Posts Tagged ‘school’
June 9th, 2011 • library, tech
It is an honor and a privilege to be speaking to you today. Because at most commencements, you can talk about following your dream and keep your passion alive. But most of the people you’re talking to are going to build careers sending and receiving e-mail, composing Powerpoint slides, and generating Excel spreadsheets. “Click strong! Thank you very much.”
But you? You have gone to school to pursue a creative vision, and have now acquired the skills to do so. This puts you miles ahead of most recent college graduates, who have yet to realize that skills exist, and that skills matter. Expertise matters. The important work that you build your reputation on – you can’t just Google it. You don’t cut and paste it from Wikipedia. You roll up your sleeves, and bring all your creativity and meaningful skills to bear on the problem of building something.
I haven’t graduated from library school yet, and I’ve never gone to the graduation ceremonies from my previous degrees, so maybe I’m not one to talk about inspiring speeches. But the implication that people who work with spreadsheets and email (and debugging websites) are less deserving of inspiration than design graduates irks me. It irks me even though I’m guilty of it too.
One of the things that gets to me about library work is the lack of creation in it. I mean, yes we work on databases and finding aids and displays and information literacy lessons, which all require being creative, and sure, I can talk the talk about librarians facilitating knowledge creation in a community, but usually that kind of stuff feels hollow to me. It’s just so much rhetoric to make librarians feel better about ourselves, like the debates about professionalism we have at school. I mean, I’m all over being passionate about librarianship; being awesome is great in whatever field you’re in. I don’t want to get kicked out of the cool librarians club I haven’t even joined yet, but I can’t be the only one who finds it kind of natural that creating something that gets collected by a library is better than being the collector.
But. I learned today that I might be heading out to rural Australia next month to train the staff from a health services library system in using Koha. Which I’m kind of excited about. There is expertise involved there too, stuff I’ve gone to school for and have a bit of talent in. It’s an opportunity to go somewhere and see some more stuff. Take me away from nitpicking a website and I can remember I’ve got some passion for this kind of work. I may not be a “creative professional” deserving of an inspirational speech, but as far as day jobs go, this can be a pretty good one.
It’s also kind of great to work at a place that values my abilities and trusts me to go out as their representative into the world. I’ve been here less than two months and I’m still a student, but I’ll get to go on a business trip (inshallah) like I’m a person with a real job. I don’t know how much I want to be a person with a real job, but it’s kind of fun to pretend. Pretending’s part of creation, isn’t it?
I’ve arrived in Australia for my library school co-op term. I should be here till December. Blogging may be light until I start work even though I have a backlog of reviews to write and post. Soon.
March 23rd, 2011 • 1 comment library
Tags: comics, copyright, failure, instruction, language, lesson, lesson plan, libr535, mlis, oral english, performing, photocopying, pingouink, prezi, prosentient, public, refdesk, school, slais, teaching
When I taught English in China, I wasn’t a very good teacher. I did it though. It was a good experience, doing something I knew I was bad at, trying to get better, but not really knowing how. Me blundering along through failure for a couple of years was great for everyone. Except my students. And my self-esteem. Erm.
The thing is that when I got back to Canada and especially when I started working at a library reference desk I realized I’m not too shabby at one-on-one/small group instruction, especially when everyone is speaking the same language. It was teaching people to talk I was terrible at. But I still didn’t have a good handle on how to teach better or how to develop a lesson plan or anything like that.
So for me, my hands-down most useful class in my MLIS has been LIBR535: The Instructional Role of the Information Professional. The past couple of weeks we’ve been doing our short lessons and with actual guidance on how to do this stuff (simple guidance like “plan your lesson backwards from its objectives” and “making people physically do stuff is good because…”) I felt really good about it. And man oh man does it ever help when you’re teaching something you find interesting.
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March 16th, 2011 • 2 comments library
Tags: academia, collocation, colloquium, control, culture, digital, drums, experience, first nations, freefoodubc, grad school, hacklibschool, hashtag, information, libchat, networking, repatriation, school, slais, social media, twitter, ubc
Tonight I participated in a Twitter chat thingy about libraries. Interested people submitted questions and librarians/libschool students/interested in library stuff people paid attention to the #libchat hashtag which everyone participating used on their tweets. It was pretty fun. That kind of collocating is what hashtags are all about. The questions were fairly routine as far as library angst/information questions go (“Are people who’re hiring looking for Academic Credit or Library Experience?” or “Does Library School need to be a graduate program?”) but it’s interesting to see what people outside of SLAIS think about these things.
