Posted in Lessons Learned

When it’s Summertime, but the Fall Semester is Nigh…

It doesn’t seem possible that August could already be half-over!  It seems like we just celebrated graduation, and now we’re getting ready to welcome (and welcome back) our students for another school year.  This was my first full summer as a law librarian, and naively I thought summer would be a time of catching up, charging forward on projects that had sat on the back-burner during the previous school year.  Wrong!  While I have in many ways successfully played catch-up on the ol’ To Do list, it is by no means completed.  The summer absolutely flew by, and I am in awe that the school year is upon us again.

Given the timing, however, it does seem time to reflect upon my summer activities.  Much of my time this summer was spent attending and presenting at various conferences: in May I spoke about various and innovative uses for LibGuides to a couple different groups of librarians; in June I attended the CALI conference, held this year in Chicago; and in July of course I attended and co-presented at the annual meeting of AALL, held this year in Seattle.  When I wasn’t traveling or preparing for these presentations, I was updating two of my research guides, badly in need of makeovers, and working on a long-term research project involving a lot of data analysis.  In addition, I began work on a couple more research guides and began collaborating with colleagues as we gear up for another year of teaching legal research.

Along the way, I learned a few things:

1. When it comes to work, you’re To Do list will never be a Done list – as one task finishes, two more begin, and the cycle continues; of course, this is ultimately a positive – you never want to be in a position that there is nothing left for you to do.

2. Research guides are never truly finished.  Once published, they require updating, including adding new sources, checking for broken links, and revising as source content and layout changes.  If you’re not updating your research guides, they lose their utility.

3. When it comes to research projects involving data analysis, whenever possible, keep at it until it’s done, even if you only work on it for an hour a day.  The project I’m working on has been a year in the making, with about a 6 month break in the middle; when I came back to the data, I found I ultimately had to start over to guard against mistakes and to reacquaint myself with the categories I had initially created.

With only two weeks until classes begin, the summer is unlikely to slow down, but I remain hopeful that I can make a little more progress on my To Do list before then.  (I am not naive enough to believe much progress will be made during the semester!)

I hope you’ve all had productive, yet restful, summers, and I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming academic terms!

Author:

I am the Assistant Director for Public Services at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. My research interests include exploring how emerging and existing technologies can be used to enhance library services and legal education as well as how to address knowledge gaps and meet the educational expectations of today's law students.

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