Remembering why I’m in the LIS program

I’m being told to “do my homework,” or otherwise all my planning will be for naught…

Despite this, I am now aware that now is not quite the time to be doing homework (it is 10:45 PM, here), and going to work today reminded me of why I wanted to work in a library.  It was only a six-hour shift, but it was surprisingly pleasant — even with the babies occasionally crying.  😉  It was okay, she was really upset.  😦

I think that my vacation distanced me somewhat from the reason I’m in Library School (“LIS” = “Library & Information Science”) in the first place, and the realities of dealing with the workplace, as versus the curricula and the teachers (and the history and politics).  Knock on wood, I have been witness to very little trouble over at least the past six months — though this could be because I am now working only two days a week for 3/4 of a day, each.  (Given my workload this semester, I was overloaded at 18 hours a week of work and 30 hours a week of school.)

I am also seeing what the technical track looks like at my school, and am wondering if maybe it actually is going to be easier for me to deal with people face-to-face than online and on the phone (I don’t really envy the people trying to communicate through the phone).  I’ve been also doing some digging around job specifications…and I don’t think it has to be as hard as I’m making it.  I also don’t think that I should take “I don’t work well with people” as an axiom by which to live my life, as all that’s doing is limiting me and my choices.  Even if I do have autistic traits (not enough to be called “autistic,” though, I’ve heard) that doesn’t mean I have to define myself by what I think autism is.

My major qualm is losing motivation while I’m in school because of having an unclear and unresearched end goal.  Right now, the only places I’ve worked have been Public Libraries…which I know pretty well, and which I am getting acclimated to.  What I’ve found with the Metadata and Cataloging courses is that I probably don’t want to be a Cataloger…and maybe I don’t want to try this path again with Digital Services (i.e., try it and see if I like it:  what happens if I don’t?).  What I’ve found with my prior courses, particularly the Intellectual Freedom course and the Diversity course, is that I may very well be more aligned philosophically with the institution of Public Libraries than I thought.

In the absence of any clear better ideas…library work does seem suited to me. Maybe the variation in quality in regard to my experience of public service has more to do with that experience starting from ground zero (when I didn’t know how to set limits with people, and thus at times have had my boundaries overrun.  That is a much rarer occurrence, these days).

When the Clerk positions open up, I’m planning to get tested and hopefully get on the list to be considered for hiring, especially as I’m doing most of the job of a Library Clerk now, but am not being paid for it.  I asked my supervisor today to alert me when that happens, though I think I can get notified of this on my own.  I did this because I can recall having a dream where I was saying that I didn’t resent the work, so much as didn’t feel I was being compensated fairly for it.  (Yeah, I dream about work…when do I get a rest?  I don’t know…)

It is…pretty clear that the job I have now is preparing me to be a Library Clerk (which in turn can move up into a Library Assistant, though they are parallel paths with different skill sets and endpoints).  Clerks get paid a wage at which one may be able to support oneself; I, as an Aide, don’t.  It is the case, though, that I may not be able to take on the workload of a Clerk (I can probably do 20 hours a week, max.) while still in Library School.  But Library School should be over in two years.

I’m not certain about this — I have tonight plotted out a course which fits in everything I can take which is of the Public Library track — but I think that more Humanities/Social Science classes will be easier for me than the tech stuff, which I have wanted to do (before I started in on it and started getting some of the worst grades of my life).  Although I have wanted to do tech work, I’ve lost some confidence around that.  In particular, I find it stressing me in a different way than people-watching, stressed me.  In this case, I feel like there actually are right answers, and that derivation from that is easy to spot.  It’s also very possible that my mind does not work in a standard way, which doesn’t help me catalog in a standard way.

My program should also be built around Library service — as versus, say, Information Architecture, which they do give a specialization towards, but it’s the same class over and over again with different topics.  In contrast, the Public Library track is fairly diversified.

Once I can finally get my Driver’s License (I’m close, but not quite there yet), I will then be able to become a Library Assistant and drive around the county to fill vacancies (which is very much not what I want to be doing, but it is experience toward becoming a Librarian, and that means one step closer to financial independence).  The upshot of this is that I don’t have to work when I’m overloaded with classwork…although reading, papers, and oral presentations are things I can easily do.  Coding is something else.  It’s simple when you’ve got the framework down already…but I don’t know if I want something that simple, and the framework…well, it’s complex.