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January 26th, 2011 • library, tech
Tags: bruce sterling, burning chrome, computational literacy, computer science, design, education, eric meyers, future, google docs, gui, informal, infrastructure, instruction, interaction, libr535, metacognition, michael twidale, programming, school, sf, skype, social learning, special effects, touchscreen, twitter, unintended consequences, unix, video, vimeo, william gibson
After an 8am class on instruction in which we started to learn about treating lessons as products to be designed, I attended a colloquium by Michael Twidale about Computational Literacy & Metacognition (here are my rough notes).
It was a pretty excellent talk about the way we teach people how to do computery things. What I liked best about it was that Dr. Twidale was coming at this from what he called an Engineering point of view as opposed to a Science point of view. The idea that rapid prototyping in research might be more useful than studying precisely how things work at a point in time is something I’m very sympathetic to. I especially loved how he discussed the unintended effects of different technologies that go beyond what their designers had in mind, such as Twitter revolutions and large touch-screens enhancing learnability and interaction because of their poor usability for one person. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the famous William Gibson line from Burning Chrome “…but the street finds its own uses for things.”
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January 19th, 2011 • 1 comment library
Tags: ambition, blog, cataloguing, center for cartoon studies, digital tattoo, focus, interview, michelle, practicum, project management, school, schulz library, slais, social media, telecommute, ubc, vermont, zines
There is disappointing news and great news in my world.
Disappointing: Last week I had an interview for a student coordinator position with the Digital Tattoo project at UBC. I was pretty excited about the opportunity. It’s a project that deals with teaching students about managing their online identities and why it’s important. Another project I’m working on recently posted a decent explanation of the concept. The interview went fine but as you can guess from me filing this under “disappointing news” I didn’t get the job. There will be more jobs and it’s not like I’m hurting for social media experience on my resume. It would be nice to get some actual project management experience though. That felt like my biggest weakness in the interview. Selah.
The really cool thing is that I’m going to be doing my practicum at the Center for Cartoon Studies‘ Schulz Library in April. The CCS is a tiny grad school in a tiny town with a tiny library and it’s dedicated to comics. It’s kind of amazing. I talked to the librarian the other day and she’s excited to have me out there for a couple of weeks. They’re doing cataloguing projects now but might be moving on to other things by the time I get there. I’ve been told I won’t be bored and I can’t imagine I would be.
One of the things I’ve read about library school is that you have to make it work for you and take advantage of the opportunities you have that you won’t once you graduate. Just calling up the Schulz Library to see if I could come hang out for two weeks might not fly if I was just a person who liked libraries. (Even if it might on their end, I personally wouldn’t be able to just do that.) But now that Michelle at the SLAIS office (who is awesome) did that initial contact I get to do something supercool. I mean, really, I would love to be a comics and zines librarian. There aren’t many jobs like that, but when they show up, because of this experience I’ll actually have some proof that “This dude likes comics and knows some stuff about them.” So yeah.
I’m also trying to pull comics into all my projects this term, to try and build a bit of a focus into my program here. It feels weird thinking about this stuff and crafting this whole school thing into a means to becoming the kind of librarian I want to be. Anyone who knows me knows that thinking ambitiously hasn’t been a big part of my life. But being a techie/blogging/comics & zines librarian is the kind of niche I’d like to occupy if I’m going to do this. If I could telecommute/live somewhere awesome while doing it, that’d be even better.
December 1st, 2010 • library
Tags: agnostic maybe, degree, dropout, enlisted, marks, middle class, mlis, officers, professional image, professionalism, qualification, rules, school, shelf check, snobbery
We’ve talked in class about the image of the librarian, which well, whatever. I don’t really care about professionalism and all that bullshit. It reeks of snobbery and hiding behind dehumanizing rules. I do believe in providing the best possible service I can, but on my terms. Whatever. So the question comes up about whether you need the degree to be a librarian. And conversely whether the people with degrees should be on the reference desk or helping fix the printers.
So it’s possible to address this situation and sound a little privileged and snotty about it. The thing I dislike about that Agnostic Maybe article is that somehow helping people damages the professional image of a librarian, since it’s the kind of thing people without an advanced degree could do. Fuck that.
Happily, that post spawned responses, which caused Agnostic Maybe to clarify and sound a bit less like a jerk. But I don’t like the Officers/Enlisted analogy he employs, because nobody likes the officers. The officers are the planning mucky mucks who make the enlisted people’s lives terrible. Why the fuck would I want to be that? The Shelf Check response to that response was also a bit more moderate.
So yeah, I pretty much feel like I am a damned fine librarian, with or without this degree I’m buying. I know I need the paper to show that I’m the kind of person who goes to library school, which helps winnow out people who can’t afford library school, keeping the profession middle-class, which is bullshit. My mom doesn’t want to hear me say that I’d be fine with being a library school dropout, but really, I would be. Library school is teaching me that I am a librarian already, regardless of the paper I can tuck in a box somewhere. This also make the whole getting marked on assignments part of school really insignificant, which I like.
