Research Library: A Day in the Life

I’m Emily Hamstra, Learning Librarian and Kinesiology Librarian at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, University of Michigan Library. I support undergraduate students and the School of Kinesiology by building great collections and teaching how to use the collections for research. No day in any library is ever typical, but this is what I did at the library on Friday, April 19th.

9-10am: I’m at the Library Public Services Meeting. This meeting is a giant meetup of U-M librarians who work the reference desks, circulation desks, and our technology centers. Staff often present projects they are working on or we discuss issues related to library public services. This month we had presentations from another unit on campus discussing how they support faculty technology needs related to research. The second presentation was from librarians from the Ann Arbor District Library about collections and services available for students at the public library. Of course, we all had lots of questions. Librarians love questions.

10-10:15: I’m on the RUSA Reading List Committee this year. My first shipment of books arrived today! I’m reading like a mad woman this year for the committee. It’s been great to read outside of my usual genres. I’m reading some really great books.

10:15-10:30: Email.

10:30-11:15: I have a meeting with a few librarians to discuss the Undergraduate Library’s journal collection. We’re looking at what journals we should keep, what journals we should swap out for new journals. Journal collections in undergraduate libraries are tricky. The collection can’t look like a grocery store checkout lane, but it also can’t be all scholarly journals. I know for sure Saturday Evening Post has got to go. No one touches it. We’re struggling to find non-English language popular magazines that will come in regularly, and will be interesting to undergraduates. Anyone have suggestions?

11:15-noon: More email. We’re nearing the end of the semester, so instruction is slowing down, but I’m getting lots of research questions from kinesiology students and faculty. I answer a question from a faculty member and a phone call I missed last night from a kinesiology student.

noon: Lunchtime. I’m trying not to obsess over the news from Boston, so distract myself with Fever by Mary Beth Keane. This melancholy historical novel is based on the true story of “Typhoid Mary.” Mary was a cook for many wealthy New York families at the turn of the century. In 1907, the Department of Health detained Mary because it was believed she was carrying typhoid. She was subjected to years of testing and quarantine though she never showed the symptoms of typhoid fever.

1:00-2:00pm We’re in the process of hiring a new librarian, so I attend a presentation by one of the candidates for the job.

2:00-3pm I follow up with a kinesiology student about a question related to sports centers and the revitalization of Detroit. He needs local demographic and economic information for Detroit. I guide him to 2010 census data, the Detroit Free Press, and our Detroit maps guide.

3-4pm Baby shower for a colleague! We eat cake, drink coffee, watch my colleague open cute baby things, and brainstorm baby names. It’s so Friday afternoon.

4pm: I respond to a followup email from the kinesiology student looking for Detroit information. He needs census information for surrounding Detroit suburbs and counties, so I email him back, describing how to find this information in American FactFinder.

I can’t seem to catch up on my email today. I feel constantly behind. The emails I need to respond asap to are questions from students, related to upcoming undergraduate research program end of the year events, ALA committee work, University of Michigan library and campus committee work, issues with the library collection, and follow up from last week’s travel to Indianapolis for the ACRL conference.

5:45pm Time to go home. I feel like I didn’t get anything done today. Know that feeling?


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