Reference, Research, and the Internets

Now that I have officially finished my first week in library school I suppose it’s time to comment on the experience, no? Alright, so far it’s freaking great. After Advising Day, I felt a little uncertain about what I’d gotten myself into. I looked around the room and thought, “I’m surrounded by some seriously socially challenged dorks.” Then I realized that I probably am a seriously socially challenged dork. Then I despaired of ever actually befriending any of these people, what with my shyness and everyone else’s shyness. Then I went to class and thought, “Wait–grades?! I haven’t had grades since high school! What the smack is a GPA? What if I’m not as smart as I think I am? What if I don’t do well on real, practical assignments and my only skill lies in pontificating about meaningless theoretical debates centered around the existence of truth and the truth of gender or some crap? What if I don’t like this?”

Yeah, there was a little bit of panic.

And the panic has, for the most part, subsided. I mean, I still might not be that great when it comes to real, practical assignments. I still think I’d rather sit around and read about things than do them, but that has kind of always been the case, probably since I learned to read. I’ll get over it. I think I can deal with getting grades again. Maybe I’ll even realize I appreciate them. And team work will inevitably be part of my future, so I’m all about embracing it. Overall, it’s been funny to realize that I’m actually learning a profession, and not just learning stuff, like I did in my undergraduate experience. I’m learning how to DO things, not just how to think about things. Although I am also learning how to think about things. I’m learning how to think about practical things. This is all a very different kind of learning experience.

So what am I learning about? My first class last Wednesday was Technology for Information Professionals. I was worried that it was going to be basic and annoyingly simple and cover nothing I didn’t already know. But as it turns out we will be covering at least a few things I don’t already know. We started the semester with a bit of reading on the history of the interwebs. A fellow classmate said she didn’t see the point of learning this stuff, and I understand why she thinks that, but I think it’s fascinating. I even found a book for some additional reading, because obviously I am a big dork. It’s called Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet. Yeah, I occasionally find myself getting bogged down in some of the really technical stuff, but the authors give a very readable and entertaining history of the group of people who came up with the internets and I am enjoying it thoroughly. Really, they were bigger dorks than I will ever be, so that’s comforting, yes?

On Thursday I had Reference. The professor is actually a friend/acquaintance of my boyfriend, which just goes to show what a small, small world Boston is. I think I’m going to love this class, not least because Reference is the area I want to go into, anyway. I don’t doubt that it will be a A LOT of work, but I started the reading yesterday and all of it is pretty fascinating to me. I’m sure I will elaborate more on those topics I am finding most interesting as the semester goes on. I’ll just say that this is the class that’s making me most excited to be a librarian. Whee! Librarians! Just one fun thing to leave you with: Check out Radical Reference. This is my kind of librarianship, people.

Finally, yesterday I had my last class, Evaluation of Information Services. I was initially least excited about this class, mainly because I really didn’t know what it was all about. It turns out it’s about research and assessment. Like nearly everything else in this world, the by-word in libraries these days is Assessment. Apparently, we all need constantly to be evaluating ourselves to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Data is king. This class will be mainly interesting, I think, because research methods are things I’m pretty dang unfamiliar with. Statistics? What? Data? Uhh, can’t I just read some stuff? That’s my method of research (are we noticing a pattern here?). Our first project is actually pretty cool, though–we’ll be assisting the Communication department with the web site redesign by doing usability testing and evaluation, which, hey, I’m already interested in anyway. We get to read Edward Tufte! Wheee!

So this semester will be full of new kinds of assignments, new kinds of research, new ideas, new topics, new information, in fact, a whole new way of learning. Not to mention new people and new places. I’m not always so great with change, but I think this is going to work out for me. Let’s just hope that whole GPA thing doesn’t throw me for a loop.

4 thoughts on “Reference, Research, and the Internets

  1. westwardbound

    Don’t worry about the grades–there’s often more inflation in grad school than at any other level, and as long as you’ve earned your degree and intervier well, pulling a few Bs isn’t going to mean anything when you apply for a job in the field, right? Employers don’t actually look at transcripts!

  2. Courtney

    My final GPA is in: 3.71, and I REALLY didn’t try too hard. I too was terrified, I too went to a grade-less hippy college and was fully indoctrinated that grades were an awful measurement of a student’s worth (which really effed with my head after grades being my only measure of worth in high school). You’ll do great!


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