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A very queasy New Year

Posted by lynn on Jan 3, 2007 in Random

Happy New Year, everyone.

It’s hard to believe, but I’m swiftly approaching the beginning of my very last semester at GSLIS. It feels like I just started the program yesterday, and I remember bemoaning the fact that 2 years seemed so long. Boy, was I wrong.

I’m happy to report that I survived IML and DIL and got As in both. I really didn’t expect the A in IML – I was thinking I’d get an A- – but I’m not going to complain.

I am looking forward to my next two classes, Metadata (590MDL) and Design of Digitally Mediated Information Services (590DEL). They appear to be nice “capstones” for my time here at GSLIS. That being said, I am so, so tired.

My dad asked me if I was going to pursue my PhD after getting my degree, and I said, “Um, no.” First of all, I’m more of a “practice” person than “research.” My favorite classes and assignments where when I actually got to do what we were talking about instead of just talk about it. I really don’t see myself doing research at this time. Secondly, I’m really tired of school. I love school, but I need the break. I think this disappointed my dad, who has always hinted that he envisioned me as some high-ranking professor at some prestigious university (ideally in the sciences, but Library Science sorta counts, right?), but he understood.

The challenge facing me now, in addition to surviving one more semester, is figuring out what the heck I want to do. I started off this program with the idea of working at a university. Well, two years and lots of upheaval at work later, I’m not so sure. I’ve spent my entire post-college working life at a university. I’m not so sure it’s what I want to keep doing. Like my dad, I think I had this very shiny vision of what academic life was supposed to be, but now, 10 years later, I realize that academia is just as fraught with politics, competition, and, yes, focus on the bottom line as anywhere else. There’s a definite class system in academia – or at least at my university and a few others I know of – that’s hard to escape. I’ve seen how librarians here, who have faculty status, are still treated somewhat like second-class citizens. Since I’m a staff person, I’m already a full-fledged second-class citizen, so I’m not sure if I want the “upgrade.”

Then there’s the issue of what I can do. I took a lot of classes around the idea of working in a digital library, but the entry-level jobs in that area are scarce. I suppose I could get a job as a reference librarian, but I was never interested in doing that – I’m still not interested today. When I look at the “non-traditional” LIS jobs that entail data/information modeling, information architecture, etc., there are a lot of skills I don’t have: SQL, JSP, perl, etc. So I’m feeling a little daunted there as well.

Anyway, as it’s time to begin the job search, I have a lot to consider. I didn’t anticipate ending the program feeling more unsure about where my future lay than when I started.
I do know that I want to leave where I am now. I’m never going to move beyond what I’m doing now where I currently am, and the job is no longer challenging or fun. I do want to put my new degree and knowledge to work. The rest is more open than I’d like.

 
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A response for Mark….

Posted by lynn on Nov 30, 2006 in Random

Mark, I’ll see your blog post. I’m not going to raise because I don’t even know how I would do that.

I am back at work. I’m not thrilled about that, but that’s more because my workplace is in major flux right now. The knee is fine. Well, let me clarify fine: it’s getting better. I still have crutches. I still have a brace that keeps my leg from bending. I still get ow-y sometimes. Yet it’s getting better (it actually looks like a knee now) and I get myself around. I’m kinda tired of dealing with it though, and I bet those around me are too.

I did have a good break, but it was definitely busier than I had anticipated. My roomie and I cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner. It turned out fabulously, but man, that was some work (more for her though than for me). I also did some homework, of course. Can’t have a weekend without that. The funny thing is that I can’t remember a lot of what we did beyond that – must not have been that important, I guess. But I was busy. I wanted to make some chocolate stuffed figs on Wednesday, but I didn’t get them done until Saturday. I also never did get to sit down and watch all 8 episodes of Doctor Who that are sitting on my Tivo.

Consider Spellbound added to the list of movies I want to see once the semester ends, although you did tell me that Snakes on a Plane wasn’t scary. I spent a good chunk of that movie with my head buried in my boyfriend’s shoulder. I can’t imagine 5th graders and spelling bees being scary though. Wait, yes I can. Oh, I’ll keep the movie on the list anyway.

I’m so glad your tooth is doing better. Hooray for modern medicine!

 
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The last lap….

Posted by lynn on Nov 19, 2006 in Random

When we would do the 1 mile run around the track in junior high and high school, the first few laps around the track weren’t that hard. Eventually, because I was never a very physically fit kid, each lap would get harder and harder until the last one. That last lap always seemed to take forever and was impossibly hard. I usually did that goofy walk/run/walk/walk/run thing, sweating like a pig and panting. Most of the other girls had already finished and gone to the locker room, and it was me and the three other “fat kids” bringing up the rear. Man, I hated PE.

So that’s what the end of every semester is like for me (except I like library science, unlike PE). The last three weeks seem insurmountable somehow and I’m already so tired. I keep running through my mind, “I have two more IML assignments to do and finish my digital library in the next 3 weeks!!!” and I keep overwhelming myself. I do this every semester, so I know in my heart that I’ll come through okay somehow, but it still manages to stress me out.

