Days in the Life

As the newest member of the Chasing Reference blog, allow me to introduce myself: I’m Don Boozer, and I currently serve as the coordinator for Ohio’s statewide virtual reference service, KnowItNow24x7.

My first library job was as a Library Assistant at the Hershey Public Library when it was on Granada Ave, literally right across a parking lot from the chocolate factory. When I was at Hershey, the director encouraged me to consider making a career out of being a librarian. I discovered that librarianship opened up the option of constantly learning new things, sharing that knowledge with others, and being part of a larger profession. When we moved to Ohio near Kent and found that Kent State had the only library school in the state, I took that as a sign.

My first job as a pro librarian right out of library school was at Barberton Public Library, a mid-sized public library in northeast Ohio, as a reference/teen/jack-of-all-trades librarian.

Prior to my current appointment, I was a reference librarian in the Literature Department at Cleveland Public Library.

I’ve also been involved with OLC and ALA, and it is through the latter that I found that the Chasing Reference Team was looking for additional bloggers. I volunteered, and here I am.

As the coordinator of a statewide initiative, I have the fortunate opportunity to see library service from a broad perspective and how each library is essential to the whole. These past two weeks, I was on the road a lot. First, to a spring meeting of a K-12 school librarian organization in south-central Ohio. I presented information on KnowItNow24x7 and then provided a tutorial on efficient and practical uses of Google and Wikipedia. The attendees were very receptive, and one retiring school librarian expressed interest in staffing our service as a volunteer. Being primarily involved with “virtual” service, it is always gratifying to be able to interact with people in-person.

My second trip was to give a training session at the University of Rio Grande (That’s “Rye-O” rhymes with “Ohio”). I met some great librarians, found another library interested in volunteering staff time to the service, and got to eat at the original Bob Evans Restaurant.

Being a statewide coordinator also gives me the opportunity to be an ambassador of sorts, both for our specific virtual reference project but also for virtual services and resources in general. Talking about Google and Wikipedia and seeing people’s eyes light up when you talk about sorting Images by color to get that “book with a blue cover” is priceless. Talking about the differences between two different language versions of a Wikipedia article and why this is potentially important and seeing people nod in agreement is rewarding. Getting people excited about using the invaluable statewide databases we have here in Ohio gives you a sense of accomplishment. Sharing this kind of information with librarians makes them better able to provide quality service on KnowItNow24x7 but also equips them to share this same information with their patrons.

Every librarian in every library has the potential to see those eyes light up and get those nods of agreement. Continuing to engender that sense of wonder and curiosity (and, in my case, providing an avenue through virtual reference for people to come to us for help with their questions) is one of the great things about being a librarian.

I look forward to blogging with the “Reference Chasers” and want to thank them for welcoming me aboard! 🙂


Public Library: A Day in the Life

Hello! I’m Heather Love Beverley, and I’m a Children’s Librarian for a large public library district in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. This is my day- Welcome!

10:45am-11am: Today’s a late start day for me- I work one evening a week, and today’s my day!  I have a late morning meeting first thing, so I arrive 15 minutes before the start to do a quick check of my email. I’m glad I do, because I discover that a second meeting I had planned for the day- set to start immediately after my first!- has been canceled and moved to another day. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Public Library: A Day in the Life

Hello, I’m a librarian for a large, suburban Chicago library. Primarily, I’m a children’s librarian, but I am also one the library’s webmasters. Welcome to my day!

Today is a double desk shift day. Our library schedules the reference desk in four hour shifts, and today I have two shifts back-to-back, but at different locations, which makes for a very lively day. With that, here we go:

1pm-4:45pm, Location #1

– My shift starts with the traditional Changing of the Guards- chatting with the librarians I was replacing, finding out what had happened during the morning shift.

– Email! 96 unread emails are waiting for me to answer.

– 3rd email reveals that there are several glitches on our newly upgraded website that need fixing. I start investigating what needs to be done, find a solution, and email the website team my findings.

– Finished reading email. In the process, I added two new meetings, plus a possible third, to my schedule, in addition to one new tween program. I forwarded an interesting program idea to our Children’s Program Coordinator, and was amazed at the awesome graphics our designer created for some upcoming events.

– More trouble with website glitches- this time I need to contact our computer support time. I spend an agonizing 15 minutes trying to explain to our computer support company just what is going on. In the midst of that, a repair person for our color printer arrives and I try not to get the two issue mixed up!

– During a quiet period, I helped a co-worker set up a Facebook Ad for the library. While doing that, we did some reference for ourselves to find out what an “Auto Intender” is. The answer? Someone who intends to buy an automobile within the next 6 months.

– Back to the website glitches! Had a brief, on the spot conference with a fellow webteam member where we filled each other in on various issues and what needed to be done.

– Perpetuating the myth that a librarian can actually read on the job, I had my personal copy of The Hunger Games with me on desk. I’m trying to re-read it before the movie comes out. It’s a great conversation starter, and I have several patrons and co-workers stop and talk with me about the book and upcoming movie. By the end of my shift, my personal copy has a hold on it for a fellow staff member since all 30 copies in the library are checked out with over 100 people on the waiting list.

– Throughout the four hour shift, helped multiple patrons find books: humor books, adventure books, picture books, realistic fiction, and reluctant readers. All left with armfuls of books. Hopefully, they find a few new favorites in their stacks!

