The Bulleted Library Technician

July 24, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technican: Tuesday

I’m writing this on Thursday, so I might forget a few things I did…

New emails to deal with:

  • new software “images” for scanner section & multimedia section are ready to test
  • problem with JAWS screen reader software in the new “image” for the InfoCommons area might be solved. Latest version of the “image” is available on 3 sections of patron computers.
  • am I going to Nevada Library Association (NLA) conference next month? let’s have lunch (from a friend in the UNT SLIS Nevada Cohort)
  • online version of a new encyclopedia in our collection which I used recently (Magill’s Medical Guide) will be activated soon
  • can I cover Computer Help Desk Friday 11-1?
  • can I cover Research & Information Desk Friday 3-4?

Major activity for this day was planning for the new Multimedia Design Studio space. My supervisor (Carmen) met with Alexis and I to discuss it. We came up with a lot of points that need to be covered before we move in, such as who will live over there, what hours will it be open, will it be staffed all the hours it’s open, etc.

I took a bunch of measurements and created a floor plan, to the scale of 1 pica = 1 inch. And I played around with lots of different possible layouts of the furniture & computers (I will try to attach some later.)

Kinda fun really. Except for the fact that I got so involved in it that I stayed til 10:15 pm! Boy was I hungry when I got home! I had only planned to work til 7, so I didn’t have any dinner with me, and my stash of snacks in my desk is sadly depleted…


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.”

July 16, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician: Wednesday

I arrived 10 am today, later than I intended, but still early compared to my usual 11 am schedule (I’m trying to come in early to beat the heat on the long walk from the parking lot.) I’m a “Library Technician II” at UNLV‘s Lied Library. I work in Media & Computer Services (formerly the two departments of “Media Resources” and “Information Commons” — I was hired into the latter when it was brand-new.)

Almost every day the first thing I do is chat with Alexis, my cubicle-mate, for a few minutes. Today we exchanged a few stories about funny or annoying patrons we encountered earlier this week, comparing them to some from the past. We both started here over 8 years ago (she in Media, me in InfoCommons — but the merger has been great for us.)

Then I prepped for my 11 am meeting with our department head, Tom Ipri (Tombrarian.) This actually included more talking with Alexis (she’s a great sounding-board for ideas, and some of the topics actually concern her job as well.) Tom (and I) wrote a proposal to move our Multimedia Design Studio (MMDS) to a larger space nearby which was recently vacated when another department consolidated its operations. I pulled up an Excel spreadsheet I made several months ago, to compare the features, hours, staffing, names, etc of similar facilities at other university libraries.

I met with Tom, and we decided to take a peek at the proposed new space. It’s HUGE! It would improve our services so much, enabling us to serve more users at once, and to teach classes. We already have a couple of professors who are sending their entire class over here in onesies and twosies — it would be great to get them all at once and teach them the basics they need to know for their project.

current Studio has space for 6 people at 3 computers

current Studio has space for 6 people at 3 computers

Our current space is far too small and too hot for groups of people –we tried it in April, and it was miserable! (Okay, not truly miserable, but very crowded & sweaty, and certainly not the shining success we hoped our first official instruction session would be.)

While we were in the proposed new space, our Director of User Services, Wendy Starkweather, dropped in. She commented on the excitement in my face. Yes, I guess I am really happy about this possibility. The Multimedia Design Studio is my primary job responsibility, and I really want to see it grow and develop. Eventually I will finish my MLS and move on, so it would be nice to leave that as a legacy, so to speak… It was started by Diane VanderPol, now Director of the Library at Westminster College, and continued by Jennifer Church-Duran, now Assistant Dean for User Services for the Libraries at the University of Kansas. They both provided great vision and leadership. But for sheer number of hours spent helping patrons — well, I guess I win on that count. 🙂

After finishing up the meeting with Tom & Wendy, I took Alexis into the space. She’s our point person on the Disability Resource Room (DRR) [a.k.a. the Assistive Technologies Room], as well as a great person with multimedia issues. We measured the doorways to see if we could combine the MMDS and DRR into the new space, but alas, it would require expensive rennovations to accomodate the automatic door opener and be wide enough for wheelchairs. So the DRR will stay where it is.

A break for lunch at my desk, and homework. I’m attending the University of North Texas School of Library & Information Sciences (SLIS). One of the assignments in my current class is about “user-centered spaces” which is a topic I’ve been researching off and on for quite some time. I’ll be blogging about it later. Today I just did some searching for info, while munching a couple of sticky granola bars I found in my desk. I forgot to pack a lunch again, and it’s far too hot to venture outdoors! Although I saw out my tiny window, we were actually having some “weather” today — it was not the blazing hot blue sky of a typical day around here, we had clouds, complete with lighting & thunder & some wetness!

Then off to a “Hot Topics” meeting. This is a highlight of nearly every month for me. Any library staff member (faculty, pro staff, or classified staff) can participate as a speaker, listener, or committee chair. Today was the annual brainstorming session for the upcoming year. We looked briefly at what topics were suggested in the past 2 years, which ones were covered already, then we compiled a list of topics for next year. Lots of great ideas, as always. Our Hot Topics leaders have presented (or brought in guest speakers to present) a lot of great info in the past, and it looks like 2007-2008 will be great also.

Two friends from the Architecture Studies Library on the other side of campus were here for the Hot Topics meeting. They are also students in the UNT SLIS Nevada Cohort (there are actually 6 of us students working in the UNLV Libraries!) They heard about our proposal for the Multimedia Design Studio and wondered what it’s all about, so I gave them a tour of our current MMDS space and some adjacent media preview rooms.  See my flick set “Media Lab” for pics of our current MMDS space.

I ran into our Director of User Services again, she was asking about a leak. Apparently that rain we had earlier found a way inside the building! We don’t get that kind of excitement around here often, since this building is still fairly new and pretty sturdy.

Then I served 1 hour on the Computer Help Desk (part of our first floor Information Commons area.) Moved several print jobs for a student who’s payment card didn’t want to work on 2nd floor, but it works okay on 1st floor. Moved several more print jobs for a student who lost his card (actually did an over-ride and gave it all to him free.) Fielded a couple phone calls from a mother who bought her daughter (due to enter UNLV next semester) a new laptop and wanted to know about Internet connections. Chatted with the librarian on the “Research & Information” (reference) side of our shared service counter. One of our frequent MMDS patrons walked by the desk, smiled, and promised “no help today” (meaning he didn’t need me to assist with his video editing project.)  See my flickr set “InfoCommons & Computer Help Desk” for lots of pics of what life is like around here.  🙂

Back to my cubicle to slog through some email. And in the “American Libraries Direct” email I found the link to the “A Day in the Life of a Library” project. And I decided to join. So now you know it all.

Tomorrow I promise to explain less backstory and write more about the day. 🙂

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