14 July 2020
I am not from a family of academics. Being awarded a professional development/research leave from my library was going to create confusion among the people in my life who regularly ask me about work without at all understanding what it is I do on a daily basis. But then COVID-19 sent the large majority of university employees to work from home, which confused and clarified the realities of working in an academic library in the year 2020. (“I turn on my computer at 8:30am and turn it off around 4:30pm.”)
So here I am, at home. Ready to begin what I thought would be a break from the beige cube walls, but is instead a weird new continuation of a routine without commutes and packed lunches.
My library’s professional development/research leave is based on a University-wide policy for a specific job classification. Many of the librarians at the University of Minnesota are on a continuous appointment track (a process only slightly different from tenure), and many use the leave to help solidify their dossiers before submitting for continuous appointment. That is, at least, true in my case. I submitted a fairly detailed plan for my proposed 12 weeks (I plan to do a survey and write an article), the plan was reviewed by a group of my colleagues, and I was notified the second week of June. My leave officially starts in six days. I’ve blocked off my Google calendar.
I bought a new chair. A fancy office chair that doesn’t look corporate. I have a University-owned chair in my empty cubical. I could have picked it up, I suppose. Wrestled it into my Corolla. But something about having a piece of University-owned furniture in my home felt like an intrusion. Or maybe a reality that was easier to deny than accept.
That’s my preparation, a blocked calendar and a new chair. I also created this digital journal. I’m the publisher, author, and reader. If you’re not me, I guess the Google Search results brought you here.