I suppose all jobs have ‘down’ times when there there are fewer people around than usual. For our library, it is the time between semesters. Our students took final exams last week, and the campus will close for a week on Friday. For these five days in between, we are here, but students, for the most part, are not. In fact, right now, there are more staff members than students in the library.
And that’s fine. Down times are important. They allow us for to prepare for the next semester. One person is checking the textbook list to make sure we have the right texts for January. Another is beginning to email overdue notices. I just evaluated a new staff member and wrote a recommendation for another. And I am determined to have fewer than 100 emails in my in-box when I leave for my holiday.
While many people take vacation time this week, I always like to be here because it gives me an opportunity I don’t always have during the semester: time to think. I have some uninterrupted minutes to consider what worked during the semester and what didn’t. I think of the changes I would make if I had unlimited resources and then narrow down to the ones that are actually feasible. I talk to staff about what they noticed and what they think would improve our library.
If all goes well, I will return in January with an empty email in-box, a clear desk, and a thoughtful plan for the new semester.