The Rhythms of Professional Life

Listening to NPR earlier this week, I caught Frank Deford’s most recent commentary, “In Sports and Life, Once-Lazy August Is Filling Up.”

Among Deford’s musings on the increasingly hectic pace of August were these gems:

Once upon a time, August was just sort of a valuable nowhere time that got us safely, leisurely from the peak heat of July to the autumn of September, when everything would begin again.

Then things changed. First, everybody started going back to school before Labor Day. Who’d ever heard of such a thing?

Then everybody started saying “24-7.” That put the pressure on August to stop being so lazy and catch up with all the other 24s and sevens.

As an academic librarian, the rhythms of my professional life tend to correspond to the school year, with a quickening in the fall and a gentler pace in the summer months.  The kind of work I do depends on the season, as well.  For example, instruction tends to happen in the fall and winter, with a greater emphasis on research time in the summer.

But academe is not the only place art librarians find themselves, nor is it a homogeneous environment.  Tell us about the rhythms of your professional life, how the work you do changes over the course of the year.  Have changes in technology, communication methods, or other features of professional life had an impact on these rhythms?

It would be great to hear from a diverse group (academics, museum professionals, corporate or special librarians, public librarians, etc.).


  1. I remember the 1st disconnect between season & work as a bookstore employee. Seasonal merchandise, meetings, training, hiring…all building up to the winter holiday seasons but beginning in the summer. After some time in the industry, I found myself enjoying the somewhat disjointed rituals.

    As a corporate design librarian, I found the same disjointed logic. Researching color forecasts 2 years in advance and compiling back-to-school (BTS) reports in the spring became natural. It’s interesting as a researcher & KM’er for an executive search firm, I find the needs of our academic clients pulling me back towards the rhythms of academia.

    On a semi-related note, August is the traditional month for Italians to vacation. Many businesses, governmental agencies, churches, etc., close or have limited hours. This is especially true in the South where temperatures can get very hot. Additionally, numerous patron saint festivals are held during the month. It is truly a splendorous thing, and it is because they allow August to be “lazy.”

  2. This is a timely topic for me right now in the wake of Indian Market in Santa Fe. As a librarian/registrar working in a large gallery, my work fluctuates greatly in pretty direct correlation to the tourist market. During the summer show season I find myself cataloging new pieces and deaccessioning like crazy. During lull periods I basically work my way through the research library, write book reviews, and tweak the database records. Both times are rewarding in different ways. I like being busy, but if we didn’t slow down from time to time there’s no way I would have the time to take classes and publish articles and book reviews.

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