Tag Archives: Library School

The Year so Far

Back in August I wrote a post setting forth a few key goals for myself in my second year of graduate school. During my first year my plan was just to figure out how to survive in the library school world and hopefully get a summer internship. This year I wanted to set some more ambitious goals that I’d really have to put forth some effort to accomplish. Well now that I’ve finished up my winter quarter and therefor over half way through the school year, I thought it would be great time to check in on my goals and see what I should concentrate on in my final quarter.

So as a refresher course here are the goals I set back in September before my school year started.

  • Volunteer at ALA Midwinter – This year it is taking place in Seattle so I’m assuming UW’s iSchool will be hijacked during the conference. Who wouldn’t sneak off to an ALA conference when it is just a bus ride across town? Once school starts I should start asking around about how I can get involved.
  • Complete a DFW – This is a Directed Field Work or to some a practicum or an unpaid internship for credit. Now I know many students dislike unpaid internships for credit since the student ends up in the red, but our DFW system at UW allows me to get in on the ground floor with some local organizations that usually don’t offer intern positions otherwise. This is great for me since I am tied geographically to this area after grad school (I can’t complain my husband has a great job!). I’m hoping for a position that allows me to interact with archive patrons, donors, or at least fellow colleagues. I’ve had too many jobs where I just sit alone in a room and do my own thing.
  • Present at a conference (either a paper or poster) – Right now I’m thinking a smaller conference like the Washington Library Association or Northwest Archivists, but who knows maybe something interesting will cross my path and I’ll take a leap and submit something to SAA or ALA. I really have no ideas right now, but I’m not sweating it (yet).
  • Keep expanding my knowledge of archives, digital services, digital humanities, metadata, & cataloging – So besides taking classes geared toward this, I’m planning on learning more about the Digital Humanities via this awesome LibGuide from Boston College. I’ve also recently discovered iTunesU which is free and has free lectures series about tons of different topics. I have several downloaded (some from the Library of Congress) that I’m trying to fit in. Also I’m going to learn the basics of HTML/XML from this book recommended by my programmer husband so I can take the more intensive version of the HTML class offered in my program come the spring quarter.
  • Continue to write blog posts – It is so easy for me to just let everything else fall by the wayside while taking classes. One of those things that gets neglected is this blog. I will probably try a few tricks to keep this active like connecting posts to my class work or writing responses to other library/archive blog posts.
  • Get a summer internship – I have one internship in mind that I would like to have in the summer of 2013, but by March or April that could all change. However, I need to remember to apply, apply, apply and keep my eyes on the student jobs listserv, inalj, and archivesgig.
  • Attend more conferences – Okay well this goal is kind of already wrapped up, but I think it stills needs to be here. Last year I only attended one professional conference. This year I plan on attending InfoCamp Seattle (even though it intimidates me), Museum Computer Network (it’s in Seattle and there are GLAMWiki sessions), ALA Midwinter, and then it is a toss up between Northwest Archivists and WLA/OLA. I really wish I could go to SXSW, but the conference costs plus travel costs just puts it out of reach.

Below I’ll go through each point and review how well I’ve done so far this year!

