Tuesday, November 08, 2016

On not doing anything

Before I go on, yes, I know I have not posted here in a while. There are a couple of reasons for that, and I would rather not go into them now or anytime soon. However, I drafted the following post on an early morning journaling session, and I figured I would post it more so I would have a record on my blog. If this does not interest you, you are welcome to skip it. These days I am more involved with my other blog, The Itinerant Librarian, doing book reviews and some other things that interest me more. Anyhow, here goes.

A while back, one of coworkers who so happens to be a bit of a biddy decided to do some trash talk about me, telling the student workers in the biddy's department that I just sit around and do nothing all day. The thing is one of the nothings I happen to not do is work a lot with students during class sessions and individual consultations. I am fairly good at that, and so when someone talks trash about me, they come and tell me. And then we have a good laugh about it because we both know better. While that person is not worth giving the time of day, the person got me thinking I  should do one of those "what is it I do" kind  of posts. So here is a not so short list of what I do in my current workplace. It is not necessarily in any particular order; I just wrote it as I was thinking.

Things I do: 

  • Head of the reference and instruction program for my library. I run the program, make decisions, provide direction and vision for it. I also plan and coordinate our information literacy assessment efforts. 
  • I supervise two professional librarians who make up the instruction team. I am able to run our information literacy program thanks to them and with  them. 
  • I work hours at the reference desk. This semester is four hours, which is not much, but we do have a bit of a surplus of student labor in the reference unit (keep in mind, we are a labor college). I also work one evening shift a week, and I rotate Sundays with  other reference librarians. I often also cover when other reference librarians are out, and they cover for me. We are good about watching out for each other. 
  • I teach classes and workshops. This also includes the preparation time to teach. 
  • I do research consultations, mainly with students. Again, this also includes the preparation time for those consults. 
  • When I get a break from all of the above, I do, or try to do, some collection development. I am faculty liaison for our Division 5, which includes Art and Art History, Asian Studies, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religion. Not to brag or commiserate, but this division is probably the most demanding and "prickly" one of the divisions, especially a couple of departments that I will not name, but can get time consuming when they get an itch (I could go on, but I will stop in the interest of grace). Anyhow, this task also includes any specialized library instruction for them. 
  • I coordinate library outreach. This includes making sure we have displays, planning for them, putting them up or delegating that part, planning and implementing other events when I can. 
  • I oversee our social media. This semester I have a great student worker who keeps it running, so I just oversee it. When I get a moment, I write for the library's blog. 
Other things I do:

  • I have faculty status in this campus. So I serve on committees. This year, I am on the last year of a three-year term in Student Life Council. 
  • Meetings: staff meetings, library management team meetings, collection development meetings, and a few others I cannot remember now. Like other libraries, our director is quite fond of meetings, including the ones that can probably just be an e-mail. Oh, then there are faculty senate meetings, and some others I am not remembering. 
  • What I call now "my other hat." I am Coordinator of Latino Services for the campus. This includes, but it is not limited to: 
    • Services for families of incoming Latino students. A lot of this is translation services (English to Spanish to English), but also point of contact for them and campus offices to answer questions as needed. 
    • Coordinate and make sure we have translators during summer orientation events and  the fall term Move-In Day. Again, I note, this is for families, not the students per se. 
    • I translate and get other volunteers to translate various campus documents as needed.
    • I am on-call if a department needs my services. Admissions, for  instance, calls once in a while when they have a visiting family needing a translator. 
    • My newest endeavor is to provide some library and academic support as needed for a General Studies course on  Latino Males in Higher Education. This has not been called for much (but that is another story).
    • Whatever the heck else the dean and/or the college president may need in relation to our campus' recent initiative to attract and retain more Latinos on campus. This is one  of those "other duties as assigned" tasks. 
  • Oh, and somewhere in all of the above, I also try to: 
    • Keep up with library literature. I've blogged less on  the library literature these days, but I still read it where I can. 
    • Do some professional development. I do not do enough, and I certainly wish I had the time to do more, especially related to "my other hat."
    • Did I also mention  I often represent the library at selected campus events? For instance, I was a speaker at last year's Carter G. Woodson Center's retreat for students. 
    • Also under professional development, I do a presentation when I can. These days, I  have done one or two in collaboration with another colleague of mine, a nice lady who could write a whole post on "not doing anything" that would be very substantial. 
  • And, finally for now, I work with students who pop into my office for help. If the door is open to my office, they know it is fair game. 
I am not telling my four readers all this to brag or so they feel bad for me. Mainly, as I think about it while writing, I realize I never really sat down and did this little exercise until now. It is quite a bit. Anyhow, keep in mind I do not do every single thing above everyday, but this is what keeps me off the streets during the year, and I mean the full year. Unlike "real faculty" who take summers off to write (allegedly) and travel, I actually work year round as the library is open year round.

In the end, I look at it as my wise father would say, "don't worry if you have too much to do. Worry when they do not give you enough to do." So there you have it, the "nothing" that I do. In my personal journal, this post took me about four handwritten pages. As I look it over, one of the  things I have wanted to write about more is precisely "my other hat" work. There is a  lot in there that can be explored about it being a new position, how the position has evolved, issues like tokenism and cultural taxation, and other things I think maybe a reader or two may find of interest. But those are ideas for another day.