Jun 232016

Final marks are in at work. Boards of Examiners to be sat in the next couple of weeks. Online Learning Management System units to be re-jigged and unit outlines to be re-written. Readings and notes to be updated. Same as last year. And the year before.

People’s Network. (2009). Busy library. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/apnk/4112383147/

People’s Network. (2009). Busy library. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/apnk/4112383147/

If you teach undergraduates or postgraduates who follow semester-long cycles, you have a very predictable year of teaching commitments. The first few weeks of semester students don’t realise that they can, actually, do this and often need a lot of help to settle into the unit. Lots of emails. Just when you finish writing the final updates to the teaching materials, the first assessments start coming in. Then there are weeks of marking or moderation, along with releasing material, giving tutes or lectures, or interacting online. Then you see many students who find their feet and grow and learn quite independently,  far more than they had thought they would. The two or three students who, for a multitude of reasons, by this point in the semester need four, five, six exchanges of emails before they have sorted out their issue with the course/assessment/tutor/university/themselves/other students. Then the rush for final marks. Board of Examiners. Repeat…

For academics and academic libraries, the three weeks over Christmas tend to be so quiet that some universities (like my own) actually shut down the campus and ask staff to take holidays then. The last time I moved briefly from an academic library to a public library, which is where I had started 15 years before, I was shocked by the difference in busy-ness. Around Christmas time people who had forgotten the library suddenly materialise and there is demand from kids who are on holidays and people who are on annual leave. When I was a public librarian, this period was only beaten by Easter, where the day before Good Friday people seemed to presume that the library was closing for the next four weeks, not four days, and borrow as much as they could. I never understood this panic-borrowing. I don’t know whether it still happens.

I imagine that corporate libraries have similar ebbs and flows. I can see that parliamentary libraries would have very unbalanced and predictable cycles, with a good dose of “find me everything about this unpredicted thing that is happening NOW” and “let’s have an election” thrown in. Do health libraries have a similar cycle? Geological libraries? I am pretty sure that school libraries would have very similar patterns to academic libraries?

Does your library have a predictable cycle of busy-ness ?

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  One Response to “Library life annual cycles”

  1. I loved Christmas Eve at the public library. This was long before local government was quite so fastidious about gifts from the public and we enjoyed lots of chocolates and home-made goodies brought in to thank the library staff for the wonderful service they had received all year. There was never anything very valuable but I believe since then it’s a different story altogether.

    Also Easter! Lordy the size of the pile of books shoved through the return slot in the door was mammoth by the Tuesday back at work.

    At MPOW (Academic) the entire (almost) university shuts between Christmas and New Year, but exams are generally still going up to about the 15th of December and Orientation Week starts early January so there is not much time to take a deep breath.

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