Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries

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Iris Jastram posted something a few days ago about her approach to summer projects, and I am filled with envy.

She said:

I’ve posted my list of big summer projects on my wall in big letters. Each day, I have to touch at least two of them, no matter how minor the touch. There will be other things that crop up (there always are) so this leaves me plenty of wiggle room, but at least I’ll be making progress for sure.

At the start of summer (mine started in May…) I took some time to clear off the whiteboard from the year’s projects and put each of my 3 big projects on it, plus one spillover from the semester. And added an article I wanted to write. And another I ought to write.

ImageAnd then I was notified about a half-day workshop for October (on the topic of one of the articles, so double duty, but still a new project). And I accepted a task force. And then I said yes to teaching a class in the Fall (an asynchronous class. requiring that I learn all the things about asynchronous pedagogy, a format I have none-too-much respect for and never imagined myself taking on. But i said yes, so I will master it!).  And so when I said yes to the Masterclass in New Librarianship, I was also excited to learn about good asynchronous pedagogy! (I didn’t make it through the first week. 1700+ students. 600+ discussion board posts. No.)

And then — with my projects ballooned from 3 to 10 — I learned that summer life here includes an awful lot of priorities, often other folk’s, unexpected, and on short deadline. Assessment planning. An excruciating approach (due to specific circumstances) to cancellations (lengthy lists requiring attention drop into my mailbox unexpectedly and want immediate attention…). Candidates on campus. We’re extraordinarily short staffed this summer, so covering reference desk shifts for folk’s vacations becomes a time sink. Orientation happens 17 times over summer, and covering tours with the smaller staff is more of a commitment than last year. We have active summer classes, so unanticipated instruction requests arrive from time to time. And three weeks ago, the library’s social media organs were given in to my care (I wanted them. I asked for them in March. I’m glad to have them. They just weren’t part of the plan).

I come to work every day. I work all day, long days. And I have barely touched my original Big Summer Projects list. My original goals and hopes for the summer. We are halfway through summer, and my articles are in no better shape than they were in April. My ALA obligations are being taken care of (including post-ALA work). But I would sing praise to the universe if I could have a summer that allowed me to work on my projects and make good progress on them. I don’t even know what I would do in gratitude if the summer was such that I could do that and make good use of the copious vacation time and furlough I’m accruing and can’t get ahead of.

Next summer, I may set no priorities. But that’s not OK with me. I have big projects that need big time to get worked on! How do you all handle these conflicting demands for your time in the summer months? Have you given up? Or developed a strategy that works? I’m in need of advice for managing this! 10 years, three libraries, and I fail at this every summer!