  • Volunteer at ALA Midwinter – So this did not happen. Apparently ALA doesn’t ask for a lot of volunteers for the weekend (or I somehow totally missed all those emails). The only opportunity I saw was for the yoga session very early on Sunday morning & I don’t do yoga. However, I did get involved with my ALA chapter. I planned on hosting another library school student in my the big MLIS student couch surfing experiment, but my poor guest got sick right before the conference and couldn’t attend!
  • Complete a DFW – This will not happen during the standard school year this year. Enough normal classes have come up that I was interested in as well as my internship at Sub Pop Records that I haven’t had time to add a DFW in. However, my summer internship could turn into a DFW if that is under the only condition the organization will take me. (I don’t believe I need the credits at this point.)
  • Present at a conference (either a paper or poster) – I really thought it would take me all year to work up the nerve to accomplish this goal. I don’t really have a fear of presenting or talking in front of a crowd, but I do find it hard to convince myself I have something worth presenting. Luckily enough Samip Mallick who was my supervisor for my summer internship at the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) asked if I wanted to put together a proposal for the Library 2.012 virtual conference. It was just the push I needed! So at the beginning of October I presented “Taking Access to the User Online” – focusing on my work editing Wikipedia articles to drive traffic to materials in the archive.
  • Keep expanding my knowledge of archives, digital services, digital humanities, metadata, & cataloging – This goal is being accomplished in several different ways. I just finished a class on indexing and will being taking a class on digital humanities reference this spring. I have also started using Code Academy & Coursera. I’m currently interning at Sub Pop Records which is helping expand my knowledge of archives and digital asset management.
  • Continue to write blog posts – My social media class fall quarter really helped here, but I’ve totally dropped the ball during winter quarter. Adding an internship to my schedule really through a wrench into my normal operating procedure so I just let blogging fall to the wayside as I figured everything out. Hopefully I can figure out a better schedule during spring quarter.
  • Get a summer internship – I’m actually working on this goal during my break! I plan on updating my resume and applying to several positions while I have the time. I’m looking at archival positions – both digital & traditional as well as cataloging/metadata/indexing/taxonomy positions.
  • Attend more conferences – So far this year I have attended the Library 2.012 virtual Conference and ALA Midwinter. I did not attend the Museum Computer Network conference – it just didn’t fit into my schedule once I compared it with my school schedule. I do plan on attending one more conference this spring  the Washington/Oregon Library Associations Joint Conference.

So far I’m pretty pleased with my progress in completing my goals this year! I just need to work on getting a summer internship/DFW lined up as well as continuing to blog more and expand my info professional horizons through some professional development on my own time.

How about everyone else? Anyone else set some goals (written down or otherwise) at the beginning of the school year? How are you all doing with completing your goals?

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Day in the Life: What Does an Online Student Do?

I am one of the many online library students in the world today. Even though many great programs like the University of Washington (San Jose State, Simmons) have online masters programs, I still get blank looks and tons of questions when I introduce myself as an online student (both residential students at UW & librarians/archivists at conferences). So what do we online students do all day since we don’t have scheduled class times? How does this whole online school thing work? Even these questions have been plaguing you, have no fear I’m here to tell you about my day.

This quarter Monday, Wednesday, Friday are my pure school days. I usually work on various types of school work from around 11 am (when my husband leaves for work) to 7 pm (when he calls me on his drive home for work). Now staying in my apartment working on my laptop or desktop all day is a bit of a drag (believe me I did this my first quarter but ALL WEEK – once I realized I hadn’t been outside in 5 days I knew something had to change) so I walk down to my favorite local coffee shop for the first few hours of the day. Not only is it nice to you know be outside for a little while, but I get some nice social interaction with my baristas who know me quite well by now.

On this particular Wednesday, I had earmarked the day for my indexing class which I had neglected the previous week. When working through a module for a class, I usually read the assigned articles first then move on to the recorded lectures. Now depending on the class I might take a break between lectures (usually our lectures are only 30-40 minutes long) and head over to the discussion boards. For online students, the discussion board is our classroom. Think of it this way – online education is the original flipped classroom. We read the material and watch the lectures then we come together to discuss the major issues of modules (these can be proposed by the professor or the students can bring up points they want or both!)

Now the dynamics of an online discussion do differ from an in person discussion. We are required to participate in some manner (Now I know this is the norm in most classes but it seems more immediate when your professor can actually count the number of your posts) plus our conversations last for one to two weeks. We do have the normal group of super participators that talk early and often, but overall I feel like more people get in on the discussion. However, when discussion participation is not a part of our grade discussion boards can become a desert wasteland (like the case with my indexing class this quarter).

Now that you have the basics of the online education, let me get on with my day. My indexing class had an assignment due on Wednesday and this week it was a partner assignment. We each indexed the same article and then swapped our indexing terms and answered a series of questions about the consistency measurements of our terms. Out of all the group work I’ve completed this partner work is my favorite type. Also I enjoy seeing how another student indexes the same materials and getting to compare our results.

After finishing my assignment I jumped onto my Management class’s discussion board to catch up on the chatter since last week. By the time  I finished all this it was time to wrap up my work for the day.

My evening consisted of making some delicious home made chicken nuggets, watching Supernatural, and working on my indexing and transcriptions for Hiring Librarians! So there you have it – a normal day in the life of an online student.

