Friday I did another “Day in the Life” Twitter thread (start at this link) https://twitter.com/hedgielib/status/1552996873706913792) . I sporadically do these on meeting heavy days, because I think there’s something of interest to colleagues, new professionals following along, friends who aren’t sure what “academic librarian” means, and the other types of faculty who also might not understand what library work looks like. Or what full blown mid career librarianship looks like for me specifically.
It’s also a touchpoint for me — clinging to something lighter as I go between 6-8 different meetings. Is adding more to my day the best idea? No probably not, but it gives me a moment to step into my head, come up with a hopefully interesting way to comment on what it is I’m doing, and then dive back in. A gasp of air between concentrating.
And for those who are looking from the outside, these threads are a hint of why I say I’m a moving target and it’s best to send me an email. Friday started with reading my emails on the train ride to campus because I knew once I got to campus things were going to be in constant flux. I gave a tour, ran interview sessions, did an orientation, met with a mentee, met with colleagues, finished an RFI response. I bounced between seven different physical locations, trying to keep ahead of my calendar and hoping nothing emergent arose. I’m fortunate in that I can — with pretty unobstructed authority — walk into spaces in many different campus buildings and just *be*. I know quite a few spots where there’s a table I can take over, a bathroom where I can set my bag down for a second, and — important these days — where I can stop and privately eat something.
But it doesn’t reflect everything, by any stretch. If you’ve ever been in any of my physical spaces, you’ll see a plethora of post it notes. I think I added 5 more Friday as I was desperately trying not to forget things before a weekend where I knew I’d fully disconnect (a rarity). It also doesn’t show any of the lead up or follow up for those any of those meetings to be successful. Could I just “walk in and give that orientation”? Sure — but here’s some of the rest of it:
- I’ve built the slide deck I used a couple of years ago and update it annually — but most of what I’m showing them is live demo from our website;
- I’d built in travel time to get to and from the building for the orientation where I was reasonably sure about technology access –but ended up in a new-to-me room and couldn’t connect my laptop directly, so had to rely on cloud access for my slides;
- I was incorporating questions from things other students had already asked this summer — Browzine and Block Club are the new favorites;
- I jotted down 3 things to follow up on because of other things these students asked;
- Oh and I also added another thing to try and squeeze in during the 2 hours I have with these students during a fall course.
- I’m now on those students’ radar for general literature or data consultations, to get them ready for their thesis work, and I may end up on a committee for at least one of them. Committing Future Me to things.
- I also had a hallway consult with a faculty member — strengthening a liaison relationship for 3-5 minutes while we debate whether this educational thing we’re doing actually makes sense.
- What gets counted for the ACRL/AAHSL/End of Year Stats is “Abigail gave a 30 minute orientation.” — the rest of that is invisible work, relationship building, and a lot of duck paddling.
Information work is an amalgam of skills — for me the majority involve deeply engaging with people. I was completely exhausted when I got home Friday. I ate something and crashed on the couch ten minutes into a documentary on the Mayan empire. And not every day is what you see in day in the life but quite a few are. And that makes finding time for deep work or sometimes even just thoughtful work really difficult. It’s a conversation I have with one of the (3) people I report to all the time — he and I are utilized by our institution in a lot of different ways but most of them require outward facing work and squeezing our writing (let along reading—hahahhhahaha) into spare moments.
And this is one day. Today has another whole different set of things coming at me… wish me luck!