As I write this, it is November, the middle of the fall academic semester and one of the busiest times of the year for academic librarians and library staff. Our calendars are filled with meetings, classes, desk shifts, deadlines, and more meetings. Our libraries are filled with anxious students who are studying and doing research. Our desks and email in-boxes contain even more demands on our time. We need time to reflect on what we are doing—but it is hard to find.
This is my tenth fall semester as an academic librarian, but this year is different—I’m on a research and study leave (a.k.a. sabbatical). My calendar this week shows only a coffee date with a colleague from another institution and my to-do list is shorter than ever (although it has some pretty big items, such as “write paper”).
This fall, I have had space to read about libraries and librarianship, to reflect on my practice as a librarian, and to consider my priorities for my research and my work. Interestingly, without the ongoing routine of going to a library each day, I find myself spending more of my time thinking about libraries, the people who work in them, and the faculty, students, and staff who use them.
And so I encourage all of you to make the time to read and reflect on your work in libraries. Not all of us can take sabbaticals (and even for those who can, they only come every seven years) but we can all find ways to professionally recharge on a regular basis. For example:
- block off an hour a week in your calendar, and keep it there; if you end up needing to schedule a meeting during that time, then re-schedule your “read and reflect” time
- have lunch away from your desk so you can avoid distractions
- keep a folder of readings (physical or electronic) at hand so that you can easily pick up something to read
For our third 60-second presidential poll, share your thoughts about making time for professional rejuvenation.
Thank you to all who participated in our last presidential poll on mentoring. The vast majority of respondents were librarians who work in universities, but as far as stage of career and preferred mentoring activities they were more equally divided:
Kristin Hoffman is Head of Research and Instructional Services at D.B. Weldon Library, Western University.