June is bustin’ out all over

It’s hard to believe that today is the first day of June. I was awakened early this morning by yet another thunderstorm. We have had an inordinate amount of rainfall here, resulting in extensive flooding and big delays in planting various crops. Plus it is just downright gloomy a lot of the time. Up until recently, the weather has also been unusually cool. Now that things are warming up, and with all of the recent rainfall, cue up the onslaught of mosquitoes. (You know me, ever the positive outlook.)

On a genuinely more positive note, Cohen’s last day of his freshman year of high school was this week. I am so proud of what he has accomplished this past school year. At the same time, I am pleased as punch that I no longer have to heckle him out of bed every morning, at least for the next few months. Soon, he will leave for his short-term missions trip to Sampango, Guatemala. This has been a focus of his thoughts and energies for a long time. Through the great generosity of many family members and friends, Cohen’s trip is fully funded in spite of several additional, last-minute expenses. (Why, for example, did the church not budget checked baggage fees into the per student cost, especially given that they purchased tickets that explicitly do not allow for any checked baggage at all unless students pay something like $40 per bag?)

At Wheaton College, we are coping with an unexpected budget shortfall. Apparently, there was a miscalculation as to the amount of financial aid needed for incoming freshmen to the tune of over $1 million. The library is planning to contribute to bridging that budget gap via its acquisitions budget, which means that we need to identify where to cut about 4% for FY20 from the money we spend on books, journals, and databases. The actual cut goes a bit deeper when factoring in the yearly inflationary cost of purchasing these resources. In recent years, we have spent significant time identifying resources that are core vs. non-core, and our preliminary thought is to cut resources we consider non-core. This will of course require further informed review, and consultation with departments that might be impacted, before final decisions are made. There is another, deeper impact of the budget shortfall for my area in that an open position may not be allowed to be filled for a while. Since we have a heavy burden of work relating to special projects as described elsewhere, the inability to fill the job, if that turns out to be the case, will hit us hard. Finally, I had strongly advocated for the college to find the money in its FY20 budget to fund an annual subscription to a new archival management system for digital resources, and it appears now that that is highly unlikely.

The class I’m currently teaching is going pretty well, although we’re only three weeks into the semester. I have been especially pleased by the level of engagement by the thirteen students in the class on discussions around the definition of “professional” librarian, and the question of whether libraries should mandate that those who work in technical services (e.g. acquisitions, cataloging, e-resources) should be required to help staff the reference desk. Both topics are current issues in my own library. The first assignment for students, a reflective journal entry (one of three required throughout the semester), has been graded and handed back, and I’ve been pleased by what I’ve read of students’ thoughts and ideas expressed in them.

Next week will be NASIG’s annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA. I’m sorry that I will miss it this year. Conference attendance numbers appear to be down a bit from last year, although I hope there will be a last minute uptick to make up the difference. The long term financial stability of the organization relies heavily on annual conference expenses going well. One of the more exciting things to be mentioned at the event is a sneak peek at a new website powered by a completely new and improved, web-based membership management platform, which was chosen after a thorough review process. Planning for this upgrade has been underway for more than two years, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of the hard work of many volunteers being made available to the public in coming months. I also remain enthusiastic about previously announced plans to move publication of NASIG’s conference papers to an open access model in partnership with UKSG, its sister organization.

So yes, June is bustin’ out all over. (Hopefully, someone will get the reference.) The rest of the summer will be pretty busy and include a trip to Kansas City to help my brother move into his new house, summer camp for the three teenagers in northern Wisconsin, and a week spent up at HoneyRock relabeling the 4,000+ library books in the HoneyRock library collection from using Dewey Decimal call numbers to ones using Library of Congress Classification. In late August, I’ll return to HoneyRock along with thirty or so other faculty members to teach in the Wheaton Passage program for incoming freshmen, and we’ll be in the swing of another academic year.

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