Jenne's blog

I'm Back

I'm back from ALISE and ALA! I only made it to one ALA session, the joint session on library education. The youth services oriented sessions were too pricey for this doc student. Next year, I'll still stay for a day of ALA, but I'll probably just get a exhibits-only pass, unless I end up on a committee. I would love to do committee work for YALSA or ALSC or both, but at this point, I just can't commit to being at both annual and midwinter. I still don't know if I'll be able to go to annual.

The ALISE conference was educational. I met some very interesting people. It was great to see how many doctoral students are focusing on youth services (even though it means competition when I'm looking for a job!) There are some very dedicated and passionate people in the field of library education. It helped me work on justifying my defense of the library degree as a master's degree. I feel even more certain of that now, not that I doubted before. It's disturbing how many high level practitioners would like to see the educational status of librarians drop, especially when librarians in other countries are struggling to gain more education and status.

End of Semester Jumble

I'm trying to be better about posting here, but all I have running through my head is "Citation analysis, stats project, teen project, children's project, stats test, citation analysis..."

I bit off more than I could chew with one of my projects and I'm hurting now, especially since I cannot get my relationships in Access to work properly. Some of them work, some of them don't, and I just can't figure out the difference between the working ones and the non-working ones.

Via Chicken Spaghetti comes this snide essay about amateur book reviewers (AKA bloggers), complete with a reference to Pooters. Pot, kettle, black? I'm not saying the author of the essay is not a good writer, I'm just saying that perhaps she takes herself a bit too seriously. I also find it a bit hard to believe that there is not one single well-written line in any book blog ever.

I'm not personally bothered, since the target audience for my book blog is seven- to 12-year-olds, and last I heard, they're not the target audience for very many real, serious review venues. I also want my book blog to be interactive, so kids feel comfortable posting their own opinions of what they read. Reading and having opinions about what you read are not the exclusive domain of those who have been specially selected.

Since I Last Posted

Things have changed a lot for me since I last posted. I passed my comprehensive exams and earned my MLS this summer. Then I started the doctoral program this fall at the same school. I'm focusing on school libraries and youth services. Specific interests are initial certification programs (training non-teachers to be school librarians) and middle grade literacy (aka, why do 5th graders stop reading?)

So the last few months have been pretty overwhelming. Also since I last posted, I attended my first ALA conference, in New Orleans, as my school's Student to Staff representative, and attended the Missouri Library Association's fall conference as just an attendee. In a few months, I'll be attending ALISE and ALA in Seattle. I hope to live-blog the sessions I attend, assuming the wireless connectivity is as awesome as it was at ALA New Orleans. I would have live-blogged ALA New Orleans, but I was working four hours a day and trying to finish comps, so I was too overwhelmed. My conference blogging happens at my website (link to the right.)

I've missed being involved in LISNews. I hope to be able to start suggesting more stories and keeping up this journal.

Spring Break

Spring break starts now! I finished the last of my classwork and can now enjoy a lovely week of reading, cleaning, and knitting. Oh, and working on statements of purpose and long papers.

Oh, My! Bad Historian!

I didn't even realize I haven't posted since last October! No worries, I passed my classes. This semester, I'm taking Human Learning (for my teacher certification), Social Constructs of Information (for fun), my 2-hour Practicum, and Curriculum & School Libraries. For the record, I don't recommend that library students take more than 9 hours, but I've been waiting a year for the social constructs class, and it's the only one I could have dropped.

I took a trip to Utah to visit my parents in January. It was a lovely break. They spoiled me rotten and sent me home with a desire to move to Utah. Youth services jobs seem to be plentiful there. It would mean putting off my PhD-- or maybe never getting one, since there's no place for me to go with a PhD in Library Science in Utah. We'll see what the future brings.

In other news, February has been a trying month. I lost my aunt, all of my friends are ill-- some more deathly than others, my beloved car went kaputt. I hope March is better for me and everyone I love. I might be starting the month with a brand new Subaru Forester! That's a good thing.

Readings This Semester

So far, I have finished On Basilisk Station and Once a Dreamer. I'm still reading Master and Commander. I'm also reading Apostles of Culture, The Failed Promise of the American High School, and Savage Inequalities. Those are the books I have to finish this week. I have a midterm tomorrow. I have a paper due Tuesday. I'm giving a presentation in two and a half weeks.

I'm petrified.

