Monday, January 7, 2008

Compare and contrast

First day back at my day job after 2 weeks of winter break – I somehow always manage to forget how frantic it can get. (So far today, I’ve changed about 10 passwords, sorted the mail, put together computer signup sheets for second semester, put in 2 ILL requests, and handled about 10 other miscellaneous questions. And it’s not quite 11 yet.)

Yet, while I’ve been off from my ‘day job’, I have worked four out of the five previous days at the part time reference librarian job I’m working in January.

I’m having a blast with it so far. It’s a very different feel to the library (teenagers at the day job versus college age students – and in fact, many graduate students, including a lot of adults who are changing careers, so most questions I’ve answered have come from people in their 30s and up.) The entire library is a lot quieter.

There are days I love the bustle of my day job – but there are also times it’s hard for me to focus on more demanding projects (my desk is out in the middle of the library, and I’m there all the time, unless I retreat to the back room to process books - and that doesn't have a computer, so I need to work around classes using our laptops.)

In contrast, I’ve gotten a lot of work done on various projects at the college job – most of a database guide, commentary on some Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica entries for an article someone’s working on, evaluating whether we need a guide, filling information into their Public Services staff wiki.

It's also interesting how similar the two are: I'm answering (so far, anyway) a lot of similar kinds of questions - where a book is, what other resources there might be, and how to get them. It's giving me a lot of reassurance that an academic library is a good fit for me - and that I'm comfortable handling the kinds of things that come up (useful, because I've got at least one more academic library job application that needs to go out this week.) I'd known that I was doing a lot more than standard paraprofessional work at my current job - but it's good to see that it really has been an incredible preparation and opportunity.

I know that there's the potential for far more in-depth questions to come there (the people who've been training me mentioned the Social Work program as having very specific assignments that can be a little confusing unless you know the field.) But overall, I'm feeling pretty comfortable. (Of course, this now means that I'll get a total stumper of a question tonight. Murphy's law.)

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