One Step Closer

Last Friday, I completed yet another milestone in my journey to graduation. Last week, we had our comprehensive exams: “The Capstone Experience” (or the Crapstone Experience as one classmate lovingly put it). Basically, we were given one week to write 3 mini-term papers. On Friday, June 11, the exam opened up online, and we were asked to choose 3 topics in library and information science from a list of 10, and we were to write a 10 page paper on each. Including references, I wrote approximately 8,000 words…in one week. Yes, that’s right. A week! The first paper was pretty easy to get through, but by the third, I was ready to give up, as the glow of the lovely summer day, and the hypnotic glow of the  TV during the night, continued to seduce me.

To prepare, I did some serious spring cleaning, since I knew I had to devote the entire week to paper writing (when I was not working). I stocked up on food and snacks to keep me caffeinated.

Capstone nest

Then, I camped out on my bed with Leslie (my laptop) and began the furious process of researching and writing.  The kitties were right there beside me for moral support. Due to my keenness in librarianship, I discovered the lovely method of federated searching in the EBSCO databases, as well as Google Scholar, so I could find everything online.  In thick of it all, to the left was what “the nest” looked like…(note, there were more papers on the floor, and those two black blobs are actually my kitties. Of course, I totally had to have my I-Tunes.

When the trials and tribulations were over, I treated myself to a massage. I had a gift card I got for Christmas that I never used, and I am so glad I waited to save it! When the semester is truly over,  I should host a bonfire and invite all my classmates to bring their journal articles and throw them into the fire.  By the time Capstone rolled around, I had about 3 bins worth of crap. And you know what’s funny? For a degree in Library Science, only about half of my classes required books. In fact, I don’t think I spent more than $500 on books the entire term. But don’t get me wrong, I had to read a LOT of articles.

Going to DC tomorrow!

So, the big conference has already started.  I will be flying out first thing bright and early tomorrow, and last night I packed up all my clothes. I still have several more things I need to do to get ready, like clean the house. I have already made my schedule of the sessions I plan on attending. I have gotten in touch with my friends and family in DC, and will spend some time with them. My mentor and advisor will be there as well.

I have also volunteered to contribute a blog post to the LITA blog. It’s my first time, but it’s a great volunteer opportunity. My spring internship supervisor is a LITA member, and loves it, so I am going to check them out while I am there.  I will be attending several of their events.  Specifically, the one I am most interested in is the Developing a Sustainable Digital workflow, and plan on covering that event. Too bad I will have to miss the LITA Open Source CMS playroom (I really hope someone blogs about that!). This is my first time as a contributing blogger, but it will hopefully help me get some librarian street cred :p.

So are you done yet?

That seems to be the question everyone is asking me after I told them I was completing my graduate exams. And the answer is NO! I have one pesky 5 week class left that I start in July. Though it looks like a very interesting course: Reference and Access in the Sciences. Plus, another cool think about the course is that is taught by an actual reference librarian – someone who knows the work day-in and day-out.  She was actually a guest speaker in my academic libraries class, and did a great job giving advice about what it’s like to work in an academic library, and (most important : p ) how to get a job in an academic library.

I decided I needed to take more reference classes. Good reference knowledge is so important for any type of library. It not only helps with communication skills (something my shy self has always been diligently working on), but librarians in all types of libraries must know how to utilize mad reference skills. This dawned on me during my fall internship last year, which was in a small library. ALL librarians were responsible for covering the reference desk, even the cataloger and systems librarian. I even helped out a little bit. My courses have given me a wealth of library technical knowledge,  but I need a refresher in reference because at some point in my career, I will probably need to use it.

Lost in the Stacks

Support college radio!

Every Friday afternoon, from 12 – 1 PM, Georgia Tech’s radio station (WRECK 91.1 FM) hosts a show called “Lost in the Stacks“, which features music and interviews with various librarians, faculty, and staff. I have taken an interest in the show because they have been interviewing various individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting during my studies and internships. Usually, the show revolves around a particular theme (one 2 Fridays ago was “Bicycles”, for example).

Tonight, I am listening to the archive of the show they did today; this week, they have invited some librarians from Georgia State University to discuss what they do at the library, as well as what is going on at the GSU library. Ironically,  I have been a fan of GSU’s radio station (88.5 FM) since I was in middle school…they used to play strange and eccentric music late at night. And for those who know me, I am a fan of staying up late, as well as strange and eccentric things :). I would always tune into the station, and pretend that aliens were communicating with me through the music.

