Winter break in academia

It’s winter break in academia, which is prime time for librarians like me to reflect on the past semester, get through the to-do list that built up during busy times, browse & read, experiment with new programs, take time off, meet with colleagues and faculty, file, and start planning for the coming semester. I’m really enjoying stepping out of my day-to-day work to let ideas percolate. I increasingly believe in turning off the computer every once in a while (I do every Saturday) to just let the dust settle. Here’s my (partial) list of things to do or try over the winter break:

  1. Play around with Mendeley. I’m dissatisfied with RefWorks 2.0 and intrigued by Mendeley’s faculty focus (with its pdf ingestion), the social/sharing aspect, as well as the free price tag. I took an online workshop but need to just spend some time playing with it in both its desktop and web versions.
  2. Work on Bytes & Books, the biannual faculty/staff/Friends newsletter I produce. This is an exciting time for me because I’m working with the College’s Communications Division (thanks, Kevin Hardy!) on an image rehaul. I’m excited to share the before-and-after with you when it’s all done.
  3. Prep for my third time teaching “Marketing Your Library” for the online continuing education program at Simmons GSLIS. I would like to tighten up the readings and assignments in weeks 3 & 4, which focus too broadly on emotional branding, designing messages, word-of-mouth marketing, value, and statistics. This involves doing some reading — on my list are Listening to the Customer and College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know and making some tough decisions about paring down.
  4. Plan my first library web site video. Yesterday, I had a tutorial on iMovie with an instructional technologist on campus (thanks, Jason Alley!) to prepare me to conquer a longstanding goal to produce short videos for the library web site. I took some footage of the (alas, empty) library on a Flip camera that my library dean bought me and was surprised to learn how easy  iMovie is. The hard part for me will be coming up with tight ideas and editing the voice and images into something interesting to look at since I’m not a particularly visual person.
  5. Read, read, read, and come up with a schedule to do more reading. How do you fit blog, magazine, article and book reading into your weekly schedule? My pile of old Library Journals has gotten out of hand.

What are you working on over winter break?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Winter break in academia

  1. Carrie

    Great start Rebecca. Two suggestions:

    1. This post might give you some suggestions on your reading. I’m finding it harder and harder to fit reading into my time as well.

    http://lifehacker.com/5872944/how-to-boost-your-reading-comprehension-by-reading-smarter-and-more-conscientiously

    2. A colleague put together a LibGuide on Mendeley that might have some useful things in it for you:
    http://libguides.metro.org/content.php?pid=198894&sid=1663504

  2. Thanks, Carrie. Laughed pretty hard at that Portlandia clip (been meaning to check out the series, which I’ve heard good things about), and I really took to heart the Clay Johnson stuff in a piece that’s linked from the lifehacker article called “How to Focus.” Just this past year, I started swimming regularly so I can relate to his endurance training analogy. I might check out some of those tech tools to time myself and limit distractions. I really want to be reading more divergent viewpoints, too & would be interested to hear from others what’s on their “non-filter-bubble” reading list.

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