Submit has been clicked

I just called my husband into the room to share in my momentous occasion. I have submitted my final MLIS paper ever!!! That’s right folks, while I do not have my final grades yet, the work is done!!! Now I can come home from work and veg if I want to, I can spend my Saturday mornings relaxing on my new deck and reading a good book, I can go on vacation and leave the laptop at home (well – that may be a stretch – but it’s possible).

Once it’s officially official I will let you all know. I am also working on a “What I Learned in Library School” post – so keep an eye out.

Library 2.0 in Library School

A post at Tame the Web by Juliette Loebl (an MLIS student) makes me a bit jealous!

I am not tech-savvy. I would never hire myself to design a professional-looking website, or create a complex database. Yet, during the last year and a half, in library school, I have had the opportunity to experiment with new technology. Like my classmates, I have read enough Library Crunch , The Shifted Librarian, Tame the Web, Librarian in Black , to now nonchalantly toss out terms like, Open API, Casey Bisson's WPopac, and open source . In my time at Dominican, I learned HTML, Dreamweaver, Greenstone Software for the creation of online digital galleries), I wrote clunky metadata and contrasted that with tagging, I created wikis for class projects, joined MySpace, and I fell in love with a the slightly clunky beta version of Google Docs and calendars.

How cool is that? When people ask me what I’m learning in library school I frequently comment on the fact that I’m shocked at how few of the new technologies we’re using. As an online student I depend heavily on a clunky (not Firefox friendly) portal and Blackboard (which has a discussion board that reminds me of the 90s). Many of my classmates seem not to know about Web 2.0 tools and aren’t being introduced to them.

In my management class this past term we had to do a group project and it was me (not the curriculum) that introduced many of my fellow group mates (I think a few were already aware) to collaborative work spaces. We put together our notes and added comments to the document by using WriteWith.

Our cataloging professor asked us if we would like to use a wiki to keep track of useful tools and a few class members felt that this was a great idea! She set it up and no one (except for me – at last check) has added any content.

Why is that? Why aren’t we given the chance to (or encouraged to) experiment with new tools – and when given the opportunity why are so many students leaving it up to others to do the experimenting?

Maybe in my case it’s because many of my classmates (like myself) have full time (or part time) jobs and responsibilities at home in addition to their school work – who knows. All I know is that either I’m taking the wrong classes or Drexel is a bit behind the times when it comes to using new tools.

Without realizing it, my classmates and I have adjusted quickly to the expectations of this Library 2.0 world. Suddenly, writing a paper without the ability to hyperlink or comment feels incorrect, cumbersome, and a lot like busywork. A twenty-page research paper has lost its purpose without reflective discussion imbedded directly in the document. Web 2.0 has dramatically changed our expectations for the work we do. Perhaps we are now spoiled with the sense of self-importance that this interconnectedness has allowed; nevertheless, it is the reality that we have embraced. Information in a vacuum"‚ÄĚlike a simple print document, or a password restricted Blackboard posting, does not provide the strong context for learning that open posting or a wiki can. In my just-under-two years at Dominican University, words that used to form concise and meaningful sentences have now taken on a blurry, complex significance. Words like scholarly, authoritative, information, online resources, research paper, document, library, and librarian, have weighty and multifaceted connotations. Web 2.0 has changed these concepts into dynamic, experiential abstractions. In this constantly shifting framework, both new and experienced librarians will struggle between the security of the older definitions, and the excitement of the future.

I’m very happy for Juliette and her classmates – and wish I was able to take some of the classes they’re taking!!

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What I’ve Been Learning

Homework & Finals Pile
Originally uploaded by nengard

Lately all I’ve had time to do is write my finals. I have a legal pathfinder, a legal final exam (all essays), a cataloging exam (10 questions), a cataloging project (4 originally cataloged records) and a paper on how to apply six sigma to a library! This is my pile of books & computer. I usually put things like this when I need them out of the way.

See more pictures on my Flickr page.

Something you don’t learn in library school

I’ve been talking to a lot of new people lately – students and librarians alike – and in those talks, something has become very clear to me – no one is teaching people the simple techniques to keep up with our profession. I’m not talking about the power user style of keeping up (subscribing to hundreds of feeds), I’m talking about the basics of library journals. In my program I have only had one professor encourage us to read American Libraries (she even emailed us the online version every time it came out). I had one professor point us to digital library journals (in my digital libraries class) and others have pointed us to the databases where we can find library specific articles. What about the journals most libraries subscribe to?

At my last library there was an internal routing list that anyone could sign up for. There were over 100 journals routing around the library and only 3 or 4 people were subscribed to Library Journal – only 5 or 6 to Computers in Libraries and similarly small numbers on the other journals that crossed my desk. Here at my new library I’m not sure who’s reading what. Most journals are stored in our staff lounge for us to read as we please (and I don’t know people well enough yet to share their reading habits with you all).

People are always in awe at how some bloggers keep up with everything – and yet they don’t practice the simplest of tricks – read the journals that your library subscribes to. Take them to lunch with you if you don’t have time during the work day – or if you have down time on the circ or reference desk, read them there.

But back to my original point – why aren’t our professors telling us about these small pockets of information? Why isn’t it required in some of my classes to keep up with library news – why is it that there are students who haven’t even heard of Library Journal (or other similar titles)? The best place to learn about these tools is in library school – where (almost certainly) you’ll have access to many (if not all) of the library journals that are available.

Seems silly to me that we spend our days learning about theory that will only relate to our jobs in the remotest way – but not about the tools that will help us keep up with our profession once we graduate.

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The Term Starts Monday

So, spring term starts on Monday! It’s my 3rd of 4 terms and then I’ll have my MLIS!

This term I’m taking:

  • Managing Information Orgs (Info 640)
  • Legal Bibliography (Info 681)
  • Cataloging & Classification I (Info 660)

It’s going to be a pretty heavy workload – but I’m looking forward to it – specifically the management class. Stay tuned for for updates throughout the term.

Let the Writing Begin

I have taken off of work for a long weekend to finish my term papers. Starting after work today I will be in serious writing mode (I hope). I’m writing a Review of Literature on Undergraduate Information Seeking Habits when applied to web resources – not sure what the title will be. I’m also writing about Open Source & Web 2.0 in Digital Libraries. Should be a couple of interesting topics – My reading is done and my notes are started – now I have 4 straight days (minus taking the pup outside to play in the snow) to get the rough drafts done.