Another day in the life of an academic librarian

I did a previous “day in the life of an academic librarian” post a couple of years ago, when I was working in my previous job and college. That day was a particularly heavy teaching day, so you got a glimpse of the kind of teaching that librarians do.

Today’s “day in the life” post is one of my current job, which focuses heavily on supporting my fellow faculty find and use open educational resources (an educational movement to help bring down student costs by using or creating free and high-quality texts and resources instead of expensive textbooks). But I still get to do all the regular and varied things an academic librarian does — teaching and answering questions on our reference desk and purchasing materials for our library collections — so it’s the best of both worlds! Also in my current job, I have to do lots more outreach and presentations. Every day is like juggling about ten different plates, but it’s a very fulfilling job.

Let’s get started!


5:45 a.m. First alarm goes off, snooze, snooze, snooze.

6:00 a.m. Second alarm goes off at 6:00, snooze, snooze, snooze. (I’m not a morning person.)

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

The daily alarms set on my phone

6:15 a.m. Finally drag myself out of bed, wash face, put on moisturizer in our half-bath upstairs. Save time by putting on outfit I had set out the night before. I had also set out the night before my corresponding undergarments — socks, underwear, tights, etc. — in a (repurposed shoe) bag on my dresser.

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

I set out my outfit the night before

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

I set out undergarments and jewelry the night before

6:30 a.m. Go downstairs to pour myself a cup of coffee. Kiss Sam goodbye, before he drives off to start his daily teaching schedule on two different campuses. In our main bathroom downstairs, put on sunscreen, fill in eyebrows, do rest of makeup, decide on which lipstick to put on. Put lipstick in my little lipstick case to take to work, to reapply after lunch in time for a big presentation I have that afternoon.

7:00 a.m. Feed cats and do style blog linkups while cats are eating.

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

But first, coffee

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

Packing lipstick for the rest of the day, Revlon’s Super Lustrous lipstick in “Cherry Blossom”

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

Feeding the cats in the morning

7:15 a.m. Put on coat, gloves, hat, and make sure everything’s in my tote bag, including my keys, cell phone, chapstick, bus pass, and a book to read.

7:20 a.m. Head out of the house to grab the bus to work. Read my book on the bus.

8:30 a.m. Arrive at work and walk across campus. Greet colleagues and chat on the way to my office in the library.

8:45 a.m. Check Outlook schedule for the rest of the day. If it’s not on my Outlook calendar, it doesn’t exist! Start on tasks for the morning:

  • library instruction prep for a class later that week
  • backup for Reference Desk questions
  • chatting with a colleague from our assessment department who drops by my office to catch up
  • emails emails emails
  • researching survey instruments for college counseling needs assessment and emailing those to our counseling faculty before their planned department retreat the next day
  • updating my tenure e-portfolio to include recent presentations and newsletter write-ups
  • emailing tenure committee members about upcoming observation opportunities
Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

That day’s schedule in my Outlook calendar

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

Where’s Jen? Check my door!

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

The view from my desktop monitor stand, which I can raise or lower to sit or stand

12:30 p.m. Lunch. Read book after eating lunch.

1:30 p.m. Brush teeth after lunch and touch up lipstick using magnetic mirror on the inside of my file cabinet.

1:40 p.m. Make copies of handouts for my presentation. Gather up handouts and notes.

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

Magnetic mirror in my office, for flossing and lipstick touch-ups

2:10 p.m. Head out to first meeting of the afternoon, a monthly faculty forum. I’m first on the agenda, and I’m there to share updates and statistics about OER efforts on campus. I arrive a bit early to set up the computer podium and projector in the room. Upon my arrival, a colleague compliments my outfit and starts clapping for me to go into “runway” mode. I oblige. Hah! 😉

2:35 p.m. Meeting begins. Start my presentation to my fellow faculty, distribute handouts. Answer a few questions. Good vibes all around. One of my tenure committee members also there to observe my presentation, which means one observation down for the term. So efficient! 🙂

3:30 p.m. Sneak in a bathroom break before the second meeting, our monthly Instructional Council meeting. I’m there to distribute handouts while my OER colleague presents to the Council and, if needed, to help answer any questions.

4:30 p.m. Second and final meeting ends. Sam texts me that he’s there to pick me up. Text him back that I’ll be a few minutes because I need to answer a couple of emails that came in while I was out at meetings. See a new email, sent after the faculty forum meeting, inviting me to a faculty chairs meeting to share more info about OER. Print out a couple of documents to work on the next day while I’m working a half-day from home. Gather up my stuff to head home.

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

Office still life portrait, with my bag of daily odds and ends, keys, folder of documents, and coffee mug (which I refill with water throughout the day)

5:15 p.m. Arrive home. Pause on way into house to take recycles out for trash pickup the next morning.

5:30 p.m. Cook dinner with Sam; we get weekly meals from Blue Apron. Tonight’s menu is a flatbread pizza. Yum!

Librarian for Life + Style | Another day in the life of an academic librarian

Blue Apron meal recipe

7:00 p.m. Sam feeds cats dinner while I head upstairs to unwind and and catch up on blog and social media stuff. Jot down notes about my day for this post. 😉

7:30 p.m. Sam brings me (decaf) tea and a couple of chocolates for dessert.

10 p.m. Make sure alarm is set for next morning. Sleep!


Did you enjoy this additional peek into a “day in the life” of an academic librarian? Please leave a comment and share! 🙂

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15 thoughts on “Another day in the life of an academic librarian

  1. Karlee

    As a fellow librarian I loved reading this! Do you have an hour commute to and from work? Is that tough at all?

