I know it’s not technically midsummer. We passed that a while back. But here at work, it’s the middle of our institution’s summer. Whole weeks can pass with only one or two meetings scheduled. Whole days can pass without any student asking me anything (we don’t have summer sessions for our students, though we do have summer programs for other people’s students). Whole hours can pass while I concentrate on one project without interruption. Everything feels different.
One thing I’ve enjoyed about this summer at the library is that the various research assistants on campus seem to have decided to congregate every day and work side-by-side in the main computer area of the reference room. Each student works on his or her assigned projects, chatting occasionally with whomever is sitting at the next computer, and generally keeping each other company through the long hours of research. This may have happened in previous years, but I don’t remember it, and it warms my heart every time I see the group hard at work together.
People always ask me what I do all summer without students, and I rarely have a good answer. In fact, I usually just pick whichever project I’m working on at the moment and say, “well, right now I’m working on [whatever it is]” and hope they don’t say “but that won’t take all summer, will it?” Because it won’t. There are a million other projects to do, but very little that can be synthesized down to “in the summer I work on this kind of thing and that kind of thing” conversation snippet. For some reason, it’s rarely seems to be enough to say, like those students can say, that my colleagues and I gather every day to work in proximity on the various projects that can’t happen during the school year’s crush of interruptions, classes, consultations, and meetings.
So what am I working on during this week in the middle of our summer? Well, I need to get acquainted with our (brand new to us) instance of LibGuides (which we’ve been wanting for years and finally have). I’m putting together my piece of a presentation on learning-centric library instruction for a professional development day that’s coming up in a couple of weeks at Gustavus Adolphus. I’m figuring out what needs to change in EndNote to bring the MLA style up to date now that we have our 7th edition copies in hand (and I need to figure out how to handle their pesky restrictions surrounding the online version). I’m also trying to re-start the effort to make Metalib work the way we need it to work. And I’m drafting a proposal to assess our Research/IT service point.
Sometime soon (once I’ve figured out LibGuides) I need to embark on my summer schedule of updating all my departmental research guides. (This is when being the librarian for 10 departments becomes time consuming in the summer.) Then there are a couple of complicated course-specific guides I should start working on. I have some Moodle/eReserves documentation to overhaul, some instructional material to create and some projects to assess in my capacity as a member of the campus’ copyright committee, and some planning to do for a new project in which I will coordinate a continual environmental scan for our library.
At least, those are the bigger projects that I hope I’ll get to before the most active prepare-for-fall-term portion of summer arrives. I hope my brain and work life cooperate to make that possible.