Category Archives: LibraryDayInTheLife

Director’s Day in the Life: working from home

I used to do these regularly, when Library Day In The Life was a thing. I sort of liked it; it’s interesting to see, in a really clear way, what I do all day. Yesterday I worked from home for most of the day, for personal reasons related to tired-pregnant-joint-problems. It also happens that I hear from a variety of librarians that they work for library administrators who don’t “like” or “approve” or “support” working from locations other than the libraries.

To which I say, “Why not?”

In my experience, offering library staff the freedom to intermittently do their work in the way they see fit isn’t a detriment to productivity, to collegiality, to collaboration, or to accountability. On the flipside, forcing attendance at the library can result in more paid time off being used, in lowered productivity from people who could have been more effective in a different environment, and some serious crushing of morale when the administration is perceived as being inflexible and unsympathetic.

In my case, yesterday, I had a bad backache, and I knew that sitting in my office wasn’t going to help. I had my laptop, I have a home office with a loveseat in it, and I had no meetings scheduled until 2 pm. So I worked, comfortably arranged on pillows, until 1:00, had lunch, and then came to campus for my obligations. I was in touch with various staff members via email all day. I was, in point of fact, more available than on days in which I’m in meetings for 8 hours straight, but am technically “at work” because I’m on campus behind closed doors.

So what does a Director do when she works from home? Well, on this particular day, I:

  • Settled into the loveseat and pillow mountain around 9 with my laptop, iPad, phone, and a fruit smoothie.
  • Finished updating my Macbook Pro to Mavericks, updated Keynote, and set all other apps to update later while I eat lunch, because stop trying to turn iTunes off, I’m listening to that. (In case anyone cares, Kings of Leon, Only By The Night)
  • Composed, proofread, and sent an email to SAGE as part of our ongoing negotiations and discussion, and posted an excerpt here.
  • Responded to a meeting request from the Secondary Ed department.
  • Tidied up my calendar around some professional travel that’s upcoming in early December, and exchanged emails with a few staff members about ongoing operational things, ranging from HR paperwork to timesheets to setting up our end-of-semester Stressbusters for students.
  • Sent emails and stored records re: some honorarium reporting/State ethics requirements, and the Research Foundation re: Conflict of Interest forms for the grants on which I am PI.
  • Composed, proofread, and sent an email to SUNY admin about the proposed and under-development OneBib project.
  • Wrote a draft of a save-the-date for a new January faculty open house, and sent it to the library staff team working on the project for review and feedback.
  • Replied to, digitally signed, and approved travel paperwork requests from library staff.
  • Reviewed and approved the 2014-2016 undergrad catalog copy re: libraries.
  • Confirmed who of our librarians is attending the SUNY Council of Library Directors OpenSUNY Summit, and checked on registration from other SUNY libraries in preparation for a 12:00 conference call.
  • Confirmed via email that I was on the agenda to talk to the Student Government Association at 5, and so needed to brush up on the numbers I was presenting to them.
  • Took a 1 hour conference call about setting the agenda, approach, and objectives for the SCLD Open SUNY Summit on December 5.
  • Reheated some lunch, talked to my husband while he played with the dog outside for 15 minutes, and then gathered info for my afternoon meetings, and headed to campus.
  • Met with the Provost for an hour, discussing ongoing library stuffs.
  • Prepped for my evening appointment with the SGA, and started reading proposals regarding General Education revisions that will impact campus Information Literacy goals and expectations.
  • Left campus for an hour to go to the chiropractor.
  • Came back and met with the SGA, spending 30 minutes half listening to students debate a new career/internship fee, half reading more proposed revisions to the general education program, then making my pitch for $7,000 in one-time funding to augment the $20,000 commitment the Libraries have made to updating our computer lab furniture before January.

And then I went home again, arriving around 6:30.

So. Yes, I could have done much of that in my office, if not all of it. But I can clearly and fully say I would have done less of it, because my physical discomfort would have led to a reduction in productivity — either because I would have gotten cranky, or because I would need to stop and take breaks to get up and move around more often, or because I couldn’t focus through the pain. Instead, I was able to do what needed doing, comfortably and effectively.

That’s all true because I work for an institution that trusts us to do our jobs. I work hard to pass that trust down the hierarchy, working within our union strictures to give everyone the freedom to do their jobs well and in ways that work for them. I wish more of my peers did the same.

