This is a post for the Library Day in the Life project Round 5 where librarians across the world record their daily activities. I am currently working as the Assistant Librarian for an Army library and this was my July 26th...
0800 - There's something about maneuvering past security personnel with guns that sets your mood for the day. In the early morning sun, the base was quiet, serene, and - surrounded by English hillsides - somwhat idyllic. If it weren't for the guns and the (presumably decommissioned) tanks on display, sometimes the base could seem like a holiday resort.
I started the day by greeting the Library Assistant on the issue desk and settling in at my desk in the imaginatively-named Librarian Room. I logged on to the PC and for the first hour took advantage of Internet access. The MoD restricts access to the Internet - for most of the day only the Army website, news websites, and Wikipedia are available but for a few brief windows each day, access is opened out. I hurriedly checked my e-mail, Twitter, and Google Reader feeds before getting down to some research.
The library’s main function is to provide information for Junior Soldiers: military information and history, up-to-date news on Armed Forces current affairs and the War in Afghanistan, and educational information that will help the soldiers in their traditional studies. On the way to work, I heard about the leak of classified Afghanistan war logs by Wikileaks so I spent some time during my first coffee reviewing the story for anything particularly relevant or interesting to our soldiers. After the Internet disappeared, I started to prepare materials and books for a summer-themed display to be put up by the end of the day.
1015 -My turn on the issue desk rota came up. This is the 'traditional librarian' part of my day: smiling, scanning, stamping. When there were no Junior Soldiers to help out or issue books to, I edited the entries to the poetry competition, checking for spelling, grammar, rhythm, etc. The theme was 'Challenge' and we received an interesting blend of entries: half concerned the 'challenges' of Army life (ironing, being away from home, etc.); the other half were more serious pieces about Afghanistan and Iraq. By the end of the day, the judging panel had reached a verdict and decided the winner was 'The One which Used the Word 'Tis'. The company director used the term, "Kipling-esque" (albeit not in an overly positive way).
1230 - My colleague relieved me in time for lunch. I headed over to the base's coffee shop and soon discovered that reading Infinite Jest - a mammoth undertaking in itself - is made even more mammoth-ine by trying to read it while eating a sandwich and drinking a cappuccino.
1330 - After lunch, I used another brief Internet-availability window to do some planning for a wiki project I'm working on. A major task for library staff is the maintenance of 'regimental boxes' - boxes containing information and news on the various regiments of the British Army. A few weeks ago I suggested to my manager that the information would be easier to manage in digital form and have since been working on putting it all into a wiki. During an impromptu chat with a colleague about the de-fleaing of cats and the quality of last night's Sherlock, I realised I was late for a presentation I'd agreed to attend.
1430 - Back at the library, I dismantled last month's display about the Victoria Cross and put up the new summer display. The - loose - theme was easy summer reading so I aimed to display quick, easy reads like Stephen King and Dan Brown as well as some travel guides and foreign-language phrase books. I don't think it turned out as well as my Victoria Cross display but I was happy with the fake sand (burlap sacks) and palm fronds (plastic) that I'd found in a corner of the Archives Room and put to work on making a beach-y atmosphere.
1530 - My second shift on the issue desk. It was quiet so I spent some time cleaning the library and organising my shelves (the library staff each take responsibility for a few sections: I have Military Equipment, Military Warfare up to the Crimean War, Military Biography, Biography, Quick Reference, Graphic Novels, and Dewey Non-fiction 001-199).
1630 - I spent my last ten minutes clearing my desk, putting odds and ends for tomorrow in my in-tray, and carrying unused display materials to the Archives Room. At 1640 I said goodnight, got in my car, realised I'd forgotten my Thermos then kept driving anyway.
1800 - Back home I ran through my dissertation questionnaire while my dinner cooked, implementing some changes that fellow librarian friends had recommended. It's to be sent out later this week.
1900 - Wrote a blog post about a day in my life. The rest of the evening will be spent in the traditional Monday night way: a whisky (late shift tomorrow = lie-in) and shouting at the TV watching University Challenge.