? I started an account ages ago but despite good intentions haven’t done much with it since. Here a some good suggestions for libraries at least.
  • Two articles show the financial benefit of libraries:
  • Links du Jour (Random Musings from the Desert, 1/9/08) – not content in making lists of links on my own, here’s a list of another librarian’s library-related links (including one that finishes with the magnificent sentence “I’m an eating, shitting, drinking, fucking, librarian… I’m not proud, I’m real.”

Library Links of the Day for 27 December 2007

I’m on holiday break thanks to my union so I’m not thinking too much about library work right now, but here are three interesting stories I’ve culled just for you!