A Day in the Life of California State Librarian Greg Lucas

iStudent Blog

Published: February 17, 2016

Ever wonder how other students work a job, feed a family, walk a dog, answer discussion questions, manage to have clean clothes to wear (ahem, most days), and put together a PowerPoint presentation—all without losing their marbles or their reading notes? This post is part of a series giving you a microscopic view of how students manage their lives and their coursework at the iSchool and a better feeling for who your classmates are—people just like you.

California State Librarian Greg Lucas has a big job to do, managing 135 employees at the capitol branch of the state library in Sacramento and travelling around the state visiting local libraries to get a feel for the daily workings of these communities.  On top of all this, Lucas is an iSchool student—just like you and me.  Here’s how he stays organized and finds the time to get his schoolwork done as well as negotiate library funds from the California state budget. 

6:00 am
I recently attended a health and fitness boot camp to break some not-so-good habits largely centering on sloth and sugar. Now, I try to go to the gym and log at least some treadmill time each day. That’s when I think about what’s ahead for the office and for school.
I check all assignment due dates (not while on the treadmill) and match that to my work calendar to build in enough time to get work done on time if there’s a trip that falls near due dates. The value of doing this was learned the hard way in a course where I got caught up in some issues in the state budget, fell behind, and had a helluva time catching up.
Over a bowl of granola and fruit, I check for early emails so they don’t mount up as high during the day. Then I head to the office.

9:00 am
The first people I see are Pat Kinnard and Annly Roman, the people who really run the State Library. They field phone calls, answer letters, give me a swift kick when necessary and make work a delight.
My days, in Sacramento and on the road vary significantly but there are almost always meetings. Meetings range from State Library budget issues to decisions on investing $10 million in federal grant money, digitization and preservation strategies, personnel, exhibits to mount, library website redesign, communications, figuring out how to take an idea from a smaller library and scale it up into a statewide program.

12:00 noon
I eat lunch alone in Sacramento more often than not. I do the writing that couldn’t be done during the morning because of all the meetings. Travel is a big part of my job. Visiting local libraries helps me see how libraries work on a day-to-day, community-based level rather than how we imagine it to be from our offices in Sacramento. The travel complicates completing my schoolwork but using time on flights and evenings in hotel rooms to go through reading material keeps things manageable.

5:00 pm The library gets pretty empty after 5 pm. Everyone in the suite of offices I’m in is gone by 5:30 pm. So this is when I catch up on unanswered emails, do writing like memos, letters, op-ed pieces and check what’s on the docket for the following day. I have a guitar in my office and if it’s been a particularly stress-filled or exhausting day, I’ll play a few tunes to unwind. Sometimes I’ll go upstairs to the State Library’s huge reading room and work there – the space is pretty inspiring. 

8:00 pm
I’m usually home by 8 pm, so I make a salad and go to library school at 9 pm. I “reward” myself with the news at 11, sometimes Fallon’s monologue, then go to bed. At some point, I’ll check my calendar for the next day, read through whatever is needed for meetings that require preparation and update my sophisticated 3×5 card to-do list accordingly.

Managing life, work and school is hard – significantly harder for students with kids, little or big, at home. My daughter Katie is grown, so if I stay disciplined and use spare moments and those two hours at night wisely, I can keep up with classes. But the key to being able to balance everything is the understanding and the help of my wife, Donna.

As you can see from Lucas’ day and some of the other Day in the Life postings, we all have ways of staying organized and keeping track of assignments and their due dates. Lucas may use 3×5 cards while Alison Peters uses the Google suite of apps to keep track of her assignments. I write mine on an old-fashioned wall calendar and highlight assignments for different classes in different colors. Whatever method you choose, stay organized and stay up-to-date and you’ll stay on top of your schoolwork. Just like Lucas, Peters and myself we all have meetings and life responsibilities to meet, but thankfully we have our family, friends and colleagues to support us as we work our way through iSchool courses.

What does your day look like? Share with us when you get your coursework done, how you fit grad school in around the rest of your day and what your best organizational strategies are.

Images courtesy of Pinterest and the California State Library

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