Anyway, weirdness aside… as I was listening to the show, I was realizing that this show could serve as a great resource for current or future MLIS students such as myself to learn about the various roles people serve in the library.  I personally think that it’s a cool idea that the library has a radio show. Of course, this is one of the many examples that the Tech library has been forward-thinking regarding library services and marketing. But having a presence on the radio station (even if not a lot of people listen to it) emphasizes the fact that there is more to libraries that just a building that houses books and journals. If anything has been beaten into my head since my intro to reference class I took my first semester of library school, it is that libraries are all about dissemination of information. Freedom of information is the rock on which ALA builds its house. However, it seems unheard of for libraries to utilize the airwaves as a means of dissemination.  A library that collaborates with student activities – intermingling with its primary user population – can serve as an effective means of outreach. At little cost, an academic  library could reserve a spot on the campus radio, which not only broadcasts within the university boundaries, but into the public as well.  Furthermore, today’s show in particular reveals that there are many facets to librarianship. Librarians are not just frumpy old ladies who sit behind a desk and scowl, but provide a diverse set of services, and come from a variety of different backgrounds.  One guest has a developed a very technical background and has taught many sessions on emerging technologies, while another guest had a marketing and graphic design background (as well as creates his own comic books).

I can think of a couple interesting ideas that libraries can utilize the radio. Similar to Lost in the Stacks, subject specialist librarians can host a show related to an interesting theme on their topic specialty…something educational, yet fun and interspersed with relevant music. Or, I can see the library present itself on the radio as an information sleuth…offering a answers to life’s commons questions. Maybe something similar to Loveline with Dr. Drew….but perhaps less sexually charged. After all, librarians are sexualized enough due to the fantasies some men have about us wearing a leopard print thong under our maxi skirts.

Perhaps the library can use the airwaves to host fascinating intellectual debates. I have a fond memory of back in my undergrad days where a faculty member hosted a debate between this ultra feminist religion professor, and the head of the religion department at crazy fundamentalist Bob Jones University (BTW, they really need to change their domain name from “bju.edu”…just reeks of pent-up sexual frustration). The debate topic? Homosexuality. I was actually so excited about that one that I wanted to sit up in the front row and bring a tarp. And I know many friends who were eager as well for the verbal jousting that would ensue. The turnout, of course, was tremendous. The library, which prides itself on objectivity,  could serve as a great debate host.

As someone who hopes to enter to profession some way, I want to keep the traditions of the library, but I also want to view it in a new light. The library is not what it was 30 years ago (anyone can tell you that), and if the profession is to survive, it is imperative to be creative to find new ways the library can connect with and serve its users.  I think as more and more people from diverse backgrounds are entering the profession, it may open up a new spin on library services that appeal to today’s user…which would hopefully help those with the purse strings to not view the library on the top of their list of programs to be slashed.

Like people, some books just refuse to be labeled :)

So today, there was a very interesting thread in the Georgia Library Association’s listserv, which offered some great LULZ. While 80% of the listserv tends to deal with personally non-consequential stuff (at least, until actually get my MLIS and become a “real” librarian), this one in particular stood out. Essentially, someone had received a book in their collection that was covered in – of all things – AstroTurf. While I suppose we must give book binders props for creativity, it causes problems because a bar code cannot stick to the outside surface. If you don’t believe that, for some ungodly reason, someone decided to bind a book in AstroTurf, the offending tome is seen below (courtesy of Amazon.com):

Some creative workarounds were offered. One person (my personal favorite), suggested “mowing” part of the book so that there could be a flat surface on which the bar code can stick. In my option, if just enough was shaved to lay the bar code, I would not consider the book too horribly damaged. Perhaps an electric beard trimmer should be a necessity in the acquisitions toolkit :). After all, I can guarantee that this is not the first book to have a…unique presentation. For example, when I was a wee thing, one of my favorite books was Pat the Bunny, which had synthetic bunny fur that felt oh-so-soft and it had this really nice fragrance to it. You cannot really tell from the picture, but the book I had did have the fur on the cover.:

So, I would not be surprised if there was a book on cats that was covered in cat hair, or a book on birds covered in feathers. And perhaps Amazon should then recommend books on “How to keep your book from shedding on the carpet.”

Others solutions included placing the bar code on the inside of the book, while another mentioned rebinding it. Perhaps the book could find its home in reference (it looks like sports ready reference to me), among books that do not need to be circulated. There, the book could be bar-coded from the inside, or not at all (depending on the collections). The archivist in me wants to keep the book in its original condition…it all its gaudy glory. Because God made everything in the world different, and without such oddities, the world would be a boring place, so…why not have a book in circulation that is different too? If that book was stripped of all its turf, it runs the risk of being ignored…just the same as all the other books. The average sports enthusiast, who is visually stimulated and only aware of the obvious, could easily look over this book if its bristly bright green grass was no more.

