Friday, July 29, 2011

Library day in the life, Round 7, Friday...

This morning I read my rss feed news, email and newspaper over (slow-chewed) brekkies at home. Of interest:
I was at Main Library today, which is cool for various reasons, of which I will list three:
  1. I get to see my peeps at Homebound Services, one of the depts I supervise
  2. I get to chill with my other friends at Main Library and in various government buildings nearby - and I brought them leftover raspberry shortcake tiramisu!
  3. I get to walk to workLink
So, yeah, I made it into my basement office. Even though I was here last Wednesday, it felt like years, somehow. Hello, other office! I missed you!

I began the day with e-mails and voicemails, as usual, and then I wrote up a short summary of the situation I was worrying about yesterday on the way home. I work best with an actual written account of things, so I wanted to have everything laid down on paper before I met with my manager this afternoon. I decided one question I had about how I handled this situation might be answered by a certain procedure document we have .... Alas, this doc is not on our Intranet and my paper copy is in my office at Greenboro. I figured someone at Main should have it, too, so I asked around. Eventually, one person said she did, so I ran upstairs for said paper document ... which ended up not being the one I needed. Crap. On the way back to my basement lair, I spent some time on each floor of Main Library: I strategised with one colleague over a dilemma, and generally networked with peeps (and yes, by network I mean chat, but srsly, it is networking, you know....).

Then I worked on e-mail and various randomy things until finally deciding I still needed to find a copy of this doc, so I threw myself at the mercy of the brains on the 4th floor (where our admin offices are). Success! But, as I had suspected, there was still no clear answer to my question in (several) procedure documents. This is why I was so torn up about it - there was nothing actually documented about what to do in this situation. It seems to be one of those "at your discretion" things.

Back to randoms: e-mail, answered voicemail, approved some leave requests, read some docs, called the garage about a Bookmobile issue, etc.

Noon - Grabbed a soup and smoothie at the amazing Grounded and retreated back into the office with it.... Read docs over lunch - these ones pertained to something going on at the Mission, which both my husband and I are marginally involved in (me through him and also through an OPL Rideau Branch - Mission connection). I then e-mailed my contact at the Mission with my thoughts on the documents, cc'ing the acting supervising librarian at Rideau Branch and the manager of Rideau Branch. Here's hoping more fruitful partnerships will come out of this! Then I e-mailed my manager to keep her in the loop about me spending time on a Rideau project. I don't think that any of us think that's a big deal, but I like to play nicely with others. But that was some serious e-mail cc'ing. I try to avoid that when possible: no one likes an overloaded inbox!

1:30ish - Meeeting with my manager.

2:30ish - Tiramisu party with two of my favourite peeps!

3 - DONE - Resolved the Situation successfully, at long last. I continued to knock off a few other tasks in the PM, including some stuff related to Bookmobile's involvement in the Pride Parade next month. I also revised sections of a City document that pertain to the Library, delivered something to the 4th floor again (P.S. the back staircase between 4th floor and library smells of the same cleaner used in the tunnel between my high school and the neighbouring sports arena ... flashback!), had revisions approved and sent final document off, made a to-do list for next week (AAAH!), gave a colleague some $ for ALSO's Amazing Scrabble Race, planned my day shadowing Homebound Services (I know, it's appalling that I haven't done it yet and have been with that dept for 4 months... shuddup! As you can see, I've been busy!), listened to part of CBC's What has your library done for you lately? podcast while working (digression: this is the first time I have ever listened to a non-OPL podcast while working! Weird, eh? I do this stuff at home because in my substantive position, I am on the Information desk almost all the time... But now, in my acting position, I have an office!), made a diagram about parking the Bookmobile in a certain neighbourhood, made notes about a project I have to deal with in the coming weeks based on my meeting this aft with manager, sent more e-mail, read Google Alerts, finished a report, packed up some interoffice mail to myself, returned some more voicemail, received an email that began "Hi amazing boss" (my favourite kind!), drafted a memo for senior management, found a typo on next week's Bookmobile schedule (corrected it and called the bus on the road to clarify), sent my schedule to deptartments I supervise and my manager... etc.

