Cheap Skate or Pioneering Information Professional?

21/03/2014 § 2 Comments

I’m not going to say that my graduate student budget forced me into the world of open source software, but it certainly didn’t hurt.  There was a time when “open source” was synonymous with “free of charge”, but with the proliferation of mobile technologies and free apps, the lines between for-profit and not-for-profit software are now blurred.  Therefore the distinction must be made that open source software contains a license, which allows the user to modify the code and to freely distribute the software to anyone, for any purpose.  As a result, this software is often community developed, and widely distributed.

So why should you invest your precious time in learning how to use these free alternatives?  Let me consult a recognizable mantra.  Some of the triumphs of open source software come right out of ALA’s mission statement: “Equitable Access to Information, Intellectual Freedom, Education and Lifelong Learning”.  There can be obstacles to early adoption, primarily the learning curve, but grad school is the ideal time to conquer these technological challenges.  Here are some open source software examples I have adopted in my pursuit of information literacy.

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On Entering Library School with No Experience

05/11/2013 § 5 Comments

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to library school.  Hopefully you are getting accustomed to the expectations and challenges of your program.  If you have registered for spring classes, you are likely busy planning out the rest of your requirements and looking towards getting that ever-valuable practical experience.

Entering a new program is often a mix of preparation, nerves, and adjustment.  Much of this adjustment can be based on how our peers are treating their education, and our reactions to the misperceptions of one another’s backgrounds.  One troubling thing for me during my first year was how I was constantly encountering the notion that students fit mainly into two categories:

1. Those who have entered school straight from their undergrad program

2. Older students already in the profession who are looking to strengthen their marketability.

This assumption is embedded in the culture of grad school: from the school’s marketing, to the classroom discussions, to how we view the objectives of our degree.  The frequency with which this young-old dichotomy shows up even in discussions here on HLS attests to how commonly the ‘experience’ perception can be misguided.  As a 30-something grad student, I have had many conversations where people assumed that I was experienced or established in the field.  If you count yourself as a younger student, for whom the newness of learning with students of ‘advanced age’ can be intimidating, I have a confession.  I entered library school 11 years after finishing my undergrad and with ZERO library experience.

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