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The Week Before Classes

Classes start next Monday, and man oh man am I in denial. Whew! I even have sessions to teach next week, and am only prepared enough to have them listed in my calendar. And here’s why (other than my general denial, of course): requests always come in just about the time I start getting swamped with pre-term-insanely-busy-ness. My calendar was three of the four work days this week with orientation sessions, planning sessions, and meetings. Also, all of the publicity projects I had going on were absolutely positively DUE today. The brochures I’ve been creating were to be handed out today, the poster needs to be hung, and I still need to send out that fall “I’m here, remember me” email to each faculty member in my departments. No idea when that’ll happen.

So basically I started the day in panic mode… and with an hour and a half of all-library meeting. I was not in the mood! Did they know we had things to do!!! Still, I survived, and even learned a few things.

Luckily, though, the new faculty orientation session went really well. I was pretty worried about it. I mean, four academic technologists and 6 librarians in a room trying to convey all the helpfulness in the world to 40 or so overwhelmed and exhausted new faculty members is a stretch under the best circumstances. On top of it all, I didn’t feel like we’d done enough to prepare the session. We had a very, very basic sketch of what we wanted to accomplish, but I prefer more than that when presenting with so many people. And yet, with all this going against us the new faculty members seemed to appreciate the session, and I had good conversations with a couple of people who will be entering my departments. (I’m a little bit petrified of some of their research areas… but I’ll figure something out. I mean, I kind of have to. It’s my job. And I know from prior experience that these challenges are the most rewarding…once they’re overcome.)

Anyway, this session somehow brought it all home to me that the term is really starting. There’s no turning back. But it did more than that. It reminded me that however much I dread the constant panic of the term, this really is what my job is all about, and I love it. That slightly queasy, there’s-no-way-on-EARTH-I’ll-be-able-to-answer-that, hot-and-cold feeling that washes over me as impossible questions float my way is not the point. The point isn’t even the “thrill of the hunt.” That hunt can be more frustrating than thrilling a lot of the time, let me tell you. The point is exactly what one new professor said today on her way out of the session: “I feel so … covered… like there’s this great safety net under me.” That’s the point.