Here’s how I’m feeling about both classes right now:

IML: I really like the hands-on practical aspects of this class. Doing truth trees for first order logic sentences? Fun. Drawing out ER diagrams? Groovy. Explaining “relationship set” or “data independence” – bleck. One thing I’ve figured out quickly in this program is that I’m more of a “practice” person and not a “research” person. I get the ideas and theories behind something, but I’d rather actually be doing that something, not explaining it. I guess that’s why I keep getting A-‘s on my assignments for this class. He keeps asking me to go into more detail on my explanations, and I can’t. Maybe it’s a mental block or I’m just not as philosophical as he is. Or maybe it’s because I don’t like math.

DIL: Again, I like working on my DL project. As frustrating as Greenstone is, it’s rewarding to work on something and have something tangible to show for it. I’m in the unique position where everyone in my group is so eager to get stuff done and done correctly, we’re having arguments about who does what because some people want to do everything. I’m so used to the opposite or having one or two members who drop off the planet until the last week. It’s kinda cool yet still kinda frustrating. I just hope we can get it together to bring the project to a successful end and that I can figure out how to separate two different “resource types” into two separate browse lists in Greenstone.

The readings for DIL put me to sleep though. Most of it is repetitive with what I’ve read in my Electronic Publishing class or Organization of Information class or even my Web Design class. I also hate that we have to do weekly bulletin board posts with insightful comments about the readings or something similar. Since I’ve already done a lot of these readings, I’ve used up my insightful comments on previous classes. I know that I should be able to come up with more, but again, I’ve reached that walk/run/walk/walk/run point in the semester. The brain is tired.

What complicates all of this is that I’m still recovering from my knee surgery. I am happy to report though that while I’m still not able to bend my leg or walk very far without crutches, my knee no longer resembles an oddly-colored cube in the middle of my leg. It looks more like a giant, flesh-colored sphere. With luck and hard work, hopefully it will actually look like a knee by Christmas.

I shall now wrap up this long whining session with a little spirit-lifting thought for myself. As crappy of a runner I was in junior high and high school, I could probably run a mile fairly easily now (okay, prior to the knee surgery). Hopefully the same applies for when I graduate from school and start getting to work on this stuff for real.

 
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5th semester

Posted by lynn on Sep 8, 2006 in Random

Hi all.

I’m actually not freaking out about this semester for some reason, even though both classes appear to be doozies. I’m taking Information Modeling which is way more fun than it sounds. It’s like doing logic puzzles for homework. I’m also taking Digital Libraries, which is a lot of work, but I’m being calm so far. I managed to get Greenstone installed without too many tears (thanks, Phil), and I’m moving around the interface pretty easily. We’ll see how long my comfort lasts.

Anyway I suspect my “I’ll live” attitude comes from two places:

a) 4 previous semesters of coping
b) being so overworked at my job that I don’t have time to care

Seriously, work kinda blows right now, so when I get home I really don’t want to stress more. Nice thing is that I finally got wireless hooked up in my apartment so I can do homework in bed.

Anyway, more updates will come, I’m sure. I leave for Champaign in less than 3 weeks.

 
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DONE!

Posted by lynn on Aug 1, 2006 in Random

I’m officially done with my fourth semester of school. I wrote those three papers. I be done. I don’t have to worry about school for at least a week and a half.

As usual, thanks to Sarah and Phil for proofing a thousand papers.

Thanks to some of the librarians at USC for letting me use them as guinea pigs for my reference projects.

Thanks to Macromedia for making Dreamweaver, which also helped me get through my web design class.

Enjoy the break before my next pre-semester freak out. Only two more semesters to go.

 
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Just hadda share…

Posted by lynn on Jul 18, 2006 in Random

So, remember how, in the last post, my “peer” said making a web page for our user guide assignment was a “cop out”? Yeah, well I geeked out and made a special CSS stylesheet for printing out my user guide, so now my assignment looks awesome on the screen and on paper. Take that, beeoootch!

Take in the glory that is my user guide on human rights:

http://leep.lis.uiuc.edu/publish/ljasper2/504/peer/humanrights.html

 
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My users class on Friday

Posted by lynn on Mar 5, 2006 in Random

So Friday I had the all day session of Use and Users of Information. All in all, I have to say this is a very good class and very worthwhile. I also have to say that it’s killing me slowly. Way more reading and much harder assignments than Electronic Publishing or anything else I’ve taken. I’d say it was just me, but everyone else on Friday was whining softly about the workload. But anyway…

I have been putting a lot into this class – partly because the assignments are all weighted heavily in the grade and partly because the class material is very esoteric, dense stuff. I stress a lot about whether or not I’m actually grasping all the “frameworks” and “models” and “theories” presented. My instructor is sympathetic, but the assignments are still pretty demanding.

