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Well no wonder it’s felt like a marathon!

We’re in our last week of classes for the term (I know, I know, our academic calendar is weird), and whenever people on campus ask how things are going at the library I always say something like “Oh, it’s going, all right” and then feel at a loss as to why this term has felt so overwhelming.

And then I looked back over my calendar.

Since the start of classes on March 28th, here’s what I’ve been up to, in addition to a regular load of reference, instruction, individual student research consultations, and normal committees and stuff.

  • ACRL
    This was my first national conference in 2 years since I’ve been too sick for travel and conferences. I had a great time at ACRL, but then it took me 6 weeks to recover, so I’m not sure when my next conference will be. Hopefully sometime before 2 years from now!
  • Director Search
    Our search for a new library director failed with no offer made, so now we’re figuring out how to manage the interim and when to go about re-opening that search.
  • External Review
    As part of the transition planning for my supervisor’s retirement, the library supported us in inviting 4 really great reviewers to come and talk to us and to our faculty, students, and staff to help us figure out our strengths, weaknesses, and some strategies for moving forward. It was a really great experience, but the hard work isn’t done yet. Now we have to take their report and use it to help us do an internal review and to make an actual plan for our department. That project is coming up next month.
  • Discovery Tool Selection
    This was more other people’s project than mine, but it still took several meetings even as a peripheral participant in the project up until their major push to produce a recommendation report. In the end, the team made really great recommendations (VuFind, followed by a redesign of the way students will access our stuff online, followed by a new look for a metasearch discovery system).
  • Information Literacy in Student Writing projects
    We’re going great guns on this project (which I wrote a bit about here). This term that has meant presenting at a local conference, doing test readings with several faculty and librarians in preparation for final revisions of the rubric, getting logistics and invitations set up to do a campus-wide reading of student writing using the rubric (the reading will happen in August), and preparing to write two pieces for publication based on aspects of the project.
  • Selection of new Multi-Function Printers for the campus
    The library reference area served as one of the trial sites for the candidates for new MFPs, and I was the library liaison to ITS for this project, which meant a lot of all-staff emails introducing each new machine and then soliciting and compiling feedback from faculty, staff, and students. In the end, I’m glad the selection process seems to have worked, though, so it was worth it.
  • Search for a temporary librarian
    During our interim year next year, with an interim director and an interim head of my department (and with one of us out on family leave), we’ll be hiring a temporary reference & instruction librarian to help us manage. So now’s the time for interviews. Fingers crossed for a good result.
  • Planning for next year’s Fall first year seminars
    The faculty who will be teaching those seminars need orientation and time to plan out their courses, so we’re kicking off with a meeting/workshop next week. In preparation we’re creating literature to hand out (since we’ll only have 5 minutes to actually present anything).
  • Weitz Center
    We have a new (used) arts union on campus, called the Weitz Center for Creativity, which is under construction right now and will open in the fall. One of the spaces in that building is a collaborative computer lab/study space that’s designed to be especially good for multi-media stuff. We’ll have a service in that space, so this term a lot of energy (again, mostly by other people in my department rather than mostly by me) has gone into talking about our goals for that space, our own time, and how to develop a service model that will be sustainable and will meet the goals of the space.
  • Research/IT changes
    Coordinating our joint service desk in the library, where we have a librarian and an IT student worker working together, means that when our IT department decides to reorganize their public services, I have more to do when it comes to negotiating their evolving plans for new organizational structures and goals and the library’s goals for the service.
  • Director and Head of Reference retiring this summer
    Having these two people retire, and planning for life after they leave, has meant a lot of talking and thinking and planning. They’re such key pieces of my every-day work life and they’ll be sorely missed. But our interim people are also awesome, so we’ll be ok.
  • Beginning of a Book Studies set of courses on campus?
    Some faculty, staff, and administrators are talking about how book studies are taught on campus and how to guide students to those courses in a more coherent way if students are interested. I find myself involved in the beginnings of these discussions, and it’ll be interesting to see a) how the discussions go, and b) how much I’ll be involved.
  • Gould Outlook
    As usual, I spend time gathering news about the outside world of librarianship and condensing it into a semi-regular newsletter for the rest of the library folk here, and also organizing some related face-to-face discussion every term.
  • Collection Development
    Every spring my department has to weigh all the needs and wants for eResources and prioritize them in preparation for end-of-the-year budgeting. It’s a good thing we all get along and have a pretty solid shared vision for the library and for our campus’ needs because otherwise this process would be gut-wrenching rather than just being long and involved every spring.
  • Writing Center search
    I was on the interview committee for our Writing Center’s search for an assistant director and coordinator of second language writing.
  • Comps Talks
    Every senior has to produce a capstone project, called “comps,” and I try to attend as many as I can for students in the majors I serve. It’s so great to see these seniors present the work that they do, and it’s one of the few times I get to see the final product of student work).
  • Personal Stuff
    Easter happened, with travel to see family. That was really great and also tiring. And my health has been iffy at best, so mostly when I’m not at work I’m sleeping or seeing doctors, which is a drag.

And that’s just the stuff that has taken my time. Other people in the library have had their own long lists, often longer than mine.

Once the term is done we’ll have commencement and then the annual excitement and commotion of Reunion. We’ll also be doing the internal review and planning that I mentioned above, reading sophomore writing portfolios, doing lit reviews for the publications we’re working on, revising our rubric, and nailing down logistics for the campus-wide reading with that rubric, training a new librarian (hopefully), and saying goodbye to retiring colleagues and friends. Plus all the usual summer projects and preparations for the next year. So I guess it makes sense that I’ve felt a little like things are getting away from me this term.

2 thoughts on “Well no wonder it’s felt like a marathon!

  1. I often feel the same way–why do our schedules feel so overwhelming?! I think your idea of looking back on what you’ve done is a great one. As librarians, we definitely accomplish more than we think we do!

    I’m curious about the failed director search. Is that something that you can share more about in a future blog post (or maybe the details are best kept internal). We often read that there are problems with filling leadership posts, and so I’m curious as to what the factors were for your institution.

  2. Hi Ann,

    The failed director search was just one of those things, you know? A lot of hard work on the search committee’s part, several good candidates. I think the main thing that makes hiring at that level difficult is that there are so many stakeholders in the process. I might find one candidate to be exactly the kind of leader I want to work with, but I and even my department are only one stakeholder out of many.

    So I’m not sure that our case is particularly interesting or particularly uncommon. We have quite a few positions on campus that are the very successful results of second searches. It just added to the stress and uncertainty of an already very full Spring term.

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