Unsleepy Summer

In theory, the summer is supposed to be a little quieter. This was what I had heard from other friends working in academic libraries. The students flocked out and the summer was a time for research, for projects, for dusting corners and squeezing in some vacation time that couldn’t be taken during the year due to too many classes to be taught. This was the reverse of the public libraries where I was working, where summer meant our foot traffic rose exponentially, summer reading programs called for racing about and planning and and and and… So now, I could move to a quieter summer, right?

Of course not.

In practice, things are busier than they were a month ago and I don’t really expect them to slow down anytime soon.

Part of the new job, about which I know I have not blogged much, is that I’m the liaison to the College of Dentistry (CoD).  I am direct support to about 400 students, the academic faculty, the research faculty, and everybody else who shows up and says they belong to Dentistry in some way, shape, or form.  The college has been incredibly welcoming thus far–happy to include me, happy to introduce me to the students. I met the full faculty about a month ago and I’m handing out a lot of business cards.

May 24 kicked off my one-evening-a-week embedding.  The students at CoD are in class from 8:30-5 and if my schedule parallels that at the library, they aren’t going to be able to get to me. Also, while the library is  just down the block, I understand how hard it is at times to break out of your flow and walk to another building. So, it was decided to try putting me in one of their computer labs one evening a week. I could hold consultations, answer general questions, do impromptu classes, whatever they need.  I’m showing up with chocolate and my business cards. Hopefully it’ll grow through word of mouth and reminder emails every couple of months.

There’s a lot of change right now occurring over at the CoD because they are migrating to a new curriculum that is focused on small group learning rather than lecture style. I’m being included in a lot of the conversations, which is great, and I’m looking forward to finding out how best I can be included as a partner in the small groups. We might try some short classes on RefWorks, encouraging the students to come over as a group and get some training together, things like that.  Because there is also an emphasis on Evidence Based Dentistry being taught at the school, there are a lot of opportunities for me to be involved.

And while one thinks of college usually starting in the fall, UIC’s international dentistry program kicks off in May. So while the campus was applauding at various graduations, I was doing an initial orientation. I’ve gotten face time twice with the students and they’ve started to seek me out in the library and schedule consultations! The regular D1 students will start in August but everyone else is here through the summer.

I just got back from my first official Medical Librarian Association Conference and the American Library Association Annual Conference is right around the corner. I joined the Dentistry Section for MLA–of course, and sat in on their business meeting. I’ve also signed up, for the remainder of the year, for the Research Section and the Relevant Issues Section.  Going to ALA in New Orleans officially means I’m taking on Chair of the Program Planning Committee for LITA for the next two years. While that committee doesn’t have the commitment requirement of say, the Newbury committee, it still will need some dedicated time this fall.

And then there is the everyday stuff: getting my own hour for our chat reference, trialing expanded chat reference hours, I’m scheduled about ten hours a week on the reference desk, I’m on a web redesign committee. One-on-One Consultations between the info services librarians and a student/faculty member is something that is strongly encouraged by Madame Department Head.  We usually schedule an hour and these can be in my building, in an e-room, or at someone’s office (if they are on the side of campus where the various health colleges are).  I’ve had three this month so far and I’m hoping to see that number continue to rise. I started a bathroom newsletter over at the library and this month I put the spotlight on consultations. I had a faculty member walk up to the reference desk and ask to schedule one as a direct result of reading about it! The newsletter is a mix of news and frivolity–it’s been fun looking for amusing studies in PubMed and writing them up in even more outrageous language.

Somewhere in there I’m supposed to be working on writing and research. That’s more a matter of trying to winnow down a couple of questions that I don’t feel have already been done to death rather than a dearth of things to examine.  I’m going to have to start blocking time specifically to work on those ideas, rather than just thinking I’ll squeeze them in between emails.

And in the in-process but not yet fully actionable category: I’m also working on outreach to the Institute for Juvenile Research and I’m curious to find out what we have been doing with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Madame Department Head and I had started talking about that at MLA but she’s on vacation right now.