The Bulleted Library Technician

July 17, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician: Thursday

This morning I sent an email to all our Library Computer Help Desk (LCHD) student workers (and a few selected Media Desk student workers who help out at the LCHD sometimes.) Office 2007 is coming soon on the patron computers, so I’ve worked up a 6 page “hints” document with lots of screenshots, and 3 pages of brief practice exercises for them to do. Now I wait and see if they actually do them, or if I have to hound them all week to get it done. 🙂 We already have Office 2007 on one section of 7 computers, so they could be getting questions on it anytime, and our Library Technologies department (a.k.a. “Systems“) will be expanding the number any time now. Which reminds me, I need to create a new floormap of all our computers, since they recently added 16 more to second floor. We must have about 275 general-use computers now (another thing I need to work on: counting them!)

I served 1 hour on the Library Computer Help Desk. A little busier today than yesterday, but still a typical slow day, as all summer days are when compared to Fall Semester or Spring Semester.

  • 1 student didn’t have enough money on his card, needed 2 pages free
  • 1 student needed help printing PowerPoint handouts
  • 1 student needed help with APA Style citations
  • 1 student wanted to know the location of the nearest machine to add money to his campus cash card (RebelCard)
  • 1 student needed help adding money to his RebelCard online
  • 1 student wanted the heavy-duty stapler
  • 1 student wanted to know the location of the nearest fax machine

On July 1 we started using an online product called DeskTracker to keep track of all our patron contacts. After 12+ years of making marks on a clipboard, it’s tough for me to reach for the mouse instead of a pen.

using bubbl website to visualize my ideas

On my lunchbreak, instead of homework I did some web surfing. I need a catchy name for this blog, I can’t keep calling it “Michelle Hawkins Thiel’s Weblog.” That’s just too long and too dull. So I did a little brainstorming, and tried a free online service called Bubbl. It allows you to easily create “brainstorming charts” where you have ideas in colored bubbles, linked to each other in various ways. Kind of a neat tool. It really did help me to organize my thoughts. Normally I organize with hierarchical bulleted lists, or tables, so this was a new, rounder technique for me.

Then I used Google’s Blog Search to find what other librarians, library workers, and library students have named their blogs. And so many good names have been taken already! I will post a list with links later.

We have a small coffee shop in the corner of our library, called The Book N Bean. During the summer they close at 2 pm. And occasionally they have some leftover food that they give away to library staff. Today they had a TON of food, so I had a nice tuna bagel to supplement the meager lunch I packed, and I got a chicken sandwich for dinner this evening. No cooking and no fast food, yaaayyy!

I spent the afternoon working on a “hints” document for Excel 2007. I fear it will be much much longer than the 6 page one for Word 2007. So I will probably break it up into parts. I have found that Excel is a weak point for many of our LCHD student workers, so I really want to be sure to cover it thoroughly. Long ago, we used to gather them for face-to-face instruction sessions on all the software, but in recent years they have been coming to us with a lot of basic knowledge already, so it’s generally not necessary. But I may reconsider for Excel…. There’s just so much to know, and I’m getting bored with making screenshots and writing instructions.

This evening the LCHD student came to me with an Excel question he tried to help a patron with. It was a scatter chart, which sadly I know nothing about. So I went out to the InfoCommons and gave it a shot, then came back to ask our resident mathematician, Heng-Wei, if he could take a look at it. And yes, he knows all about numbers and data and charts, so he helped the patron out very nicely.

Heng-Wei is one of the many classified staff in our library who were student workers here for many years, then got hired on full-time after they graduated. This city has a fair amount of migration out as well as the incredible migration in, so we often have positions open around the time our best students are ready for “a real job.” Unfortunately, with the state requiring budget cuts of all the campuses, we aren’t likely to fill any of our vacancies soon (we currently have several classified & faculty positions that have been vacant for months….) One of the things we are planning to discuss in a Hot Topics session this year is “mentoring, job sharing, and succession planning.”

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