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Tuesday – Day in the Life

After a very unusual Monday, my Tuesday was mostly by the book. Tuesday and Thursday I hop on the bus at 10 am with my morning coffee and head downtown to Sub Pop Records. Right now I’m nearing the end of my quarter long internship in digital asset management. I do work for both the music label’s archive and marketing department.

On Tuesday I balanced work for each department. For the archives I continued to work on my music video back up project. Right now Sub Pop does not have physical copies of more recent music videos in the office. They have an offsite company that holds the videos and that company has physical backups but not available to Sub Pop. So right now I’m burning the high quality video files onto DVDs and recording the video details (codec, data rate, etc). On the marketing side I was collecting data about the different email lists the marketing department manages for certain bands. I found that my multitasking online student self was right at home for the combined work. It was nice to have a separate task to work on while the DVDs would burn.

When I left my internship at 3pm, my “normal” day was a bit diverted because instead of hopping on my bus home I headed down to the very awesome Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library to spend a few hours . My deviation in routine was due to the very not normal way I spent the evening. Michael and I met up at El Corazon to see The Hushed Sound perform on their reunion tour! We first saw them in 2005 when we (and some of the band) were still in high school. It was an awesome concert with four opening bands and we walked away with three new, awesome CDs.

I’m just glad to get back to my normal days and nights now. Having a real life during the last two weeks of the quarter is rough.

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Day in the Life: Pleasure Reading

I must admit the beginning of my “Day in the Life” series isn’t the most accurate representation of my usual life. Today my husband, Michael, and I will spend half the day wrapping up a visit from two of our friends who came into town for Emerald City Comic Con. (Yes if you plan correctly you CAN have some semblance of a personal life in library school!) The weekend was full of geeking out while meeting some of our favorite artists, comic book writers, and actors (I met Sir Patrick Stewart!).

However, my day of getting very little done benefits you all! Let’s talk about pleasure reading. Since starting library school I, like many of you, have had little or no time to read for pleasure. Even when I do find that I have free time when I can pick up a novel I find my eyes swimming and my brain just shutting down. I can hear my inner voice yelling “NO MORE WORDS!” I started brain storming for some reading entertainment that I could indulge in that did not involve computers, blogs, or libraries. I found the answer this summer – comics. Now I know that word is a bit loaded. Even now that I’m a comic reader I still think of super heroes when I say the word, but there are as many genres of comics as there are fiction.

Personally I’d like to endorse my favorite genre of comics – the LAF Triumvirate (Literature-based, animal, and Fairy tale based fantasy) comics. This growing genre of comics will please any library student. Your favorite literary heroes step off the page of their novels and into comics usually leaving behind the restrictions their plots. This results is wonderful, fresh stories with the graphics that stimulates your word weary brain. Here are some of my favorites.

Fables – “When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the “mundys,” their name for normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society that they call Fabletown. From their exclusive luxury apartment buildings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, these creatures of legend must fight for their survival in the new world.” (From Amazon) This is a long series (over 130 comics so far), but with a great fleshed out universe. It also has several spin off series. It is worth while series and great for those of us with a weakness for long series.

Kill Shakespeare – “This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare” (From back of book) This a short two book adventure that is rumored to become a movie in the near-ish future (There is a screenplay ready)!

The Unwritten – This series follows Tom Taylor the son of a famous writer who based his main character the wizard Tommy Taylor on him (these books are a great echo of the Harry Potter series – however all the other literature mentioned in the series is real). Everything gets complicated when a woman accuses Tom Taylor of being the incarnation of Tommy during a Q & A session at a convention. Tom’s life only gets worse as he discovers what his father had created the Tommy Taylor books as a way to fight against a secret cabal that has been controlling the word through literature. Unwritten is a relatively new comic with under 50 issues out.

Sandman – Neil Gaiman’s wonderful comic series from the late 80s and early 90s. This series bridges the gap between superhero and literary-based comics. The series starts out in the world of DC comics with appearances by such notable characters as The Joker. Later in the series Gaiman’s characters inhabit their own universe full of wonderful characters including Dream, Death, Delirium, Destiny, Desire, Despair, and Destruction. If you enjoy Gaiman’s novels then you’ll enjoy his comics. However, if you are not versed in DC lore then you might want to check out the Annotated version from the library so you can get all the DC allusions. This might be a great series to start with since it has an ending.

