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Managed to lose track, so this is a two-days-for-the-price of one library day in the life

Back in the office today, after the excitement of a trip to London yesterday. While I was away from a computer, we received 5 more applications for the SLA Europe ECCAs. This is great news, but I wish they hadn’t all waited until I was unavailable! I checked that the applications had come through, and then emailed each of the applicants to say thanks for applying, and that we’d got their documents safely. We’re trialling an online submission form for applications this year, which worked fine in testing, but suddenly decided to start throwing errors once real applications came in… This means I have to reply manually to applicants, rather than the nice automated systems doing all the work!

I also booked some leave (woohoo!) and answered some Copac and Archives Hub queries.

Then checking more library data for Copac, and the gym at lunch time again.

More data checking in the afternoon. I’ve now had a look at the basics of the files. Next week I’ll look for things that we recognise as potential issues for all imports – eg are notes about theses in a 502 field? If not, are they consistent enough that we can move them to one? I’ll also make sure that there is holdings information for all records – or that we know how to handle it if not!

Then draft a quick post for the Archives Hub blog about VftL and our board meeting, which should go live on Monday.

A work from home day today! I don’t work from home very often, but today I needed to record some tutorials for the Archives Hub on how to use the EAD Editor, and it seemed easier and more sensible to do it from home, where I’ve got the right equipment, and shouldn’t be disturbed.

Possibly because I don’t work from home very often, I’ve found it quite difficult to be productive today. This could be because I don’t have a special workspace at home – I’m sat on my sofa, at my computer, same as during normal ‘me time’. I think if I was working from home more often, I’d need to put some kind of differentiation in place. maybe just wearing proper clothes rather than slopping around in my at home clothes!

Of course, I have been doing a lot of work from home recently, at evenings and weekends, mainly for VftL, but also for SLA and my book! (I’m editing a New Professionals Handbook for Facet, and if you haven’t already had one, watch out for emails begging for case studies!) But while that has to be done, it doesn’t have the same ‘must sit down and be at the computer between 10 and 5:30’ vibe that actually working from home does.

So rather a bitty day today. Got some adminy stuff cleared up, dabbled at a bit of light writing. I’ve also practised my UKOLN social web day talk, and am pleased to say it comes in at 25 mins 30 🙂 Slides will be done on Monday, when I’m back in work with my two monitors! I do find it much harder to go back to working with only one – perhaps another reason that working from home’s not been so successful for me today.

Finally as an end-of-day treat, I watched Ned Potter’s day in the life video, which you should totally watch if you haven’t already. It’s ace, and making me wish I’d been rather more creative in my own libday6 stuff… Ned’s an inspiration as always!

Day three of the Library Day in the Life round 6

This was a day full of adventure and excitement, as I headed down to London to meet the Voices for the Library team! Most of us had never met each other before yesterday, despite having worked very closely together over the past 5 months, so we were extremely pleased to finally have a face-to-face meeting!

It was also my first experience of chairing an in-person meeting, and I’m delighted to say we covered everything on the agenda, and only over-ran by an hour 🙂 I never thought there would be any problems, and the team proved to be as lovely ands easy to work with in person as they are virtually. We’ll be releasing the minutes on the VftL website soon (thanks to some sterling work from secretary Simon), but for now I’ll just say watch out for some exciting developments next week!

I took advantage of the train journey down to London to read Ruth Kneale’s book ‘You don’t look like a librarian‘. I’d been given a copy to review for SLA Europe, so I’ll save most of what I have to say for the review. One thing though – I wish I hadn’t been reading it on the train with no laptop, as there were loads of links and resources I wanted to follow up on!

Day two of the Library Day in the Life round 6

I’m on helpdesk duty for Copac and the Archives Hub today, so today starts (even before my first cup of tea!) with a check through of the emails that have come in since yesterday. Most of them are spam, but there’s one real query for Copac – someone wanting a copy of a paper. This happens fairly often with Copac – we explain what Copac is ‘a merged catalogue of the holdings of over 50 UK national, academic, and specialist libraries’, and that we don’t hold any items ourselves. Then we point them to a source for the item they want, telling them who holds it and/or suggesting they ask their local library for an inter-library loan.

