School…new job…stuff….

Posted by lynn on Mar 28, 2007 in Favorite Links

Hi everyone. I’m in the last throws of completing yet another assignment, but I figured I’d give everyone an update. Without incriminating myself too much prior to graduation, shall we say that one class I’m taking is pretty good and I’m learning a lot and the other is a huge disappointment? Let’s, shall we?

Good class is, well, good. Not my favorite class, but not my least. Disappointment class probably beats the other not-so-awesome class taught by the Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed cat lady for Lynn’s Least Favorite Class. The instructor is extremely disorganized and that means everything is like shooting at a moving target. Assignments change, get renamed, disappear – all at the last minute and with little notice. All very frustrating – especially more so when I’ve already got a major case of senioritis. Cat Lady was just a visiting instructor. Sadly, this dude is tenured faculty. Oh well – I guess 2 lackluster classes out of 11 ain’t so bad.

On the job front, I’m starting to settle in. It’s a little overwhelming. I have a commute now. I have a Blackberry (which appears to be only good for shopping lists and looking up directions while you’re in the car). I have to walk down the Sunset Strip to get to work. It’s all a little surreal, but I like it. So far the people and projects are cool. Here’s hoping it stays that way after the honeymoon is over.

As a final note, I placed my ballot for the ALA Elections today. It was a slow time at work (you have a lot of those when you’re new), and so I read each and every one of those bios and placed my votes. First of all, I’d like to say – write something unique, folks. I swear, almost every candidate statement contained at least one of the following five statements:

• librarians need better pay
• we need to protect intellectual freedom (and all things I consider related – ie., copyright, PATRIOT act stuff)
• we need to recruit, mentor and help find jobs for new librarians
• we need greater diversity within the profession
• we need more visibility for the profession and the ALA

Those are all nice things, but it’s hard to select 33 people out of 80 some-odd candidates all saying the same thing. A few did stand out though. Most notably there were two candidates who made it quite clear that they were conservatives (one stressed “Christian conservative) who felt that the ALA was too left-leaning. I didn’t vote for either of them, although part of me applauded the fact that they admitted their political leanings considering that their views probably won’t strike much of a chord with ALA members. One of them stated (this is my attempt at paraphrasing, mind you) that he felt that intellectual freedom was all well and good, but “pornography” wasn’t needed in libraries. That statement made me recoil a little since that statement goes right to the heart of the idea of intellectual freedom in the first place. I have suspicion that some of what this man calls “pornography,” I, an arguably educated, practical person, would call “art,” or at worst, “erotica.” I would also guess that even the stuff I would call “pornography,” may have some real, intrinsic value beyond it’s obvious sexual one to someone as well. As such, I don’t think it’s a librarian’s place to say “That stuff is porno; I’m not having it here.” It’s one thing to say, “I don’t think my user community would want or need something like this,” but not “I don’t think they should see it.” You know – the whole “selection vs. censorship” argument. It’s a fine line that sometimes gets inadvertently crossed (humans are humans and are prone to error), but I think this dude doesn’t get it. That’s my $0.02 for what it counts.

If you’re interested, I leaned towards voting for people who wanted to make ALA more efficient and accessible to its general membership as well as represent those five ideals above. It took me about an hour.


The last trip here…

Posted by lynn on Mar 2, 2007 in News

Greetings from Urbana, Illinois, y’all.

I’m sitting here, in the really fabulous lobby of the Historic Lincoln Hotel, enjoying the fire in the fireplace, the big desk with Viral and Rickettsial Infections of Man on it, and the free wireless. What I’m not enjoying is working on assignments for two classes, but that’s the way it goes, I suppose.

I have to say that this semester has been harder than I had thought it would be. First of all, there are the extenuating circumstances that are making life a little difficult. My knee is still healing, but Blue Cross is really complicating things. True to health insurance practices, they approved all the costs of my surgery initially, but now that the bills have started coming in, they have to contest and review every…single…one. Seriously. Every day I get a new statement telling me that they’re reviewing this or that, and a few days later I get a call or letter from one of the medical providers, complaining that Blue Cross hasn’t paid them. I haven’t been able to go to physical therapy for three weeks because Blue Cross has my prescription for PT under “medical review.” I can’t go down stairs, but I supposedly don’t really need PT? This has become incredibly draining and demoralizing. I’m not trying to whine here though. I’m very grateful that Phil and Sarah have been trying to cheer me up and keep me going, and Phil, God bless him, has been chasing after Blue Cross for me.

“Senioritis” has also started to hurt me a bit. I’m tired. This is semester number six and I’m starting to run out of steam. It’s hard for me to focus on my schoolwork – especially the readings. Of course, I’m not helped by the fact that one of my classes isn’t very enjoyable and, in my humble opinion, isn’t run very well.

Anyway, I was supposed to spend the last week and a half enjoying time away from work and doing homework, but instead I ended up dealing with major car issues and other stupid, niggly stuff that ate up my time. So here I sit, working on a paper that I had planned to have done by Tuesday and it’s now Friday. I have another assignment due Thursday and I haven’t even started on it. Gah. Normally I’m much better than this. Stupid me.

I’m thankful for the trip here though. It’s nice to see my LEEP pals – or some of them anyway – and do some commiserating. I don’t feel quite as alone or like I’m totally slacking. I also like being away from the Blue Crosses and car and other crap at home. I can just focus on schoolwork for a few days. I could do without the ice (seriously – does no one shovel their sidewalks here?), but it’s a nice change. I’ll miss coming out here every few months. I’m sad to know that this is the last time.

So last week, I spoke to a librarian at USC who asked me what advice I would give to someone preparing to enter library school. Granted, my advice was probably colored by the fact that I had just had a miserable week and I was totally exhausted when I was speaking to him, but here’s what I said:

  1. Get a Tivo or just accept the fact that you’ll have to catch up with your favorite shows when seasons come out on DVD. Or just give up TV entirely. You will not be able to keep up with Lost or Gray’s Anatomy.
  2. Make sure you have a support system in place. You are going to have moments where you’re overwhelmed, tired, confused, or just plain stressed, and you’ll need some shoulders to cry on and tell you everything is going to be okay.
  3. Everything really will be okay (it will, right?).
  4. You don’t have to read every single thing that the instructor assigns in great detail, but it really does pay to at least do a healthy skimming. You will want to know this stuff.
  5. Making smart ass remarks in class doesn’t earn you participation points, so please be quiet if you have nothing to add or ask.
  6. Fill out the instructor evaluations at the end of each semester and do so honestly and completely. Trust me, they do get read and taken reasonably seriously.
  7. Go ahead and subscribe to library mailing lists, but don’t attach too much value to what you read there. Some of the posters are very unhappy in their jobs or disillusioned and their posts reflect that. Just because they’re unhappy doesn’t mean you will be.
  8. You don’t have to end up working in a library in order to take advantage of what you learned in library school.
  9. Be committed. Trust me, you have no idea what you’re really in for. You can tell yourself, “This is going to be a lot of work or take a lot of time,” but you don’t really understand how much so until you begin. KNOW that you want this degree and you’ll find navigating the choppy waters you encounter a little bit easier.

I think that’s it. I’m sure I’ll think of more tips when I actually graduate. For now I’m living tip numbers 2, 3 and 9.

I just have to make it through to May…

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