A Flexible Skill Set

(or skillset?)

I was carefully going over a power of attorney form for a patron before notarizing the paperwork when my coworker appeared over my shoulder. “After this, go downstairs to fix a banner printer issue.” While applying my seal to multiple sheets, a thought crossed my mind — my duties at work are quite varied. After thanking the patron, I carried my notary supplies to my office. From there I went to the Technology Center to investigate the issue. Thus began a half hour process of assisting a patron with setting up a banner print. I got to turn it into a “teachable moment” by showing her the advanced image search options that Google offers like searching by size, color, and type (photo, clipart, animation).

Afterwards, I headed back to my office to edit the training video footage I had (reluctantly) starred in earlier in the day. Periodically I’d check the Library’s Twitter and Facebook accounts while I worked. Then webmail would ding and I’d respond to whatever message I had received. Oh, yes, I also attended a meeting to plan out a program for this fall. Towards the end of the night, I fielded some questions from the Help Desk staff person on how they can handle a patron issue for next time. Next it was making a gif for the Library’s Tumblr account. Finally, I reviewed some paperwork regarding copyright and hunting down the image credits for a patron.

Why am I writing this? It’s because you may notice my #UXlibrarian posts on here have become sparse. Or as someone once told me, it’s no longer unknown work so I don’t exert as much mental energy on it. Therefore, at the end of the day I don’t feel like I had an experience which is worthy of being shared. This post is just a tiny peek at one of my days that I wouldn’t normally post about.

A Week in the Life of a User Experience Librarian

A couple months ago, my coworker Mallory attempted to get staff to post to our internal staff blog about what a typical work day looks like. While noodling it out, I realized that I couldn’t point to a typical day, but instead could talk about a list of the different things I do throughout the week. Since I received two requests this week for my job description, which I don’t have, I will substitute this list for that as well.

My typical day is broken into 12 discrete segments. I rotate my time between:

  • tasks other staff have given me (e.g. bookmarks, posters, flyers, panels, websites, email templates, etc.)
  • tech support for patrons and staff via email, phone, IM, and Help Desk tickets
  • one of the first responders to any issues that occurs with the computers/patrons on the Lower Level
  • occasional walk arounds to check in for spur-of-the-moment questions/ideas from staff
  • updating & responding to at least 5 social media accounts
  • creating digital signage
  • keeping an eye on & updating the website
  • advising staff on how to provide a better experience during their program
  • plan or teach technology classes
  • handle 95% of all tech 1-on-1s
  • maintaining the DML
  • manning the Help or Reference desk
  • tech training for patrons and staff
  • editing all video productions (which are not done by Manny or Krishna)
  • emailing everyone back!
  • attending meetings with various library committees or departments
  • keeping an eye on stats for the DML, website, social media, email campaigns, video sharing sites, etc.
  • checking the building for opportunities to improve the UX (e.g. update old signage)
  • liaison to the Middlesex Genealogical Society so I attend their meetings and programs
  • manage the tech and genealogy collections
  • finally, whatever long-term project my boss has given me

I don’t do all of these in one day, but it’s likely that most of these happen at some point during the week!

A Week

My spouse is sick. It was the first time in our six years of acquaintance that he’s been seriously ill. He burned, shivered, and coughed as he got progressively worse. He finally agreed to go to the doctor yesterday where we learned he has pneumonia. My work graciously let me use my own sick time so I could attend to him. Much of that time was spent running for water, changing his washcloth, taking his temperature, and trying to coax him to eat. T worries that he’s been whining and asked too much of me. No, I feel like I failed in not recognizing his pneumonia sooner.

All this is to say that for the first time, I got a really good look at the terribleness of life without him fully present. The thought of T not being here was…far-off. Distant. We’re young still. God willing we won’t have to deal with any scary moments for another 50 years. His pneumonia isn’t serious enough for him to go to the hospital, so I am being a little dramatic. But it was terrifying to watch him jerk awake, stare at the ceiling, and then remain that way for minutes at a time. I’m not sure if he was conscious during those times. I’d like to express how good it is to share my life with him, but I’d just embarrass him. So let us leave it at: he’s vibrant and seeing him laid low made me fearful.

Therefore, I don’t know what’s gone on this week. I was at home for long periods, but I was idling, waiting for the next time T would awake. If you talked to me or expected anything from me, you didn’t get it. We had a big project at work this week changing from one computer/money manager to another, but I’m only vaguely aware of what happened.

Today T is sitting up and ate a solid meal. This probably means I can start getting my head back in the game. I’ll try, but I’ll be on my feet at the slightest sound of unease to check on him.

I learned a powerful lesson this week about life. It’s painful and now I have a slight glimpse of potential terribleness in the years ahead. I can’t say I’m happy with that knowledge.

Quotes from Judy Blume’s Talk

Look at those smiles!

Stephanie Anderson interviewing Judy Blume at Greenwich Library in Connecticut

My colleague, Stephanie Anderson, interviewed Judy Blume last night. Ms. Blume is on tour for her book, In the Unlikely Event. The text below was captured as fast as I could manage it during the Q&A session.

“Teachers and librarians are the ones to put the right book with the right characters in the right hands at the right time.”

“Reading should be something you do for pleasure. I’m so worried about tests turning kids off from resting.”

Thank God for George. We talk to each other in code.

“I can know all those secrets (of adults), and if I don’t know, I make them up.”

“Dystopian fiction isn’t my thing, but so what.” That’s why it’s so important that they have lots of options in their reading.

“Tony Bennett singing Because of You. happens in a very important book. It’s the sexiest part.”

Writing advice: start with the day that something different happens. You need a great editor. We all do.

I track them. I’m very proud of Blubber. I’m glad I wrote that.

I made a calendar to track things in Blubber.

For characters, I know where it’s going, but in the middle that’s where it gets really scary. I think of books like jigsaw pieces. I then have to put them together. The first draft is me figuring it out. Everyone figures out their own process.

My mind is cluttered and messy. There is no one way. Whatever works.

I only work on one project at a time. John Updike did fiction in one room, then essays over here, and reviews over there.

Now when I start something, I stay with it. In the beginning, I started a lot of things. I kept them. It’s good to see where you came from.

I hate beginning.

If someone talks on the phone in my hearing, I’ll listen.