    Reply
    1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

      When taking public transit, yes, it’s about an hour (or more) for the commute to/from work. We’re a one-car family, and thankfully we *do* have reliable public transit options in our area that we can take advantage of. Commuting via public transit does take more time (and mental energy) — and you do have to plan your day around transit schedules and build in extra time and/or routes for unforeseen circumstances or transfers or weather — but I always make sure I’ve got a book with me. That way, I build in personal reading time during the commute, and personal reading time never feels like wasted time for me. 😉

      Reply
  2. eisforexplore

    I did enjoy this post! But you left me curious – what book are/were you reading? 🙂 Also, my librarian brain is in a fog, what do you do/promote/use OER to do?

    Reply
    1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

      First, you can keep up with what I’m reading via my Instagram feed — I tag my posts about the books I’m reading with https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/jenlibrarianreading/ . (And you don’t have to have an Instagram account to view my Instagram feed.) I’m on an Agatha Christie (re)reading goal for the foreseeable future… 😀

      Second, OER (open educational resources) is about finding, using, and/or sharing high-quality educational resources in lieu of — or to supplement — expensive textbooks. So I help faculty find/use/modify/create/share OER in their fields, across the curriculum, from ESL and Dev Ed to chemistry to history to astronomy, you name it. And I help them know HOW to properly use OER, like how to properly cite/attribute it or what a particular open license means for how they can use or modify/change the resource to better suit their needs. And I’m part of a team of OER support at our campus, so I definitely don’t do this all alone. My primary role is one of research, in helping faculty find OER in their fields, to help them teach and bring down textbook costs for their students. I also teach students about OER, primarily on how to find openly licensed multimedia, images, videos, etc., like to help them incorporate multimedia into presentations, etc. It’s a fun job with lots of different layers and things to do! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Sarca

    I’m curious with the OER you talk about with faculty. Does your research extend to support accessible materials for students with print disabilities, or does this fall on your Disability Services Department? Just curious 😊

    Reply
    1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

      Accessibility is one factor/criteria I look for when scouting out potential OER for faculty to use in different fields/subjects. Accessibility in OER is a growing topic of conversation, and some (not all) OER repositories provide multiple formats for their OER textbooks or other materials for this very reason, to provide options for students with different disabilities. Our department that handles online learning is one of our leaders on campus in providing support to make online content and resources accessible (like doing captions for videos or making Braille versions of texts, etc.), so no, it does not fall just on our disability/access services department. I know some accessibility best practices basics, which I can help faculty with on a practical level, but I know who to refer to on campus for those more in-depth accessibility supports. And I consider part of my job to potentially pre-empt some of those after-the-fact accessibility fixes by finding high-quality and accessible OER in the beginning, if possible. (It depends on the field — some fields have lots of OER options that have been developed with accessibility in mind, and some fields do not.)

      Reply
      1. Sarca

        It is a big subject! I work in Accessible Learning at a community college, responsible for procuring and converting texts in accessible format for students with disabilities (I’m support staff). We are still using print mostly. What is offered in etext to students has questionable accessibility standards. It continues to be an uphill battle educating the various schools. Thanks for your response! I know that the West coast US unis and colleges are doing great work on accessibility.

        Reply
        1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

          I am very glad that accessibility is becoming a bigger, ongoing conversation in academia. It just makes sense to go for universal design and build in accessibility whenever possible at the beginning, to be more inclusive from the start. I just got through taking an advanced training course for accessibility, through my college’s professional development program — it’s great to hear that you work in accessible learning at your college! 🙂

          Reply
  4. Daenel Vaughn-Tucker (@DaenelT)

    Such a fun post, I love reading about what other librarians do. Our jobs are so varied {even when we have the same or similar job titles}. I want to start doing more outreach across the campus, so it’s definitely interesting for me that you attend faculty meetings and meet with different departments on campus.

    Reply
    1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

      Thanks, Daenel! It’s so nice to hear from a fellow librarian on this post, because as you say, our jobs can be so different — even day to day! It definitely makes a difference in my outreach that I have faculty status as a librarian and that I’m going through the tenure process. I can connect with other faculty in a deeper way. And yes, outreach is a MAJOR part of my job as a librarian who works with OER — I think I average at least *one* meeting every day! 🙂

      Reply
    1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

      Thanks, Gail! And this is just a sliver of what my daily schedule can be — it varies every day! And my position in OER is very different from other academic librarians, which is why I wanted to feature an additional “day in the life” post. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Erin

    I’m the same way with Outlook! I even check it from my phone before I go to bed the night before just so I can make sure I’m ready for whatever I have on my schedule.

    I hope not all of your days are back-to-back meetings! And I’m glad to see that you also block off your lunch time 🙂 It’s important to take time for ourselves.

    But you know what wasn’t in this post? Time set aside to take outfit photos 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

      I often do have back-to-back meetings, including committee meetings and one-on-one consultations with faculty converting to OER. And yes, I make a point to take an hour for lunch, if it all possible, as it really does help de-stress me through the day.

      And I laughed out loud at your last comment! We didn’t take outfit photos that day, it’s true, but I *did* take a photo of what I wore that day — but just a photo of it on hangers — and it was a remix of an outfit I featured on the blog last week, https://librarianforlifestyle.com/2018/03/23/remixing-my-floral-shirtdress-as-a-jacket/ . 😉

      Reply
  6. Jessica

    I really love your Day in the Life posts! Your job is so interesting to me, and it seems like you have a lot of enthusiasm for what you do.
    I really appreciate all of the OER work that you do. I recently went back to school, and it makes such a difference in a class when the source materials are varied, and the reduction in text book costs are pretty great, too. I had no idea that it was the academic librarian that researches a lot, if not all of this! I feel like I need to write a note of appreciation to our departments research librarian…would that be weird? She has helped me in the past with research projects, and she kind of blew me away with some of the materials she presented.

    Reply

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