A couple of quick SLA Europe emails sent, about the ECCAs (deadline soon!).

Then onto scripting my talk for the UKOLN social web workshop next week. I’m talking about VftL and social media. Have a plan of what I want to say in my 25 mins, but I have to script it! No good at talking without a script, so I have to write it all out and practice it… Fortunately I have my exceedingly handy words per minute list, which allows me to work out how many words I need to fill certain amounts of time, without repeated reading and timing. It can be quite daunting though! 25 minutes works out at 4000 words, which is rather hefty…

But there’s the libraries debate going on at Westminster this morning as well, and Haggis and Mash up in Edinburgh, so my twitterstream is even more distracting than usual! By 11 I’ve only got 350 words written – time to turn twitter off for a while…

Get distracted just in time to turn on the #haggisandmash stream to hear @juliancheal talking about linked data. He’s working on the LOCAH project, and I’m naturally keen to hear what he’s got to say (and not just because I want to steal his examples for my article, oh no!). Then lunch, and a quick check of helpdesk and personal emails.

Part of me wants to do something else this afternoon, but I’m 1500 words into my presentation, and should really plough on. Trust #libday6 to happen on a week where I’m mainly doing large chunks of writing! Tomorrow will be more exciting though 🙂

2000 words! so a quick break and another Copac query. One I can’t answer this time, so have passed on to a colleague to look into. Then watched Gary Green’s ‘save libraries mashup challenge video’, before tea & cake!

Then back to the scripting. I get everything I want to say done in 3500 words. When I time it on Friday I’ll see how close that comes into the 25 minutes – I’m sure allowing an extra few minutes for questions will be fine!

I make sure I’ve got my train tickets for tomorrow (off to London for the VftL board meeting), and some stuff to read on the train. I’ve never chaired a real face-to-face meeting before, so I hope I’m not expected to do any special esoteric preparation… (‘You! Chair! You’re supposed to have memorised every word of every email from the past 6 months! And brought cake! What’s wrong with you?!?’) To be on the safe side, I think I might take cake 😉

It’s Library Day in the Life time again! Here’s my day on Mon 24/1/11.

First thing of the day is to check emails while drinking tea. In between the spam, there’s some interesting stuff, and I’ll add it to my to-do-list. After years of hand-written to-do-lists, I’ve recently been converted (thanks @woodsiegirl!) to using Nirvana. Finding it very useful – it’s great to be able to brain-dump everything I need to do for a project.

First email action is to help an Archives Hub contributor – having an issue using the EAD Editor. Been doing some back-and forwards email diagnostics, then logged on as them to see if I could reproduce the problem. Seems to be fixed.

Decided to blog rather than tweet my libday6, as a) the blog’s been rather quiet recently and b) it means I don’t have an excuse to be on twitter all day, so I might be more productive… Still popping on to check out other people’s days though, so probably not.

Realise am putting off working on article. Am writing 5000 word article for Business Information Review about Linked Data and the LOCAH project. Not had to write a long, peer-reviewed article for quite some time! Finding it a bit daunting, especially as my knowledge of Linked Data is very limited and mainly practical. Understand enough to work on my bits of the LOCAH project, but do I understand enough to write about it so other people will understand? Regardless, my aim for today is to get 1000 words done, whether they make any sense or not!

Squeezed in a quick blog post over at Voices for the Library about the Library day in the life project – hopefully might lead to a bit of echo chamber escaping!

Got 500 word introduction to the article written before lunch. Then off to the gym, and back for a quick sandwich in front of the emails that have come in over lunch.

Quick check of personal emails to make sure there’s nothing I need to do for VftL, and no SLA Europe award submissions to acknowledge. The deadline for ECCA applications is a week today (31st Jan), so I’m expecting a lot in over the next few days!

I reach 1000 words at 3:30, and celebrate with coffee, chocolate, and a quick twitter break. Decide to carry on with the article for now, as it’s going quite well – though am bemused as to why EndNote isn’t displaying page numbers. Will have to check output style settings, but that can wait until the end! Letting myself get distracted by things like that is one of my worst productivity drains.

Ok, managed another 20 mins and 200 words, before starting miring myself in a description of URIs and RDF. Will leave it for today, and hope it become slightly clearer tomorrow.

