Sunday, June 15, 2014

Considerations and recollections

Last Friday morning found me standing in the back of a garbage truck offloading Northeastern Reporters from library carts and out of dumpsters. At the Ruth Lilly Law Library we are "right sizing" our print collection; that is, among other things, reducing to and retaining one copy of this resource. It is hard to believe that at one time the law library owned as many as ten working copies of this reporter. As I worked with colleagues throwing bound volumes into the truck I experienced déjà vu of my work at the Legal Resources Centre. Dumpsters (or dustbins) seem to figure a lot in my career these days.
The memory reminded me that I needed to make a decision about this blog. I admit I have been deliberately avoiding making a decision. All transitions require time to process and I didn't want to make a decision too quickly.

There are many days that I feel I am still in transition. I've been back from South Africa for just a little over two months.The days have included a whirlwind of interesting and challenging work activities: the AALL Leadership Academy; writing an accepted book chapter and preparing a poster session on digital credentialing for AALL San Antonio with my colleagues; co-authoring a paper for the Boulder Conference; locating a publication outlet for a co-authored article on adjunct teaching (currently appears that the NYSBA is going to publish the piece--yippee--); writing a guest blog post for the RIPS Law Librarian blog; presenting at the Indiana University Librarians' Day; preparing and submitting grant applications and proposals for upcoming conferences; teaching legal research to 110 students in the summer session; orchestrating changes to the AALL Spectrum Blog; moving the last two issues of this year's AALL Spectrum to completion; coordinating a library team retreat; and generally getting caught up with my staff and the library's activities. On top of all that I decided to begin the legal informatics certificate and pitch my resume into pools for a select few library director openings. In short, I've spent the last two months shifting back into tenure-track academic law librarianship.

I am asked almost daily, "Do you miss South Africa?" It is a hard question to answer. I still respond to queries and provide assistance to the LRC as best I can from Indianapolis. The work was meaningful and valid. The country is beautiful. The people I met, dedicated and working hard for meaningful change. So yes, it is a place and a people I miss.

Since I've been back I've sought to find the same here. Beauty is easy to find. I arrived back in Indiana at the end of winter and the beginning of spring. In our yard, the spring flowers were arriving. Daffodils, and the spring wildflowers (Purple Trilliums, Violets, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Bloodroot, and Dutchman's Breeches) were beating back the polar vortex.

Spring  wild flowers, Indiana 2014

Spring wild flowers, Indiana 2014

Purple Trillium, Indiana 2014

Soon to follow the Bleeding Hearts, Forget-Me-Nots, lilacs, and now the peonies have made the long cold winter a distant memory.

Work has presented a tangent that is interesting and meaningful. I've been asked to work with the U.S. Military Commission Observation Project of the IU McKinney Program on International Human Rights. I hope to report back to George Bizos that I took his lunch table lectures to heart and helped in some very very small way on the resolution of the Guantanamo Bay prison. This project along with another article in progress should keep me occupied for a bit.

And like South Africa, we have our own wildlife. Max and Ellie Mae are determined hunters, bent on ridding our yard of anything small and furry. 

Ellie Mae on spotting duty, Spring 2014
Max on the trail, Spring 2014

So much for that grooming session.
Right-angles present themselves each day; and two-resume families are often faced with hard choices. Our most recent right-angle required the usual "5:00 am depression of the clutch of a moving truck on a Saturday morning" and the hauling of material goods up to a fourth floor walk-up in Evanston (Why is it always 5:00 am? If I knew I could change the paradigm!). For now we are splitting our furnishings and time between Chicago and Indianapolis as we involve ourselves in yet another of life's adventures to which we could not say "no."

Since life and work remain interesting I am hopeful for blog content; or perhaps I'm just delaying the end of an interesting project. Until then I hope you will keep reading. In the interim, may I recommend Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s advice in his work A Man without a Country,“Please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

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