August is not my favorite month of the year. While it may not be the cruelest month per sé, it certainly has lasting negative connotations because it marks the end of summer and the return to school. It also is the time when the waning of daylight hours first becomes noticeable and the days are usually incessantly hot and humid.
Although the Wheaton College campus has been relatively quiet since May with most students and faculty away doing their summer things, in reality, it has been one of the busiest summers I can remember. Almost overnight, or so it seems, the new concert hall addition to the Armerding Center for Music and the Arts has taken shape. Its towering, sixty foot high walls made from precast concrete, right across a short length of street from Buswell Library, dramatically change the view. It’s exciting to see such progress.
The activity extends to other areas as well. Several faculty departed for other jobs, and there have been some changes in who is appointed to do what. The biggest change for the library in this regard has been the resignation of Lisa Richmond, Dean of Library and Archives, who led the library for 16 years and added responsibility for the Wade Center and the Billy Graham Center Archives about five years ago. She is returning to her native Canada and will take up a newly created position at a Christian think tank. Yesterday was her last day and the campus was invited to her farewell party, where I was asked by the provost to speak on behalf of my library faculty colleagues.
Paul Ericksen, Director of the Billy Graham Center Archives, was appointed to be the interim dean. A search for Lisa’s replacement will begin shortly. It is a new era filled with a lot of change. One of the things I mentioned in my remarks at the party is that many people think of libraries as static, stable places. In reality, they are undergoing almost constant change. Ours is going through a period of unprecedented, fundamental changes even before the announcement of Lisa Richmond’s departure was added to the mix. One of those changes, we hope, will be an expanded and heavily renovated library building that will join the Armerding Center to anchor a reshaped north quadrangle for the campus. It will be several years, still, for that hope to be realized, but we are in an active phase of planning already.
Now, I’d better stop writing blog posts and finish grading final papers so that I can report final grades for my summer course at the iSchool @ Illinois. Summer has blown past and as usual, I have found teaching to be challenging but rewarding. Next up is teaching another course for the Fall semester at Illinois, plus teaching in Wheaton Passage. Then there is also resumption of taking courses toward my second Master’s degree. Someone asked me yesterday if I had enjoyed a vacation this summer. In truth, there is no time for vacation.
Fall semester is coming up, whether I’m ready or not.