Library Day In The Life: Oh, dear god, Monday

Mondays are not my favorites. I very much reset my patterns over the weekend, because I very much don’t want to live every day of my life like it’s a weekday, and so it’s difficult to get back into the swing on Monday. Today I chose to prioritize getting an extra hour of sleep, working out, and prepping meals over getting to work “on time”. Also, it’s snowing: A winter weather advisory is in place, and we’ll have 4-6 fresh inches of snow by the end of the day.

10:00: Arrive campus to see a horde of students (well, maybe 30) walking en masse from the art building toward the library across the otherwise empty and snowy quad. Fire alarm! Come to the library! We have coffee and not-snowing-on-you! This also meant spending 5 minutes talking to my friend Amy, who runs our painting program, which was lovely. Dinner plans were made for later this week. Then I tackled my email, making my day’s to-do list, and figuring out my calendar for the day and week. Also, made a cup of coffee, because though I made breakfast and drank a lot of water post-workout, I hadn’t caffeinated.

11:10: Walk across campus (still snowing!) to a meeting in which I get to grill a job candidate in our campus budget office with questions about collegiality, accuracy, collaboration, and the gray area between State rules and campus needs. Follow it up with an impromptu 45 minute conversation with the head of our Physical Plant about the state of SUNY’s construction budget (ie, as of right now, based on Cuomo’s announced budget, there isn’t one) and what that means for potential renovations to our main library. In short, campus goodwill is strong. Budgets are weak. Reality will be somewhere in the middle.

12:30: Return to my office (still snowing!) and take 40 minutes to eat my lunch and check in on the personal side of the internet. Friendfeed, Facebook, my Gmail, and making a quick purchase on Amazon.

1:15: Focus on my to-do list.

  1. Send faculty newsletter to Provost for all-faculty email approval.
  2. Go through all flagged and new emails and either Do or Record on the running to-do list. This list includes some stuff about a departmental self-study, bicentennial tasks, emails re: a mess I accidentally created in Collection Development by deleting what I thought was an extraneous gmail account of mine, a possible new internship in ILL, and communicating re: the disposition of furniture leaving librarian offices after our new furniture was delivered earlier this month. Also: saving and flagging an email with login instructions for a NYLA webinar I purchased for us to watch later this week, scheduling myself to meet our new Technology Help Desk students tomorrow evening, doing the annual Violence in the Workplace training HR mandates (the answer to all questions, FYI, is always always always “safely call University Police”), talking via email with the librarians about a Filemaker database of early periodicals that campus computing really wants us to retire, communicating about next steps on our shared cataloging project with SUNY Canton, and more.
  3. Finish the IRB application and send off. (so…. close…. maybe by 6?)
  4. Sort current to-do tasks onto days in this week, and allocate time around existing meetings. (Done!)

I paused at 3 to write this. I was going to leave at 3:30, burning half a sick day, to go to a massage scheduled for 4, but my massage therapist and I decided the weather is terrible (still snowing!) and that postponing until next week was smarter, since she lives 10 miles out of town and would want to shovel the drive before I got there, and then I’d have to drive back in freezing rain, thus undoing all the good work of the massage… So I’m still here, working until about 6 before heading home for Productivity Round 2. Tonight the plan is to pay bills, call my mom, make dinner, and work on the last details for my workshops for Australia, and maybe do some finalizing of social and vacation plans for that trip. Since, y’know, we leave IN A WEEK OMFG.

Also, to bed early if I can manage it. Going to try.

Library Day In The Life: FRIDAY

So, last night I stayed up too late, but I did what I needed to do: exercised, worked on workshop content, and ate all the Pad Thai. In bed around midnight.

Which meant I (a woman who needs 8-10 hours of sleep to feel healthy) had a rough morning, following on several nights of not sleeping enough. I ignored all the alarms, then finally got up, showered, and got dressed. My rule is that the Director of Libraries gets to wear jeans on Fridays during the school year, so sweater/jeans/Danskos it is. Of course, no one but me really cares what I wear, or when, but I try to play my part appropriately most of the time… and I wear jeans on Fridays. Then, since neither Justin nor I have made it to the grocery store to do comprehensive shopping (beyond “we’re out of milk and bananas”) in what seems like weeks, I stopped for a bagel again. I usually do that twice a month, or so, and I’ve now done it twice in 2 days. Oops.