5:30 - husband called and was just getting on the bus, which is OK because I was still tinkering with that memo. We like to meet at Main Library when I work here and go home from there together, so we made a plan to do that.

The end!

As a final note, it was fun doing Library Day in the Life again, although I am selfishly glad that I was off for the first two days, because doing this is a lot of work! It was, however, also informative for me, since I am in a new(-ish) job and it's interesting to compare this week's notes to my previous notes from Library Day in the Life 6, Library Day in the Life 5, and Library Day in the Life 3.

Library Day in the Life Round 7 wordle

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Library day in the life, Round 7, Thursday!

Thursday, Thursday....

I read my Google Reader news on the bus this morning. I experimented with a different bus route, which sort of worked out and sort of didn't. I was later than usual, but I think that could be remedied for future similar trips. Blah. I hate being late. It throws me off.

8:40-10:20ish - Varia, including: dealing with an employee's ID pass that had gone haywire (I love calling the city's Badge Master, if only so I can say BADGE MASTER), doing a demo of our new Smart Bins for staff, voicemail, scheduling a meeting, sent some e-mails, called the garage to log some maintenance requests on one of the Bookmobiles, approved leave requests, checked out my own holds, read AL Direct, worked on the same report I was working on yesterday, and checked out who has mac'n'cheese now that my favourite place is re-locating. I am SO SICK of tofu and sweet potato.

10:20ish - coffee from "By the Book," the Friends of the library shop here at GB. On my way back, I found Maurice! This only means something to you if you visit Greenboro Branch .... See here for a clue.... I e-mailed the children's staff to let them know, since I've been joking that finding Maurice will be my weekly "break."

10:20 - lunch - Developed "cheat sheet" for staff about the new Bookmobile communication procedure, including how to add shared mailboxes in Outlook and import signatures for generic messages we will be sending. Read more about what the heck that is here. Also, long conversation with patron on the phone.... don't ask..... and then patron called back 5 mins later to follow up.....

Noon - peeled crust off PB sandwich. Le sigh, version 2.0. Printed up next week's Bookmobile schedule x2 (office, both buses) and fax staff timesheets.

12:20 - Finished returning voicemails from my "sick leave," including three conversations in French - hooray! We're pretty much full up for volunteers right now in most branches. Some great resources for volunteer opportunities that I am suggesting to interested students (and including in my form response e-mails) are the City of Ottawa’s volunteering page and Volunteer Ottawa's website (Volunteer Ottawa is a United Way agency offering a volunteer recruitment and referral service for over 300 not for profit groups in the Ottawa area).

Afternoon - Handled a patron request to transfer holds from a Bookmobile stop to a branch (people call the Bookmobile extension, which I can pick up from my office if no one is around - since I get so few interactions with the public these days, this is usually kind of fun for me!), used an employee as a guinea pig for the draft cheat sheet, went over new communication procedure with three other employees, received a "Moose Hunter Extraordinaire" certificate for finding Maurice from GB children's staff (!!!!!!), read Migrant by Maxine Trottier (staff pick from Westmount Library's Facebook page, about a young girl whose family are Mennonite migrant workers in Canada...), e-mailed some orders and a job request to the city's IT peeps, more e-mail.....

2:35 - break to go outside, restore normal body temperature (air conditioning too strong), and swing on the swings in the park. Return 2:50.

Rest of afternoon: as above, more randoms, including reviewing Fall Preview submissions, more (different) hairy overtime questions (resolved, maybe, for now....), e-mail, updating procedures, and making tomorrow's to-do list, all done while taking rodent-sized bites of canned peaches.

File under "Things I never thought I would be doing:" making an information flyer about an incinerating toilet (for new staff on the bus to use as a guide).

Finally, I escaped, bringing some work reading with me for the bus ride because I didn't get to it today (I always put reading on one side of my desk, the side with the nice little mood light, with good intentions of turning said light on, creating some Ambiance, and actually said reading, but, um, it rarely happens).

But, in the interests of full disclosure, I didn't read it on the bus, either. Instead, I brooded about a situation today. Not great.... but there you have it.

