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Don’t you have the summer off?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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While librarians at many academic institutions are considered faculty, many of them are also 12 month employees: we don’t get the summer off.

When folks tilt their head and furrow their eyebrows as they ask me “What do you do all summer? Read?” I attempt to refrain from pulling my hair out. Trust me, I’m not sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs.

For many libraries, summer is a time to work on projects that just don’t fit well into the academic year. It is a time to pull up carpet, install new furniture, update operating systems and retrofit a building from 1963 to accommodate modern power needs. It is time to update computer systems, analyze assessment data from the previous year and make plans to act on the results.

The black runner on the floor is one way to bring power to tables set away from the wall.

It isn't good to tear up the carpet under students' feet.

Summer is also a time for professional development. Many library conferences take place in June, July or August, and it’s a great time to attend webinars or local workshops. I coordinate a series of professional development workshops for library staff, as well as faculty and staff across campus. Topics include personal productivity, social media, scholarly communication, technology, etc.  I sometimes jokingly call it the “Things Bonnie wants to learn about” series. And on occasion, I have an hour in which I can read a journal article or perhaps even part of a book!

These are just the items I've printed out.

And just like teaching and research faculty, summer is a time for librarians to work on scholarship. I’ve got one article submitted, and two other manuscripts in various stages of completion. With a bit of luck, I’ll be able to submit both by the time the fall semester starts.

The library building is open during the summer, although it is quieter. We still get reference questions during the summer (from summer school students, faculty writing manuscripts, etc.) and there are still some library instruction classes to teach, but the pace slows down considerably and helps us catch our breath.

So don’t worry, I’ll be able to keep myself busy this summer.

Bonnie Swoger About the Author: Bonnie J. M. Swoger is a Science and Technology Librarian at a small public undergraduate institution in upstate New York, SUNY Geneseo. She teaches students about the science literature, helps faculty and students with library research questions and leads library assessment efforts. She has a BS in Geology from St. Lawrence University, an MS in Geology from Kent State University and an MLS from the University at Buffalo. She would love to have some free time in which to indulge in hobbies. She blogs at the Undergraduate Science Librarian. Follow on Twitter @bonnieswoger.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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