navel gazing

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After almost four years at the library, I’m heading out on a new path. I’ve always known that I wanted a Ph.D., but was rather burned out after my dual masters program. I am incredibly glad that I took a break – although working full time as a faculty member in a tenure-track library is not really a break. During my time at the library I got to interact with new people, new institutional cultures, and new ideas. It provided incredible opportunities for professional development, conference attendance, and personal growth. I will always be grateful for that funding to go to LILAC in Glasgow and R2 in Telluride – amazing conferences and incredible locations (pictures below). My amazing boss let me try out all kinds of new stuff and was awesome and supportive even through my not-so-successful programs which always resulted in life lessons.

My favorite part was/is working with students. They can be exhausting and frustrating, but we need to stay connected to them. They need to trust us and we need to trust them. Building and fostering those relationships was a key part of my work, and I am really going to miss the amazing young adults I met at my current institution. They’ve given me something to write my dissertation about though.

I have so many questions, so many things I want to explore, and am now able to take the time to devote myself fully to studying current situations and policies, finding areas where we’re excelling and where we can improve, and then fixing stuff. As a supporter and champion of feminist research methods and pedagogies – all my research needs to have practical/activist applications. Everything I do is a mashup of gender studies, information studies, and education. I’m really looking forward to seeing what these next few years bring and what my research actually ends up being. It’s a difficult process, and I do definitely have reservations and a few gut wrenching fears, but I’m excited. I’m ready to learn new things and get researching!

beautiful mossy forest

Hiking in the Central Highlands after LILAC

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – Glasgow

mountain lodge

I had to stay in this shack for the R2 Conference. It was torture (to leave).

Library Lea and a giant snake.

More from R2 – not only was it an insanely gorgeous setting, the conference was incredible and involved snake handling.

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that’s currently wearing me out.

I spend my fall semesters teaching information literacy classes, presenting at orientations, co-facilitating in-library training, trying to get through the lunch line at the grill in under 45 minutes, and making sure the faculty in my department have what they need to teach and conduct their research. It’s incredibly busy, and more than that, it’s very scheduled. I am a captive of my calendar. I only do things when something beeps at me (cell phone, iPad, laptop) – often they all beep at once.

Spring is completely different. The lines are shorter, there are fewer classes, I get to work with faculty who are planning ahead for next year giving us ample time to find rare materials (and find funds for them), we’re recovering from our 11 days of winter, it actually rains and things are less crispy and brown. In spring I focus on professional development, I travel to conferences, I actually get to READ things, and I work on articles. On paper, it seems fantastic, and please, don’t get me wrong, I am *incredibly* appreciative to be a part of an organization that values professional development and gives me time off and funds to go to conferences. I know I’m incredibly lucky. And writing? That’s what academics do, right? The professors you see in movies? The ones surrounded by stacks of paper and piles of books. They constantly-disheveled folks that fall asleep on the cool pages of a 500-page tome or curled up on the tiny, dusty couch in their office. (scene cuts to the neglected spouse, kid, dog, garden, etc. back home). It’s glamourous, right? Well, glamourous if you grew up longing for a life surrounded by dark wood shelving, tweed, and elbow patches. It’s this beautiful picture of sacrificing sleep, a healthy diet, and love for the pursuit of knowledge. Right? Right?!

This isn't even that bad.
All my giant books are at home.

Well . . . sure. I still believe a lot of those things, but it feels worse that it appears on screen. I am completely worn out right now. I just got back from a conference a week ago and am heading off to another in 9 days, then another 3 weeks after that, and another 3 weeks after that. Again, it’s really awesome, but I could use some more reflection time, a lot more sleep, and more catch-up time – people don’t stop emailing me when I’m at conference. I’ve learned tons of new things and met cool new people at conferences in the past three months. I love meeting people who are passionate about student success, and this last conference (First-Year Experience) was a mecca for those folks. So basically I’m just a little whiny because I worked late, then stayed up late editing, then got up early. I am mostly done with prep for the next conference (SXSW Interactive) and should be done with travel arrangements for the one after that by the end of this week. Then I’ll have a little break, right? Right? I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll feel 100 times better after I take a nap and have a sandwich. I won’t write an update here though, because I’ll be writing articles like a champ . . . maybe.

This about sums it up. I feel the same way about running.

“I don’t like to write, but I love to have written.” Michael Kanin

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