Archive for the ‘Library School’ Category

I can hardly believe it. When I started pursuing my MLIS I thought it would take forever. Now I’m signing up for my final semester and planning to graduate in December.

My final “real” course will be on information needs relating to consumer health topics. Not something that really flips my pages, but two of the other courses I’ve already taken. One other, on children’s lit, I don’t need, and for the last course offered (creating library databases) I was warned by the professor: MANY STUDENTS DROP THIS COURSE. Why? Because it’s possibly the toughest on the curriculum, aside from metadata (SHUDDER).

Oh, yes, sign me up! Not.

So, consumer health issues it is.

Now, to set up my practicum. As usual, I began thinking of glamorous institutions like the Newberry and Northwestern University, two institutions totally unlike the public library setting. Both of these would require long commutes, and I have three children in school. Now, I’m looking at the high school a couple blocks away from where I work – where my daughter will be starting her sophomore year this fall.

Convenient, eh? Not nearly as sexy, but sometimes one must opt for convenience over glamor. Sigh.

It’ll be so nice having this summer off. In my “spare time” (guffaw) I’ll work on reviewing books again, something I’ve missed. The fall semester doesn’t start until September 2, and taking  just one course should be a breeze after two back to back semesters carrying a full load.

I will be a lady of luxury, popping bon bons like mad, reclining upon a chaise longue. No more beating my head against the wall because I have three papers due simultaneously!

Dare I dream?

I just realized I’ve written two almost identical posts in the past week or so, both talking about my Virtual Reference class. I wish I could say that’s abnormal for me, but lately I do stuff like this all the time.

It’s called life overload, and keeping you on your toes to make sure you’re paying attention.

I’m leaving the posts as is, mostly because I’m too lazy to rectify the issue. Errr… I mean BUSY, not LAZY.

Virtual Reference

Posted: June 18, 2008 in Library School

virtual%20reference.jpg

My summer grad school course is on Virtual Reference. I’m hoping that’ll be handy working on the reference desk this summer and beyond. I’m assuming the course will cover things besides Wikipedia, Snopes.com and Cute Overload, three of the sites which have become my fact Bibles.

I’m aware of the flaws inherent in Wikipedia. Then again, the cool thing is I could add myself as a topic and invent wildly improbable accomplishments. It’s not that it hasn’t crossed my mind. Believe me, it has. I’ve just been so busy accepting the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer (twice) and becoming the Queen of England. Then there’s that trip to Mars, to oversee the colony the U.S. is developing there. It’s been busy.

The course is only a four-weeker. That means a lot of condensed material in a very short time. I hope I survive it. My kids would really miss me at the holidays if I don’t, and my husband would probably overheat without me stealing the blankets, not to mention missing hearing me snort loudly in my sleep and call out things like “Don’t let the monsters eat me!”. All that silence would keep him awake for a while, at least until he convinces Liv Ullman to marry him. Which could take a while.

I’m not sure – maybe a real librarian could find this out for me – has anyone been known to die from brain overload? Please advise.

Now it’s back to hitting the book (only one, thank goodness). I need to get through chapters 1 and 2 this week so I can get to the course website and answer the questions. It’s bad falling behind on a four week course. You can’t start slacking off ’til at least week three. That’s my rule of thumb.

Think of me toiling away while you’re all sitting on lawn chairs throwing back margaritas. I’m not jealous. We all must pay our dues (sniff). No, no, don’t send me gifts (chocolate) to make me feel better. That’s not necessary (diamonds). I’ll get through this (Ferrari Testa Rosa or Porsche Boxter)(red or black) just fine. You go have your pool parties, your barbeques and your other outdoor festivities (gift cards).

I’ll let you know how it goes. Cross fingers.

School's in for summer

Posted: June 17, 2008 in Library School

My online grad school course started yesterday. And yes, I am only taking one, which for me is a rarity. I usually tend to overload if anything.

The course is on Virtual Reference, which should come in pretty handy especially now that I’m starting my training on the reference desk. I don’t know how many people conduct big research projects in summer. I’d guess that’s more of a school year thing, but maybe that’s good. I can learn all about it, get familiar with the resources, and then, in the fall, be all up to speed and reference-y. Or that’s the theory.

I’m surprised how much I’ve missed school, being out these past few weeks. After a semester taking three courses, stretching myself to the limit, you’d think I’d need a break. I enjoyed the first week or so, then I started to miss it. I think that makes me an official nerd. Like there was a doubt.