Tonight: hosted a friend for dinner! (so yes, that got my mind off the above).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Library day in the life, Round 7, Day 3 (Day 1 for me!)

This is my fourth time participating in Library Day in the Life; I am late to the table this time because I was off on Monday and Tuesday, recovering from dental surgery. For more on me, see here and here (or here, for the facts, all official-like).

Work-related things I did at home on Monday and Tuesday, while on Oxycodon (wheeeeee!):
  • Replied to three e-mails (I put myself on a strict e-mail diet. This is quite impressive. Please pat me on the back)
  • Checked voicemails (only once)
  • Blogged about the Man Booker longlist (what? It was time-sensitive!)
Needless to say, I hit the ground running today!

My day began with a meeting at 9 am at our Nepean Centrepointe Branch about a unique request for group volunteering that OPL has received from a local high school. Volunteering at the library falls under my department right now, but since this was more than your usual teen community involvement hours, a few colleagues and I met to decide whether we can provide this leadership opportunity, and, if so, how best to provide it.

Basically, my volunteer coordination tasks generally involve triaging incoming volunteer applications (via phone, library volunteer e-mail address, or paper application form), liaise with branches seeking volunteers or needing support regarding volunteer procedures, sitting on a city-wide inter-departmental forum for volunteer coordinators, compiling statistics. Some of the things I've done about the volunteer portfolio since starting in my new position in March include: writing a standard reply for applications in both French and English, indicating which branches are recruiting and listing other volunteer resources in the community, designing a spreadsheet for branches to update their information (contact, whether they have and/or are seeking teen or adult volunteers), designing a stats sheet for # of applications received, and in what format, every month, and updating the monthly volunteer hours stats sheets.

After my short volunteer meeting (those two colleagues rock - our conversation diverged into about five different tangents and I swear, we could have solved the world's problems, given another 3 hours), I headed to my "home base" at Greenboro Branch, where Bookmobile's offices are located. Right now, I am splitting my time about 60/40 - I'm at my office at Greenboro most of the time, and I also spend a few days in a vacant office that is mine for now, at Main Library (where Homebound Services, which I also supervise, is based).

Upon arrival, I excavated my way to the bottom of the mail pile in order to find my desk (shudder). Seven inter-office mail envelopes and more voicemail later, I decided to tackle the inbox. Joy! My colleagues and staff were all happy to see me back, and I answered lots of questions about the dental surgery. It was great to see them, too; I did miss them, even in my pained haze.

In addition to hacking through the Outlook jungle throughout the day (several volunteer requests, administrative procedures and forms, things I just had to file away or thank people for...), I also:
  • Hosted a colleague in the cubicle who wandered in to ask if I was attending a meeting at Main Library this aft (I hadn't heard the date had changed; decided to not attend), and to ask some advice about a staffing issue.
  • Met with an employee who advised me about a few vehicle issues (mechanical and otherwise); we made notes for work to be done and, in one case, a diagram!
  • Was on the phone with HR about a giant, complicated mess of an overtime question. Just don't ask. The collective agreement was cited numerous times. It was hairy, but I think we resolved it!
  • Read and posted this online, creating a raging debate. Catch up on other Google Reader news while eating rodent-sized bites of a boring peanut butter sandwich (sigh).
  • Met with two other employees to give them tips about dealing with a problem patron. Lots of specifics, but some general advice: don't engage. Stick to the script!
  • Tried not to cry when Monday's to-do list reminder popped up in Outlook. Gave myself a stern talking-to about Leaving On Time.
  • Dealt with seven long, drawn-out emails (each with follow-up Qs and two with a misunderstanding that needed to be ironed out) about the same topic. Gah. All new information that I need to collate into a report. Hooray!
  • From 3 to 3:10 I just kind of stared at everything in a panic: voicemail to return, lists, piles, reports, emails - AAAHHH! Then I discovered the stitches in the back of my mouth by accident ... ewwwww.
  • 3:10: Pause for panic over. Instead, I responded to a call to send out info about a modified Bookmobile schedule tonight. One of our buses is waiting for a replacement toilet, so we use washrooms at the stops when we can. Today, the local school at our stop is closing earlier than we normally close, so we have to close early, too, unless, um, we want to hold it in for 2 hours..... Sorry, too much info?
  • Trained an employee on a certain fancypants Outlook task...
  • Played hardball with someone (else) ... in the metaphorical sense.... and won, at least this round.
  • Faxed a time-sensitive city report - ya, shuddup, we still fax.
  • Strategising with a colleague via e-mail and planning to attend a meeting of circulation services supervisors to talk about Bookmobile services (info, how to contact us, specific borrower policies on the buses, etc.) Sometimes, in a big org, it's hard to get all the info to the right people in the right format (email, in person, training manual?) and at the right time (eg. when they need it: evenings? weekends?)
  • Made a big to-do list for tomorrow. It makes me feel better, k?
  • Dammit there's a fly in my office!
  • Watered the plant :)
  • Answered some of those voicemail messages....!
  • Fled the scene at 4:20ish to run various errands on the way home. Stopped at the Caribbean grocery story for some cassareep and an impulse Jamaican patty (turns out I can eat parts of it even with my lack of teeth! I basically eviscerated it...), then Loblaws, Italian grocery, and home (collapse). Dinner: tofu, sweet potato, and beans with Quebec maple syrup. Not bad, but I could go for a hamburger.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A dog's breakfast of links

