I’m entering my second semester of LIS-school at UB. I took five classes the first semester while working full time. This semester I’m looking for a part-time job since I got laid off of both the part-time jobs I had last semester. I am taking five courses again this semester with an eye to taking two more over the summer and graduating on the Sept. 1, 2010 graduation day.
Last semester I took:
LIS 505 Intro to Library Science*
LIS 506 Intro to Information Technology*
LIS 513 Records Management
LIS 514 Indexing and Surrogation
LIS 519 Selection and Acquisition of Non-Book Materials
Indexing was the most challenging course in terms of work load, but it was also the most rewarding. Indexing appealed to my poststructuralist-trained brain and it creeps into all other topics of organizing information, even digital/IT topics (which some librarians seem to think is a whole different animal than “traditional” librarianship). Non-Book Materials was the easiest course. Records Management was the most uneven course. 505 and 506 were required courses and were very much aimed at the lowest common demographic. I ended up with a 3.75 GPA, which was lower than my GPA has ever been, but I figured it was okay because I’ve never worked 50 hrs/wk at two jobs while attending graduate school full-time before. I can try to be perfect all the time, but it’s not actually possible.
This semester I am taking:
LIS 518 Reference Sources and Services*
LIS 522 International Publishing
LIS 562 Networking Technologies
LIS 563 Digital Libraries
LIS 571 Origin of Recorded Information I* (aka Cataloging)
I’m most excited about Digital Libraries. Many of my friends are in it, including all of the people with whom I worked on major group projects last semester. I want to go into digital librarianship (digital archives, IT for libraries, etc.) and we’re going to create a digital library from scratch, so that should be good practice. I’m taking Networking Tech for similar reasons: I want to be able to go into a library and not only work on digitizing their collections (if needed) but help with all of their IT needs from the ground up.
It seems like a lot of the librarians-to-be in our program, and even some of the faculty, are either afraid of or vehemently opposed to IT, and I’m not sure why, since many of them are computer-savvy. I don’t think “this will kill that” — I don’t think people who buy e-books for their Kindles would otherwise buy the hard copy, or people who love the touch and smell of books are suddenly going to be faced with the extinction of printed matter. I just don’t think there’s any reason to be afraid of new technologies.
Other than the IT courses, I am super excited about International Publishing because the publishing industry and printed matter fascinate me. Also, Buffalo can be a very myopic, un-cosmopolitan town at certain times and in certain spheres, and International Publishing reminds me that there is a world outside this city that I currently call home. Both International Publishing and Reference are online courses. Since I have either had night classes or worked at night for almost two years now, I am looking forward to having my evenings back. I am always missing poetry readings and dates and such normal social activities to go to school or work, and although I know that was necessary for the last couple of years, it will be nice to have time to have fun again.
I like the idea of cataloging, but like 505 and 506, it is a required course aimed at the lowest common denominator. In the first class, I read the lectures for the next four classes. The course is heavily theoretical and anyone with background in philosophy, linguistics, math, IT, or similarly logical disciplines would not have much trouble grasping the material. Indeed, the instructor is German and has a background in Physics. Although I find the material very basic so far, it seems that many of my fellow students find it challenging. This makes me wonder about the standards of admission for the program. There are no merit scholarships for LIS, so it is essentially a commercial program: you wanna pay tuition, we’ll let you pay tuition. This is reasonable considering that it’s a pre-professional program; folks are still on their own to get a job. But it is frustrating for someone who would like to be challenged in school. The most challenging element of last semester was not the content of the courses but balancing a full work load with a full school load. In my opinion, time management should not be the most challenging part of a graduate program. But I have heard that many LIS programs are like this.