Finally Finished!

Well, I did it. I'm now done with library school. The last of the projects has been turned in. The last of the forum messages posted. The last bits of my internship got finished up a while back. As the old schoolyard rhyme goes: "No more homework! No more books! No more teacher's dirty looks!" I'm not going to recap everything that's happened (I'll just start whining and ranting, and I don't want to do that), instead, I'll just leave it at saying that I'm overjoyed to finally be done.

I need a vacation.

The 2006 SIRLS Grad Student Symposium

Hottest Ticket in Town Our second annual graduate student symposium was a rousing success. Although attendance was down from last year, we still had a pretty good sized group of people show up, and the folks who came were all interested and enthusiastic about the presentations. Speaking of presentations, the slides will be up on the LSO website soon, when they are, I'll post a link. All of the presentations I attended were great! Even though this was a smaller group this year, I actually think the overall quality of the presentations was a bit better than last year - not that last year's were bad, they weren't - but this year's were really good. Here's a brief recap of the presentations I saw:

Shana Presenting Shana Harrington's presentation, "Are Irish Public Libraries Similar and/or Different than American Public Libraries?" was great. Shana did an internship at a public library in Dublin this past summer and got some first-hand experience in the similarities and differences between public libraries here and there. Really interesting stuff - there are a lot of commonalities, but a few surprising differences. Maybe one of the most surprising is the fact that the public libraries in Dublin rotate their staff through different positions (and different libraries) every 5 years - they have a policy of not wanting people to get too specialized in their jobs.

Jeff Collins' presentation, "Digitization Projects" was also great. Jeff talked about projects like Google Print and Yahoo's Open Content Alliance project. Google Print (I think they're calling it Google Book Search now) has made a lot of news, and I've been following that story sporadically, but I haven't followed news about the Open Content Alliance much at all, so it was great to hear a bit of an overview of what they're up to. I really must spend some time learning about that soon. It was also interesting to hear some of the other worries that people have about such digitization projects beyond copyright issues. Copyright infringement issues make headlines, but issues such as how accurate the scanning is (and how much data might be lost in the scanning process) and how the constantly changing electronic formats are affecting preservation are just as important.

Wendy Begay's presentation, "Digital Divide in Navajoland" was a real eye-opener. Having grown up in the southwest, I thought I was reasonably aware of the Digital Divide issues Native Americans still face, but it was sobering to realize just how big the divide still is. Wendy talked about a program that got funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to provide computers and internet access to a number of Native American tribes in the southwestern US, and how the program worked out for the Navajo Nation. It was fascinating to hear about the issues - both technical and cultural - involved with this program, and since Wendy is Navajo herself, she has a great perspective on this subject.

Oh, and my presentation went well too. This was the first big presentation I've ever done, and I was a little nervous. However, I maintained my outward cool, the technology I was using behaved itself, and everyone I talked to afterward said they learned something. All good things, I think. I actually enjoyed myself quite a lot. I'm going to have to do this sort of thing more often.

Michael Stephens Michael Stephens' keynote, "Library 2.0: Planning, People and Participation" was awesome. It was just the thing to get us all charged up about the profession at a point in the semester when the deadlines are coming up behind us fast and enthusiasm is starting to flag just a bit in the face of end-of-semester homework. It's great to see some of the cool stuff that's happening in libraries now. We've still got a ways to go in convincing everybody that we're about a lot more than just books these days, but I'm looking forward to being involved in the changes that are coming. So, Michael, thanks for making the jaunt down to Tucson to talk to us!

Gentle Bens The post-symposium reception was also great. I got to see some folks I haven't seen in awhile, including Andrea Lemeiux, the past LSO president who was the primary force behind getting the symposium started last year (she's now a public librarian in Los Angeles County). She came for the state library conference and stayed on in AZ a couple of days so she could come to the symposium, too. Very cool. As seems to be the case with professional development activities like this, the after-session get-togethers are usually as interesting and informative as the sessions themselves, and this was no exception. A splendid time was had by all (well, at least by me), and conversation continued on into the evening.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

More photos can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventuresinlibrarianship/sets/72157603061383766/.

Showtime!

I expect that most of the Tucson locals reading this already know about the SIRLS Graduate Student Symposium that's happening tomorrow, but I thought I'd give one last invite. The details about the symposium can be found here: http://www.sir.arizona.edu/lso/symposium06/schedule.htm, and if you're in town tomorrow, stop by and see us. You don't have to register, and the more the merrier. The symposium gives us grad students a chance to make presentations in a lower-stress atmosphere than a conference might be, and it also gives us a chance to hear about what our fellow student are up to.

This year we've got people talking about: Internships in Ireland, Google Print and Other Digitization Projects, The Digital Divide in Navajo Land, Ethical Dilemmas in Reference, and more. (And wish me luck tomorrow morning: I'm presenting on RSS and I'm a wee bit nervous.) Our keynote speaker is Michael Stephens of Tame the Web, who will be talking about Library 2.0.

There will be a reception at Gentle Ben's on University afterwards.

Last year's inaugural symposium was a rousing success and a really great time, so come by and help make this year's even better!

