Tag Archives: day in the life

Day in the Life: A Tuesday Work from Home

What does a day in the life of a post-pandemic children’s librarian look like? I provided a glimpse into an in-the-library day last week, and now I’m going to cover what a work from home day looks like.

Just like library days, each work from home day is a bit different, though I really appreciate the control I have over these days. I have eight hours to move through projects at a speed that I simply can’t accomplish while in the library, where desk hours, in-the-moment projects, and various distractions are guaranteed to pop up throughout the day. As we have more and more days back in the building I’ve been trying to let go of projects because it simply isn’t possible to get done what I’ve been doing at home during multiple 8 hours days of uninterrupted work while working in the physical library and covering desk hours and the like.

I’m also able to set my own schedule. For example I hate waking up early (for me, early means anything before 9 am and definitely anything before 8 am). Something I’ve also always suspected but could never test until the last year–my ideal breakfast/lunch time is actually around 10-10:30 am. And finally, the joy of not having a commute is immeasurable. The lack of traffic since the pandemic began has shrunk my commute time, but being done with work and immediately able to do other things brings joy to my days.

But what do I do all day? I keep busy, that’s for sure. One Tuesday work from home day, coming up!

8:30-8:45 am: Roll out of bed. (Kidding but not. Again, I am not a morning person). Stumble around doing morning things and waking up.

9 am: It’s time to make sure everything is ready for Baby Storytime! When I’m at home, my “studio” is essentially always set up, though I do have to make some height adjustments for Baby Storytime since I have a stuffed animal in my lap. Plus, I always run a tech check–you never know when something will decide to act up. (I use the black desk chair as a storage spot for my book, puppets, and any other physical materials that I’ll need.)

9:30 am: It’s time for Baby Storytime! I’m live on Facebook today with lots of book and animal fun. Storytime runs for about 30 minutes.

10 am: Storytime clean up! Again, when I am at home this is really quick, essentially just dropping anything I need to take back to work into my work bag, and making sure my greeter (who monitored the comments on Facebook) was able to send me the viewing stats for our live program. View this storytime outline here.

10:10-11:10 am: Breakfast/Lunch. This is really nice time on storytime days because this doubles as a post-storytime break.

11:15 am: Zoom meeting with our library’s Equity & Diversity Specialist. I’ve been a part of many sub-committees related to various projects, and during this meeting we reviewed our suggestions for policy and procedure changes that are part of our efforts to create a library-wide de-escalation training (you can’t train staff or expect them to enforce policies the same way when procedures aren’t written down or are vastly different from department-to-department). We also talked about some upcoming Juneteenth program kits that I am excited to be working on with members of the Westerville community.

12 pm: It’s a filming day, and I am filming book talk videos this week. I love our video book talks on YouTube, but this is one of those projects that I know will need to wrap up soon (I rarely have more than an hour at a time off desk or out of a meeting when at work, so finding time to film and edit these is going to become much harder). With that in mind, with the videos I filmed today, I have enough video book talks to schedule one a week through the end of May. I like to think these will continue after May, but realistically my time is going to be pulled elsewhere. I just film all of the snippets today; I’ll leave editing and uploading for tomorrow.

1:30 pm: First comes email (which is always a beast of its own), with a particular focus on confirming dates for the graphic novel virtual author visits funded by a LSTA grant.

2 pm: By around 2 pm, I’m ready to dive into another project that I managed to start at work the day before: storytime planning for the month of April. I have four toddler storytimes next month, and it is much easier for me to plan and coordinate content all at once. And, as we storytime librarians know, planning a storytime takes so much more time than the public (and even some of our non-youth-department coworkers) may think.

For toddler storytime prep, I take a look at what content I have used in the last few months and what new content I would like to mix together. Pre-covid, I mostly presented Baby Storytimes in person. We displayed words to activities on a PowerPoint during the program. To make the planning process simpler, I kept a “master powerpoint” with all the slides I’ve ever used, organized by type of activity, with the last date it was used in the notes field. After a few weeks into the pandemic, I had a feeling we were in this for the long haul, and I started the same process for all of my virtual storytimes too.

This process adds more time to virtual prep, but it also means that I am really ready, content-wise, for in-person programs to return, with more core storytime materials prepared than I have ever had previously. this bank of content is also incredibly useful when planning storytimes. I don’t theme, but instead I follow the same structure each week. Sorting the slides by type of content (early literacy tip, book, song, fingerplay, retelling) lets me easily see what is in my repertoire and when I used it last.

