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Not-Really-Lazy Days of Summer

May 8, 2023

At campuses where summer semesters are quieter than the rest of the year, you’ve probably heard comments like this:

  • “Wow, I bet you’re looking forward to a calm few months. What do you do all summer, anyway?”
  • “Now that summer is almost here, let’s change All the Things!”
  • “I have so much to catch up on this summer.”
  • “Summer is a great time to have workshops and professional development!”
  • “Maybe over the summer we can come up with new outreach ideas.”
  • and more…

In my experience, the time between spring and fall semesters has been short, busy, and lacking any magic to complete All the Things.

woman sitting at a table with a book. text reads: what do you get when you cross a writer with a deadline? answer is a really clean house.

That being said, some of my colleagues and I hope to tackle writing or research projects this summer. Given the season’s tendency to go by quickly (reminder: take your vacation!), inspiration to start sooner rather than later is important. Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful.

LRRT webinars
ALA’s Library Research Round Table (LRRT) periodically hosts some great webinars related to library research topics. I haven’t made my way through all of them yet, but I learned a lot from the earlier sessions about framing research questions, literature reviews, and publishing.

If you need a little extra help to avoid distractions and just get started, consider the pomodoro technique. Work sessions are timed, with breaks in between. It may seem counterintuitive, but for some, breaks can prevent fatigue and help boost concentration.

Reading about writing
Books, articles and websites can help in your approach to academic writing. I like the practical ideas and goals shared in Publish and Flourish by Tara Grey, and your library may have other books with advice and strategies. If you haven’t already come across A Library Writer’s Blog, it’s a great place to learn about calls for proposals and get writing ideas. And yes, there are LibGuides with tips and resources as well, such as Research and Writing for Librarians.

PaLA resources
Pennsylvania Library Association’s College & Research Division offers several publishing and learning opportunities, such as contributing to this blog!

Finally: Progress, not perfection
How often have we heard instructors tell their classes (or said ourselves to students) that they should start writing or working on the assignment they are dreading, and make revisions later? I catch myself sometimes thinking I can’t start something because I need more time, or creativity, or whatever. Conditions are never going to be perfect, and just getting started can help you build momentum and plan next steps.

There are lots of other ways to reach your writing goals, like having an accountability partner or forming a writing group. If you’ve found a strategy that works for you, please post a comment and share!

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