18/11/2013 § 3 Comments
Although I’ve been working on an MLS for a little over two years, I’m still trying to improve my study space. While I plan to work IN a library when I graduate, my default study space is at home. One thing I’ve learned in talking to my library school classmates is that there isn’t necessarily one best study space for every LIS student, or even for every assignment. How do you figure out your best study environment?
Where do you do your most productive studying?
During my first year of library school, I spent more time studying in the library, especially for the classes in cataloging and reference. Since then, I haven’t spent as much time in the library, studying instead in my home office, my cubicle at work, or at the home of one of my classmates. I’ve tried other places too, from coffee shops to parks to different libraries, in an effort to balance the need to focus with a change of scenery. The change of scenery is motivating sometimes, but distracting at other times. I never paid much attention to the music in coffee shops until I tried studying in one. In my neck of the woods, the coffee shop music is too loud for my studying style. I was surprised—and a little disappointed. So, I spend most of my study time at the desk in my home office.
The desk in my home office is a wide one (my sister says it’s perfect for writing The Great American Novel–maybe after I finish library school!), with a lamp near the right corner and lovely painting of colorful flower pots hanging above it. My laptop is flanked by office supplies in a cup, my iPhone, and either a diet soft drink (one of the vices I’m having trouble giving up) or a cup of hot tea. My desktop is rarely as neat as it should be, but I try to start each new semester with a clear desk.
Does music help you find your study zone? (If so, what’s on your playlist?) Do you study with the television or other background noise? Or do you insist on quiet when you’re studying? I usually prefer to have a quiet environment, unless it’s a breezy assignment. When I’m studying at home, sometime I find that a running washing machine and dishwasher help provide a comfortably domestic “white noise” while knocking out some chores at the same time.
Do you study better alone or with others?
Being an introvert (but just barely) on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m usually more productive studying alone. Sometimes, having a study buddy has been motivating and helpful, but other times, we’ve ended up chatting about school and other things. One of the best decisions I’ve made in library school, though, was becoming part of a study group during my first semester. The conversation started with one classmate, and the group grew and morphed as we took different classes over the past two years. Our group has small, ranging from 4-6 classmates, which helped keep study sessions manageable and often fun, meeting for dinner before our study sessions. Although only three from our original study group (including me) are still in library school, we still meet for a “study group reunion” lunch when we can, a great way to network by staying in touch in person, encouraging each other, and celebrating graduations and new jobs.
What are your favorite tools of the (study) trade?
I do most of my word processing and spreadsheet work on a laptop at my desk, with my iPhone often nearby. Sometimes the iPhone can be a distraction (in which case I put it in another room), but often it helps. Right now, I have the Pomodoro Technique timer iPhone app running to help me stay on task, and it usually helps a lot. I also use Remember the Milk (the app and the website, which sync with each other) for task management, often creating tabs/lists for specific classes or projects. I love checking things off a to-do list.
For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve had a thing for school supplies, especially pens! I must’ve enjoyed back-to-school school supply shopping from the get-go (who doesn’t love a fresh box of Crayolas?!), and I remember it being a big deal when we were finally allowed to use ink pens in school. So, I always have a cup of colored pens and highlighters, as well as pencils, near my laptop. I do get the irony of having writing utensils next to my laptop, but I also keep Post-its nearby too, for that fleeting idea that needs writing out, rather than typing on a list. My favorite pens? The Sharpie Ultra Fine Point and the Pentel R.S.V.P. are my tops on my list right now. Much like reading a print book instead of an e-book, I still enjoy holding a pen and writing things out by hand sometimes.
What tools do you use for studying? What supplies do you like to keep nearby?
While a fair number of “Study Space” resources online are geared toward children’s spaces, here are some of my favorites that other grad students may find useful too:
Where’s your favorite place to study?
15/11/2013 § 8 Comments
When I applied for my MLS a few years ago, the realities of the working world had me dreaming of a retreat from the outside world in the arms of academia. I pictured days spent in stimulating classes and evenings immersed in my studies, totally plugged into the world of libraries and library science at all times. I would specialize in something fantastic, meet tons of like-minded people, and not have to report to a desk job every day. Student loan debt be damned, I wanted an escape.
Shortly after hitting “send,” life intervened. Between a 500+ mile move, a new job with just enough travel to make night classes impossible, and sheer economic reality, it quickly became apparent that escaping into classes and living off student loans for two years was just not going to happen. Two years and two deferments later, I find myself almost finished with my first semester in the University of Maryland College Park’s online MLS program.