Comics are wonderful pleasure reading during grad school. They stimulate other sections of your mind with the illustrations. They are short reads, and they scratch that fiction itch.

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Stress, Anxiety, and Graduate School

First off, this post was inspired by a fellow library student I follow on Tumblr, the common librarian. She studies in the UK where a library degree is a one year program! I can’t even imagine. Anyway back to the point, I was inspired by her frankness about her struggles with anxiety including seeing a therapist, and I find it incredibly brave, lovely, and honest.  So here I am trying to emulate her. Hi everyone, I’m Sara a MLIS student in her second year and I suffer from anxiety (or as my medical chart says – General Anxiety Disorder).

During orientation we were warned about stress. Who goes into a graduate program without expecting stress? We all feel that surge of worry when a due date gets closer and you are balancing three other due dates along with it. However, stress goes away when the paper is turned in. Stress turns into a feeling of accomplishment. Stress is ephemeral. Anxiety is not.

I can not explain the shame I felt my first term when anxiety settled on me (like a fog, a wet blanket, something heavy that I could not dislodge). I tried to play it off as just stress (but I was only enrolled in one class how could one class produce this much stress when I balanced five classes and a job in undergrad just last year?). I couldn’t easily fall asleep. I worried about everything (including ironically my health). I didn’t find joy in cooking anymore. Every morning I awoke with a stiff back and headache and I went to bed with that stiff back and headache. I felt like a pressure was on my chest all the time. I was scared to be alone so I would go out to the library or coffee shop and feel alone in a crowd. However, I couldn’t figure out a way to communicate this to my fellow classmates in a way that I felt still made me sound sane. I just wanted to believe it was normal stress. Admitting something more serious was going on was an admission of failure, of weakness.

It wasn’t until after seeing my family over the holidays and admitting that I still didn’t feel like myself (I wasn’t even looking forward to my new classes. I always get excited about new classes) that I decided to see my doctor. I sat in the waiting room and filled out a mental health survey. It was one of those moments that reality just crashes in on you.  I saw my symptoms quoted back to me almost to a tee. How? How had I waited so long? How didn’t I realize it? Why did I allow my pride get in the way of treating myself?

So why am I sharing all of this now?  Well this is the time when we are all feeling the push. We see the deadlines.  We feel the strain. However, sometimes it isn’t just stress. Sometimes the feeling is more intense and doesn’t go away when the due date passes. Sometimes a good song, a walk in the park, an hour of yoga, or a well baked cake doesn’t do a damn to alleviate the pressure on your chest.

If that is you out there dear reader, please speak up. There is no shame in mental illness. There is no shame in going to your doctor to seek help. I do not want any other person to go through the hell I put myself. This issue needs to be loudly spoken  about  in the academy. In stead of talking about “stress” during orientation lets talk about the difference between stress and anxiety disorder. Lets talk about the warning signs and how to know when you cross the line between normal stress and anxiety.

Because dear reader, you (we) are not alone. This issue is more common than you think. Suffering from anxiety is bad enough, but feeling like you are the only one and therefore weaker, weirder, and unworthy of your program is even worse. Anxiety shouldn’t been seen as a taboo subject. Overcoming anxiety during your years in grad school should be viewed as an example of strength not weakness. You overcame this obstacle because becoming a librarian means that much to you. If that does not show determination I don’t know what does.

Questions, Comments, Concerns? Let’s have a chat in the comments.

P.S. My anxiety is under control right now and I go in for regular mental health checkups.

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InfoCamp Seattle 2012

Pitching sessions with schedule boards in the background

Pitching Sessions in Mary Gates Hall

Over this past weekend I attended my first unconference, InfoCamp Seattle. I had publicly stated through Twitter and maybe a few other social media avenues that InfoCamp intimidated me. Yes you heard correctly, the unconference which is suppose to remove the barriers and rigidness of professional conferences scared me to my organized, librarian core. Also I knew that InfoCamp had a rabid following. What if I was the only one who didn’t know what was going on? What if I wasn’t interested in any sessions? What if I had nothing worth while to contribute in discussions?

