Saturday, March 05, 2011

What Do Reference Librarians Do? March 2011

As we seek to hire a new reference librarian for our library, I have been pondering which mix of skills the new staff member needs to have. We still call the position "reference librarian," so the candidates all have to show that they can answer a diverse range of reference questions that will come from our library users. Somehow, reference sense still seems very fundamental to me, but I have to concede that it sometimes feels like we rarely get good reference questions anymore. Each of us in the Adult Services Department at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library also spends time selecting materials, planning library programs and events, promoting those events and programs, instructing our clients in the use of technology, writing reviews of books and media, designing and updating our web site, and fixing computers and other library machinery. We even wind clocks and fill the coffee maker with water. We wear a lot of hats. Perhaps we should be called "public service librarians" instead.

To get a better handle on what we are doing now, I am going to be tracking my work all through the month of March. I know it will be a busy month, as my statistics keeping has often shown March to be our busiest month of the year. We will do this while short one librarian and interviewing to hire her replacement. I will get plenty of time at the reference desk to see if I get to do any "real reference."

As you can see, this is already March 5. I spent the first three days of the month on vacation in Arizona, visiting gardens and zoos and seeing the Cubs lose. Yesterday was my first day back and I spent all of my day in administrative duties, which included the following:

  • reading my email
  • printing letters and resumes from my email
  • reading my mail
  • checking whether the missing three-year-old had gone into the men's restroom
  • discussing what happened in the week that I was gone
  • discussing an idea to move all the magazines and books in the adult collection
  • discussing how we will do Snapshot Day, maybe making "Read" posters
  • reading letters and resumes from 55 candidates for the job opening
  • taking a call from a speaker who seeks to do a program at the library
  • organizing the invoices for me to approve and record in my spreadsheets today
  • organizing to calculate February's statistics today

I will be alone at the reference desk all day. Well, not really alone as I expect many people to come by seeking tax forms or help with our new downloadable audiobooks and ebooks. I'll also be taking phone calls and emails. Now it's time to head to the library. I wonder what the day will bring. More on that tomorrow.

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