Sunday, October 30, 2005

What does Kat do all day?

I hereby dedicate this post to those of you who are wondering, "What exactly does a librarian do all day?"

I get this question a lot. And in reality, I honestly don't blame you. I wondered the same thing, even while I was in the process of getting my Master's Degree. So no wonder you non-Librarians are bewildered.

Well, wonder no more, your question is about to be answered. Of course, I can only tell you what a Reference Librarian at a small liberal arts college does all day, since that is the only professional library job I've held thus far, but here goes:

What does Kat do all day?
1. Work the Reference Desk. If people have questions, I have answers! (Hopefully)
2. Give instruction sessions. These are usually intended for specific classes on campus where the professor wants his or her class to do research and suspects (correctly) that the students are pretty clueless. We also offer instruction sessions on particular databases that anyone can attend.
3. Manage the reference collection. This includes taking old books out, adding new ones, and helping ensure that statistics are being kept on reference book use.
4. Create subject guides. For each discipline on campus, we have a guide containing useful databases, reference books, ebooks, journals, and websites.
5. Preparation - for instruction sessions, for classes (yes, librarians even teach classes on the research process at some colleges! I am not teaching one this semester but I will be in the Spring.)
6. Check various sources for new websites to include in the subject guides.
7. Keep current with the literature - stay up to date with what is going on in the library world through emails, listservs, certain blogs, and so on.
8. Manage Interlibrary Loan - there is a student assistant who handles most of this, but I created a manual of procedures and other useful information. I also answer any questions the student has and check periodically to make sure everything is running smoothly. I am also looking at ways to improve the Interlibrary Loan service.
9. Manage Chat Reference - this basically boils down to making sure we have librarians staffing the shifts we are supposed to.

I'm sure I could add more to this list, but I think it is long enough for now. But I hope that sheds some light on what librarians actually do all day long. :)

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