Monday, September 20, 2004

Well, all right. I'm back from summer vacation (a week in Virginia, purportedly to walk the AT but in reality to eat a lot of biscuits, drink a lot of wine, and realize I can't use a compass), and I'm back in the Land of Blog. I'm also back into the Tilt-a-Whirl of the academic quarter, or at least the week before it, which is sort of like standing in the line for the Tilt-a-Whirl, clutching a ticket in one damp palm and watching the rickety metal shells zip menacingly around on their rust-eaten tracks. Wheee! Bodily peril awaits!

What does fall term hold for us, here at Knight Library? Well, there's the reference desk, which is generally overrun for the first few weeks with lost students, frustrated students, confused students, students who've never been in a library before, students who've been in other libraries and don't recognize any of the databases in this one, students who want dates. There's teaching. In fall we teach a lot of Freshman Interest Group sessions, or FIGs, which are small groups of freshmen collated via an algorithm of Byzantine complexity that I don't pretend to understand. We teach subject-specific classes on research; I'm teaching several for English, film, folklore, and so on. We keep choosing and buying books, according to how much money we have to do so--less this year than last. We go to departmental meetings, stand up, tell the faculty that we're cutting back again to meet our budget, sit down, skulk out. We train our own student employees to sit on the reference desk and answer the basic questions: how do I find a book? how do I find an article? where's my class? what's the surface area of Bolivia? The important stuff.

I've always liked fall, in a morose, bookish kind of way. When I was a kid fall meant school supplies, dry leaves, frost, and whittling little cups out of acorns on the school playground, which I found strangely absorbing. Now that I'm older I like summer more than I used to, and I appreciate every season more because I have some perspective on the fact that sooner or later, I'm going to run out of them. I had a great summer, a great vacation, but I like my work. I'm not saying I don't someday want to be moneyed and idle, but for now I'm pretty happy to be diving back in. Talk to me again in a couple of weeks.

It helps that I've scheduled a weekend of chocolate stout cake and Viginia biscuits and ham, though. Vive les vacances, at least for a little while longer.


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