The higher jobs specific to the Library, oddly enough, also look easier than the Clerk jobs, and pay more (sometimes, much more).  I’ve realized as well that I don’t have to stay within this community, although the ones I’ve worked with have generally been pretty decent.  The surprise for me came with the prospect of working as a Librarian in Hawaii…which I believe would contain communities that I would in no way feel bad serving.

I’ve also gotten over a bit of the fear of people I had when I initially got this job…years of being treated decently (by surprise) will do that to a person, eh?

It’s now 11:30 here:  I should get some rest and try and work off this jet lag…

Just another assignment-related post

This is mostly for me, so that I can try and keep things straight in my own mind.

I’ve started to let go of the grade thing, but I am still going to try and get both my test and my Discussion Topic in on time, this time.  For my various classes…

Metadata:  I have two Theme 3 lectures to watch, which I hope to get done tomorrow morning (it seems like the Themes build on each other, which is why I’m organizing it this way).  Then I can work on my two readings for Theme 4.  After that, I have 3 Theme 4 Lectures to get through, which I’m not certain I’ll be able to wholly complete tomorrow.  After all that is out of the way, I will be able to complete my Theme 4 Discussion Post (which takes priority), and my late post.  The latter of which, I may not get credit on, and which takes last priority (it’s already late):  but it will be a useful exercise, anyway.

The Metadata class takes top priority for me, as I’ve basically decided to aim myself down a Digital Services track, and this class applies to that.

Cataloging comes in second.  I don’t have to worry about questions of the type on the exercise I bombed.  From the looks of things, I should be able to assemble a set of answers before…wait, I think it’s due Monday morning.  That gives me some extra time.  What I really had trouble on were the Subject Heading questions, not the categorization questions or the MARC questions.  After that, there are two essay topics I can address, which should help.  I can also watch the two Help sessions I missed, if I need it Actually, one of the Help Sessions is probably entirely useless for the test, as it’s on Subject Headings (what I bombed and will not be tested on, this time), and I think I have extra exercises I can try, to test my skill and the systems’ logic (or to use as refreshers).

I also have a guide to one of the systems printed out…it may be good to read that before attempting the test.  I’d have to do this, probably partially on Saturday, and then reserve the rest of Sunday to complete the test (after completing the Discussion Topic for Metadata — I’m not sure I’ll be fully done with all the lectures by Saturday night, and I want to get the DT out of the way, as it’s a small assignment which will distract me).

After that, I need to finish reading Chapter 4 in Research Methodologies, then read Chapter 6 and view the two lectures I haven’t.  If I get tired of the other two classes, I can also try switching modes to this, as it also needs to get done, sometime.

And…Spring Break is coming up, so I will get a chance to rest!  I normally don’t pay attention to special days, so I didn’t even know I’d get a break.

The last thing I’m thinking of is a Discussion Post on survey questions — if I’m going to use the survey format, which…I didn’t know that I didn’t have to do.  Interviews and focus groups sound much more on-point for my project.  And I only have about a month and a half to assemble the thing before classes are out…I’ve gotta remember that.

Today it was easier to work on my assignments…somehow, I was ready, and I was able to feed myself some good stuff while I studied.  I had to get up and out early for an appointment, then came back and successfully tried not to go back to sleep by exercising a bit and drinking some soup to warm myself, plus brewing some green tea.  Tea freakin’ helps.  It didn’t hurt that we had senbei, either.  I’ve just got to be sure not to overeat when studying near the kitchen…but I had a number of nice quiet, sunny hours in the morning where I could watch the poppies open and have things silent (or alternately, with family, which did make things less lonely).

Making today sound like a disaster…

Most of my waking hours today were taken up doing one of the optional readings I skipped over, last semester (recommended if we had interests in Cataloging or Metadata).  I…am continually amazed at the state of information transfer I’ve experienced in, particularly, the last five years.  The text I was reading was actually fully online (yes, the entire book) and accessible through my library.  The text which linked to it is in itself electronic.

But why did I do this?  Well, I was sitting here staring at a blank page and trying to decide what and whether to write, when I realized that I had options.  I’ve recently been trying to read more so that I have something of substance to write about, when I do write.  I…am also finding something interesting happening with the way it feels when I’m reading something with which I have to pay full attention to keep up.  (and yes, I did take notes.)

I think it is something I’ve been missing, since classes let out.  Maybe it’s one of those things where my mind has to have something to work on or else it starts to implode…

Right now I’m trying to figure out how much more work towards my career I want to do over vacation, and how much I want to invest in that work as well, given that my sickness over the holidays — well, my sickness plus the holidays — means that I am not going to get paid very much, this time around.  (I ran out of sickleave and do not get paid vacation.)  Not that this should severely impact me…but I just worry about money as it is.