On to some data checking for Copac. We’ve got some new contributors lined up for 2011, and I’m looking over the data of the Bishopsgate Library. This came to us in XML. I produced a mapping for our programmer to apply, to turn XML into MARC, and it’s this MARC output that I’m going to be checking now, to make sure that the data has been transformed correctly, and makes sense as MARC. Once processed, the data will go through anothet transformation to trun it from MARC to the MODS XML format used on Copac. That’s a little while away yet though!

Got the first tranche of data done by 5, and have scheduled myself in to look at the second set tomorrow. For now it’s writing up this blog post, then check over emails (work and personal) for any more actions for tonight or tomorrow. We’re having the first VftL board meeting in London on Weds, and tonight I’ll be looking over what people want to discuss, and finalising the agenda.

This is a bit of a cheeky/cheaty library day in the life post, as it’s not actually about where I am and what I did today: it’s about where I’m not, and what I’m not doing.

I’m not in St Louis, for the SLA Leadership Summit. I haven’t just come out of the ‘Moving forward with Alignment’ session. I’m not currently networking with other delegates while eating lunch and waiting for Jim Kane’s keynote. I won’t be visiting Busch Stadium with a host of new contacts, colleagues, and even friends.

I wasn’t there, earlier today, to hear the fantastic news that SLA Europe is the Chapter with the highest % growth, and with the highest number of new members. I don’t have a slight headache from last night’s networking cocktail party. I won’t get to hear the hands-on experience panel of the First Five Years Advisory Committee talk about how to encourage new professionals into leadership.

I’m not there to hear the announcement that I’ve been named an SLA Rising Star for 2010 (this worries me slightly, actually, as I can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s all a big joke. This award comes with an invitation to attend Leadership – I would never have thought about attending otherwise, but now I feel that I’m missing something…) I wasn’t there to meet the other Rising Stars! What are they like? When do I get to know them? When can we start collaborating??

I’m not there to experience an SLA conference with only one thing on the schedule at any given time! I can watch the #slaleads tweets – which is great! – but I wish I was there to add to them.

So that’s what I didn’t do today. The Leadership Summit goes on until Saturday, but don’t worry, you won’t get two more posts whining about what I’m missing! I know we can’t always take all the opportunities that come our way, and that dwelling on missed ones won’t shoe no chickens, but I think everyone’s allowed an occasional reflection on what might have been 🙂

I’ve been mainly doing my day-in-the-life updates through twitter, but decided you deserved a proper blog post today 🙂 Apologies if you know all this already!

I got into work slightly earlier than usual (9:45 instead of 10! I’m not a morning person, and prefer to work later if possible), as a colleague was borrowing my phone to record an interview with a Copac user, and needed to be shown how to use it as a voice recorder. We’re interviewing users of Copac, the Archives Hub and Zetoc at the moment, to gather evidence about how our services are being used by researchers and educators. I always enjoy talking to our users – it’s great to hear how much they value the services, and how they are using them. It’s also interesting to hear about people’s research areas! Among the topics so far we’ve had mosquito mating; the history of Scottish shawls; 12th century views on magic; and African border disputes (my sincere apologies to anyone whose research area I’ve just totally misrepresented! This is all filtered through my limited understanding.)

I spoke to an Archives Hub user at 10:30, which meant I missed out on a Mimas institution – coffee morning. This is a legacy from when Mimas staff were spread over a number of locations, and didn’t have much contact with each other. We’re rather more collegial now (down to only 2 locations!), but it’s still nice to meet up on Weds morning, for coffee and a chat.

After the interview, I posted a blog post I’d written earlier. I’d asked an SLA E colleague to read it, to make sure that I wasn’t dragging the good name of SLA Europe into disrepute, and posted it once she’d given me the thumbs-up (yes, I can be quite paranoid!). Then to transcribing the interview, which – as always – took far longer than I expected!

Just before lunch, time to arrange a visit to Chetham’s – always a treat! they’re a Copac contributor, and are interested in contributing their archive records to the Archives Hub. I’m going down to talk them through exporting their records from CALM and uploading them to the Hub EAD editor. In their supreme loveliness they’ve offered to buy me lunch if I go in the morning 😀

Then to trying to work out why the file from the first interview this morning would play on my computer and not Lisa’s. I’m fairly sure it was a codec problem, but I didn’t really have time to identify exactly what the issue was, so I just downloaded a freeware converter, and converted it to .avi. Thankfully, that worked.