I’m happy with my decision to switch to the online program, but I do sometimes feel that I’m missing out on the intangible benefits of face-to-face learning. My day job has NOTHING to do with libraries, so I don’t get the water cooler chitchat, the special programming posters in the hallway, the classroom tangents that have nothing to do with that day’s planned discussion but are oh-so-valuable. I get online class discussion boards, and nothing more. Not quite the immersive experience I had in mind when I sent in my application, and an easy recipe for low motivation. So to keep myself from feeling totally cut off, I’ve come up with a few strategies to get my library buzz.
13/11/2013 § 13 Comments
Hello fellow hackers! I’m excited to join the Hack Library School team. For my first post, I thought I’d tackle the subject of online MLIS programs, even though this has been discussed on Hack Library School in the past.
You see, recently on Hiring Librarians some hiring managers have criticized online LIS education, stating that they are wary of hiring graduates who have obtained a MLIS degree online. This even prompted a survey on biases against online library school. Library Journal noticed this and followed up with a discussion of the widespread trend of online programs, concluding that, while becoming more common, they still have a way to go before being accepted by the entire library community. Oh no! Does this mean online LIS students won’t be hired after they graduate? Are we doomed? I don’t think so. It’s clear there are still major misconceptions and confusion about how LIS programs work. Of course, each school is different, but online MLIS degrees are every bit as valid as degrees earned in person.
Image from http://www.myeducation.com
Why opt for online programs in the first place? There are a variety of reasons. Perhaps you work full-time. Or there isn’t a library school nearby and you can’t relocate due to family obligations. I completely get the appeal of traditional programs. In a perfect world, I would have applied to programs that had a dual MLIS/MA in art history, which would have involved moving to another state. But, I’m not able to relocate right now and I didn’t want to delay my degree. There is only one library science program in my state and it’s entirely online. I could have considered other online programs, but I didn’t because of cost – I get tuition assistance as a university employee, but only if I attend an in-state school. Online classes are not for everyone and that’s perfectly okay. However, for others, like myself, they are a necessity.
12/11/2013 § 2 Comments
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Robin Amado and Jake Ineichen.
Boozhoo (hello, in Ojibwe) from Madison, Wisconsin! We are members of the Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums Project (TLAM) at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and today we’d like to talk a little bit about what we do and why we do it.
First, some context: There are 566 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., 11 of which are in Wisconsin. And there are 7 tribal cultural institutions that combine libraries, archives, and/or museums in one space. Tribal communities are spread throughout the state, shown on the map here.
What is the TLAM Project?
The TLAM Project is designed to provide LIS students with service-learning opportunities in American Indian communities on projects that actually mean something to those communities. At the same time, it provides tribal cultural workers with access to professional resources and development. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship! Building relationships is a focal point of our work.
TLAM began with students who had an interest in learning about Wisconsin Indian communities and approached the director of our library school with an idea for a specialized course. She said, “You design it, and I’ll run it,” and the next semester ten students enrolled in a group independent study course. It provided such a unique, valuable (read: awesome) experience that it became a listed course the next year.
11/11/2013 § 17 Comments
My first interaction with a computer was in my second grade public school classroom. Each day we had a set rotation where students either spent the afternoon reading a book, writing in a journal, or playing in the “computer lab.” The latter rotation section was a favorite because a handful of us were able to, nay required to, play games on this device most of us probably did not have access to outside the classroom. I cannot recall the specific programs available on the computers, but remember thinking we were so lucky to not have to do “school stuff” for a couple hours like everyone else.
That was 1996, fast-forward 17 years and think of how far technology has advanced! Schools are no longer lucky just to have a couple green screen computers, yet some have a whole room of flat screen computers, tablets in the classroom, or personal laptops for every student. Even libraries have jumped on board by offering access to public computers, free wi-fi and makerspaces. But how has this influx of technology changed how our youth learn? Has technology become a great addition or a mere distraction in an education setting?
Currently I volunteer at an elementary school library and with a teen makerspace where technology is a common connection. The majority of my time at both locations is spent helping students with something as simple as logging into a computer to more complex activities like using the UP! 3D printer. While I always leave each site even more energized about working with youth, I have to wonder if increasing technology in the classroom is actually increasing learning opportunities. In the end my answer is always the same, “Definitely yes… if done correctly.”