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Lazy Summers

Throughout each school year as I run crazily from meeting to meeting, class to class, and project to project, I keep a little list of all the projects I want to do over the summer. And during the academic year, this seems to make perfect, logical sense. Summer shimmers out in the distant regions of my imagination as this expanse of unscheduled time just waiting to receive these projects into its outspread arms.

Then summer arrives. Classes let out sometime in the first half of June (This year graduation was on the second weekend of June), and then it takes us all until the end of June get ourselves back on our feet. During this first half month of the summer, our fiscal year ends (read “we panic and run around getting facts and figures nailed down so invoices can be issued”), we have our end-of-year all-staff meeting, we realize that in the mad rush of the end of the year there are still hundreds of emails buried in our in-boxes, and the piles on our desks have become so entrenched that we don’t even notice them any more… they are the decor.

In July an academic summer camp or two comes through, so we teach classes for those kids. And any real projects we wanted to get done must also happen during this month because next comes August, and August is crazy busy.

In August we meet with new faculty, host a picnic for faculty and academic staff, design and print our new editions of trading cards, plan for new-student week, start learning of the classes we’ll be teaching when school begins, get ready to facilitate common reading groups, and generally get by on very little sleep and a lot of adrenalin.

So what do I have on my list of summer projects? Well, just a few little things:

  • Learn our new database and add them to appropriate subject guides for my disciplines.
  • Update all links everywhere on our site for our new MLA International Bibliography platform.
  • Clean up and update my disciplines’ EndNote filters and styles (and build an output style for a department on campus that have come up with their own citation style).
  • Update all my subject research guides (especially two that I’ve hardly looked at since I arrived here two years ago… yikes).
  • Learn how to support two new faculty who are coming in with very different research areas and needs from anything we’ve had on campus to date.
  • Develop a working knowledge of which journals are important to my area studies, and which databases are the best starting places for each of these somewhat interdisciplinary majors.
  • Become a better music librarian (yeah… really, this is jotted down in my notes… wish me luck).
  • Work on the MnObe group that’s envisioning the future of the library catalog for liberal arts schools in Minnesota.
  • Explore the possibility of a workshop offered jointly by the library and the WAC program on campus on the theme: Writing from Sources… What makes a good research assignment?
  • Read Common Reading book and come up with ideas for the library exhibit that will use this book as it’s theme.
  • Write up a couple of Moodle guides that people have requested.

Besides this, there are a couple of pretty gigantic department-wide projects that I might explain later. And yes… this is what I hope to accomplish in July. I think I’ll need two or three clones of myself. But since I don’t think “Clones of Iris” are listed anywhere in the library budget, I’ll probably have to content myself with prioritizing this list and only tackling the more important items, which is what I did last year, which is why some of these are left over from last year’s list, which is why I fear that I’ll go through my entire library career with a few of these things perpetually on my list of summer projects. Maybe I should get stationary printed with those things permanently printed in nice, neat bullets.

At times like this I remember that when I took this job (coming from a non-professional position in a very small library where everybody did everything), I worried that I might get bored with “only” reference and instruction duties. Heh.

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