Here are some other things I have been working on / excited by recently that I forgot to link to on this blog (yes, my pretties, I have a life outside here!):

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reading retreats

Padua, Italy, from our honeymoon trip, October 2005.

I think it's a sign that I've been working too hard recently that this was so appealing, I almost wept:

Reading retreats: Paradise for book lovers - How to get away from everything but your books in a country house or an Italian castle
"The exceedingly independent -- if not downright antisocial -- might follow the example of Natalia, who writes a travel blog called No Beaten Path. A harried mom seeking a reading getaway that involved "as little interacting with other people as possible, no housework, no cooking," she recently rented a "simple" room at Glasshampton Monastery in Worcester, England, run by the Society of Saint Francis. Even the meals there are held in silence."

Yes, please. I assume there is no Internet, either, right? Sign me up. I sometimes daydream about this, too.

Next week I'm having all 4 wisdom teeth extracted. I guess I can make my own (medicated, liquid diet) reading retreat out of that, right?


More on Chanda's secrets, the movie

Allan Stratton speaks in today's Post about his novel, now a movie entitled Life, Above All,

The film is opening (finally) in Toronto and Montreal on July 15, and in Vancouver on July 22, and tells the story of Chanda, a 13-year-old girl in a small African town whose life is changed by the death of family members from AIDS.

Stratton mentions the lovely fact that "Chanda’s secrets has been chosen as a teaching aid by a number of Sub-Saharan countries, where AIDS remains a major cause of death, but also a taboo subject."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No book trailers, please!

Novelist Lee Goldberg says most writers shouldn’t make book trailers. He does have a good point about the static slideshow ones; but that's not the only kind of trailer out there. There are some brilliantly creative things being done.

To other authors, Goldberg pleads:

"Why don’t you just go to the bathroom, take whatever cash you have in your pockets and flush it down that toilet?’ They are amateurish. They are nothing but slideshows with bad stock photos, too much text and creepy music."

That being said, he made one himself.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New roles @ OPL: the past three months

To do, to do... A snapshot of my various lists.

