How I Work: Dan Crocker, Coordinator of Electronic Resources/Reference Librarian

This week’s ‘How I Work’ is a guest post from library staff member, Dan Crocker. If you would like to contribute your own, let us know!


Name: Dan Crocker

Job Title, Department: Coordinator of Electronic Resources/Reference Librarian, Iwasaki Library

Current Mobile Device(s):  ∅. None. When I walk out the door, I am a free being. Like a leaf on the wind…

Current Computer(s): Late 2013 iMac running El Capitan. Yes, just 1 monitor, but there are 2 projectors to the left of it…

One word that describes how you work: Unusually

Describe a typical day: The majority of my workload is cerebral, or psychological, or intellectual, or phrenic, or perhaps best described as mental. My workday starts at City Feed in JP, then via the Orange Line and a brief stop in the Emerson Café, I am mostly prepared for the office. @ work, the primary task is to lessen the workload of myself and others, which involves considerable background reading in email and the web. I am usually seeking fires to put out before they draw the attention of others. Spending money and making things (and sometimes people) work is not the point of my job, just the necessary path to accomplish it. I spend a lot of time in Excel, Banner, and the weeds – which is where I usually discover Slack and Libraryh3lp and and the databases. Most of my efforts go to, and in, and on, and with, the library’s subscription research databases, and the $ that pays for them.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without? Why? As mentioned above, Excel is sadly still very necessary. We’ve looked at some replacements – Coral (a database for database-related data) is one my peers are invested in, but I am resisting. Banner and Drupal are up there, too. BOINC and the World Community Grid are running all the time, and because of the hard work they do, I keep Activity Monitor on most of the time. No matter what I’m doing, or whether or not I know what I’m doing, I’m fighting AIDS and seeking out means of targeting Cancer with drug therapies, and improving rice and water access around the world. Zoho and Google Office or Alphabet Cabinet or whatever it’s called now are pretty crucial, too. And iTunes. (My iTunes library is shared, for the brave.) MacMail works reasonably well, still.

What is your office or desk like? Tidy or chaotic? If you think the desk is chaotic, you should see what it’s like in here:


Everything here is (perhaps) not organized, but where it belongs, so that if I cannot find it in 5 minutes, it’s just not here. Learning that imposing order is always futile (and a waste of time) is the first step in mastering the universe.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? My job is answering questions and solving problems, so it shames me to admit that there are some I can’t answer alone, or even in concert with my colleagues. For many of these, I go first to Dave. Not sure if this counts as a hack, but if you’re searching Google and not getting what you want after 3 or 4 different search attempts, search a string of colorful obscenities. Google’s tracking recognizes you’re nearing the end of your rope, and assuming you only click a little bit in these results before searching again, you’ll be far more likely to find what you’re after.

What do you use to keep track of your schedule? Which schedule? Mac’s Calendar currently houses my Outlook, Google, Facebook events, Facebook birthdays, and selected friends and staff members calendars.

What’s your favorite lunch spot around Emerson? There are a few. A handful, really. But the 2 I recommend most often are noodle places – New Shanghai on Hudson Street has the best dan-dan noodles in town, though the new 5 Spices House on Beach Street is a close second. But Gene’s hand-pulled noodles on Bedford Street are garlicky and amazing. (It’s cash only, and New Shanghai has a $15 minimum for credit.)

What music do you listen to while you work? I hear a lot more of the help desk’s hold music than I’d like (since they switched from WERS). But my iTunes is a weird and wonderful place. Request a sample playlist and I’ll ask you 5 questions and give you a mix. (In my realm, this is referred to as a “reference interview.”)

What’s your favorite GIF? Some buttons must get pushed:

Leave a Reply