Today I’m going to take some time to explain what I do every day. I used to get this question a lot, before I lost some title-pride simply started saying that I’m a librarian.
As the Public Services Supervisor, you can imagine that I, well, supervise the library’s public services. But what exactly does that mean, and what kinds of duties does it entail? In our library, there are two departments, Public Services and Technical Services, or in restaurant speak: front of the house and back of the house.
The Technical Services side does all of the work that you don’t see- ordering, processing and cataloging library materials, invoicing and paying bills, and connecting to remote electronic information resources (databases). There is more, but that’s the very basic definition.
The Public Services side does all of the work that you do see. Reference, library instruction, checking out/in books, marketing, putting books on Reserve, hosting events, and website maintenance are all examples of what happens in public services.
Of course, in a small library like the one that I work in, there is a lot of bleed over between the two sides. For example, all of the librarian-class technical services staff do reference, and public services do interlibrary loan, a traditional Technical Services activity.
One of my main job duties is to supervise all of the Public Services student assistants. Our library is an academic library at Rockhurst University, and we rely on student assistants as a labor force. At any one time, there are 30-40 students and I’m in charge of recruiting, hiring, training, scheduling, disciplining, and rewarding them.
I am also responsible for making sure that circulation runs smoothly. If someone has a problem with a book, an item that doesn’t get checked out, can’t find a book on the shelf, needs to resolve a library record, or has a dispute over a fine, I am the person who takes care of the details. I usually only deal with the problems in this area. I’m also in charge of creating and distributing library hours and phone messages.
I spend a portion of my time on Reference. Less time lately, but it’s one of my favorite things to do, assuming that I’m not swamped in other areas. Whether it’s via e-mail, webchat, phone or in person, I answer all sorts of questions from students, faculty and staff. And I know how to fix the printer!
I am also the interlibrary loan department. I handle all incoming requests from our patrons as well as from other libraries. I deal with a dizzying number of acronyms: MOBIUS, MALA/KCMLIN, COKAMO, ILL, DOCLINE, and OCLC to name a few. I also play with courier systems, tracking, requesting and delivery systems. I invoice and keep track of lost ILL items. In the past few months, I have been actively working to streamline our processes (more on that later!).
I make certain that specific parts of the library webpages are current, correct and up to date. Oh and we can’t forget statistics. Statistics are the lifeblood of any library, and I do my fair share of creating, downloading, uploading and chart creation!
The fun part of my job is that I am moving all the time. From the moment I get in to the moment I leave, there is always something that needs to be done. Right now my job duties are in the process of evolving, which is exciting. Being a librarian is definitely not sitting around reading books.