Summertime at an Academic Library

This is my second summer as a graduate assistant at an academic library. It’s a pretty jarring change of pace when we go from full-capacity one week to very slim patron counts the next. But it does give us a chance to catch up, both in the short term (shelving all of the end-of-semester returns) and the long term (projects Projects PROJECTS!).

While it’s certainly a change, I do relish the opportunity to explore things I don’t have as much time for during the busy semester. Since we have a lot less reference activities, graduate assistants can focus more on our individual special project efforts. Here are a few of the things I plan to work on in the coming months:

  • Maintaining the web subject guides I’m responsible for, including checking links and making sure all of the info is up to date (I do this during the year as well, but it’s easier to go more in depth when I don’t have to stop every 10 minutes to help patrons). I’d also like to connect more with faculty members from the departments of the subjects that my guides represent; their input would be invaluable to improving the content of the guides to make them more relevant to students.
  • Creating new subject guides! I’ve been assigned a few hot topics that aren’t currently represented in the library subject guide collection. I’ve been working on them throughout the semester, but this summer will be a good time to really pull them together.
  • Finishing up my instruction guides. This past year we’ve all been working on instructional guides for our major databases and web tools; hard copies are available at the reference desk, and pdf versions are posted on our website at the point of access for each tool. Here’s one I recently finished that provides info about our federated search tool (searches multiple databases at once): Easy Search.
  • Assembling and displaying at least two exhibits. My Garden Poetry exhibit will be up through May, but then I need something for June-July and then another idea for August/the start of the fall semester. I’m thinking of pulling from our closed stacks/special collections area for at least one of them… More to come on that later…
  • Continuing to oversee the City Planning Special Collections project I’ve been working on for about a year. We have a large collection of City Planning documents and archival materials that have never really been processed. So I completed a folder-level inventory and then worked with one of the librarians to develop a processing plan. And as of this past semester we finally hired a grad hourly worker to start the processing! She’s working 3 days a week this summer, so the project should continue to come along nicely.
  • Learning from the library faculty and staff in more direct, focused ways. Another GA and I are both taking a cataloging class this summer, and the Funk ACES cataloger has offered to give us a little more hands-on experience. We also get to help out with more technical services things, which are always fun; learning the nitty-gritty practicalities of the library’s workflows has been an unexpected pleasure of my job, especially during the summer.

Thus, while some academic libraries are certainly a little emptier during the summer, the librarians are no less active. We manage to find plenty to do, and enjoy the added bonus of eating lunch outside and getting a little sunshine!

See! So lovely!
See! So lovely!

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