A day in the life of a Librarian
By: Megan Hodge
As an instruction librarian at a large research university, my schedule varies wildly depending on the time of the semester. A day could be made up entirely of teaching, consultations, and class prep, while a quieter time of the semester might involve spending a couple of hours on-call or staffing our chat reference service and tackling big, long-term projects such as assessment of a 120-section course.
In honor of National Library Workers Day (NLWD, #nlwd15), though, here’s what an average day might look like in April for this frontline librarian:
10-11am Read, file, and respond to email. Check in on Blackboard/WordPress for the 3 classes where the professors have made me a TA; post or follow up with students or professors as needed.
11am-noon Wikipedia edit-a-thon co-sponsored by Special Collections & Archives and the office of the Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success. Use the Dictionary of Virginia Biography to update Wikipedia’s entry on James Branch Cabell, the 20th century Richmond fantasy fiction writer who is our library’s namesake.
12-1pm Staff library’s chat/text reference service on LibraryH3lp. Answer questions such as, “Which library computers have Adobe Illustrator on them?”; “I need a PDF of the article Stress, sleep loss, and substance abuse create potent recipe for college depression” but can only find the HTML version”; and “I need sources that talk about the ethical and cultural aspects of international adoptions.”
1-1:30pm As the current ALA New Members Round Table president, I get CCed on all virtual correspondence related to the round table, including communications for all twenty-odd committees. Some issues that I’ve been working on lately include troubleshooting an online chat where the technology worked only sporadically, liaising between ALA leadership and an NMRT committee on developing a no-liability roommate finding service for ALA conferences, and transitioning our NMRT wiki over to the ALA website.
1:30-1:45pm Snatch a bite to eat and check out Yik Yak to see what students are saying about the library. This time of year, yaks are predominantly about how stressed/sleep-deprived students are, but I love this insight into the acronyms and quotidian thoughts of students. Today, students are opining that their day would be made if they could lock themselves in a library study room with a six-pack, venting frustration about people talking on the silent floor, and someone posted a PSA about an ice cream truck right outside the library.
1:45-2:30pm Check email; volunteer to represent library at university’s Preview Day for accepted students. Follow up on connections made at ACRL 2015 in Portland; request additional information from librarians whose posters were especially intriguing.
2:45-3:45pm Meet with colleagues about updating the library’s LibGuide on evaluating sources. We decide that my two colleagues will create hover maps for a couple different websites, and I will work on developing language for the guide’s landing page that will discuss why information ought to be evaluated and provide some tips for doing so, but without going into prescriptive detail as recent discussions on ili-l, the instruction librarian listserv, have convinced me that tools like the CRAAP test unrealistically simplify and dichotomize this process for students.
4-6pm Office hours in the Honors College. Help students with questions as diverse as finding research on ‘same fame syndrome’ in Disney heroines or cultural influences on the evolution of Irish dance technique and with citing photos of ads for Victorian sanitary towels posted without attribution on the internet.
6pm Drive home and think about how lucky I am to work at a library where my responsibilities and patron base are so diverse and collaborative. Tomorrow may very well look completely different!
Megan Hodge (@MLHodge) is a Teaching & Learning Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She earned her Master of Science in Library Science from the University of North Texas in 2010, and is the 2014-15 President of the American Library Association (ALA) New Members Round Table.
In 2011, she was an ALA Emerging Leader and co-founded the Virginia New Members Round Table. Her professional interests are instructional design, services for young/emerging adults, and library human resources.
She is a contributor to The Machiavellian Librarian: Willing Allies, Combating Budget Cuts, and Influencing Stakeholders