– Congratulated three different children on getting their first library card!

– Did some computer troubleshooting for patrons. Computer troubleshooting always means that I have to crawl around on the floor, checking cable connections.

– After leaving the desk, on my way to my second shift, stopped to talk to a co-worker and had a quick 5 minute brainstorming session on future programs for teens. The Hunger Games featured prominently in our planning ideas.

4:45pm- 5:05pm, Driving in My Car

– Drove to the second location. Due to rain, the traffic was slow. Due to the double shift, I ate dinner in the car.


– Take two for the Changing of the Guards! The afternoon was busy at the second location, so there was lots to share and know for the evening shift.

– Changing of the Guards turned into a discussion about an upcoming tween program (Duct Tape Crafts!) and the logistics of it. That, in turn, evolved into a discussion of summer program for tweens. It’s just around the corner, even though its only March!

– The desk is hopping! The library is a popular place tonight, and I spend the evening answering questions about Pokemon, Native Americans, the Louisiana Purchase, the Dave Matthew Band, and more.

– Took a moment to check my email and discovered a department scheduling crisis. Sent off emails to resolve the problem and managed to fill the gap.

– Went back to the web glitches and began to re-code some of the more troublesome areas.
– Problems abound with the public computers, printer and copier! I fixed paper jams, solved browser errors, refilled paper, and then some.

– Registered a person to vote.

– Took a breath, and realized it was near quitting time. Began closing procedures: cleaning up abandoned books, shutting of computers.

– With everything all cleaned up and ready for the morning, headed out the door, done for the day, and ready to start all over again tomorrow!

Undergraduate Library: A Day in the Life

I’m Emily Hamstra, Learning Librarian at the University of Michigan’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library. I support student learning and engagement through developing meaningful instruction sessions and collections. No day at the library is ever the same for me, so here is a snapshot of one day at the Undergraduate Library.


The Librarians’ Forum meets monthly to discuss issues the latest issues facing University of Michigan librarians. Sometimes these meetings are focused on campus issues, sometimes they are focused on issues that affect the library profession as a whole. This month the meeting was about different publishing initiatives in the library and on campus. Representatives from Deep Blue (University of Michigan’s institutional repository), MPublishing (University of Michigan’s publishing department, a department of the library), Open.Michigan (open access educational resources created at the University of Michigan), and HathiTrust spoke about how they support the University of Michigan campus and scholarly publishing. There was a lively discussion and donuts.


Once I’ve cleared out some email, I get started on an order for the Undergraduate Library’s leisure reading collection. I maintain a large leisure reading collection. All books from this collection are purchased through a local independent bookseller.

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Private Academic Library: A Day in the Life

picture of CarrieHi! I’m Carrie Dunham-LaGree, the Librarian for Digital Literacy and General Education at Cowles Library at Drake University. The primary focus of my job is information literacy instruction. I teach one course a semester, and I love the opportunity to work closely with students for an entire semester. In the fall, I teach a First Year Seminar. In the spring I teach a two-credit Information Literacy course. I’m developing a new information literacy course on documentary films for Drake’s first J-term in January 2013. I also coordinate all of the library instruction for the First Year Seminar program and serve as the liaison to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. How does that all fit into a typical day?

Continue reading

Community College Library: A Day in the Life

by Amy Barlow

As evidenced by our banner, the authors of Chasing Reference will follow reference and information trends, each of us writing from a unique professional point of view. I’m Amy Barlow, a Reference and Instruction Librarian, and I’ll focus on community college librarianship.

Don’t fret: You will not get stuck reading long, boring commentaries that defend publicly funded two-year institutions. The worst that can happen is a short, boring commentary.

My day in the life post will not make sense if I chronicle a real eight-hour day. As a member of a tiny library staff, professional roles often blur, leading to wildly unpredictable days and nights. A big-picture To Do list is a much better reflection of my role on campus. Like Temple Grandin, I think in pictures.

thinking in pictures

  1. The web-scale discovery project: Connecticut community colleges and state universities are getting together to request funds to purchase a shared discovery tool. I’m on the task force. Disclaimer: We do not endorse Summon, nor does Summon endorse us. I (not my real name) just needed an image.
  2. Choice magazine: I indulge in collection development on Fridays, as a treat.
  3. Dressing for success: I spend a lot of time searching for unobjectionable blazers. Doesn’t this one make me look fierce?  (Thank you, Emma Stone, for looking a lot like me, only way prettier and much younger.)
  4. Situational irony: When I try to teach students how to find good books in the stacks, they often tune me out, selecting the books that they want, and reading them.
  5. Sketches and poems: During the spring semester, I preside over a popular poetry contest at the college. I use the contest as an excuse to make drawings and use desk-top publishing software.
  6. One Book, One Campus: This semester we’re all reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I host a Reader’s Circle Series.
  7. Info Lit: I spend a lot of class time showing students how to identify common features on websites. They need to recognize the features in order to cite websites as sources of information. It’s dull work when you do it every day, but I finally found a way to use the time wisely. I take screenshots of favorite blogs and mark-them-up in class, so that I can catch-up on my reading while students learn to cite sources. It’s a win win.

(Image sources: 1. University of Michigan Libraries; 2. Choice; 3. “Under Cover” at Vogue; 4. QVCC Website; 5. Personal copy; 6.; 7. Screenshot of The Man Repeller.)