I should still make a date to go back to the career development pages I know about…

Next date for the Vocational program meeting is this coming Wednesday.  I tried to reschedule, but it was a Friday afternoon when I called in, and I haven’t been recontacted yet.  Apparently it’s convenient to the person I’m seeing if I come in on Wednesday mornings, but Mondays and Wednesdays are the most problematic days for me to meet — especially in the early morning.  Not only this, but the past three meetings have been aborted because one or both of us have been sick.  So I will have to either call in late on Wednesday morning to work, or reschedule:  problem is that if I go in late on Wednesday, this is becoming a pattern.

Also a problem:  my completion of my “homework” for this program is also relatively spotty; I didn’t go out with one of my friends as I was told to; I’m on Chapter 7 of the book I was assigned to read (although that’s better than not reading it at all); I was told by my mental health team that I didn’t need a psychologist as my counselor wanted; I tried to make contact with an Art Librarian and was not contacted back.  I then realized that I probably should be aiming more for Cataloging as a more hands-on activity and less a service one, and so didn’t follow up with either of the people who didn’t write back to me (I read only to try to elicit a response twice, and didn’t want to use up my second prompt).  I have records of what I think my counselor wants, but I am relatively uncertain as to what she meant by “class registration” (this terminology is not used currently at my University, unless I overlooked something).

Yeah, I guess this is frustrating, which explains why I haven’t been paying attention to it.  Problem also?  If I get kicked out of this program, I get kicked out for life.  This is not a low-stress thing for me.  And it’s been going on since last semester, when I realized too late that I only had 90 days to make an intake appointment.  The Wednesday thing had caused my counselor not to make an appointment for me, but I didn’t realize until two weeks before the end of my 90 days that I only had 90 days.

So what else is going on?  I managed to almost entirely forget about painting, today.  I got up for breakfast, ate, took meds, went back to bed, woke up at 4:30 PM and thought it was 4:30 AM until I realized that the sun doesn’t come up that early.

Okay, yes, writing this is irritating me.  I should go and read some more…

Caffeine does wonders for motivation…

A’right.  So what’s up is 1) I think I have a migraine, and right now am trying caffeine to get rid of it.  And 2), right, I reinstated my Wacom (drawing tablet), which appears fully functional except that the tilt mechanism for the pen isn’t working quite as I remember it.  Could be a software setting, or the fact that I’m not using a painting program (which…now is something I know I can use).

I don’t know, but I may have time to tinker it out tonight, if this tea has anything to say about it.  I am glad that this has worked out:  I was about to go after a new tablet, but the one I already had was both newer than I remembered it to be, and bigger than what I would buy, otherwise.  One point I can see, though, is that it feels very different to draw on this tablet than it does to draw freehand with…an actual pencil or brush.

There is something nice, though, about being able to use old peripherals which you thought were obsolete…(not to mention the video games I haven’t touched in months…  Wasted time.  Can’t remember where I’m at in Final Fantasy IV.  Do I care?)

Anyhow…I am getting something of a taste of what it is like to be someone into writing and the arts who works in a library (finally!).  With the interests in art and writing coming together at the juncture of graphic novels…it’s kind of interesting to see how this is shaping up.  I seem to be developing as a person and finding out who I am while I’m going through all of this.

It’s really apparent by now that I have strong interests in the Humanities, though I still have a somewhat diminished taste for fiction, and some internal resistance to writing it.  The positive point is that I don’t have the same issue with art as I find with narratives (though granted, my first narratives were through art).  It might even be a thing to work with an author as an artist — not as the primary writer — in the future.  I would be surprised not to find an abundance of authors searching for someone to illustrate their work online, as well.

I am not sure if I would have come to this point four years ago, when I initially started the MLIS program.  While I have a clearer idea at this point of where I want to go, things are still not entirely clear to me.

I’ve just been looking over my school’s options where it comes to specializations.  If Cataloging doesn’t work out, I’m thinking that Web Programming/Info Architecture will be my next best bet.

I’ve just here taken about an hour break to chart out a courseload for the next three years, although it appears I could be done in less than that.  What is apparent is that both the Cataloging and Web Programming/Info Architecture paths share a majority of classes, and if I can do what I’m planning on doing, I can be clear in four more semesters, at nine units a semester and without summer classes.  This is having taken most of what I can out of both paths (apparently some classes are recommended which are not given by the school, and some classes are recommended which I can’t take, as things stand right now).