If such fears have held you back from an unconference, let me assure you they are pretty much groundless. First off there were a TON of first time people at Infocamp. We all bumbled through it together. Also after the first “pitch session” (pictured above) where different people explain what their session is about (I was afraid we might be asked to vote or something – not the case) the rhythm is pretty much established and you can pretty much know what to expect. Also I was always interested in at least one session per time slot (if not more which is the real problem). Also I found I had plenty to contribute since I went to session about topics I was interested in.

Now I could begin talking about the sessions I attended but I feel like each session could easily each be its own blog entry (so that would mean this blog entry would end up being way too long). I will list the sessions I attended and if you are interested in hearing more please say so in the comments and I’ll make it into a blog post for you! I attended sessions on personal digital archiving (focusing on a new app for it!), gaining that 2 years experience for jobs, marketing the library in modern times, making a digital creator space in Seattle, confessions of a marketing consultant, digital intellectual rights Northwest, and taxonomy madness. As you can see the variety of session topics is incredible and it reflects the variety of people attending so if you don’t think you are the target audience of Infocamp you might want to reconsider.

Now I want to highlight one of the most enjoyable parts of Infocamp that caught me by surprise – networking. I will admit I’m not one of the best networkers out there. I’ll chit chat with my neighbors at events, but I they always seem to be students or job seekers just like me. Probably good connections years down the line, but not those connections that will give me that “in” when I hit the job market. However I did not have that problem at Infocamp! I met some great people in different LIS fields in Seattle that I am interested in. A few even started following me on Twitter so hopefully I will even continue to stay on their radar even after the weekend is a distant memory.

So I hope next there are even MORE Infocamp newbies!

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Taking Access to the User Online

Yesterday morning I participated in the Library 2.012 Virtual, Worldwide Conference. It was my first conference presentation experience, and even though it was totally virtual and I did not have to stare into the eyes of my attendees I still got those nerves right before I started. However, everything went smoothly and I got some very nice questions at the end of my presentation so I gauge it a success!

I would highly suggest this conference for any student wanting to have presentation experience. There is NO COST attached to the presentation (well besides your time & effort). I gave my presentation from my home computer with my cat sitting next to me as moral support. Also the presentation software is very easy to use especially if you are an online student use to online collaboration.

I have decided to share my slides with you all here as well. I’ll add some annotations to explain some of the pictures. If you would like to listen/watch the actual session it was recorded and can be found on the Library 2.012 website.

In case some of you haven’t seen a picture of me before!

A South Asian American is another with a heritage of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.

An entity on SAADA was a contributor, author, or subject. I created entries for a few South Asian women who came to America for medical degrees in the early 20th century.

It is hard to see, but the “code” looks like this:
* [www.saadigitalarchive.org The South Asian American Digital Archive]
The phrase after the url is what is displayed as a hyperlink on the Wikipedia page.

After my first day working on these Wikipedia links, we had a user come in from one page I edited and he looked at 4 pages on the website and stayed for 14 minutes! Almost instant results on my work.

If you like the Gandhi/Tolstoy connection, please check out the archive! Indian revolutionaries interacted with other revolutionaries around the globe including the Irish!

The graph is the nifty metrics one gets as a Facebook admin for a page. The high point on the graph is for the week of 9/17-9/23 when SAADA reached 4,916 people. That week 5 posts were published. Of which one was a picture, two were educational posts and two were updates about the archive.

Our Achilles heel of user engagement. The effort of interacting with users on Twitter is almost nonexistent and our numbers reflect our lack of effort

You get what you put into social networks is the lesson here.

During the Q& A I also suggested looking into Flickr and Pinterest (which is the subject of an upcoming post). Both of these platforms could be a big boost. Pinterest is a very interesting service to look into. Archives, libraries, and museum that have interesting visual collections could be a big hit on the site. There is even a history category that these materials fall into and that can be easily browsed allowing browsing users to discover your materials. However, there are myriad copyright issues when considering this route so I’d closely read the terms of agreement before adding material or even putting much thought & energy into it.

I hope more library students take advantage of this conference in the future! Please if you have any questions about my presentation or about presenting at Library 2.012 in general leave a comment.

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