We are part of an amazing profession built on helping others. As I’ve been pondering my next steps in the profession and what my place is in it (here and here) I reminded myself that I don’t have to struggle with the question on my own.
This year’s selection of pumpkins decorated by our student assistants.
And the winners are:
3rd Place TIE: Cat-o-lantern & Baby Jack with Braces
2nd Place: 1930’s Cartoon Pumpkin
1st Place: Evil Jack-o-lantern
Congratulations to the winners, even though my favorite, Cheerful Hillbilly Who’s in a Jugband on Friday and Saturday Nights, was not included. 😦
Recently, a candidate accepted a job offer to work for me. This means that for the first time since the end of June I’m fully staffed in my department. Prior to that I was fully staffed for 4-6 weeks, maybe. Other than that, from October 2017-May 2018 I was down one or more positions in my department.
In a few short weeks the new semester begins. This will be my second academic year in this position. Over the last year there have been so many changes at work including a roughly 83% turnover in personnel in my department. That means that only myself and one staff member are doing the jobs we were doing at this time last year. Another position was moved under me that I didn’t have at that time, and yet another position has been created out of whole cloth.
I’m at work. It’s Saturday. I don’t work Saturdays. I’m closing, which is not that unusual, but I’m closing at midnight. My bed time is around 10:00. This all feels so wrong. I remember the days when staying up until midnight was no big deal on any given night of the week. I remember regularly staying up until 3:00 AM playing cards. Rummy, of all things! I’m not Kenny Rogers.
This has been my second finals season at this job and the first in the springtime. I remember last fall being a ball-buster of a period in which we’d have well spans with over 200 patron interactions an hour. We’d have class-switches in which all six of my circulation computers would be in use (on average we use three), and the line would still be stretching toward the exit.
This semester, armed with data, I built a schedule that was prepared for the serious influx of stressed out students. What’s weird is that I’ve seriously over-scheduled the circ desk, at least for Study Week. We haven’t been close to 200 patron interactions. When I had built a schedule that called for two or three supervisors to be present to help with class-switch, there’s only been need for one. This is in part to having plenty of student assistants to help — a BIG improvement from the start of the semester — and also in part to the fact that the students simply aren’t here.
I’m not saying this is worrisome, but facts are facts. Spring semesters have always been slower than Fall semesters at every university I’ve ever attended or been employed by. It always even seemed the homework load was less when I was a student. I don’t know the reason for this disparity. I assume it’s dropouts. College retention is a huge problem, especially for first generation students, of which my university supposedly has a higher-than-normal number.
Now, finals start in earnest on Monday and one would assume that our usage numbers would skyrocket, mostly with people asking for Scantrons and “blue books.” One would think that my carefully constructed supervisor schedule wouldn’t be SOOO off-base two weeks in a row. Would one?
For it being a surprisingly light workload at the circ desk, last week was rather stressful and exhausting for me, to the point in which on Thursday I seriously considered taking sick time to get some rest. But, since I was taking all day Friday off to allow for tonight’s shift I stuck it out, but I never perked up that day and was all but useless by 2:00.
About three weeks ago I made an error on the telephone about a policy question. That patron acted on my bad information and then was quite put out when he learned the truth. This week he raised a ruckus. Ultimately the worst thing that happened was that I got some egg on my face, but it knocked my supervisor’s confidence in me down a couple of pegs. Luckily, I was out of my probation period by then. This whole thing threw me for a loop, though and I was physically and emotionally spent by the middle of the week.
Twenty days until vacation.