What appears to be crystal clear is that I should not aim for a job in Public Libraries; regardless of the altruism of my motivations, I’m probably not the right type of person for it.  Everything appears to point to the fact that I would likely not be happy in the position of a Public Librarian.

And it remains that I only have 10 remaining open slots in which to fit in all of my future courses — unless I work during Summer Session and/or take more than 9 units per semester.  (Or unless I graduate and then take one or two courses on my own.)  With what’s happened over this Winter break, maybe I should take Summer Session, just to keep myself sane.

I should probably really take up my co-worker’s offer to talk to the person in our system who works in Cataloging…and I have a book (now that I think about it) on non-traditional jobs utilizing LIS skills, which I can read.  I keep forgetting about it because it’s an electronic book, so it doesn’t stand out to me as a resource I actually have.  (This book is What’s the alternative?:  Career options for library and info pros, by Rachel Gordon.)  I would have checked it out from the library again, but our extra copies have somehow disappeared.  :/  Hmm.  Not to mention that it’s now out of print.

Speaking of electronic resources, I’ve just found the libraries subreddit, in case I ever forget it in the future.  I wouldn’t even have thought of Reddit, but one of my classmates mentioned it last semester, and at least this subreddit appears interesting.

At this point, I seem to have outlasted the migraine.  This much is good…

How many days to go? …6?

I’m trying not to get too bogged down with the whole work + school thing.  Although I have made an interesting observation:  this is that Library School is in actuality having a job which I pay for which will teach me job skills so I will be able to get a better-paying job, once it’s over.

Yeah, well — maybe not “in actuality,” but it helps me to think of it this way.  Instead of having a 40-hour work week, I have an 18-hour commitment to my job, and a 30-hour commitment to school.

1 hour per unit x 3 units = 3 hours per week, homework, for each unit

each class = 3 units = 9 hours per week homework

3 classes at 3 units each = 27 hours per week homework

+1 hour lecture per class per week = 30 hours of study per week, total.

So basically, I have to be prepared to work a 48-hour week.  This isn’t as bad as it would seem, when I factor in that my commute is, on average, very short.  🙂

I do kind of wonder sometimes if it’s worth it, though.  The big reason to stay in the program is that I am hoping that I won’t have to worry about being “conventional enough.”  Plus, I actually am being exposed to knowledge that I didn’t even know existed.  As far as…working as an Information Professional is concerned, it is really interesting.  But it’s fairly evident to me at this point in my LIS career that I am not well-suited to be a Librarian — at least, not one in a Public Library system.

In particular, the classes I have taken so far which have been Library-focused (that is, service-focused) have mostly been either uncomfortable, or blatant turn-offs.  This is for various reasons, but largely…people who have been representatives of the ALA (in my classes, not in my workplace) have tended to strike me as idealistic and myopic (sorry to say).  Maybe it’s the, “American,” part of, “American Library Association,” which I’m grating against.  I can deal with the ideology so far as respecting others goes, but that doesn’t mean I want to give up myself, my own experience, my own hard-won ethics, to become it.  (this would actually tend to point a finger at the ALA’s low percentage of “minority” members…)

I do have to get going in a few minutes; I will try and find the book I checked out before on options for using a MLIS degree which are outside of the Library system; I think it will be useful.

Eleven hours of work, later…

Yeah, it’s probably a really good thing that I didn’t go to a Craft Fair, today.  I did get up late, but I’ve been working (on schoolwork) for most of that time.  Accordingly, things are pretty much in hand.

I still need to tighten up a digest of posts I assembled earlier:  due late tomorrow.  I completed the Forum topic due tonight.  Tomorrow night I’ll need to meet with my group and see if any subject terms need to be added or removed from my catalog entries…that should be mostly taken up with descriptors I didn’t think of, but which apply, anyway.  What I did tonight was add what looked best from my initial (yet transformed) subject terms.

While I’m meeting with them, I’ll need M and D to ask someone if I can interview them.  If that person says no, I do have a couple of other options, but will need to really get on finding an interviewee.  The list of questions I’ll ask hasn’t been assembled yet — I’ll need to go through my notes to see if I can find them; and if not, go through my readings and Discussion posts.  I’m sure I can come up with one question from each week; and I have a month to complete that interview.

Otherwise, I have two readings I can work on tomorrow at lunch and after work, and by then I should be caught up:  not counting the two Discussion posts which are basically just not going to get done, now.

I also need to contact my employment program; I didn’t realize it, but I was supposed to call and schedule an appointment, a month or two ago.

