data-crunching librarian

Officially, my title is Electronic Resources Librarian, but lately I’ve been spending more of my time and energy on gathering and crunching data about our eresources than on anything else. It’s starting to bleed over into the print world, as well. Since we don’t have someone dedicated to managing our print journals, I’ve taken on the responsibility of directing discussions about their future, as well as gathering and providing e-only options to the selectors.

I like this work, but I’ve also been feeling a bit like my role is evolving and changing in ways I’m not entirely cognizant of, and that worries me. I came into this job without clear direction and made it my own, and even though I have a department head now, I still often feel like I’m the driver. This has both positives and negatives, and lately I’ve been wishing I could have more outside direction, in part so I don’t feel so much like I’m doing things that may not have much value to the people for whom I am doing them.

However, on Monday, something clicked. A simple comment about using SAS to analyze the print book collection use over time set all sorts of things firing away in my head. About all I know with SAS is that it’s some sort of data analysis tool, but I realized that I had come up with several of my professional goals for the next year in that moment.

For one, I want to explore whether or not I can learn and use SAS (or SPSS) effectively to analyze our collections (not just print books, as in the example above). For another, I want to explore whether or not I can learn R to more effectively visualize the data I gather.

Maybe some day down the road my title won’t be Electronic Resources Librarian anymore. Maybe some day it will be Data-Crunching Librarian.

Sounds good to me.

set it and forget it

One of the things I love about my new system of managing email and tasks using flags and due dates is that I never have to remember when something needs to be done. If it’s not in my “due today” list, then I don’t need to worry about it, and instead I can focus on the project at hand.

Today I had nothing scheduled on my calendar (yay!), so I’ve been focusing on my current number one project. In the midst of doing this, I identified a small project tangentially related to this one. Rather than stopping what I was doing to follow up on that (because I might forget it later), I instead took a few moments to create a Task in Outlook that described the project and a rough outline of subtasks that also identified why I’d created the task in the first place. Then, I set the due day for about two weeks from now.

It’s not an urgent project, so I don’t need to do it sooner, but I wanted to make sure that it would still be fresh and relevant, while also giving myself time to wrap up the things I’m currently working on. When that task pops up in my “due today” list, I’ll reassess whether I can start it then or if I need to push it back further. Until then, it’s off of my mind, allowing me to use what mental energy I have on the project I have in front of me.

CIL 2010: looking ahead

I spent some time this morning planning my schedule for Computers in Libraries. It’s next week, so I figured it was time to start getting my head into conference/learning mode. Plus, I feel more relaxed when I’m prepared in advance.

I must say, after browsing through the entire schedule, there are fewer sessions I’m really jazzed about seeing this year than the first year I went. Don’t get me wrong — I still think it’s a good conference. But, having gone the past two years, I’m seeing some of the same sessions (and often the same speakers) show up again this year, and I’m having a hard time imagining that the content will be fresh enough for me to glean something new from them.

So, instead, I’m trying to branch out and attend sessions on other topics. This is good for me because I consider the ITI conferences to be like ALA only geekier — broad swaths of librarians from all sorts of libraries and departments, getting together to talk about tech in libraries. It gets me out of my cubby hole of electronic resources.

However, I’m not as into library instruction (for example) as I am gadgets and gizmos, so I think this CIL is going to be a different experience for me than the CIL I attended two years ago.