Working week: Monday 25 July 2011

Library Day in the Life 7

Assistant librarian, news library (Guardian News & Media)

I generally start work at 9.30am (although it depends how quickly I get the kids up and out!), and finish around 5.30pm or later (it’s usually creeping towards 6.30 by the time I leave).

Broadly, I provide background information to assist journalists in writing for the newspapers and website. My role has extended far beyond that though – as a department we find and edit ‘on this day’ articles for the leader page and publish them to the web; maintain a Twitter account; and run the From the archive blog, among many other things.

So what have I done today?

  • 9.40am – I’m the only one in before 10am, so I answer any queries that are outstanding from the weekend and take any calls. A reader called for reference details of an article published in 1989 – she had all the details (date, byline) but couldn’t find it on the website. I did a quick check of our internal archive and found it straight away. Normally reader queries are the responsibility of our trainee, but I like helping out if it’s quiet and she’s not around.
  • 10am – We maintain a spreadsheet of Afghanistan casualty and fatality statistics for the Datablog, which we check every morning and update as necessary. Our trainee normally handles it but she’s away so I did a quick run through the sources for changes (just the international fatalities total to amend today).
  • 11am – A journalist is planning a visit to Finland to see the schools system there, so I searched for some large background articles on the Finnish education system in the UK broadsheets and the Times Educational Supplement on Factiva.
  • 12pm – We are in the middle of auditing our service, documenting each query we do to see who is using us and what we’re spending time on. I spent a few minutes drawing up a list of query types so the data will be easy to sort at the end of the project (would that be a taxonomy? keyword list? not sure what!).
  • 12.30pm – An editor asked for a timeline of major events so far this year, to help a journalist write a commentary, so I spent a couple of hours compiling a list based on their suggestions and browsing Guardian front pages from January on. I put them into a spreadsheet so that I could add links to each of the stories – we do an end of year review each year, so it’ll be a handy resource come November!
  • 3pm – Lunch (the lateness may be a clue as to why I never leave on time)
  • 4.30pm – We’re working on coverage in advance of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, so I spent some time on that.
  • 5.30pm – Home time, (almost) on time for once!
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