A day in the life of the library

The library’s Molly MacRae wrote this journal entry to explain a typical day in the life of the library to those who open our time capsule in 100 years. The journal entry was buried in the summer of 2008, along with samples of popular magazines and books, library publications, a letter to the future, and photos.

The complete journal entry, PDF

Journal Excerpt

After pushing its buttons, my computer and I went through our startup routines together. Lanyard with proxy key around the neck; screen flashing; nametag pinned to shirt; password requested; electronic time sheet filled out; virtual in/out marker slid to “in.”

8:30 a.m. and time to make the children’s department ready for business. In the half hour before the doors open, this is what I raced to do: turn on the catalog computers; turn on the desk computers and the self-check computer; log in to each and launch Horizon (the electronic catalog of our holdings); turn on the monitors for the Internet computers; turn on the colored lights that make the glass front of the children’s service desk glow and beckon (This morning I punched in the shifting color wave, one of twelve patterns to choose from.); straighten every shelf that needs it.

It’s actually not possible to straighten every shelf that needs it before we open at 9 o’clock, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying. Trina performed a similar ballet in the TeenSpace. Jean Flood rolled past with a cart of DVDs. Eric Teague waltzed through with his vacuum cleaner. Brianna swirled out of one family restroom with her cleaning cart and into the next. Upstairs, in Adult Services, the choreography was identical.

Just before 9 a.m., Kristin, Betsy, and our department manager, Stephanie Edwards, arrived. Phones honked in the distance as they were reset so that callers would reach live librarians instead of the overnight recorded message. Betsy joined me at the children’s desk for the morning shift. Kristin picked up the keys for the Nate & Lillie Story Room to prepare for her Storyshop program. We breathed, customers streamed in, the phone rang, and the public part of our day began.

“Good morning, Champaign Public Library, this is Betsy, how may I help you?”
“Will you read me a poem?”
“Sure I will. Today’s poem is by Jack Prelutsky and it’s called ‘As Soon as Fred Gets out of Bed.’”
While Betsy read about Fred putting his underwear on his head, a boy of about nine walked up to the desk. “I’m looking for a book,” he told me. “It’s green.” A few questions prompted enough information for a combined keyword search in the catalog and before long we found his book on the shelf. The book itself wasn’t green, but green was in the title — The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston.

Preschoolers started arriving for the first Storyshop session. A baby toddling in with her mother stopped and gurgled when she saw our desk lights shift from blue to green and on through yellow, orange, red, and purple. “Mm, mm, mm,” she said, and, unable to contain her joy, she embraced the desk and licked it.

Read the complete journal entry, PDF

Library time capsule installation, summer 2008