So, on Friday, we were to turn in an 800 word paper on what we were doing our sample user study/literature review on. This was a bit stressful since this came only a week after we turned in a 1600 word literature review and, of course, we were all traveling to C-U for class. We also had to do a presentation on our project for class. I turned that 800 word thing in on Wednesday night; I didn’t want to mess with it on Thursday night. I had no idea what kind of internet access I would have. I wanted time to work on my presentation after all.

Imagine my surprise when I showed up in class and most people had not turned in this paper. Some hadn’t even started it. Some weren’t even sure if they were doing a user study or lit review. One person, for her presentation, literally just thought aloud as she wondered about how to learn about creative writers. I think possibly only three of us had prepared.

So I left feeling partly frustrated and partly encouraged. Frustrated because I feel like I’ve burned all this energy and I still don’t have anything to show for it (none of our papers have been returned yet) and encouraged because I feel like I have my act together at least. Or maybe I don’t. Ugh – this class is hard.

I have cataloguing tomorrow. I feel a bit better about this class, so we’ll see how tomorrow goes.

 
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A milder freak out.

Posted by lynn on Jan 9, 2006 in Random

Since I’ve survived a “real” semester of school, I’m not freaking out as hard core as I did in August. As the syllabi for this semester are getting posted, I’m kinda doing the “Um, wow. Okay. That’s a lot of work. Um, okay. I can deal. I can deal. I will deal. I have to deal” thing.

Anyway….

So I joined a “new librarian” mail list. I was sorta interested on what life would be like once I graduated. As to be expected on a mail list of over-educated people, there’s the requisite cranks that have to comment on everything and act like they are the best thing since my light-up tire (and really, that is like the COOLEST THING!. There’s also the people who have to comment on everything, even if it’s only with a “me too.” Beyond that, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1) Jobs are not as easy to find as everyone at the ALA and library school would like you to believe, and the jobs that are out there that don’t pay that well. The mitigating factor in this is that most of the people on the list are public librarians, and I kinda knew that public service (on the local level) doesn’t pay that great. Fingers crossed that academic or corporate librarianship jobs are easier found and better paid.

2) There’s still a lot of tension over the fact that most librarians are women. The tension centers around the fact that while most librarians are women, most library administrators are male, pay differences, patron perceptions of women, how women librarians treat male patrons and male colleagues, etc. Should be an interesting switch for me since I’m a female manager in a male-dominated field.

3) Librarians LOVE conferences. This suits me just fine. I loves me a good conference too.

This is all I’ve been able to glean so far, as most of the list is a bunch of “me too”s and “let me tell you how brilliant I am by dropping this $0.50 word on you bitches.” I guess that’s a sign of things to come as well…

 
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Day 1, Semester 2…

Posted by lynn on Aug 25, 2005 in Random

Hi all.

I just finished my first real on-line class about 40 minutes ago for “Information Organization and Access”. As I imagined, I feel a lot better about the class, its workload, requirements, etc. I have my other class (“Electronic Publishing”) on Tuesday so hopefully I’ll find some mental relief there too.

The Information Organization class is the last of my two “core” classes, and while the general theme and information of the class is interesting to me, core classes always kinda grate me a little. Even in graduate school core classes, you get the people who don’t really want to be there for that particular topic and hence spend the class making wise-cracks or fail to take anything in the class seriously.

There’s this one guy, who shall remain nameless, who literally has to post a crack after every other comment. His bio (we all have them – to build “community”) is even full of wisecracks. It’s funny how I can tell just from on-line prattle that this guy wants to be our class clown. Unfortunately for all of us, he’s a really bad clown.

Because we do all our class lectures and discussion on-line, the annoying chatter and quips of Crappy the Clown and folks like him get mixed in with the real questions and comments of interested students. This is further complicated by the fact that there’s 50 people in this class. All the chat clutter makes the dialog hard to follow. I ended the class with a slight headache to accompany my relief.

My Electronic Publishing class is an “elective,” has only 12 people in it, and we all (according to our bulletin board posts) have an interest in the topic. I’m expecting slightly more focused discussion on Tuesday.

I know, I know, I sound like a fuddy-duddy, but seriously, I’m here to learn. A funny comment here and there is fine, but 12 jokes about how a philosopher’s name sounds like a “dark lord” when the lecturer is trying to explain a cataloging concept is really frickin’ annoying.

 
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Post-scholastic stress

Posted by lynn on Jul 29, 2005 in Random

Well, I don’t know if I’m stressed. Just really tired and not feeling up to doing work. I had to write an essay on what I felt I would one day contribute to the field of librarianship for a fellowship application, and lemme tell ya’, folks, I SO didn’t want to do it. I wanted a little time off before writing another essay. I did it though. Because I’m tough and because I need the money.

On another note, I emailed a librarian here at work who actually wrote one of the articles we used in our group project. She was so tickled that we actually found and used that article that she ended up giving me a bunch of advise on what kinds of classes to take. Awesome.

I think that’s as much school stuff as I’m gonna do for at least a week or two. I’m pooped, y’all.

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