Lunch, and drafting this post to cover my morning. After lunch I set up a trial access to the RLUK database for a potential new customer, which involved everyone in the office trying to remember where we’d put the documentation, and which login to use (we don’t do this very often!). That task successfully conquered, I emailed a contributor whose descriptions are being added to Copac very shortly, to ask for some information and a photo so that I can make them a Copac library page.

Then a news blog post and a tweet about the new Copac iGoogle widget that one of our talented programmers has produced.

Then back into the murky world of IT-ish things, as the xslt I needed arrived from Adlib. I soon realised that I didn’t actually know what to do with the xslt – I knew I needed to apply it to the xml file somehow, but how? After being very scared by the results of a Google search (‘simply build this in basic!’ ‘applying xslt transformations in!’), of one my colleagues pointed out that my xml reader should have the necessary software built in. It did, and I managed to find the right menu options all by myself! For me, this counts as a victory over technology 🙂

Before heading home, I decided to finish off the blog post I started yesterday, to be a follow-up to this post on the Copac Developments blog. This post deals with the format of the Copac records, and how we de-duplicate, so I’ve sent it off to be checked by people in the know, to make sure I’ve got my facts straight.

Other things I’ve done today? the usual email checking (including a wry smile of amusement at the discussion on the lis-web2 list about whether discussions should take place on the list); catching up on a few lib/info related RSS feeds; and admiring the new artwork around our offices.

This is the result of a Mimas photography competition, and I’m really pleased that my favourite picture (by Copac’s very own Ashley) is right outside our office.

Photo of a photo...

Now, although this is the fourth round of the highly interesting Library Day in the Life project, it’s my first time at it, so forgive me if I’m boring/off-topic/repetitive/very bad at posting daily. I’m probably going to be doing most of my updating on twitter, partly because I’m lazy (and full blog posts can seem like just too much effort, what with thier need for proper sentences and grammer and all yer-what-nots), and partly because I like having the little snapshots of what people are doing at a particular point in the day.

I thought I’d start this week with some background on what I actually do, so that the day-to-day (or hour-to-hour) updates will have some context, and hopefully make some sense! Following on with the theme of laziness, I’ve decided to lift this directly from the annotated CV I’m putting together as part of my CILIP chartership portfolio:

Content Development Officer, Library and Archival Services
Mimas, the University of Manchester Apr 09 – present
This is an expansion of my Copac Challenge Fund Support Officer post to include a role as Project Officer for the Archives Hub.

The aim of my role is to identify and facilitate sustainable content development opportunities for Copac and the Archives Hub. This involves scoping the UK library, archive and museum scene for potential contributors, and then liaising with these potential contributors to determine the possibility of them becoming contributors. For those who do become contributors, I manage the logistics and data processing. This involves corresponding with musuems, libraries and archives by phone or email, and has included some visits to institutions.

The data processing side of the role for Copac has seen me using a linux command-based system to study files of MARC data, ensuring that no errors have been caused by our automated procedures, and that the data we receive from the libraries is consistent and valid MARC. This has led to me becoming very familiar with MARC rules and fields.

For the Archives Hub, I am working with archival software providers to improve their EAD (Encoded Archival Description) exports. This has involved learning EAD and examining exports in XML reader software. I will be providing the two major archival software manufacturers (CALM and Adlib) with specifications for improving their export.

My role also involves promotional and outreach activity. I have worked the Mimas stand at the 2008 RLUK conference and the 2009 Online conference, and I presented a poster on the Copac Challenge Fund at the 2009 CILIP Umbrella conference. I also contribute to the Copac and Archives Hub blogs, and have co-authored articles about Copac with a colleague.

I also provide general support for Copac and the Archives Hub, which involves answering user queries two days a week, and supporting colleagues in producing documentation and giving user training. I have also assisted Jane Stevenson in teaching EAD to Liverpool University MA Archive students.

It’s not exactly deathless prose, but it’s a fairly formal rendition of what I do with my time. For a more informal and in-depth look, watch this space 🙂

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