I’m also participating in an online book group, via NSLS. We’re just starting Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business. If anyone else is interested in joining contact Melissa Henderson at NSLS for more info. This is our first week so you’ll be able to catch up with no problem.

Go thee forth and read!

Opening a can of worms here, but after two semesters of graduate school, and lots of comments from those who are already librarians, I wonder how necessary my thousands of dollars spent on an MLIS actually are.

So far I’ve enjoyed my library classes, but what I consider to be most applicable to the real life library setting have been things I could have learned on the job. I’m computer literate, very willing to try new programs, and I know how to use reference books and the internet. The basics are really quite simple, or easily enough learned.

If I wanted to go into the technical side of librarianship that would be different. If I had interest in developing new information storage and retrieval methods I would most definitely need extraordinary amounts of classes and training. But to be a librarian? I’m honestly not sure at this point.

I know I have just over a year to go before I get my degree; I’m not even halfway through my courses. But what bothers me is hearing from so many librarians, “Library school is useless. I don’t use anything I learned.” Yet that library degree is, nine times out of ten, necessary for promotion within the field. Librarians get paid higher salaries than paraprofessionals, generally, though we all know the profession isn’t one you get into for the money. You get into it for the passion, generally for books but not always. I’ve known librarians who’ve told me, “I really don’t have time to read.”

That bothers me almost as much as hearing my library degree won’t actually prepare me for being a professional librarian. How can a librarian say that? Then again, try getting help at a bookstore. I was in Barnes & Noble last week and an employee asked a customer “How do you spell Confucius?” WHAT? She also hadn’t heard of ‘The Analects of Confucius,” a major work in the literary canon. She asked how to spell “analects,” too, misspelling it at least twice before she hit on the correct spelling. It took every bit of restraint I had not to spell out both words for her. I wanted to see her struggle, to see how long it actually took her. Good thing the young man she was helping was as clueless and also extremely patient.

At this point I find myself questioning the efficacy of earning my diploma, but I still have a lot of classes ahead of me. It’s possible I’ll change my mind along the way, but it’s also frighteningly possible I won’t. For now I’ll reserve final judgment, but having three children to put through college I worry about the money I’m spending on my own degree, especially when I’m counting on my salary raise post-degree to help pay their way.

The necessity of the degree, added with the somewhat rocky future of the library as an entity in the internet age are both concerning, not just to me but to an awful lot of people. It’s time we examine both these issues. It may even be past time on the latter.

I hate to be a pessimist, but looking at the library from the outside, as I did before I started pursuing my degree, I see a lot of points that need to be addressed in order for the library to stay vital. It isn’t just the books anymore. It’s about an awful lot more than that, staying on the cutting edge, providing more services to specific groups, and hiring people with technical ability.

We all believe in the library. Now we need to take action, shunning ambivalence and striking out in new and vital directions. I don’t know what all these actions should be, at least not yet. And I’ll keep pursuing my MLIS degree with the hope it turns out to be necessary. But if not, that’s a few thousand dollars shot. A few thousand I could have really used. I guess I’ll find out the answer to that question soon enough. In the meantime it’s onward with the game plan, with the hope it all works out in the end.

Summary Grid : Spring 2007-2008
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Class Session Grade Title
L I S 551 Regular A Organization of Information
L I S 571 Regular A Information Sources
L I S 642 Regular A Reading Interests of Adults

Read ’em and weep! Two semesters, perfect 4.0.

For those of you new to my site, I’m normally much more humble. Well, sometimes. Occasionally. From time to time. Errr… Gotta run.

End of semester hair pulling

Posted: April 21, 2008 in Library School

Coming up to the end of the spring semester of grad school. It’s time all my major projects come due, so if you can remember how that was when you were in school you’ll know how hairy this time is.

The good news is I’m done with all but two assignments and one of them is halfway done. All that’s hanging over my head is a 5-6 page paper, which is no huge deal.

I’m not taking any courses this summer. I’m suffering from burnout plus that’s family vacation time. But the nose will be back to the grindstone come fall.

I’m not sure what I’m taking in the fall yet, but I’m so glad my days of commuting to videoconference classes will be done. It’s all online after this semester, something I vastly prefer. I like that I can submit assignments at my own pace in the online courses. If I finish things early I can submit them early. This semester I’m already done with my online course, having submitted the final assignment last week. That’s a load off!

But library school’s going very well. No complaints about it, but it’s darn hard fitting in homework with everything else. Ah, well. Once it’s done I’ll be glad I did it. That’s my consolation.