As the saying goes, we always judge a book by its cover. I do hope that The Sports Book‘s content is as interesting as its binding :)…

Everything ready for ALA

I am very fortunate to have this awesome grant that not only helps for my library school tuition, but has some perks that allow me to attend professional conferences for free.  Last fall, I went to the Georgia Library Association COMO conference in Columbus, and that was fun.  It was lively, but not too overwhelming. But in June, I will be attending ALA’s annual conference, in Washington, DC.  ALA – American Library Association – is the big kahuna. It is going to be craaa-zyyy.

I am really excited about it. First off, I get to stay in a nice hotel near the convention center. Plus, my dad and a couple of good friends live in the area, so I hope I will get a chance to visit with them (in between attending conferences). I plan on going to a few panels, as well as “trick-or-treating”  – I mean- browsing  in the exhibit halls.  While networking and learning about the new technologies in the field is nice, so is picking up a few pens, notepads, pieces of candy, etc.  Mainly, I hope to visit with some recruiters. Thus, I will come armed with many copies of my resume….something to dump in their trick-or-treat bags :).

Since it is a large conference, I will have to be choosy about what I can attend. Luckily, ALA has some stuff specifically for new members, so I may go to a couple of those meetings. I am particularly interested in those that have to do with digital libraries, and how libraries utilize technology (such as Web 2.0, databases, etc).  I have been learning a lot about technology in my concentration, but when I finish my MLIS, I would like to pursue some programming courses.  It can never hurt to know more about computing and technology!

Shout out: Still Stream

I love ambient music. Something about it just speaks to the soul, and is able to take your mind to creative places…far, far away from all the hassles of the real world. It offers all the benefits of drugs, without the nasty withdrawal afterward.

Unfortunately, most mainstream radio stations do not play ambient music, but I have stumbled upon a great streaming radio station that I listen to every night before I go to bed:  Still Stream. Still Stream has been on the air since 2005, and has several player options and a great selection of ambient music, with NO commercials. Plus, it is work-safe, though I am sure some co-workers give me strange looks when they are playing some more “avant-garde” stuff.

So if you are interested in ambient music, or want something soothing to listen to after a rough day, I highly encourage checking out this site.

Be careful what you tweet…it really will end up in the annuls of history

According to this article by Slate Magazine, the Library of Congress is on a mission to archive all Twitter posts…it will be “mind-numbingly complete”, it reports.  So, everything you post will indeed be encapsulated in our complex human history.

Now, many years ago, we sent out the space craft Voyager in attempts to contact extraterrestrial life. But what if, one day, aliens visit the earth, and they find such gems as these from the top tweets:

“MJMcKean Calling Green Day a “punk band” is like calling Madonna a teenager.”

“RT @OMGFacts: Make a fist with your left hand, squeeze your left thumb, then put your right index finger down your throat. NO GAG REFLEX

…and pretty much anything on S*** My Dad Says

The latter, of course, is one of the only times I ever visit Twitter, by the way. A while back, I created an account on Twitter out of curiosity, but never really got into the whole culture of “tweeting.” I tend to be more of a Facebook user, updating my status every 3 days or so. But I never thought that whatever I was doing at any moment of the day merited continuous “tweeting.” However,  I would like to leave my mark in history, and for the vast majority of people who may never see their 15 minutes of fame, the fact that their cat peed on the carpet, or that the Yankees won the World Series (again), will live on forever is indeed pretty interesting.

Introductory post

I am not going to lie.  Introductions are always very difficult for me. There is so much that could be said (and so much that is better left unsaid), that by the time I come up with something, it just sounds incredibly drab. So I invite you to come and sit down, and have a cup of tea with this milk toast.

I suppose it is appropriate in my first post to talk about what I plan to do with this blog. I have been on the fence about blogging, but after hearing a lot of positive things about blogging as of late, I feel entitled to my piece of real estate on the interwebz.

The blog is entitled Rising With the Moon. I originally wanted to call it Lunar Sunrise, but someone already took it (someone who has not updated since 2008, mind you!)!  I wanted to come up with something that could describe my essence…what I am about.  I just finished illustrating the above header specifically for this blog (I just love moon jellies, they are such gorgeous creatures…until they sting, ouch!). First off, I am a nocturnal person (which is evident if you look at the time of this posting). Second, I like to think of myself as constantly “rising”…trying to better myself both personally and professionally. Right now, I am finishing up my masters in Library and Information Science, along with a certificate in Digital Content Management, so having this WordPress blog will certainly help! I have been inspired by so many great librarian blogs out there that I would like to have one of my own :).

However, this blog will not be just about issues in the library/info sciences. One day I may be talking about psychology and personality theory, reviewing a resource, or discussing a current event.  anything goes! That being said, so far I really like WordPress and am excited to get started with blogging, reading others’ blogs, and maybe get a small following if I am lucky :).

Until then,  I am going to go crawl into the lovely cocoon I call my bed…can’t wait to sleep in tomorrow morning!