Thursday, February 23, 2012

Librarians Need to Know How to Read Laws

So, laws can be a hot topic in Libraryland. Most especially when it comes to copyright. If you Google librarians and copyright, you'll get pages and pages on the topic - guides, info, pages from professional associations, etc etc. And I agree, librarians should understand copyright law, especially as it applies to their particular resources and clients.

But I also think that librarians need to be able to read, understand, and apply "the law," in general. This may not apply as much to certain librarians, but I'm a government librarian, and as such, there are specific laws that apply to me and my activities within my library. For example, what we can get rid of, and how. The question of this MIDA (multi-institutional disposition authority), how it applies at NRCan, and how we'll dispose of surplus (weeded) publications came up as part of our conversation around collection management and weeding. Some of my colleagues were concerned about our obligations, according to their reading of the MIDA.

Which meant that I needed to read the thing and provide advice on what we can and cannot do, and when we need to contact Library and Archives Canada to see if they want something (rare or old Canadian imprints; large runs of Canadian imprints).

I was okay with this (and would have asked our legal counsel for an opinion if I was unsure), but I can't be the only librarian who needs to read and understand laws other than copyright laws. And let's face it, specific wording is important in interpreting the law. So it surprises me that reading & applying laws has never, to my recollection, come up as a skill that librarians need to know. But I don't know - is this mostly limited to government librarianship? I'm curious about other librarians' experience with this.

Call me crazy, but I think this is awesome.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Productivity Tip: Change Something

I'm a procrastinator. Always have been. Deadlines work really well for me, because I usually have a keen sense of how long something will take (to deliver at an appropriate quality level). I also tend to do a lot of prep work for a piece of work early on, and then let things sit and stew in my brain - so when I'm ready to get started, I can pump it out... I just wait until the last minute to do it. So I need a deadline, otherwise I have a hard time actually getting things done.

Of course, procrastinating isn't always a great thing, so I've learned various way to ensure that I don't procrastinate inappropriately, and/or that I'm not wasting time. One of these tactics is to change it up when I notice that I'm not making headway on things.

Some of them are pretty straightforward: For example, not sure what you need to do? Make a list. (Don't forget to then do the things on said list.) Not sure how to get something done? Brainstorm. For bonus points, diagram things.

My best tip, though, is to change your environment. In undergrad, I would often kick off exam season with a major deep clean & reorg of my room/common spaces of the apartment. I do the same when I'm stressed at home. At work, if I can't get down to brass tacks, I'll step away from my computer and clean (yes, like actually wiping things down) and tidy my office. And then I'm usually able to think more clearly and get things done.

It's important not to forget about the relationship between our working environment and our productivity levels!

I also have this infographic pinned to my wall, where I can see it easily - it reminds me to change something if I'm not happy. Funny as it may sound, it's a reminder I need (and I suspect I'm not alone).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Your Sales Tactics: I See Right Through Them

Recently, I entered a draw for a trip. It seemed fiarly-legit-if-not-totally-so, but I wasn't giving any info I was uncomfortable divulging on the entry slip, so I figured that not much bad could come of it.

WELL. Today I received a phone call - I won the trip! The 3000$ trip for two to Florida and the Bahamas! Hurray! All I have to do is pay for our travel to Florida - yeah, we can handle that, right? And they're U.S. based, so to avoid taxes, we just have to pay a small processing fee - way less than the taxes would be. Only 199$ each! And at each location we go to, they'll give us a comprehensive tour of the place (this is the timeshare sales talk!). And they're sending me the travel documents right now! All I have to do is give them my credit card info for half of the fees, to secure our spot!

I think I'll pass, thanks. Especially since I'm sitting in front of a computer while on the phone with you, and can read all kinds of negative reviews (Oasis Travel Services in Daytona, Florida, if you're curious) online. I got off the phone, but the woman was like the call centre equivalent of an octopus - for every reason I had to decline her offer, she had another reason that I should go for it. Clearly she's done this before. My ability and willingness to say "No," and to repeat myself, certainly came in handy this afternoon.