9:30: Arrive at my office. Hook up my laptop, get a cold Diet Coke (thank you, yesterday’s to-do list!), and sign a few invoices waiting for me. Chat with Angie about work and non-work stuff. Sit down at my desk, sort my mail, plug in my iPad to charge, and start digging through my email. Approve a few timesheets online, and update my own. Check over my calendar for today and next week to make sure I’m thinking clearly about any looming deadlines. Make a plan for my day.

10:30: Start on the to-do list for today:

  1. Post and official-ize the pilot project stuff from Wednesday.
  2. Draft a plan for and communicate to staff about our cloud storage reorganization this spring. (Our shared drives are out of control.)
  3. Eat something at lunchtime-ish.
  4. Finish everything that’s finishable on the IRB app and, if possible send it off. (got partway done. so… close…)
  5. If there is still time, work on the ACRL/NCES stats.

I got 1 and 2 done with little hassle, and then got derailed into handling some personnel details about timesheets and reappointment processes, stepping in to triage a printing problem and talk to campus IT since our in-house IT guy is out sick today, sending a few tickets to our in-house IT and web staff about two VPN problems I had last night, and beating my head against the wall trying to make sense out of our State and campus budgeting processes. All were straightened out to the best of our collective abilities in the moment, and I moved on to lunchtimeish. (Yogurt and Terra chips from the library cafe. Three cheers for the library cafe.) I also did a bunch on 4, and it’s really close to done, just waiting for some feedback. Monday, I hope? Monday is also the hope for … well, a bunch of stuff. I had a lot of (good, meaningful) interruptions this afternoon to discuss various and sundry library stuff. So not so much on the task work, but good on the “useful” front.

3:00: I am burning a few hours of vacation and getting out of here at 3ish today, because we’re driving down to Laurens, NY to visit some friends of ours for a joint birthday celebration (mine and our friend’s) and meet their infant son. And play some games. We haven’t decided yet if it’s our ongoing Burning Wheel campaign or something else, but we’ll have fun no matter what we do. Good friends work like that.

And so. I’ll be back with Monday and Tuesday on Monday and Tuesday. Happy weekend, y’all.

Library Day In The Life: Thursday, Thursday

My virtuous plans of working for a few hours last night turned into “play FieldRunners2 on the iPad and talk to Justin about life, the universe, and everything”. I was asleep by midnight, but just barely. Ah, well. Today’s another day…

7:00: Ignore first alarm.

7:45: Reluctantly get out of bed.

9:00: Stop at the Bagelry for my standard: Everything bagel, toasted, with jalapeno cream cheese. Arrive work 9:20. Deal with my email and triage my to-do list for today. Handle the details resulting from a staff member’s unexpected two day absence today and tomorrow, share info from yesterday’s meetings with my secretary, talk through another order/invoice issue with her. Take today’s daily photo.

10:05: Go get a double cappuccino from the library cafe on the way to my 10:00 meeting with the AVP for IT. Find out that he’s double-booked, and agree to walk with him as he goes to the other thing he’s supposed to be doing. We walk and talk, and I cheerfully add my peanut gallery commentary to two discussions about IT deployment in the student union. Back to his office for our 11:00 conference call, which, we both failed to note, had been cancelled in early January, so we instead sit down and go over all of the IT goals for the campus as a way of making sure I have a solid framework understanding of our shared work — related to libraries, to faculty technology, and to shared services.

1:00: Return to my office, eat a Kind almond and coconut bar and open a warm Diet Coke because I fail at putting things in the refrigerator. Consider my to-do list. Decide on:

  1. Deal with my email, both new and flagged messages. This included calling a faculty member about using our seminar room for his Honors history survey class, replying to another email about a departmental self-study and their need for stats on library support, and a dozen or so less interesting mundane things.
  2. Finish the faculty newsletter for spring 2013. Add all the content from librarians, and photos, and then send a finished draft off to my two best proofreaders.
  3. Make more coffee, and put Diet Coke in the fridge. (All to-do lists should have a few easy items on them.)
  4. Send email to Academic Program Committee (the deans and provost office staff) re: the demographics section of the Ithaka survey.
  5. Clean off my desk. I HATE a messy desk, and I’ve let it go on too long.
  6. Use my now clean-desk to prep the NCES and ACRL stats. Pretty sure I have most of the data I need, but I need to pull it all together and begin formalizing it for the surveys, and get it entered into my own longitudinal spreadsheet for the Libraries.

