I really enjoyed participating in this round of Library Day in the Life. I’ve tried to take part previously just using Twitter, but have usually found that around midday I simply ran out of time to tweet! Blogging about it instead has allowed me to share much more detail about my daily activities and has also made me think a lot about what I actually do.
What I really noticed is how much time I spend dealing with Things That Are Happening RIGHT NOW. That takes up about 50-60% of my working week. The remaining 40% is spent trying to pre-emptively resolve issues so that they don’t become Things That Are Happening RIGHT NOW. And do you know what? I’m fine with that. I really enjoy my job and I really enjoy supervising. I’ve found over the two years that I’ve been in this position that I’m actually at my best when I’m dealing with Things That Are Happening RIGHT NOW. I don’t have time to worry about them, I just have to manage. My brief experiences of being a subject librarian have taught me that I don’t deal well with teaching; I absolutely detest standing up in front of people and would spend the two weeks prior to a teaching session feeling sick with nerves. But if the fire alarm goes off, I don’t have time to get nervy, I just have to deal with it!
Dealing with the Things That Are Happening RIGHT NOW is also very useful when it comes to sorting out back office procedures, which is the other main aspect of my job. Knowing the problems that are likely to come up on the front line means that you know how they can be prevented and makes you better able to create and manage a procedure designed to prevent them. And while I may have cursed the way that the introduction of Aleph has made us rewrite all of our previous procedures, it has given us the opportunity to re-think them and hopefully make them work a bit better.
To save this from being an exercise in navel gazing, allow me to share a piece of advice that might make your library a happier place. This occured to me at some point in the middle of my supervising session on Thursday. Your library probably has an equivalent of my role, it probably belongs to the person running around looking harried right about now. Lets call them Harried Person. My advice is this; if you come up with a brilliant idea for a simple change that will really make things easier for your Harried Person and save them some time, do not share it with this person while they are dealing with all the Things That Are Happening RIGHT NOW. They will not appreciate it and they will not have the time to explain that “yes, I’ve thought of that and here are 5 reasons why it won’t work.” They may also take it as criticism, even if that’s not what you intended. If you think that your idea is really worth sharing then do everyone a favour and email it to them later, when they’re not looking quite so harried. That way they’ll actually be able to give it due consideration and can compose a reply that doesn’t involve any expletives, threats or tears.
Trust me on this one, it’ll make everyone happier!