My dream Victorian literary studies collection

The extended term project that I’m working on for my Collection Development class requires that I play at being a collection development librarian… I chose to pretend to be a collection development/subject specialist for an academic library’s English collection. If I were really managing such a collection, I would be like a kid in a candy store! There are so many wonderful new publications on Victorian literature (I selected the LC classes on Victorian lit for my development & acquisition action plan), my profs in the ol’ English department would be ecstatic if they could get the uni library to order some of this stuff. Hey, I would be ecstatic if I could get them to order this stuff. I always had a terrible time finding recent publications when writing papers and conducting research :(

Er, thanks?

The university’s financial aid department sent me a rather official email yesterday informing me that they would be depositing funds into my account within two days. It made me wonder what it could be about because I received my loan disbursement last month and wasn’t expecting anymore cash from that end. I even went into a mild panic imagining that something had gone terribly wrong and they had dropped my classes and refunded me…  As usual, my imaginings were all wrong.

They deposited $1 into my account. Yes, that’s what the official notice was about. It seems so silly that they couldn’t deposit this one dollar when they sent the rest of my leftover loan funds.

Keeping Calm

Some new possibilities on the horizon, so I’m starting to feel a little less morose. The doldrums are passing. After the initial panic at the sight of the syllabi for my classes, I’ve started to settle and arrange my activities accordingly. Oh boy, I feel so responsible. I even ordered a proper day planner.

In which I take a close look at my prospects and laugh hollowly

Am experiencing the pre-semester slump… those days when I really wish I were done with school and/or had never gone back to school to begin with, and could just find a well-paying job with decent hours :( . Have I mentioned that I am so over school? I am. I have been since I was completing my last program. It’s the reason I scoff when people ask why I don’t just go for my PhD. I just think, Why? Why would I want to torture myself with another useless degree? Because happy-go-lucky though I may seem, I realize that I will probably be over-qualified/over-educated and under-paid for many years to come. If you are considering graduate school as a way of improving your career potential… don’t. At least, don’t unless you really love it and are willing to pay the price of loans (unless you luck out and get a free or mostly free ride… I did the first two times. It’s the third that’s killing me), and the prospect of job hunting in a non-existent market.

Don’t get me wrong; I loved the process of getting my MA in English… I just wish there were jobs to warrant the time I’ve spent in school. I have no idealistic ideas about saving the world through reading by getting my MLIS. I am doing this purely because I had no other prospects and libraries will not hire you as a librarian unless you have an ALA-approved library degree. I wish it weren’t so, but if I want to remain in an academic environment and not teach, library school it is. 4 more classes to go. 2 semesters (counting the one that I am currently dreading). I like my classes. I like my classmates. I just wish I didn’t have so many doubts regarding the future and the possibility that I may one day have to change careers again… or fall back on my English degree and go into education. Anyone looking for a part-time editor/writer/researcher?

on my first year

At the end of this semester, I’ll reach the 18 credit milestone, my first full year of library school. Recently, some of my friends have started asking me about librarianship and what it involves… it’s complicated. There are different sides to librarianship. The most obvious is the reference librarian, since this is the type of librarian that most people associate with the library experience, but there are technical service librarians, catalogers, archivists, special librarians (music, medical, law, corporate, etc.), librarians who work for museums and non-profit organizations, metadata specialists and digital librarians, and more. I chose this field because I have an MA in English and no interest in teaching (and going into the publishing industry is a moot point). I like research. I like discovering information and helping others discover information (teaching students how to research was the one aspect of teaching that I did like). I also like computers and doing all manner of techie things. Library Information Science is a pretty dynamic field if you’re into all these things, and I am. That said, I won’t lie and pretend that it’s the most stable field; with budget cuts, the role of libraries is changing. Librarians and libraries are adapting and making the best of the situation. The more classes I take, the more I am fascinated by the thought of going into one of the more technical/digital areas of librarianship (hello, metadata!), but I also know that I’ll take whatever position I can get when I officially enter the job market as a full-fledged librarian. If I start in Reference, great. If I end up in a public library, rather than an academic one (I’m a bit attached to the Ivory Tower), I’ll take it. No, going into librarianship does not mean guaranteed, lifetime job security, but it’s not so grim as it may seem either. I know chances are that I will have to adapt along the way and continue to learn new skills to remain relevant and ahead of the trend, but I think I’m up for the challenge.

