So, wow. Last week was really, really frustrating. I don’t remember the last time I was in a bad mood for that many days in a row. And why? School got very, very challenging. And that made me feel very stupid, because it didn’t seem like it was challenging to anyone else.
My parents know this well: When I am faced with something I’m not immediately good at, it is usually my first inclination to give up and walk away. It’s a terrible habit and I feel that I’ve spent a lot of my adult life fighting the quitter instinct. And as I realized this week, I’ve also spent a lot of the past six years avoiding things I’m not immediately good at. I haven’t yet figured out how I did it, but suffice to say I spent the last six years thinking, “Wow, I’m smart.” And suddenly, I’m faced with things that are kind of hard, things I didn’t expect to be hard at all. I thought I’d sail through this library science thing, because, wow, I’m so smart, right?
So what was this task that threw me into a fit of frustration? My first set of reference questions had to be answered without the use of any online resources. Just the actual, print materials in the library. (Alright, so I know some of the other students in my class interpreted “print materials” much more broadly than I did, and used eJournals and eBooks that had, at some point, existed in print. But I was strict with myself, and truly wanted to use only materials I could hold in my hands. And hell, I know some students Googled shit anyway. Stupid cheaters. I hate that crap.) Trying to find the answers to ten very obscure, odd questions without reference to the internets was way harder than I expected.
I mean, how the hell am I supposed to know what book might exist in the library that could tell me why Mousie, Kentucky is called Mousie, Kentucky? And if there isn’t an encyclopedia in the library that talks about Bauhaus, the band, then it’s just not there, and I can’t find that information. I almost cried, I was so frustrated.
And when I decided to go to the Boston Public Library, in the hopes that their reference collection might offer a little more than Simmons’s collection, I was suddenly faced with even more frustration. The BPL seems to be in the process of doing some massive re-organization. The reference collection, which used to be housed in the very lovely Washington Room, is now in a dingy, dark room on the second floor. None of the shelves were labeled. There weren’t work surfaces anywhere near the reference shelves, so I kept having to take a book clear across the hall to even look at it, often only to discover that the answer I needed was not there at all. I seriously almost cried, I was just felt so useless and thwarted.
I’ve been thinking about this frustrating experience since I turned in the assignment on Thursday. And the thing is, no one has yet taught us how to actually do this kind of thing. I mean, bringing a group of students into the library to show them where the reference collection is isn’t really the same as showing them how to use it. You can tell me what an index is, but apparently, I’m not smart enough to figure out how it works.
The thing is, the amount of information in the world is even more vast than I ever imagined before starting this library science thing. I thought they were supposed to teach me how to navigate and organize it, but so far, I just feel overwhelmed by it.
I keep telling myself that it will get easier, and that I will learn these things. I can’t give up and leave after one semester, like I did when I wanted to get my master’s in English. Hell, I’m already $30,000 in debt for this one year, and as Crystal said about her b-school experience, that’s reason enough to stick it out, right?
This will get easier.