Monday, May 07, 2007

A Day in the Life

I often end each work day by working over the "required" 8 hours and not feeling as though I have accomplished much of anything. Then, when I run through the day in my mind, I realize that although I may not finish much of anything in a given day, I do a lot towards completing tasks. I think many people would be amazed to learn the variety involved in the typical:


5:03 a.m. The chime of my Zen Alarm Clock announces the dawning of a new day.

5:07 a.m.
The sound of insistent purring from a cat drowns out the second chime of the Zen Alarm Clock

5:10 a.m.
Slam lid of Zen Alarm Clock closed, throw cat off of bed, and rise to face the dawn.

5:11 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. Feed pets, shower, dress, gather things, clean cat litter, walk dog, make sure dog has dog treat for day.

6:05 a.m. - 6:55 a.m. Drive to work. Say morning prayer to thank the heavens for the invention of the iPod.

7:00 a.m. First one to work! At the archives!

7:00 a.m. -7:17 a.m. Turn off alarms, turn on lights, log on computer, boil water for coffee, make toast, shelve some boxes, unlock bathrooms, use bathroom, check mailbox, check voice mail.

7:18 a.m. Sit in front of computer with toast, coffee, and vitamins! All good archivists take their vitamins! Try not to drip crumbs into keyboard. It is not a sound archival practice to have food at your desk, especially in your keyboard.

7:18 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. Complete the following tasks:

* Read email, including skimming all listserv digests and RSS feeds
* Check reference email account. Three requests are waiting.
* Forward person who inexplicably decided to ask for an article from a Chemistry journal to the appropriate librarian
* Explain to the person asking to trace her great-grandfather's birthplace that sadly, due to staff and time constraints, we cannot conduct genealogical research, but I can offer some tips
* Tell the student writing his dissertation that yes, I can check Series II, Box 24, Folder 1 to double-check the date on that letter he needs to finish his chapter
* Update department web page to reflect new hours
* Print agenda for 9:00 meeting and print out policy that will be discussed
* File printouts of reference questions that have accumulated in printer into appropriate administrative files.
* File photocopy request forms into the Photocopy Request Form binder

8:00 a.m. - Say hello to colleagues stumbling into work who don't have such a long commute.

8:00 am - 8:20 a.m. Go to reading room to see if there are any pending photocopy requests from previous day. Reshelve items that are no longer needed and bring truck full of photocopy requests upstairs

8:20 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. Go with colleague across campus to take a picture of a haunted portrait in a locked conference room for our fall exhibit.

8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Consult with student assistant re: plan to rearrange processing area that afternoon.

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Meeting with reading room colleagues, where we discuss our photocopy policy, building renovations, and training of new staff.

10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Reference desk. It is slow today - there is only the one guy who comes in every day to use the computer and another guy who just wants to study. I entertain myself by:

* Looking up photocopy policies at other institutions to see what they charge
* Add new employees to email listserv
* Send some emails relating to various committees on which I serve
* Research a 1920s-era photograph
* Catch up with co-worker who just returned from vacation
* Talk to a mother and daughter touring campus who just want to see the library
* Work on a talk I have to give later this week
* Consult with student who is in charge of rearranging processing area

12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Crash a pizza party in another department

1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Assist in rearranging of processing area, which involves:
* moving massive chunks of industrial shelving from point A. to point B.
* Using a swiffer to clean up the nastiness underneath
* Use what is available to me (Windex and Water) to try to clean some of the grime from the floor. It is not good archival practice to have your lunch area in the same area as your processing space, but what can you do?
* Maneuver another piece of industrial shelving from the back of the stacks to the front using a complicated system of two dollies, one master handyman, and two students.
* Clean all the shelves
* Answer question from student assistant about photocopy order
* Put things on shelves. Use my master appraisal system to throw away a lot of old trays and containers
* Wonder why we have pots and planting materials and why I never noticed them before
* Discover that we have saved not one, but two, inoperable coffee makers and one broken electric kettle. We archivists save everything, don't we!

3:00 p.m. - Sit.

3:02 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Try to wrap up day in order to leave on time. This includes:
* Calling researcher who wants to visit and is unhappy we aren't open in the evenings
* Calling researcher who doesn't really want to talk to me, but needs to be transferred elsewhere
* Checking email for any breaking news of the day
* Beginning to read final report of subcommittee formed to implement DACS. Good stuff.

3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
* Interrupted by student who has finished photocopy order. Call researcher and tell him his order is ready.
* Talk to different student about summer plans and possible summer projects.
* Realize I never looked up that citation for PhD student from this morning. Make big note on Post-It to remind myself to do it first thing next morning
* Ask student to scan two posters

4:00 p.m. Get wrapped up in poster scanning project. Open Photoshop to show student how to stitch sections of images together. Discover that even though my new computer is 4x faster with 4x the memory, Photoshop apparently needs five minutes to open a 40MB file.

Is this not the 21st Century? Can we not put people on the moon? Can we not give people new body parts and cars with complex engines that can go really, really fast? So I ask you, why can the average new desktop PC NOT open a semi-large file in a timely manner? WHY?

4:07 p.m. Make note to submit paper proposal to SAA that digitization isn't worth the time and effort if the average desktop computer takes TEN minutes to SAVE a friggin' 60 MB file.

4:15 p.m. Close Photoshop. Take deep breath. Grab bag.

5:15 p.m.
Arrive home. Discover that another day has passed without the dog using the back room as a toilet. The day is truly a success!

What was YOUR day like?