And finally, outlining a month’s worth of programs at once lets me see what I am covering overall. I can look at the kind of early literacy and fine motor skills I am incorporating, but also see what I am missing and figure out a way to add it in. Everything is so carefully selected during our programs–we are trying to meet so many different sets of standards while keeping to a familiar routine and also making sure storytime is fun and engaging. All of that mixed with finding materials we are comfortable and excited to present (and that work virtually!) can sometimes make storytime planning a challenge–it is never quite so simple as grabbing a book and picking a song or two.

This structure also makes it really easy to share my materials with my colleagues when needed–just email the powerpoint file.

4 pm: By 4 pm, storytime prep work is done, and I have an ALSC Education meeting. Lots of conversations about promotion of the ALSC Competencies (which we worked on updating last year) and discussion of past webinars that we have reviewed. This meeting is always fairly quick, and by about 4:30 pm, I am back to library work.

4:30 pm: It’s time for Wizards & Wands planning. This is the project I really wish I had more time to dedicate to while working from home because balancing the rest of my job and an annual event for 3000 people with a $18,000+ budget can be a lot. But, since the pandemic isn’t over, we still just don’t know if there will be an event this fall, so there is only so much work I can do.

However, “only so much work” does not mean “no work”, and even with no clear answers about whether the event will only be a month of decorations or an all-in-one magical evening, there is a lot of prep work that needs to take place to create the level of immersion we are used to. I finalize the agenda for this week’s full committee meeting, update the list of past presenters to include those we contacted and cancelled in 2020, talked to our Decorations Lead about projects she can work on and projects she can bring to the group, booked meeting rooms for the end of September so we have a space to prep our décor before we hang it up at the beginning of the month, and prepare an assignment form with all the tasks delegated to the new Prize Drawings Lead committee role that I will be creating at Friday’s meeting.

I haven’t talked about this program much on the blog–it feels like a challenge just to figure out how to structure a series of blog posts about this event. But maybe someday? In the meantime, catch a glimpse of what this event looked like in 2019 in this video (moving forward, we have made the decision to keep the magic, but remove anything directly related to Harry Potter).

6 pm: Done for the day! As much as I dislike mornings, it feels great to have a full evening to myself (especially when a work from home day follows another work from home day, and I don’t have to go to bed super early because I don’t have to wake up super early).

Work from home days have the benefit of large blocks of time that mean I can concentrate on a project and get it done in one sitting instead of having to return to it in 15-minute chunks of time over multiple days. My time work from home has helped me see the argument for the problem with multitasking–because in-library days are filled with multitasking as we help patrons, answer phones, pull bundles, respond to emails, talk to coworkers, and work on everything else on our list. I’m especially wondering how make-and-take programs will work with full in-building hours–those are ever popular, but for me, all work on those has been regulated to at-home time.

I’ve never been bored during work from home days, that’s for sure. I’ve been a bit jealous of people who have been able to power through their backlog of webinars and professional development. I have been able to watch a decent amount of content over the last year (maybe 1-2 a month), but I have really had to prioritize it. More often than not, a great webinar is added to my running to-do list, and a few months later it drops off the list again because I know I won’t get to it.

What do you work from home days look like? Share in the comments below.

Day in the Life: A Monday in the Library

What does a day in the life of a post-pandemic children’s librarian look like? Well every day is still a bit different, that’s for sure! At my library, I currently have 1-2 work from home days a week, with the rest of my days in the library. And of course, library work is much different post-pandemic. At this time, in my state, COVID vaccines will be opening up to essentially all adults around the end of March. We are still under many health orders and lots of special procedures for everyone’s safety. Some days (especially Saturdays), I may be on a public service desk for 7-8 hours out of a 9 hour day. On weekdays that is often a bit less, but the rest of that time is filled in with programs and work that can only be done in the library (department cleaning, filling subscription bundles, printing materials for future programs, etc.).

One Monday in the library, coming up!

8:50 am: Arrive at work. Return books checked out to me. For ideal social distancing, I’m currently working in the space that is regularly our Homework Help Center. Since I am headed straight to a customer service shift at 9 am, this turns into a quick dump of my brought-from-home programming supplies and moving to my first location of the day.