Here are some highlights from my work life during the past few months.
  1. Managing volunteers: together with two colleagues, we worked on improving branch reporting of volunteer hours (that's the short version of that story, trust me...) I also developed a standard response to volunteer inquiries, updated the volunteer page on our website and our corporate policies, and developed a template for tracking branch opportunities. Whew! In May alone (school wasn't even out yet) we received about 30 inquiries about volunteering, via phone calls, e-mails and paper application forms.
  2. We acquired two tablet laptops for the Bookmobiles for the PSAs to provide information and reference assistance.
  3. We visited five local schools, from Vars to Riverside South, to promote SRC and the Bookmobile. The trips included an Algonquin College LIT student, one of OPL’s summer students from U of T, and staff.
  4. We launched Summer Reading Club on both buses - with bus decorations!
  5. We updated our communication plan for stop modifications and cancellations: daily updates (as needed) are now appearing on the library website.
  6. Both buses completed their annual maintenance, which involved some days off the road and some creative scheduling, so we could cover 21 of our 22 stops with one bus.
  7. Bookmobile attended two special events: the Farley Mowat School MayFair and the Touch A Truck event.
  8. We ordered two counters for the buses, to enable more accurate tracking of patrons visiting at each stop, for statistical purposes.
  9. We also developed a spreadsheet for tracking weekly counts, to make it easier to report this information for OPL reports (available here - click on each month's agenda)
  10. Readers’ advisory services on the bus received some extra promotion as we refreshed the read-alike bookmarks displayed on the bus.
  11. Bookmobile received new, easy to understand, visual and bilingual Open/Closed signs for the buses.
  12. We made some changes to Bookmobile collections: more DVDs, more room for teen collections, and display space for Express DVDs and museum passes.
  13. All Bookmobile staff went the extra mile these past few months, filling in shifts as needed: at special events or due to staff absences/retirements. Dudes, no joke, people are retiring left, right and centre over here. It's getting kind of crazy.
  14. I worked on lots of list of duties, procedures, and staff surveys.... I'll spare you the (boring) details.
  15. I also clocked some time overseeing Homebound Services (luckily, their excellent supervisor keeps things running smoothly!).
Bit different than a branch monthly report, eh? I'm finding I'm mired in lots of admin work, but there is some stimulating stuff in there, too, for sure. And less interaction with the public partially balances out by more interaction with staff. Different, but both worthwhile, endeavors. More Bookmobile outreach is one of the next big things on my agenda.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Career planning tips

A great article reporting about a session at ALA offering perspectives on "Planning Your Move Up the Career Ladder" presented the following excellent pieces of advice:

  1. Take risks: don't be afraid of change or deviate from the plan.
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses (that's something I especially learned at NELI)
  3. Recognize opportunities for growth. One panellist said something I strongly believe in: "one’s career can advance even within a fairly static context."
  4. Be willing to move sideways, or rapidly back and forth.
  5. Volunteer for work that others avoid, and find the positives in that work (I may have done this myself, and while it may not have been my favourite thing, it was a great learning experience and gave me a chance to excel at something I wouldn't have expected to even enjoy).
See also:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Drew Barrymore to produce and direct Heist Society

One of my favourite teen books of 2010 will be made into a movie, with Drew Barrymore producing and directing; "the studio is aging the characters a notch into their early 20s."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bookmobile news round-up

“New bookmobile to serve kids from county's migrant families” (from Palm Spring’s The Desert Sun):
“A bookmobile containing nearly 2,000 books and two computers with wireless Internet access that will serve the students of migrant workers in the Inland Empire was unveiled Wednesday at the Riverside County Education Office in Indio.”

Nina Sankovitch, “Cavern of Waiting Treasures: The Library Bookmobile” (from The Huffington Post):
“Sure, I can find those books in my firmly built and landscaped library building but there is something so very romantic and adventurous and mysterious about finding treasures in a traveling caravan.”

Kai Benson, "Bookmobile helps Slave Lake" (from the Sherwood Park News)
Strathcona County re-furbishes their retired bookmobile: "The library on wheels will serve Slave Lake until a temporary library is established in the fall."

Scott Tracey, "Library board gets money to keep Guelph Bookmobile rolling" (from the Guelph Mercury)
“If we don’t get this money [there are] going to be consequences for the City of Guelph,” noted library board chair Alan Pickersgill. “The Bookmobile is an incredibly popular service.”

"ALA Annual 2011: Showcasing the Best of Bookmobiles" (from
"It was all about booksmobiles last Sunday at the American Library Association's (ALA) annual conference in New Orleans, where attendees got to see the hottest trends in these traveling libraries and board some of the latest designs during the Parade of Bookmobiles."
(I want to go!)