I apologize for the corny title. I grew up about 20 minutes from Saratoga Springs, NY which has one of the US’s most well-loved race tracks. I think it seeps into the culture of that region of New York. If you are ethically okay with horse racing I would recommend a visit if you are in the area!
I don’t know that there’s a better metaphor than “off to the races” for the beginning of an academic semester. Now that I am a runner I can see many parallels between an academic semester and a big race. There is a period of preparation (obviously much longer for a race than a semester, as prep work continues throughout the semester) followed by a frantic beginning where the environment of the race/semester is assessed. It’s easy to push too hard at this beginning stage because all the important milestones lay ahead and you are anxious to begin.
After you settle in it’s easier to take in the whole picture, slow down and (hopefully) enjoy the experience. This middle section is a period of work and feedback that informs actions during the current race/semester and the prep work for the next one. The last few weeks of the semester or few miles of a race are about making a big push to finish strong. The completion of a semester or race affords a period of rest where one can devote energy to recovering and getting ready for a new round of preparation.
This semester was interesting because it started on the Monday after the New Year’s week. I worked on the previous Thursday and Friday, but many of my colleagues did not. The transition between Fall and Spring is often more hectic because of the interruption of the holiday break.
I have been back from break for just under two weeks. I’ve taught one orientation session and one in class session. I’ve started my embedded work in five classes, two of which are already working on their library assignment. I have four workshops and six classes scheduled between now and mid-February. I have been working diligently on preparation for these sessions. Most of them are revamped versions of previous sessions, but a few are requiring me to get familiar with databases that are new to me. It’s an exciting time, and I’m trying to keep myself at the right pace to get through the semester successfully.
I am extremely grateful for the way the campus community has embraced me and my role. I am building on my relationships with old faculty, meeting new faculty, getting back in touch with staff, and collaborating with my partner librarians. More importantly, I have already been in touch with students in person, online, and on the phone to answer questions and provide instruction. I have some new library association opportunities brewing, and have been planning with some of my librarian buddies for ALA Annual in Las Vegas. I hope you are all embracing the frantic start to the semester, and that you continue to be successful throughout the Spring!