Library School

I woke up at 5 am this morning to work on a grad school paper. It reminded me of those days back in undergrad when I’d practically fall onto my bed at 2am, just to wake myself up a few hours later to finish a paper due that morning. I’m far too old for that now.

I’m at the stage where the glamour and excitement of grad school has worn off. My first semester I was a golden star – each assignment was in a week early. I’d turn in eight pages when only three were necessary. I volunteered in class. I was that student. I wanted to prove not just to my teachers, but also to myself, that I could do it. I could complete grad school.

For those who don’t know, this isn’t my first grad attempt. As I approached my last year of undergrad back in 2005, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted to teach, but was pretty sure my major in literature and minor in education wouldn’t cut it. So, I applied for and was accepted into FSU’s English education master’s program.

After the first day, I knew I hated it. The program wasn’t right for me at all. Most of the students had minored in the subject as well, so I was the newbie to the department, and I never truly felt welcomed. Beside my abject distaste towards the fact that the teachers didn’t care about the literature we’d be teaching (most students had never read To Kill a Mockingbird. I was dying), I never understood why I was learning about educational theories rather than educational techniques. I can tell you all about theories developed in the early 1900s about the educational profession, but not once during the program did I learn how to control a classroom.

I left after one semester. I couldn’t do it (and I have a biased hatred now towards anything those teachers claimed was ABSOLUTELY MARVALOUS – I’m looking at you, Billy Collins). The next year I did teach high school English. Guess what? Nothing I learned during the program applied.

So when I started my graduate degree in library sciences, I was hesitant. I was scared the same thing would happen. To counter the fear, I threw myself into my studies and vowed that it wouldn’t give up. To my surprise, I loved the program – and still do, honestly. It was just what I wanted – a program that appreciated literature, but wasn’t just teaching us how to analyze paragraphs. In becoming a librarian, I was combining my love of literature with my desire to help kids.

But now, some classes are starting to take me back to my education days. Like, this semester I’m taking Assessing Information Needs, which, more or less, teaches us how to assess what patrons want, and help them find it. Simple enough? Not quite – there are theories and models to go along with each information seeker.

Yawn.

I swear, since I’ve started I’ve defined the word “information” more times than necessary and guess what – there still isn’t a definite definition according to theorists. Once again, I’m starting to wonder why we’re learning this stuff.

But, that’s not to say I haven’t taken some amazing classes. My Information Needs for Young Adults class was quite possibly the best class I’ve ever taken (and I’m so excited to be taking Information Needs for Children next semester with the same teacher). My Information Organization class was incredibly hard, but so rewarding in the end that it actually had me contemplating getting a second specialization in metadata. And even now, my Digital Media class is really fantastic. I know I just need to get over this hump and embrace my last two semesters. Thankfully, after this Info Needs class, I’ll be done with core classes. And aside from the children’s literature class, I’m also taking Library Marketing in the spring – fun, right?

I was starting to feel down about my degree the other day and was thrilled to see that I wasn’t the only one. My friend is in the same spot, just pushing along and waiting for the end. A friend of his advised us to keep going, pull through and make it out alive. We won’t need to know the definition of information in the real world, but the classes do help. And once we become official librarians, things get much better.

Aside from working, we’re both excited to show what we can bring to the field. Imagine what two more 20-somethings can do to the library field? We still have that naïve, yet insurmountably exciting belief that we can change things. And you know what – I really think we can.

I guess that’s it. I’m at the point where I’m ready to work. I got into this profession for a reason. I know I haven’t learned everything, but I’m ready to try. I’ll make the most of these final few semesters and carry on to the end, proud to hold my degree and ready to make a difference.

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