Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too sleepy to think of a clever title.

Figured it was about time to post an update, and since my brain is still slightly frazzled from a study group that took place earlier tonight (that I ducked out of a bit early due to aforementioned frazzleness), I think I'll keep this one short...if I don't get carried away, that is.

First and foremost, I'd like to issue a halle-friggin-lujah that LIS 500 is over. The intensity of the relief has waned over the past couple of days as LIS 510 is starting to amp up, but still. I (hopefully successfully) completed my very first graduate level course. Jury's still out on whether or not I'm going to get a pass, and I'm slightly worried that I may have misinterpreted/underestimated the minimum number of posts on the boards we were supposed to make, but my paper kicked a significant amount of ass.

Every so often, library organizations across the US like the ALA (American Library Association) or ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) publish a list of core competencies - basically what they as an organization would expect out of a new MLIS graduate in the various areas of the field (ex. administration/management, collection development, etc). For our paper, we were asked to take at least four of these lists and critically review them based on their treatment of one of the following: leadership, innovation, or diversity. Since I started this program, I've had my eye on library administration, so leadership seemed to be the proper topic for me, and sure enough, once I got rolling on examining the sections of these lists of standards that deal with administration and management, I had plenty to say about how it was treated.

In a nutshell (i.e. to spare you the four pages of ever-so-slightly opinionated ranting I turned in on Sunday), my beef with the way leadership was treated in those reviews stems from the fact that if you'd replaced the word "library" with the word "business" in any of the leadership standards, I might not have noticed. At or near the top of each list was the expectation that a future library leader must be able to develop and manage a successful budget, and know how to glad-hand any potential sources of funding (donors, the government, etc). Very little library-centric language was used in any of these standards, and whenever I would spot one I was enthused about, I'd check to see if the ALA list had anything similar and see it veiled behind the ridiculously vague phrase "transformational leadership". While I understand and acknowledge that the financial and HR aspects of running a library are very very important in the leadership sphere of things, there's so much more to it than that that just didn't get mentioned. At all! Like the fact that a good library director should be extremely familiar with everything that goes on in their library, from reference to maintenance, and should work closely with each facet to ensure they're giving the best available service to patrons. A good director should encourage their staff to continue their education and help provide them with the means to do so (to be fair, this was on a couple of the lists I examined, but not on the ALA list). The lists weren't very unified in their views, and the lack of any real flavor to them bothered me a bit.

Okay, ranting on that topic over. All in all, 500 was a pretty good class to break the ice and get us all back in the school mindset, which I know is something I've been struggling with the past few weeks. To add graduate level studies to a full-time job AND a pretty active social life has been a tricky thing to manage, but I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of it. Being caught up in 510 definitely helps though. I knew I dropped the ball when it came to post frequency for Module 1, but thankfully my content was solid, according to the grade I received from Katherine (the class TA). I've started a couple of the discussion threads for Module 2, and I'm trying to keep up the frequency and quality of my posts. It's surprising how much easier everything is when you aren't behind and struggling to catch up! Go figure! It's also surprising how much more fun things are to talk about now that my basic "info behavior" framework is in place, although it is difficult to stick to the text when all I want to do is go off on tangents and insert opinions and do all these things that may not belong on a graded discussion board.

INFX 503 (Website Design) is proving to be a bit frustrating, to say the least. I think I just don't speak the same language as the prof, because for some reason, her instructions go right over my head most of the time. It takes me a while to muddle through, but thanks to some other ladies in the class, I'm starting to tread water a little more successfully. I even wrote my very first webpage the other day! Looks like something a 5th grader could have done, but still! Woo for me!

Okay, time to go do a little reading for fun. I'm in the middle of An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks, and it is completely fascinating. If I were scientifically minded at all, I'd probably have leaned towards a career in neuroscience, but as things are right now, I'm content just reading books like this and being baffled by the text...but in a pleasant sort of way.


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  2. I love your point about how a library administrator should understand everything going on in the library. My mom has received grants to improve the programming with bilingual events, and to travel to Mexico and visit libraries there - this probably wouldn't have been possible without an open-minded and community-aware library leader.

    I'm really glad to hear school is going well, so proud of you! For HTML, w3schools has some really good resources that you might like.

    - Genia