In two days I have to go to the DMV to retake the written test so that I can renew my Learner’s Permit.  I’m pretty sure that two days after that, I start my driving lessons.

And, it’s possible that in a week, I’ll have a day off of work!  This should be optimal for either catching up or getting ahead, plus working on my e-Portfolio (I started tonight, but need to do research to figure out what Competencies I’ve fulfilled with my current work).

I also…don’t know if I have a great record of our Database work.  I’ll have to ask someone if they took screenshots, or create my own database (I’ll be looking at paints, I don’t even have to think about it).  It might be good practice, regardless — one of our other group members took care of most of the technical aspects of this, so I didn’t get as much hands-on experience as I would have liked.  Extra work, but it’s fun work.

Yeah, I’ll just have to see if we have any records of the actual database.  We have the deliverables, just not proof of the dynamic work…

And right now I’ve got eight hours before I have to get back up tomorrow, so I’ll see you later!

How I got through last night’s response paper

I’ve been wanting to write this since last night.

Earlier this afternoon would have worked, except I have found out that my main station is only partially functional due to a screwed-up Windows Update which occurred before I fell asleep last night.  Said update disallowed me from turning off my mobile device, and probably kept me up after 2 AM, as I didn’t really wake until about 1:30 PM today.  (I’m fairly certain that the update corrupted some of my files on my main device, as the one I’m using is fine.)

So I’m kind of irritated.  Not to mention that it’s been hot and sticky all day today and yesterday; I took a shower last night and probably haven’t been dry, ever since then.  I have, however, been wet enough that I still just smell like sweat instead of stink.

Most of today, I’ve been in bed, waiting for the malware and antivirus scans to finish.  I am also encountering, and editing, for the first time, the underlying system of my computer.  Not that I particularly know what I’m doing…and yes, it is making me want to vent, but my frustration isn’t particularly anything that any of you can help me with.

The positive part of yesterday was realizing that I do indeed have a way of working with, at least, short papers.  The submission was probably a bit late.  I know I didn’t complete all of the assignment, but I did at least conquer the main part of it.  It was on a reading (a journal article, really) which I thought I’d read before, but couldn’t remember.  I initially thought it was on a different article, which I had finished reading over the weekend; but no, no that was a different one.

So I printed the appropriate article out and took it to work with me.  Over the course of about half an hour, I was able to re-read it and highlight areas which I thought stood out and/or were relevant to the prompt (which I had also printed out).  After I got home, I was able to take those highlights and write a quick outline of what I had noted on the paper — in the order that it was in, in the journal article.  This was largely without complete complex words; I was working under a time limit, and really no one cares if I write “info” instead of “information” every time I see it.  I know what I mean; I will only have to know what I mean for three hours, max., so it’s OK.

Then I saved this, and copied over the contents into a different document.  There, I started rearranging the material from my notes from the reading.  The reading itself was really not organized in a manner to make a point, very well.  It was comparing information literacy outcomes between a control group and an investigated group.  It was much easier to deal with by actually grouping all the given data for each group together, instead of scattering it throughout the paper, which is how it was given in the reading.

What I did at this point was start writing at whatever point felt comfortable, instead of trying to tackle the Professor’s questions in the same order as she proposed them.  I also wrote page numbers on my printout (there were none in the file) and began to pull data from the article and put it into my own text, with page numbers corresponding to where in the article I got the data from.  Just organizing the given data helped; it meant that I didn’t have to overly think about what the authors were trying to say; I was just repeating their findings.

Using the information this way allowed me a more birds-eye view of what the intended message was of the source text, and it made it a lot easier to write.

In the end, I ended up with a submission which was about one page long, single-spaced, which appeared more academic than most of what I saw of the other submissions.  The only two other things I could have done were give an APA citation of the article at the end, and state when the article was written, in the introduction.  I also did miss some observations that some of my classmates made, likely due to my process (some elements in the article did not stand out to me as relevant details, though they likely were).

In any case, the actual writing, from cataloging notes to finishing, took about an hour and a half.  I had been thinking about letting this assignment go (I think it is worth only 2-3 points), but I’m glad I wasn’t intimidated away from writing it.  It taught me a lot about my writing style and study style, and how to prepare.  And I was initially thinking that doing it would be difficult.  But I found out that I can be a little powerhouse, when I want to be.

I have been doing some work on the alternate blog, but I couldn’t bring myself to put this there, not yet.  The question of where to host my content was overriding the drive to write the content, so I just told myself I’d put it here.  For now.