Last week I wrote about time. Today heralds my start to the academic year, aka work, after a summer off. Though it is beyond me how the summer is “off” when you are still crafting articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals (that do not pay you a cent), writing letters of recommendation for students applying to graduate school, and attending to other work-related tasks.

Not that I am complaining, but it always gets my goat when people tell me how lucky I am to have the summer “off”. Perhaps the more accurate description is that summer is unpaid. As for the many work-related tasks that must be completed over the summer, as long as I complete them, my time is my own. Such is the life of an academic.

Which brings me to space.
Time and space go together, don't cha know?

Since I am telecommuting full-time this term due to a relatively rare Cotton's fracture (I'm told only seven percent of broken ankles fall into this category), I am a bit space challenged.

I’m not talking about needing more space to spread out my work. I’ve worked without a home office for so long that I wouldn’t know what to do with one. And my days of having three offices in three states are thankfully over. Now it is just one little office that goes with me wherever I go. I think this is better?

And I’m not talking about space that is better organized. I’ve got a system that works well enough for me that I can tell family in Albuquerque exactly where my copy of Sophie’s World is located and direct my secretary where to find Arendt’s Eichman in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil in my office.

Doesn’t we all have a mental map of the contents of their bookshelves floating around in our brains? Or is this yet another family quirk that emerges when you are raised by librarians and educators? (Even I know that it is weird that my parents’ music CD collection is organized under the LC system – or is it just the Dad System?)

I’m talking about the kind of space challenges that require a teleporter.

When the book you want is in one location and you are physically located in another state, Google books only goes so far. Ditto for Kindle and other e-readers.

So what’s a book-yearning chica in Barelas to do?

ILL to the rescue!

My MLS-wielding mother introduced me to the joys of ILL (Inter-Library Loans) when I was in high school. Ever since, I have made this a part of my library budget.

You mean you don’t budget for annual library expenses? A hundred bucks or so for ILL fees; Friends membership fees, plus a few bucks for the 1-2 children’s books that will be lost during the year. (This fee goes way down when you make them pay it back through unpleasant chores that are not part of their regular duties, but I still set aside $20 for this each year). I never have a problem paying the library for anything – I’m sure that my tax dollars cover just a fraction of the services I use.

Back to ILL. Note - this is not the same thing as placing a hold. The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County library system has a kick-A$$ hold system in place. And ILL doesn’t mean e-books, though this is another delightful service that I’ve added to my researcher’s bag o’tricks in recent years.

I’m talking ‘bout good old-fashioned ILL. You know, when the entire library system does not have the book you want to place your grubby paws on and they have to send out to another library system for the book?

Yes, yes. I know.

At some point, ILL will be as outdated a concept as card catalogs are to my children, and books will all come in pixel form. But for this autumn, ABC ILL will be my lifesaver.

UNM ILL also, but I have to figure out how to make this work while I’m still unable to drive due to my busted ankle – anyone out there want to set up Zimmerman library dates with moi? (I’ve got a handicapped accessible parking pass! [bats eyelashes])

The other space challenge is meetings. Phone conference meetings are pretty simple when they take place in spoken languages. Meetings in a signed language are a bit more complicated.

Small meetings are easily managed through Skype. Videophones work well for small meetings, too. Large meetings are more challenging; the solutions are sometimes more time-consuming than the meetings. There are only a few rooms on campus that have video cameras calibrated to capture content signed by people at each desk; these classrooms are in high demand. For now, I’m content with reading minutes, agendas, and making comments via email. (Trust me, I’m not shedding too many tears over this).

So all is seemingly well.

I’ve got a job that is flexible enough to permit me to work from home while I heal up. Colleagues keep me in the loop by setting up a laptop at department lunchtime birthday celebrations so that I can chat with folks in American Sign Language. My library cards are up to date, and I’ve already got a few ILL requests in the pipeline.

I’m reveling in waking up to the daily scent of roasting green chile, which I have missed these past few years as I’ve always been away at work. I’m enjoying the cool mornings (though the hardware in my ankle sure isn’t) and taking note of the different bird species visiting the garden these days. Lesser goldfinches go wild for sunflowers in August. And I’m super-thrilled that birds really are fooled by ripe green Kadota figs, so all of the figs are going to human consumption.

What I miss, though, is the palpable feeling of anticipation and new beginnings that the first few weeks of bricks-and-mortar school brings. Uploading syllabi on my front porch just doesn’t do it for me.

I want to be surrounded by bright-eyed students carrying brand new textbooks and professors walking to class with a spring in their step. I want to see the football team practicing on the field and student organizations recruiting new members. I want to see study groups sitting on the grass and cheerleaders practicing new routines.

So, how about that lift to UNM? I’ve got a handicapped accessible parking permit (bats eyelashes).

Psssst - I’ll even sweeten the deal with Barelas grown organic figs and delicata squash. Our grapes ripen up soon, too.

Views: 22

Comment by Krista on August 30, 2010 at 1:51pm
Barelas Babe--you got it! Funny, my roommate and I set up a whole system to study together b/c I feel I need someone there to watch me--morale support if you will. I don't have ADD, but I get distracted pretty easily. Zimmerman is an amazing place and the staff there is just too wonderful! I hope you enjoy being here for one of our better seasons. :)
Comment by Emily on August 30, 2010 at 7:31pm
I am amazed by the parallels to my life here - I also am telecommuting this semester, and while like you I am reveling in the aroma of roasting green chile, I too am missing fall on campus and so have taken to haunting Zimmerman for the atmosphere!
Comment by Barelas Babe on August 30, 2010 at 8:43pm
Hahaha - we should meet up, Emily!
Comment by cc on August 30, 2010 at 8:44pm
Love your photo that heralds this post. Thanks for all the great connections you bring together.
Comment by Barelas Babe on August 30, 2010 at 11:06pm
@cc - unfortunately this is not my photo - click the image for the credit/citation.


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