Genre Books

Here are the books we're reading for my Collection Development class:

  • David Weber On Basilisk Station: Hard SF
  • Sandra Cisneros The House on Mango Street: Multicultural/ Hispanic (not quite a genre, but representative of a reading interest.)
  • Candice Hern Once a Dreamer: Romance. Quite the bodice-ripper!
  • Walter Mosely Devil in a Blue Dress: Detective (but can also represent African Americans/ blacks)
  • Neal Stephenson Snow Crash: Speculative fiction/ SF
  • Patrick O'Brian Master and Commander: Adventure
  • E.R. Frank Life Is Funny: Banned books, but can also represent Young Adult.

I've started Master and Commander and I really like it. I'll probably do my presentation on the banned/YA, since that's my main interest. Westerns aren't represented because no one on the faculty is an expert on them.

One Week Down, 15 to Go

One week down and I feel like I've been through a wringer. Of course, that could be because I went to the state fair and got heat stress Sunday, so I started the week in a bad way. One of my classes meets face to face, which is nice.

Our focus in collection development is what people read. We're reading novels in a variety of genres, along with the Peggy Johnson Collection Development book.

In the School Library, we're working on a history project about school libraries. Fascinating stuff. We're also reading Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities, which I had started to read last year, but then had to return to the library because I ran out of time. Now I have my own copy.

In Reference, among other projects, we'll be answering questions for the Internet Public Library.

This is why I love my school. We have a lot of great discussions about theory, but we also get to practice in ways that are useful to other people. I like the idea of having my reference answers actually helping someone, or of helping to contribute to future research.

Fall 2005

Next week, the new semester begins. I'm not a new library school student any more. There's a whole new crop of confused newbies out there, adusting to life online. I'm still optimistic, and I must say, I've been very impressed with the quality of my education. Some of my classes have really lit a fire, especially the Teaching Reading and Writing in the Content Areas. I focused on information literacy and library use as my content area.

My classes for this fall are:
Reference Sources and Services (Reference)
Managing Collections and Access (referred to from now on as Col Dev or Collection Development)
The School Library, Education, and Society
Storytelling (a one semester hour seminar)

The first two are required for the MLS, the third is required for certification, and the fourth is FOR FUN!

Whew!

Doing three hours in one month is TOUGH!

I just finished my Reading class for certification. What a great class!

The GovDocs class was also very cool. We focused more on strategies for using government sites, rather than on information currently available. There is such a wealth of resources out there!

Now, I'm gathering data for a presentation I've been selected for. I'm pretty excited, but also scared and nervous because I've never done a presentation before.

Semester Break Learning

I'm taking the opportunity to learn about more technologies during semester break, hoping these technologies will help me in my research and in my efforts to keep up with blogs. I'm doing research on weblogs in libraries, though I have no idea what I'm doing since I've never done research before. I'm taking a look at what has already been done. There's some impressive stuff out there and I'm not sure what I can add. To help with that research, I finally opened an account at Del.icio.us to help me tag the blogs and sort them. (Sure, I could set up an Access database, and probably should, but I guess I'm doing meta-research as well, here... not just researching how the library community uses blogs, but how new technology can be applied to library research. Also, it's fun.)

I'm still trying to figure out RSS. Right now, I'm still having trouble figuring out how it's better than visiting blogs-- seems to be as many clicks. I want a true aggregator that will show me every subscription on one page in date order, but what I have found so far are just individual pages (using bloglines and Mozilla). If that's what RSS does, I'd rather just go to the blog and see the designer's original intent.

I also started a Flickr account. Very cool how it will blog my photos. Now that I have a good digital camera, I have pictures worth blogging.

So that's what I'm up to. In less than two weeks, we start inventory at my second job and the govdocs class begins.

Survived Another Semester

I have survived another semester, although it has severely shaken my idea that I want to do school librarianship. As of right now, I suspect I'll end up in youth services at a public library. But I'm still working toward certification, for now.

Summer classes:
Gov Docs for K-12 educators
Teaching Reading & Writing

While I'm Here

Mid-Semester Check-In:

I'm so ready for spring break. As usual, I have three classes I'm enjoying and one I don't like so much, but I won't specify which is which. My standout class this semester is "Research Methods," which is one of those classes that will shake your foundations if you let it. One of the topics that came up just this week is the reliability and validity of studies showing that strong library media centers lead to better performance by students in schools. I want to believe this-- as do the researchers studying the issue-- but what if it's not true? What if the studies are simply influenced by what the researchers want to believe?