What was really interesting was that I could spot the various persuasion tactics as she used them.
  • She started by getting me all excited about it. 
  • It was a limited time offer. 
  • It was worth up to 3000$, but would only coz me 400$. 
  • I was the one whose name was picked. This offer isn't open to the public. 
  • I'd never get another chance like this. 
  • It "kept getting better." Plus, we'll throw in two tickets to the Arabian Nights Show! PLUS we'll give you blah blah blah.
  • She gave me names and addresses, to assure me that the business is legit. 
  • She explained why the company "gives away" trips. 
  • She asked if we could be relied upon to talk up our amazing trip to friends and family - getting me involved, making me feel invested. 
Being able to spot these sales tactics makes me feel good - makes me feel like I'm less likely to fall for a trick. If I get involved with something, I don't want it to be because some lady with a fake call centre name fooled me into it.

Honestly, if I had to A) pay a processing fee or B) pay to travel to Florida to start the trip or C) sit through a timeshare sales talk, I'd do it. But A+B+C? No dice, friend. If I want to go to Florida that badly, I'll just pay for it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time Flies

... when you're having fun. Also, when you spend half of last week home sick. Let me tell you, I am rarely so pleased to be at work on a Thursday as I was last week - just being out of the house was that great.

The past week has been great for learning opportunities for me. I attended the CLA Government Library & Info Pro IM Learning Fair yesterday, and got to talk to some really interested - and interesting - people about ARMA-NCR. I also got to find out more about what other associations have been up to. I'm so glad that ARMA-NCR is working more and more with other associations in the area - building these relationships has been a pet enthusiasm of mine since I joined the board. While we may be talking to the same audience, we're all bringing different ideas and perspectives to the table, so we can easily collaborate - and we're definitely not competitors. So yeah - working with other associations to contribute to and build the RIM community in the National Capital Region is awesome! Plus, I get to meet so many great people.

Speaking of great people, I attended a talk by Ron Surette (CIO at Library and Archives Canada) on digital preservation this morning, organized by AIIM. I thought it was really interesting - and was introduced to the concept of a wicked problem

Not that kind of wicked

 - "a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems" (definitely check out the Wikipedia article I linked to for more info. It's fascinating!).

So yeah. There's been lots of other learning, too, but those two events are top of mind for me right now. I really love attending these kinds of events - the networking and learning is awesome.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What I Learned From Library Day In The Life #8

So, I've thought a bit about participating in Library Day in the Life 8, and I think I got a lot out of it. For one, my productivity was higher than it otherwise could have been - I've been known to procrastinate, especially when faced with what feels like a lot of work. So feeling like the Internet is watching was good for me - I actually got lots done last week. One of my fave ways to get stuff done when I'm procrastinating is to set a timer (usually for an hour), and tell myself that I'm going to do focused work for that time. It makes things seem much more manageable (it's "work hard for an hour" not "finish this intimidating problem"), and it helps me get things done. I employed that tactic several times last week, and I think I might use it more.

It was also interesting to go back and look at what I did with my days. I seem to do a lot of administrivia - I'm going to have to take a look at what those things are, and how I can cut down on them.

Note to self: Avoid
I plan on reading a lot more Library Day in the Life posts from others when I've got a chance - but this was definitely a useful exercise from a self-analysis point of view, and I'm happy with it. I would definitely do it again.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Library Day In the Life: Day 5

Hi, I'm Emily, and I'm the Acting Manager, Licensing and Access Services, for Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. Today, I...

Woke up with a really fuzzy head & stuffy-feeling ears. I've been battling this nagging sinus nonsense pretty much all week. Considered calling in sick, but I've got a ref desk shift this afternoon. Luckily it should be an easy day...

8:30 - 1:00: Come in, chat with staff, answer emails, financial stuff related to procurement, finish a "Weeding Cheat Sheet" type document and sent to colleagues for their input, set up a meeting to discuss procedures for catalogue changes due to weeding, start planning for next week, lunch, more emails. Send the draft Collection Management Policy to all library staff - hurray! Hoping for some good feedback/suggestions from my colleagues.