9 am: I’m starting my day with a greeter shift. The “Greeter” is the first person patrons see when they come into the library. We make sure that people entering the building are wearing face coverings (covering their nose and chin) and remind families to stay together. It’s a quiet morning, so I’m also able to catch up on some email.

10 am: I have the next two hours off desk, but there is plenty to do! We are at the end of our particularly busy two weeks a month of filling 25-40 subscription bundles a day. Today, we just have 26 bundles to fill. Families can fill out a form and request books for their kids each month, picked by librarians based on theme and age, and placed at the drive thru window for pickup. This services has been extremely popular at my library–with over 500 bundles to fill each month–and each bundle takes some time to curate. Keep an eye out for a post with more details on the bundle process.

10:50 am: After pulling and sorting books for about four similarly themed bundles (I’ve been focusing on same topic to try to make this process faster), I leave the books on a cart to process when I am on desk again (“process” means add titles of books to our shared bundle spreadsheet, place holds for the particular family for each of the books I’ve pulled, generate a hold slips for each bundle, and prepare the bundle to take over to the drive thru window for pickup). I pause for a quick email check and to review my Baby Storytime plans for the next day (shown above). I send links for all of my storytime activities to my coworker who will be greeting viewers in the comments.

11 am: Time off-desk in the library is limited, so soon I am on my way upstairs to the youth staff workroom. We’ve been cleaning the department in batches. Last week, I dumped a lot of the recyclables we used during baby or toddler play activities or for in-the-library craft programs that won’t be happening soon. This week, it was time to discuss some items that we simply don’t use frequently enough to keep (giant map of the U.S., record player, and more) and some items that were well-loved department play toys but aren’t easy to clean (lots of stuffed animals from our popular Imagination Station).

I’ve been cleaning in short batches of time, so this was a quick hour of doing another look around many of our cabinets to pull items to review onto a cart for everyone to look at. Plus a quick resorting of our paper area to make all of the various manila envelopes we use for distributing pick-up program kits fit on the shelves. Work on this will continue, but that was all I could manage before…

12 pm: Back on desk! Our teen room has been very quiet throughout reopening, so I bring the cart of books I pulled for subscription bundles into this space to take care of all of the computer work. That takes about the full hour, with a few more minutes to send some emails about those materials I pulled onto a cart for everyone in the youth department to review before we throw them away.

1 pm: Lunch!

2 pm: Back from lunch and working at the busier youth desk. I help with processing the last few bundles for the day before taking a look at other projects. I missed a last minute Equity & Diversity sub-committee meeting the week before, so I schedule a follow up with our E&D Specialist for Tuesday morning. I have a few more minutes to review the storytime schedule for April, in between directing families to various materials and answering questions about upcoming programs. Families REALLY want in-person storytimes back soon!

3 pm: Leaving desk, I take a few minutes to dive into Wizards & Wands planning. I chair the planning committee for this library-wide celebration of all things magic, and while we have no idea what 2021 will bring, we can start moving ahead on various projects. I update the presenters spreadsheet to include presenters we contacted (and then cancelled) in 2020 before emailing out reminders about Friday’s meeting, emailing a meeting agenda to my assistant chair, and continuing the conversation about décor plans with our Decorations Lead. There is always more work to be done here, but I need to stop because I have an afternoon storytime coming soon.

3:30 pm: Time to set up our recording studio for 4:30 pm’s Little People Big Dream’s program. This is the first time I have presented this series in the library, so it takes a little longer to setup and work through the camera frame (and it somehow still ended up at an angle–not sure what happened there). I also do a quick read through of the books I’m sharing and practice our song for getting the wiggles out.

4:30 pm: There was a little more time in there for email work, but soon it is time for storytime to begin! Learn more about this storytime in this post.

5 pm: Storytime wraps up by 5 pm, but I have to clean up and reset the storytime space so anyone filming next has a more familiar space.

5:20 pm: After about 20 minutes of cleanup, I head back over to the youth area. I help clean up some of the book displays, gather books for a future program, check out all of the books that came in for me over the weekend, and help pack up the department before the library closes at 6 pm.

Lots to share, but compared to many days, that was pretty calm! We are definitely kept busy with the multitude of activities, programs, and services we offer. Perhaps I’ll follow up next week with a work-from-home day in the life? Let me know if this look’s like your work day in the comments below.