November 29th, 2010 • Uncategorized
Tags: assignment, comics, information expedition, libr500, libr501, libr502, libr503, mlis, presentation, resource guide, riley park branch, school, siggraph, strategies, subject headings, transhumanism, twitter, vancouver, vancouver public library
Maybe you’re interested in the kinds of things a first term MLIS student does. This is a follow up post to my first months of school recap.
Assignment 2 for my Information technology course was a website/research paper kind of weird hybrid amalgam thing. I did mine on Transhumanism, and managed not to mention my buddy who wants to be a robot some day. Until now. The last assignment for that course was the Twitterbrary project here on the blog.
In my reference services class (is that what it was called?) we collected a pile of reference resources for use by SIGGRAPH Vancouver (that was a group project so I’ll wait till the writeup is complete and I have group member permission before posting it here). Also did a presentation in class that stuck pretty close to the allotted 10 minutes. Information Organizations sent us off to compare a library and game store (again, group work so I won’t post it without the others’ permission).
And then there was the Subject Headings assignment (PDF) for the classification class. In our final session we spent 45 minutes talking about the assignment and what was required and what wasn’t. It was painful, but my Headings are done and not too far off line from what he wanted so whatever.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing.
Librarianaut has been taken over by a school project (check the About page for details on the course). Each of the posts with twitterbrary in the title are trying to address issues of how different libraries use Twitter as part of their overall webpresences.
Here’s what I’m trying to address in each twitterbrary post:
A review of how easy/hard it is for patrons to locate the tool/service from the library’s homepage.
The overall usability of the chosen tools or services. How easy would it be for someone to use it if they had never used that tool/service before?
A review of how well the tool/service seems to fit in with the other tools/services offered by the library.
An evaluation of whether or not you would want to use this tool/service if you were a patron of the particular library.
Suggestions for how the tool/service could be improved for the particular library.
Other points as relevant.
I’ve looked at a mixture of public and academic libraries, but tried to stay with smaller schools or cities. My rationale is that these smaller places probably don’t have dedicated staff just for their social media, so they’ll have more modest presences. I figure that gives us a bit more scope for interesting comparisons. I’ve been finding most of my libraries through Lindy Brown‘s list of international Twittering libraries. Seven of the libraries are in Canada, one is from Australia and one is from Jamaica. Three of the libraries are academic libraries and the other six are public. It’s not a terribly scientific analysis or anything like that but there was an interesting range of Twitter integration into these websites.
Anyway, that’s the project. Enjoy.
November 25th, 2010 • Uncategorized
Tags: 1960s, accreditation, acculturation, advertising, mlis, nanchong, occupation, pr flackery, professional image, professionalism, school, slais, teaching, vocabulary
We’re down to our last week of classes for my first semester of my MLIS. I had planned to do more posts about the stuff I was reading as we went along, but that fell away as I was doing homework. The way our school is set up, this first semester is the core that gets people up to speed. Despite some people’s complaints about the teaching abilities of some of our profs I do feel like this term has given our cohort a common vocabulary, which’ll be useful going forward. I’m glad I’ll be getting into more details though. A bunch of our classes this term have basically been extended advertorials: “If you think this is interesting, take this class.”
In class yesterday we were discussing the professional images of librarians and the whole thing seemed like just so much jerking off. I don’t really see the point in worrying about professionalism, professional identities, professional associations and the like. One of the things I read for that class was about librarianism going from occupation to a profession, and how that’s not just about snobbery (it was written in 1961 if that makes a difference). It feels to me like it is. If you’re good at your job isn’t that way more important than worrying about the image of the profession? I’d rather represent myself according to my standards than represent “my profession” well, or get prestige from my profession being well-regarded. I mean, that’s why I try to write interesting things instead of bullshit PR flackery, right? I’m me more than I’m a member of any organization.
Anyway, I bring up this professional image stuff because in that discussion the idea of “professional acculturation” came up, which is more what school has been about so far. I haven’t learned a whole tonne that I wouldn’t be able to learn on the job. There are some resources I wasn’t aware of, and my vocabulary has become a bit more specialized and in tune with how library people write about things. On the whole though, I haven’t been really disabused of my notion that I’m a librarian already, just one without the paper that’ll let me get a job. Hence a librarianaut. Maybe in January.
But before January I’m heading to China for the month of December. I leave next week as soon as classes are done. Supposedly my girlfriend knows a woman who works at the public library in Nanchong, so hopefully I’ll get to talk about this stuff with her.