January 27, 2011

Library Day in the Life

First thing first: this is my Week of Extreme Slow, part of my Embedded Librarianship Project. I was going to devote a whole entry to it, but I didn't want to miss out on blogging for the Library Day in the Life project. Then I thought, what better way to celebrate and explain my work than to explain how it looks under the microscope.

I started with a to-do list. I've never had a productive day at work without one. The list is not pretty, but by lunchtime about a third of its items had been crossed out, including the biggest, scariest item that I had been dragging my feet on forever.

One of my responsibilities is to plan, write, edit, format, and quality-assure content for a federal interagency website. The process is just a little bit ridiculous and resembles conversing via tin cans: I note changes to be made and transmit these to a federal officer who then contacts a government contractor to make the changes, who then contacts me... I'd have given up on this by now except that I have to document this dance in my quarterly progress report to our federal funders. While putting the changes together (slowly), I found a number of broken links and some mismatched content to repair--or, rather, suggest through my tin can that it be repaired--later.

The rest of my day was focused on cleaning out my inbox, which, although it is empty when I leave on a good day, has been growing fat with messages as if in preparation for this week's snowstorms. Most of the messages hanging around were events to be added to the calendar, alerts on special keywords that I like to find in documents, and notices that so-and-so is now following us on Twitter.

I tweet at least three times a day via two different feeds (different funding sources, different identities & voices, different rules & regulations). This is a treasure trove of activity and information, especially during a Week of Extreme Slow. I took a look at some of the new followers to each feed, and their followers in turn, followed through on some tweets that @mentioned us, and so on. One thing led to another, as they say.

Part of the inbox clean-up involved checking in on my dozens of Google Alerts. I monitor web traffic on the names (and acronyms, and web addresses) of each of our projects, specialized terminology, board members' names, federal grant codes, and more. I've learned to tell a good result from a phantom PDF-chaser. I've disambiguated terms that overlap between our content area and the work, presumably, of some special librarian in another hemisphere whose "LEP" means Local Enterprise Partnerships (not Limited English Proficiency). I've found, cataloged, put in context, and then promoted, hundreds of tiny wisps of information this way. Today I was making sure that each wisp found multiple, strategically-overlapping homes on our website, internal knowledge base, Twitter feed, as well as to see that any mention of us in the press, be it ever so humble, found its way to the communications staff.

The things that didn't make their way off the list were: drafting my "Power of the Hashtag" training for the next SMUG gathering, and putting the finishing touches on a new resource collection on social media and public participation. These will happen, slowly, tomorrow and Friday as I continue in my quest to slow down routine tasks in order to suckle every last bit of learning, productivity, and reflection out of the items on my list.

PS I did all this while listening to Danielle Ate the Sandwich and Neutral Milk Hotel. Great combination.

No comments: