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Surviving the Silly Season

Note: if you’re a SCELC member reading this, I’m running for the SCELC Board, and I’d really appreciate your vote. My election statement is on the ballot. Voting ends May 21.

“Silly Season” is how I refer to the academic end-of-year period from about March through Commencement, a solid extrusion of busy-ness that crams together everything from final exams and commencement to next year’s contractual decisions. I’ve called it that for a long time, but now I’m living the dream.

You can add to that mix an annual consortium conference usually held in March that had to be moved to this week; preparing to interview candidates for a key position (and when your library has 4.0 FTE, every position is key); rolling out new-to-us services (I’ll have to look up the history of OCLC resource-sharing, but in this respect I think we’re catching up with 1985); and writing a slew of policy and procedure, most of it based on demand (“Do we have a donations policy?” “Hang on… I’m writing…”).

Also, due to unavoidable issues that pushed it out from its usual March scheduling, that consortium conference–SCELC’s annual colloquium and Vendor Day–fell this week, just two weeks before our master renewal invoice for electronic resources is due to SCELC, and due to the change of command at MPOW (new university president), small matters such as next year’s budget are still up in the air. So I am not really sure whether I need to add, cut, or hold the course on something that represents 20% of our entire budget, and I’m still absorbing new information from vendors we visited.

I’m also not sure what resources I have to keep our doors open after June 30 (the end of our budget year)–most specifically, student labor–so I have no idea what our hours are as of July 1, though I do have elaborate multi-colored spreadsheets for just about every scenario.

Then there’s a Dean’s Conference next Tuesday where with several faculty I’m presenting on a conference (the CUR Dialogs) I attended what feels like five years ago but was actually in February. My talk for CCLI went very well more on that later–I felt better about that talk then I’ve felt about any talk I’ve given in a long time–but it took its pound of flesh from me at a time when I didn’t have much flesh to spare.

But the reality is that no children or animals are harmed in this or any other Silly Season. It’s All Good. Awkward timing notwithstanding (and it couldn’t be helped), the SCELC conference reconnected me with old friends and introduced me to new colleagues. In this Saturday’s commencement I get to carry a walky-talky, wear an academic robe, and even shush people, which thrills me no end.  The students will go home or go out into the world. I’ll figure out what to say next Tuesday, and perhaps in doing so will finally tease out those grant ideas that have been rattling around my cerebral cortex for months. Eventually I’ll get a budget. The new position will be filled.

And last night, returning from Los Angeles, I was able to do what I love best of all: come home to the Bay Area.

It will begin again, ticking over, and there will be new experiences and challenges, surprises, disappointments, and delights, and we shall survive and even thrive through many more Silly Seasons, in academia, in other venues, in life itself.

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