Any Given Day

If you're not a football fan you might want to skip this post. And if you're a Cal fan, you definitely want to skip this post. Don't say I didn't warn ya. The Arizona Wildcats have not done a great deal to win me over as a fan in the year and a half I've been at UA (I'm still first and foremost a Colorado fan when it comes to college ball). But every so often they manage to pull off something amazing.

Like today.

When they handed a loss to 8th ranked California on national television for their homecoming game.

Alas, I was not at the game (one thing I don't like about grad school is that it's kept me too busy to even contemplate attending sporting events - I still haven't ever been to game), but I did get to watch it.

The first half was pretty shaky, and I feared the worst (the Cats haven't had the best of seasons so far), but whatever pep talk Mike Stoops gave the guys at halftime worked wonders. They battled back from trailing by 14 to leading by 7 (a lead which eventually dropped to 4). They had some very lucky breaks: there was a very bad pass interference call on a Cal interception that broke their way and saved their bacon, and they also got lucky when the Cal touchdown that would have cost them the lead got called back on review because the receiver had stepped out of bounds.

But those two interceptions that won them the game? Oh, those were sweet. So very sweet.

Damn, I love this game.

GO WILDCATS!

Free Time?

Oh, yeah, I've heard about that. That's that thing that happens to other people.... In the week or so since I've been back from Internet Librarian (of which, more shortly), it's come home to me just how much I have to do during the month of November:

  • Finish my part of a group project for my Ethics class (on Intellectual Property) and then glue everybody's contribution into something comprehensible.
  • Do my individual project for my Ethics class (which I'm ashamed to say I haven't really started yet) - I'm hoping this will be a code of ethics for information architects - I really need to e-mail my prof for a topic okay soon....
  • Write three small papers for my management class (including a writeup of Internet Librarian, which I get to do instead of an article survey about facilities management, wahoo!), all of which really need to be turned in by the end of the week.
  • Finish up the group project for my management class - a 30-page strategic planning document for a community college library.
  • Write a critique of two information-related websites (one good, one bad) for my User-Interface and Web Design class (sooo many bad websites, sooo few good ones).
  • Actually keep up with the reading and class participation in all my classes.
  • Prepare a presentation on RSS for the LSO Graduate Student Symposium that's happening in two weeks (oh, and by the way, we had fewer presenters than expected, so instead of sharing the time slot with somebody else, you get the whole 50 minutes). Whee.
  • Help out with the pre-class organization of Yet Another Intro to Library School class (my third so far - at least I know what I gotta do by now). Aaaand, they're actually going to let me teach the intro unit for our online courseware again, so I must not have made too much of a fool of myself the first time around (a minor miracle considering that I had so much other stuff to do, I had no time to prepare and did the intro cold - note to those of you who teach: avoid getting into that situation whenever you can - preparation is a good thing).
  • Finish the paperwork for my spring internship. The internship's mostly lined up - I'll be doing webby things for the Law Library, but there's always the bloody paperwork.
  • Get the application for a travel grant into the Graduate and Professional Student Council - 'cause I'd like some help defraying the cost of attending ALA MidWinter.
  • Making some Christmas presents (of which I can say no more, because the intended recipients are probably reading this).
  • Heaven only knows what else.

The scary thing is, I'm having too much fun to be stressed about anything. And since, for reasons passing understanding, school stuff's pretty much going to be wrapped by the first week in December (something like 2 weeks before the official end of the semester), if I can survive November without going stark raving mad, December should be relaxing.

Only 26 days to go....

School Daze

Ah, it's that time of year again. The time of year that most folks in academia regard as the real new year's - the beginning of the school year. And quite an interesting start it's been for me. I managed to get through the first week of school with no problems at all, even though I was about 900 miles away from campus (though I'm home now). No, I haven't invented my own version of Star Trek's transporter (that's still just a wish) - all my classes are online this semester, so I didn't have to be physically on campus for the beginning of classes. So, I took advantage of the situation and extended a visit to Colorado (wonderful, cool, mountainous, Colorado).

Up until now, I have to say I've been fairly dissappointed in my online classroom experience - in large part because the software my university uses is... not the greatest. However, I'll admit that I now see one really big advantage (provided all your classes are online): you aren't chained to campus during the school year.

I don't really think I appreciated just how nice a thing that was until now. I managed to extend a visit to my family and still not miss out on the beginning of the school year. I'll be able to travel to professional conferences and not entirely miss class, if I wish (and librarians put a lot of stock in professional development, so this is a good thing). If my budget permits and I get sick of the heat of Tucson, I can escape to cooler Flagstaff for a few days without too many ill effects. That flexibility is nice.

But of course, it's still the beginning of the semester, no matter where I am when it starts. There's a lot of reading to do - almost more than I can keep up with (though I bring this upon myself, the class I'm most interested in is, of course, the one that has the most optional reading, and I want to try to read all of it - I just have to remind myself that I don't necessarily have to read it all right now). There's me wondering how on Earth I'm going to have time to complete all of my assignments, and how I'm going to survive the fact that all of my classes have group projects associated with them (when most of my experiences with group school projects have been... well, let's just leave it at saying that most of them haven't gone well at all).

Still, even though I'm in a bit of a daze, I'm still happy to be starting a new semester. I like school, all of my classes are interesting so far, and after a somewhat rocky first year, I think I'm finally getting the hang of grad school.

Of course, since this is a Master's program, I've only got one more year....