In the midst of all of that, I also ate an apple, screwed around on Facebook and Twitter for 15 minutes, played Fieldrunners2 for 15 minutes, watered my office plants, and chatted with my secretary about various and sundry details of running a facility — stuff like “how do we dispose of a broken fax machine?” and “should we call the furniture guy and ask for an extension on the loan of the chairs?” and “which office needed ceiling tiles?”. And then I spent half an hour talking with the librarian who is liaison to the Art Department about yesterday’s meeting about ILL, keeping her in the loop. We also talked about the WWF (the wrestling kind). It was totally relevant.

And around 6, I headed out to pick up Thai takeout, with a plan of going home, eating all the Pad Thai ever cooked, settling in to do what I was supposed to do last night for my Australia work, and doing tonight’s 20 minutes of strength training hell. I will be mighty!

Library Day in the Life: And administrator on a Wednesday

Bobbi Newman announced today that she’s shutting down and archiving the official wiki of “library day in the life”, as she thinks the project has reached its useful end as a centrally managed thing. To which I say I shall prove her point, because I really like doing #libday, and I’m going to do it whether there’s a thing or not. :)

So this week seems like as interesting as any… here we go.

7:00: First alarm goes off.

7:30: Second alarm goes off. Check email and attempt to wake up. Vow to exercise after work.

8:15: Wake up again, realize I’m fighting a muscle-relaxer hangover (I’m prescribed them for ongoing joint pain, and they help me sleep, but man do they keep me down some days), and force myself out of bed. Shower and dress; struggle with the challenge of wearing appropriate work clothes that make me feel confident and attractive and capable when it’s -12F outside. Opt for silk long underwear, wool dress pants, wool socks, loafers, long sleeved scoopneck shirt and suit jacket. Acceptable, if not as fun as the dress I wanted to wear. -12F, people! Eat breakfast, pack lunch, chat with Justin about our days.

9:40: Arrive work. Check in with secretary, check email, prep for 10:00 meeting.

10:00: College Libraries Coordinating Council meeting, at which librarians and library staff with responsibilities for planning discussed today’s agenda: initiating a new Pilot Project process, designed to conquer the communication and transparency needs of the staff. This is designed to handle the gray areas between “I think we should give out earplugs at the circ desk” (so go ahead, that’s just operational) and “let’s do graffiti on the walls during the arts festival” (which we should discuss, and probably move through our Bylaws-based decision process).

10:20: Back to my office. Email again, a little professional reading on blogs and the Chronicle. Start writing this. Get sucked into reading about, enrolling in, and poking around at OER 101: Locating, Creating, Licensing, and Utilizing OERs, the first of our Open SUNY MOOCs, and one librarians across SUNY have been working hard to launch. (Gah, acronyms. Kill them with fire.) (also: bias alert, I participated in a Google Hangout-turned-video that’s part of the section on Open Access.)

11:15: Prep for noon meeting, rereading the email that prompted it and making sure I have all the answers to the questions therein confidently memorized.

11:30: Lunch in my office. Cold pizza and Fieldrunners 2 on my iPad. (The game was on the iPad. Not the pizza.)

11:55: Walked across campus to meet our ILL Specialist at a noon meeting with Art Department faculty to discuss some problems they’ve encountered with students using ILL.

12:50: Back to my office. Work through some invoicing issues with the library secretary. Email email email. Pack up my office and leave campus to go to SUNY Canton to meet the Director of Library Services over there for a meeting with our dual-campus shared VP for Finance. We’re working on a cataloging project in which our staff would do their cataloging on a per-item transaction basis, and we’re doing our investigative legwork to see how that might function in our Shared Services environment. Answer: easily. Rock on.

3:00: After staying a bit longer to talk with the VP about a few financial and budget questions, drive home from Canton, and settle into my office at home around 3:30. Email email email for half an hour or so, then got down to work for the rest of the afternoon. Today’s agenda: IRB application as much as is possible, then CITI training so I can be the principal investigator on the Ithaka S+R survey I hope to run in a few weeks, and for which I need to get the IRB paperwork done ASAP.

6:30: Call it a day, change into exercise clothes, and head off into my evening. Tonight’s plan includes a light dinner, 20 minutes of strength training, and then an hour or two of work building handouts and slide decks for one of my workshops in Australia. My goal is In Bed By 10. I’ll report back tomorrow for Day 2. :)