As Yale University Library’s Librarian for Literature in English, I am responsible for serving the academic resource needs of a number of humanities and social science departments here on campus: English, Comparative Literature, Linguistics, History, Film and Media Studies, and Theater Studies. If any student or faculty member wants a book, journal, or database in any of these fields, or if they want help with their research, I am the one they turn to. As you might imagine, I get a lot of email each day.
I begin my day answering a Yale junior history major’s research question. He wants to know where a complete list of the Acts of Parliament of Great Britain pre-1763 can be found, and whether we have access to the full-text of these acts, be it in paper, microform, or online. All he has been able to find himself (by Googling) is a Wikipedia page that has an incomplete list of the Acts. To answer this question, I rely on my knowledge of primary sources pertaining to British history, my background in 18th-century studies, my knowledge of Yale’s online library databases that contain bibliographic and full-text information related to early modern England, and an advanced understanding of how to search the Yale library catalog.
Next, as the librarian “pro-tem” charged with identifying obsolete materials and removing them from our reference collection, I spend several hours weeding our physical reference collection in Sterling Memorial Library’s Starr Main Reading Room. Armed with a list (in Library of Congress call number order) of about 2500 books that have been browsed (it’s a non-circulating collection so there are no check-outs) since January 2011, I proceed through the room with a book cart. I load on to it any title that is not on this list AND strikes me as unlikely ever to be consulted again, whether because it is outdated, has been replaced by an online equivalent, or just seems too “niche” of an item to remain in a general reference collection that sees less and less use each year. Plenty of titles fit the bill, and my cart fills up quickly. I bring the cart up to my office and leave it for my department’s administrative assistant to change the location code on all the books to the Library Shelving Facility, our remote storage unit in the next town over from New Haven, where they will soon be sent for permanent housing.
Since I have vast collection development responsibilities, I spend the early afternoon in a Collection Development forum, listening to Yale University Library’s Director of Collection Development talk about the upcoming Fiscal Year 2016 budget and how funds will be allocated to the different units within the library. Our Assessment Librarian also gives a PowerPoint presentation. She talks about how we can use a new software program called Tableau to see visual representations of various circulation data related to our consortial lending partnership with the other Ivy League universities and a handful of other ARL (Association of Research Libraries) member libraries.
Later afternoon tends to be devoted to meetings of various kinds. I spend part of this one attending a meeting of my department — Humanities Collections and Research Education — and the head of the library, known as the University Librarian. The University Librarian has been invited to our weekly meeting to share her thoughts on various ongoing and upcoming activities, such as priorities for fund-raising and how the teaching librarians might contribute to the campus’s new Center for Teaching and Learning, which is scheduled to open soon in Sterling Memorial Library. Before leaving the office for the day, I check my email once more and answer various messages from our acquisitions unit relating to library database subscription renewals, and new database offerings from various library vendors such as ProQuest and Gale Cengage Learning, from our regional sales representatives for those companies.
When I get home from work, I record an audio-visual lecture for the Master’s course on Research in Library and Information Science that I am teaching online for Wayne State University in Detroit. The lecture concerns how to identify suitable research questions to attempt to answer via a research proposal. The lecture is a response to the first set of papers I have just graded, which revealed that some of my students needed some additional input about my expectations for the assignment. In addition to my day job at Yale, I have served as an online adjunct instructor for various Master’s programs in Library and Information Studies for over a decade.
Finally I cook and eat dinner, listen to music, read a few chapters of a book I have brought home from the Yale library; “and,” as the prolific 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys was fond of saying, “so to bed.”