The summer semester officially starts tomorrow, The library is ready. We have our brochures sitting by the circulation desk. The displays are set up. Student numbers are loaded into the system. We’ve checked all student computers to make sure they’re working. We’ve double-checked the databases. A thousand students could rush in right now, and we’d handle them just fine. (Of course, since it’s a Friday afternoon, the only people walking through the doors are the last-minute students hoping against hope to get in one of the Anatomy and Physiology classes that have been full since the first day of pre-registration.)
I have my own pre-semester rituals that help me get ready, mostly getting rid of last semester’s detritus. First, I go through my email in-box, being ruthless with those emails that I’ve kept around because I’m not sure what to do with them. Today, they have been answered, archived, saved to our Wiki, or simply deleted. Now, I’m going through the actual papers on my desk. While I often do filing on Fridays, there is one stack that has remained in the corner because, once again, I’m not quite sure what I need to do with the information. So, today, I’ll make that final hard call. The papers will either go in recycling and the projects forgotten or they’ll get their own folder and move up in status.
Once the papers are gone, it is time to literally clean the desk. I admit it; I am a bit of a desk slob. Right now, on its surface, there are two packages of crackers that I didn’t eat with my chili today, a bottle of hand lotion that I almost never use, three pencils that I stole from the front desk, a dead plant, and scattered coins that I carelessly throw on the desk when I come back from the vending machines. Now this wouldn’t be so bad except, that connecting them all, is a elaborate pattern of crumbs from my various snacks. It’s not pretty. But even less pretty is my keyboard. Yesterday I had a sandwich made with crumbly bread, and, now, about half of that bread is lodged between the keys.
Next I plan to take the reams of paper in my recycling box to the recycling cart. I’m afraid this box is usually overflowing, mainly because I am of an eccentric, forgetful nature, and I throw paper in the box and then need it the next day. My worst semester occurred when a zealous housekeeping staff member emptied my box each morning. Although it has been pointed out to me (repeatedly) that the recycling box is not a file folder, I like having those papers in sort of purgatory, not quite useful, not quite dead. But now, it’s time for them to go.
Once that is done, for a brief, shiny moment (until I come in on Monday), the office is pristine. Then I move to my last two pre-semester rituals. I change out the motto on my blocks. (Yes, I have blocks. And, yes, I have positive sayings on them. Don’t judge.)
Finally, I pick out my notebook to start the new semester. This one is a gift from a colleague. She and I went to the Hallmark store together where they were giving these away with a purchase. She was in front of me in line and got the last one. A few weeks later, she gave me hers. It wasn’t that she was feeling guilty; it was just that it was still in the bag in her car, and she realized that she was never going to use it.
So the check list is complete. I am ready for summer term!