What do we do in the summer, anyway?

So we’re well into the summer intersession here at MPOW, and faculty often ask me if the librarians work in the summers. The short answer is that we do, as most of us are on 12-month contracts. The building closes at 4:30, so we all get off work a little early, and we don’t staff the reference desk as reliably as we do during the semester (one librarian does tend to work out there during much of the day), and there’s virtually nobody in the building most of the time, so it’s a nice quiet period after two busy semesters.

But I’m an instruction librarian. My bread and butter, in theory, is teaching students, and when there aren’t any students to teach, what exactly do I do?1 Well, here’s a short list of some of the things with which I’ve been occupied during the last two weeks:

  1. This morning, I consulted with a faculty member who needed help with the design of a website for an online journal that she and the Center for Women’s InterCultural Leadership are starting up.
  2. I’m comparing Camtasia Studio 6 and Adobe Captivate 4 as possible tools for creating screencasts.
  3. Later this week I’ll probably install a trial version of at least Camtasia and play around with it. I’ll need to borrow a microphone from somewhere, though.
  4. Yesterday, I wrote a sample “How Do I” item for our in-progress web redesign, to use as a model for further “How Do I” items which will feature prominently in the new page. (Sneak preview of the content, utterly devoid of formatting niceties)
  5. Also this morning, I fixed a communication gap with our web designer, whose outgoing email server apparently ate the latest version of the mockup of our new web design.
  6. Also also this morning, I revised Oberlin College’s list of ten information literacy proficiencies into a set of eight learning outcomes for Saint Mary’s College’s new general education program. (This was actually the result of several days’ work and quite a few conversations.)
  7. Next week I’m going on a bus trip to Grand Rapids, MI with others from the college to see the Steelcase University classroom.
  8. On Tuesday, I had the first of several meetings of an ad-hoc faculty group that is working on a grant application to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance the college’s programs in support of career flexibility for faculty. The application is due July 1, yikes!
  9. Yesterday I learned how to create and edit content in Drupal. This is good, as the new website will be built with Drupal.
  10. Later today and/or tomorrow I’ll be training a couple other librarians in how to create and edit content in Drupal.
  11. Last week I wrote up the section of the library’s annual report that addressed our bibliographic instruction work.
  12. I’m doing homework to prepare for Immersion later this summer.
  13. Last week I wrote short, jargon-free descriptions of each of our 61 subscription and free databases, and also compiled their coverage dates and inclusion of full text.
  14. In the process, I proposed that we eliminate several databases, either because they don’t meet our curricular needs or they duplicate other content.
  15. Since we don’t have subject liaison librarians, I’ve been assigning databases to each department/program/subject field at the college in what I hope is an only moderately capricious manner.2
  16. Earlier this week I pestered our Student Affairs office again about the library’s participation in Fall Orientation for new students.

So yeah. I might not be in the classroom during the summer, but I’m not bored.



  1. Saint Mary’s College has a wee little summer term, but it’s so compressed that library research is impractical, so professors tend not to assign research projects.
  2. I’m kidding: the selection of databases by subject is entirely arbitrary.