I still believe deep in my heart that library media centers are important for kids. Not just as a place to get information, but a place to feel safe. The library was my haven as an unpopular junior high student. So many thoughtful, sensitive people loved the library when they were kids. Kids need a place like that. They need a place, too, where books and information can be separated from "the curriculum," where they can learn that reading is also for relaxation, not just for work.

Common Sense Wins

I've submitted a follow-up to my previous post about "The Giver." I love that book and I think eighth grade is the perfect age to be exposed to the ideas in the book. I wish it had been around when I was in eighth grade. I would have loved to have this book on my required reading list.

Ideas Like that Don't Belong in My Kid's Head

Some Blue Springs parents want The Giver pulled from the eighth-grade reading lists. This is a chilling story, and it almost defines why we need books like "The Giver." These parents mean well, but they want their kids to live in a pain free utopia, focusing only on positive and good things. Sadly, that's not possible. As "The Giver" illustrates, we would have to give up too much to live in a pain-free world.

My son read "The Giver" in eighth grade and I think it was good for him. Eighth graders can be very black and white and literal in their thinking. Books like "The Giver" are actually gentle ways to introduce kids to some of the darker sides of human nature, and some of the darker sides of seeming utopias. It would be sad for kids to miss out on this book.

Thoughts at the end of a semester

I suggested this profile of a school media specialist for the main page, but I had a few more comments to add. I like this story and I think she has a lot to teach future school media specialists like myself, but this story made me wonder why I'm working so hard to get an MLS when a teacher certification could get me into a library faster. It sounds like she's doing a great job, and this isn't sour grapes, but it does make me wonder a little.

I finally got accepted into the certification program, about five minutes after I gave up and filed a degree plan focused more on children and young adult services. Now I have to wrestle with the decision some more: do I do the school library track with certification (about 55 hours) or do I take the classes I want to take and then plan on doing Iowa's fast-track certification program (an extra 12 hours, done over two summers.) I suppose I should contact Iowa's Ed Department to find out if this certification will transfer.

I also have to keep in mind that a lot of private schools don't require certification, so there's always that option.

Library school has been very interesting and a lot more demanding than I expected. I'm glad it's a challenge, but it kind of makes me feel dumb because so many people have said how easy library school is.

There's a lot of fascinating theoretical stuff to think about, like what the role of the library is in society. I wish I had more time to post here with my various questions and comments.

School Reflections-- Midterm

I'm halfway through my first real semester of library school. I have a lot of thoughts, many of which are controversial and probably mean. The program is challenging in several ways. I love my school library classes and the professor is awesome, even though I have never met her in person. We work in the same building, but I haven't met her yet. I'm too shy to email and say "Let's meet!" I've read some great young adult books in my Library Materials for Teens class. Cataloguing class is also cool. I'm enjoying it, although I probably won't get into very much cataloguing out in the world.

I'm not going to comment on the other class (I'm taking 4.)

I think this was a good choice for me. It's exhausting, though, since I'm working two jobs, going to school full-time, dealing with the school's poorly-designed interface, and still doing Mommy-stuff. I can't wait until winter break! I'm going to sleep!

Gmail

I've been following the gmail fun for several weeks now, watching people sell gmail invites on ebay and such, thinking I probably would not get involved in the frenzy. Imagine my surprise when I log into my Blogger account and receive an invitation! Heh. So now I have a gmail account. Someone else already snagged Jenne, so I'm Jenne1989. (Contrary to what the pedophiles on Yahoo think, that does not mean I'm 15 years old.)

So far, I really like gmail. The page is much faster and prettier than yahoo or hotmail. It's so clean and uncluttered that I haven't even used it yet.

Registered for Fall

I registered for the fall semester. Just in time, too. There was only one slot left in Cataloging and Classification, which is a class I need for my assistantship. I also signed up for another required class and two classes focusing on school librarianship. By the end of the fall semester, I should have a better idea of whether school librarianship is the direction for me.

Thank You

Thank you for your tips, advice, and help with my dilemma! My advisor says I have plenty of time to come up with my degree plan. She says I should talk to the professor who oversees the certification process. That professor happens to be one of my distance learning professors this summer, although the class is self-paced, so there hasn't been much interaction.

Classes seem to be going well. I'm in way over my head in the Managing Electronic Resources class, but there's nothing like jumping in the deep end to make you learn quickly. The web design class is fun and I'm done with my work for the Foundations of Library Science class.

I'm looking forward to my classes this fall. After taking the past 60 hours of undergraduate credits through distance learning, I get to take an actual class in an actual classroom! I'm going to try to register for Cataloging and two other required classes, along with a seminar on school librarianship.

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