1:00 - 3:00: Ref desk! This afternoon I'm at 580. Help a few clients, page through some trade journals that look interesting, replenish some supplies - pretty standard.

580 ref desk from entrance to library
Reference/meeting area
Looking down the hall of high-density shelving. Stacks to left and right. Sunny reading and working areas along the back wall.
3:00: My sinuses still hurt. A lot. I give up - send a message to my boss and head home to try to sleep it off.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Library Day In the Life: Day 4

Hi, I'm Emily, and I'm the Acting Manager, Licensing and Access Services, for Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. Today, I...

Today, I'm pretty sure things will be less busy than Tuesday and Wednesday. Thank goodness!

8:30 - 9:55: Settle in, check my emails, chat with a client, chat with a staff member, head to our Earth Sciences Library for a ref desk shift.

10:00 - 12:00: Ref desk! I've got on 2-hour shift per week at this library (I'm working ref desk hours even though I'm in a manager job right now, just because we're short on staff), and I like being over here. Fun fact: There are LOC and Cutter classified books here. One of our other locations has LOC, Cutter, and Dewey! This is what happens when your libraries are really old... (The Geological Survey of Canada, started it all, was founded in 1842).

Ref desk - from the library entrance

Ref desk to the right, work areas in front

Another angle on the ref desk

Looking down the hall of stacks - high-density shelving on left and right

12:05 - 1:00: Lunch, derp around on the personal side of the internet, administrivia until our All Staff meeting at 1.

1:00 - 3:00: All Staff meeting! It goes really well - one of the most controversial things was the weeding project I'm working on, but even that generated some good discussion. I think we're going to have to do more of these.

3:00 - 5:00: Procurement, contracts, invoicing, planning.

5:00 - 8:00: ARMA-NCR Board meeting. First board meeting for our two new board members - it was great to see them! Had some awesome conversations; am looking forward to seeing what's in store for our Chapter. We've got some great plans, and are building some awesome relationships!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Library Day In the Life: Day 3, Part 2

Continuing my Wednesday adventures, for the rest of the day I have...

12:35 - 1:00: Derp around with some administrivia. Find out that the donation assessment stuff is basically settled. Excellent.

1:00 - 1:45: Meet with staff who have flex days to work our a system whereby not everyone is out of the office on the same day. Come up with some great, varied solutions - one staff member moved her flex day off of Monday, one said we could call her in case of emergency, all agreed that if they reschedule a flex day, it won't be moved to a Friday or a Monday. We also came up with a strategy that minimizes library closures in the case that everyone is away on the same day. We're almost to the point where flex days are operationally impossible, but we're not there yet, and quite frankly, I'd like to keep flex days as an option for staff - they cut down on sick days, for one thing.

After the meeting, I had a quick chat with our Systems librarian about serials control and management, and we agreed that we're going to have to assess the level of serials control we apply, seeing as full holdings maintenance is a lot of work, and we're not sure whether the ROI is there. One option might be to only do summary holdings for subscriptions where we have both print and internet access... but that's just a thought at this point.

1:45 - 3:00: I'm on the ref desk this afternoon! Get a call from an external client, do some calling around to find the right person's contact information. I maintain that one of my most useful skills as a librarian is my willingness to pick a likely person from an org chart, call them, and say "Hi! You might not be the right person for me to talk to, but I'm hoping you can help!" (Note that this is different from "You're the first person whose name came up in GEDS. Do this thing for me which is totally outside of your job description because I can't be bothered to look any further, and no I do not want the name of the person whose job that is." I've been on the receiving end of calls like that from other librarians, and let me tell you - frustration city!)