the stack calls me

The time has come when, despite the best of intentions, the end of the semester has caught up with me. Just a few more edits and some finishing touches, and I can finally take a break from classwork. Though, this semester has definitely given me some food for thought… I’m seriously considering specializing in cataloging and metadata. I always knew I wanted to go for the more digital aspects of librarianship (I’m a web geek after all), but I have gotten really into the idea of cataloging information. And thinking about folksonomies and how information is described online has sparked my interest even further. I’ve never spent so much time thinking about how the tags I use might lead a user to find relevant information (especially on my book blog).

On Distance Learning

I was a traditional university student for a good six years of my life. I completed a double Bachelor’s and a Master’s. The requirements for my classes were varied; some courses were more rigorous than others, and some required more dedication on my part. While working on my MA, I served as a TA and as an instructor, so I think I have the advantage of knowing what it’s like on both ends of the class.

This past summer, I entered an LIS (library information science) program as a distance learning student, and it’s been a very different learning experience. The subject of distance learning in LIS has come up often in journals and such, so I wanted to share my take.

I chose to enter this particular program because I no longer have the time (or the financial support) to be a traditional student. I have to admit, after six years, I’m tired of spending my days in a classroom as a full time student. I’m currently enrolled for two classes (3 being a full time load), though I am considering taking three next term. The program grants me the kind of flexibility that I want, so I can focus on personal as well as professional goals.

I think there is a lot to be gained from a distance learning program, but I think this is due in part to the student’s ability to study and learn independently. I find that there is always the one class that feels like an independent study course. The amount of interaction between student and professor obviously affects the quality of the course, but how a professor employs the medium available for online teaching also plays a role. I’ve taken four fully online and two blended (in-person meetings/online sessions) courses since entering the program, and I have mixed views on both. My first blended class was interesting, but I felt that the professor did not take advantage of the online side of the class–the online discussion activity felt like a reading journal rather than a discussion. I have had some great fully online classes where the professor employed different modes of teaching and really engaged the class with the readings and assignments.

This semester, I am taking a fully online class and a blended class, and the online one already feels like one of those courses where the professor will have little involvement in my learning. I will take what I can from this course because I am one of those studious types who learns through research, but I know I could be learning more if I had some guidance. Meanwhile, my blended class is extremely interactive and looks to be a great course despite the subject matter (cataloging).

I did my research before starting the program and I knew that I would be able to keep up with the coursework given my background, but if I someone asked me if I recommend distance learning over traditional approaches, my answer would be this: Only if you are absolutely certain that you are okay with teaching yourself.

you carry the… what?

Oh my, I am just bloody bad at math. I think I just created a kamikaze budget for the figure out this budget based on these numbers assignment in my library admin. class. I haven’t tried to work with so many numbers since the early days of my freshman year. I barely made it through the math portion of the GRE a few years ago, and I haven’t had a proper math teacher since 10th grade. Honestly,this budget is doomed to failure. I’m hoping the grade is based on my analysis of the case, not my poor adding skills.

Let’s not even talk about my trying to calculate percentages :(

a walking to school in the *insert bad weather* story

Well, not quite, though it is a case of “when I was your age”. I was reading the text for the reference course that I’m taking and came across a sentence that mentioned the “eight planets of our solar system” and I realized that this is one of those facts that have changed for students in school today. I remember when our solar system had 9 planets. I also remember reading about the USSR until I was in second grade. Seems so insignificant, but it shows how “facts” are always changing.

my neighborhood is going green?

I’m working on a project on promoting the development/redesign of sustainable libraries and management theories, etc… anywho, I’ve been thinking a lot about green initiatives, so it was kind of a surprise to walk past the local day care and notice the big green sign that says that they have gone green :). They joined a program called Certified Green Partners, which appears to be involved with a number of S. Fla organizations, so I’m going to be looking into what their certification process entails. If it is an effective system, I’m all for it. It’s about time that some of the local schools and city departments start changing their practices.