Library Day in the Life

N1119812975_30366050_3039372 I've had the opportunity to speak with a handful of library school classes in the last year, and one of the questions that always comes up is, "What does a typical day look like for you?" Maybe it's because I'm a librarian not actually working in a library. Maybe it's because my job title is so opaque. Or it's just the general mystique of librarianship. Whatever the reason, I'm glad there's a second-annual Library Day in the Life -- if for no other reason than to help me document where it is that my time and energy go every day. Sometimes it's impossible for me to even tell at the end of the day what's been keeping me occupied all day.

HI! I'm Jason Kucsma, and I'm the Emerging Technologies Manager for the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO)! METRO is a non-profit member services organization serving libraries and librarians in New York City and Westchester County. Our membership includes over 250 academic, public, special, and hospital libraries which represent over 1300 branches throughout the metropolitan region. What follows is my attempt to wrangle some sense of order out of a workday that usually finds me flitting between email, web browsers, and the phone like a schizophrenic hummingbird.


Up for coffee. Read the NYTimes online and check personal email (Inbox Zero at 5:40). Scan Twitter posts from the last 12 hours and check Facebook for anything remotely interesting. Do not find. Check work email to see what's in store for the day. Not much because I answered emails over the weekend. Good.

Shower and wake up Mega (my amazing wife, whose name is actually Megan, but I call her "Mega" because she's that great) by accidentally letting one of the cats into the bedroom. She's also a librarian working in a non-library job. She's the Digital Assets Manager at The Granger Collection, a small, independently-owned image agency. Throw together lunch, shut down home computer (so my visiting teenage sister-in-law can't spend all day on Facebook and/or downloading garbage that shouldn't be downloaded), and head out for work. 

7:45 - 8:15
Take the R from Park Slope to the Atlantic/Pacific stop. Express N is waiting, so I score a quicker ride to Union Square than if I were to ride the R the whole way.

Second person in the office this morning. Check work email (Inbox Zero at 8:30).

8:20 - 8:50
Type up first portion of this day's log, and realize that I'm not going to be able to sustain this level of specificity throughout the day. Shrug.

Follow a handful of librarians from last Friday's #followalibrarian Twitter lovefest.

Listen to a story on The Takeaway about streaming music "on the net."

Troubleshoot a problem with the digitalMETRO digital collection directory. The directory is built on the Omeka collection management system, and we've been testing the batch upload plug-in to add multiple collections at a time. For some reason, images weren't showing up when a recent batch was added, so I manually uploaded them. I'm excited about this little project. We started building it last Fall, and it now has detailed records for over 160 unique digital collections created and, well, I'll tell you more about it later. 

10:30 - 10:45
Quick check-in on email, tweets, and Facebook Scrabble (playing two evenly matched games with @tadawes and my wife). Write a mildly scathing Yelp review of a sushi restaurant I went to yesterday in Williamsburg. Never again.

10:45 - 11:00

Actually notice background music on Pandora when Superchunk, Calexico, Portastatic, Aqueduct, and Apples In Stereo all play consecutively. See also: Stuff White People Like.

11:00 - 2:00
Work on pulling together details for our Fall workshop and professional development schedule. As the Emerging Technologies Manager, one of my responsibilities is to program workshops for our member librarians on skills that we've identified as must-have skills for those interested in keeping their skills current. I work to both identify emerging tech areas and find expert librarian instructors to teach the courses, either face-to-face or online via our web conferencing software.

Some of the workshops/events I'm coordinating for the Fall include: A three-day series on digital preservation, Twitter basics for libraries, Zotero basics for research management (for librarians to use and to teach others to use), two webinars on open source software, Library Mash-Ups (with Nicole Engard, LibLime), Text Messaging Reference (with Joe Murphy, Yale), a site visit to the Jewish Theological Seminary's digitization lab, Managing Copyright for Digital Collections (with Linda Tadic, NYU Tisch School of the Arts), and about a half-dozen more. These workshops get scattered around our calendar among other workshops and events we host on more general library professional development topics.

Interrupt what I was doing when I remember that I need to send out a follow-up email to people who attended our free "Introduction to Zotero Webinar" last week. We've done two of these introduction webinars for about 20-25 people each session. The webinar is intended to be a primer for those libraries interested in bringing a "trained Zotero user/instructor" (hey, that's me!) to their library to teach staff how to use the tool.

Take a five-minute break to enter the Google Books contest. Eat slice of leftover spinach and cheese frittata at my desk that I made yesterday for brunch.

Meet with a a fellow working on transitioning from publishing to libraries. Meet to discuss what "emerging technologies" means to libraries and how librarians can position themselves in job interviews. I felt like I wasn't as helpful as I wanted to be in the conversation, primarily because job opportunities are so competitive right now -- everywhere, not just in libraries.

Check in with work and personal email (Inbox Zero for both at 3:45)


Continue working on wrangling details for Fall courses. Spend a few minutes stressing out about a webinar that I have to do NEXT WEEK about keeping up with technology trends when it's not your job to necessarily keep up with technology. Take solace in that fact that I got some really great advice by fellow librarians on FriendFeed.

Shift from course planning to answer some questions for a member library interested in having their digital collection included in WorldCat via OCLC's new Digital Collection Gateway. A little background is in order. METRO provides modest grants for libraries to launch or maintain digitization projects, and part of that includes free hosting of digital collections on an OCLC-hosted CONTENTdm instance. It's a great solution for smaller libraries that can't host their own digital collections, and an added benefit is that they have the opportunity to have their collections harvested into WorldCat and the New York Heritage project portal. The particularly library in question had some concerns about how their items would be represented in WorldCat and how some of their metadata would map to the WorldCat MARC fields. Do my best to answer their questions and invite more questions for clarification.

Turn off Pandora to listen to a mix CD sent to me by fellow librarian and good friend Stephen Francoeur. Great mix of tracks (from Green Day to Okkervil River to Matt Pond PA to The Faint to The Pigeon Detectives and more).  Cliche as it sounds, music really gets me through the day most of the time. On days when I listen to only podcasts, I can totally feel the effect that the lack of music has on my psyche. Weird, but it's true. I also spend an inordinate amount of time looking for and listening to new music, so it's nice to have friends recommend stuff that really moves them.

Back to course planning. Finish description and objectives for Zotero course and email reminders to instructors that I still need descriptions and objectives from. Wonder why I decide to end that sentence in a preposition and shrug it off.

Wonder how it became almost time to go home when I have so many windows open and things in-process. Begin prioritization of which things NEED to get done now and which ones I will do tomorrow -- also resigning myself to the fact that I will likely not leave at 5pm sharp.

Review notes for my weekly update on a capstone project I'm doing for my summer class in the University of Arizona's Digital Information Management Certificate Program (DigIn). DigIn is run by the School of Information Resources and Library Science as a six-course virtual program geared toward giving some technological skills and concepts to librarians, archivists, and museum curators. The project I'm working on involves using Omeka to deliver digital collections. We started out creating a directory of digital collections in New York City, and the second phase of the project involves documenting the viability of using Omeka to deliver digital collections created on the CONTENTdm collection management system.

Leave work in hopes of making it to the train before an impending monsoon strikes. Succeed. Read fantastic article on the train about Obama's right-hand lady in NY Times Sunday Magazine.

Make it back to Brooklyn in time to head to my favorite Mexican restaurant.

Edit this post a bit and call it an evening.

Tags: techMETRO