3:00 - 5:45: Work on various administrivia. Update our Chief on the proposed solution regarding flex days. Chat with a staff member about an HR issue that has diffused very nicely. Contract procurement. Subscription management. Contract procurement. Fret about my headache and hope very hard that it's not a cold. Start thinking about what I need to do tomorrow. Start working on a spreadsheet for my awesome Finance admin person detailing subscriptions that we procured on behalf of specific client groups, for which we need to do cost recovery. Listen to The Decemberists (The King Is Dead) while I do it - I really love Calamity Song. Get a call from a regional colleague with more history/better knowledge of our Taylor and Francis file than I have; she's offering to sort it all out, and keep me in the loop. Yes please and thank you. So many of my colleagues really, really rock. I'm new in this position, so it's great to have someone offer to step in and lend a hand every once in a while! I usually ask for help when I need it, but it's nice to have it offered, too.

Husband arrives, and I'm out!

Library Day In the Life: Day 3, Part 1

Hi, I'm Emily, and I'm the Acting Manager, Licensing and Access Services, for Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. Today, I...

 (As an aside, yesterday my husband asked me if I thought there was an issue with taking work time to blog about how busy my day had been. I don't think so, for a couple of reasons. A) I needed a bit of a break. I could have gone for a walk, but I blogged instead. B) My colleagues and I discuss our library and how we do things with other librarians/students/interested parties on a regular basis. Our Chief fully supports us giving tours, presentations, and demonstrations to librarians who are interested in how we do things - so Library Day In The Life is consistent with our efforts to share our approach with others.)

8:30 - 11:30: Good morning! I'm thinking that there can't possibly be more emergencies to deal with today - got them all out of the way yesterday. No voicemails this morning, no urgent emails - looks good!
  • Poke around the Internet to see what's happening while nursing my tea. 
  • Get the news that a contract employee working with our Information Management colleagues is here, and since we get her one day a week, and they're not set up for her, they want to know whether we can keep her busy. Heck yes! P has worked with us before, and she's great - I send her to our Map library to go shelve maps. The subject specialist sounds pretty excited. I need to touch base with our Manager of Technical Services to see if she can use P's help - they're super busy, could really use an extra set of hands. 
  • Prep for the RLM meeting later this morning. I feel good about it.
  • Get an email from our Chief saying that she likes the draft Collection Development Management Policy that I sent her. Hurray! Now I shall start circulating amongst colleagues for more revision/input.
  • Email our Systems Librarian about a meeting we need to have with our Techs who do Serials Management. The Evergreen Serials Module apparently isn't ready to go, but our previous system has been taken offline - what to do, what do to...
  • Remember that it is February 1st! Change my desktop wallpaper to this one (without the calendar). I really like Smashing Magazine's monthly wallpapers. I was tempted to go with a Valentine's Day-ish one, but thought the "Be Bold and Venture to Be Wise" message was a good one! 
  • Review a US Memo on Facilitating Scientific Research by Streamlining the Paperwork Reduction Act Process that was shared with me by our Regional Libraries Coordinator. She suggested it would be useful to my thinking about collection management at NRCan - she likes the tone, and suggests we need to be very specific about collections that are not mission critical. We maintain a lot of information that is no longer directly relevant to our core mandate (because the department's activities have changed over time), and we also manage a lot of collections on behalf of industry/associations, etc. In order for our collections to remain relevant and useful, we need to re-examine their content, and I agree that the approach embodied in said Memo could be useful. Hurray for sharing!
  • Contracting & procurement joy, and other varia.
11:30 - 12:00: Regional Library Managers meeting, which took place via teleconference. I spoke to them about actions required in order to go forward with the collection management work we need to undertake, and another colleague spoke about work on a national reference service model. The meeting went really well, and there were some great suggestions from my colleagues in the regions. I really like speaking to my regional counterparts, because it helps me understand what is going on outside of our little Ottawa-bubble. Their reality is quite different from mine (I think...), and it is very interesting to hear what they're up to, and their thoughts and observations.

12:00 - 12:05: Donation assessment stuff. I'm going to look into it after lunch.

12:05 - 12:35: Lunch!