Classes have been out for two weeks and it’s time to reflect on my first term of library school, though truthfully, much of the last month is now a blur.
The pace of the first term of my program was incredibly fast. I think I completed between 40 and 50 assignments (I’m afraid to look back and count them all). I see this first term as a kind of research and writing boot camp. I had been out of school for about 8 months and, since we began in January, I know many of my cohort were in a similar situation. The constant management of coursework forced me to become excellent with organizing my time and sitting down and doing the work. And doing it well. Over the term, my writing improved and I produced better work in less time.
I began to integrate my workplace experience into my coursework. Using these experiences as a base for assignments and projects can be a great idea (confidentiality dependent, of course, ymmv). For proposal writing and similar projects, I set up scenarios that reflected what I knew. This isn’t the best approach for all projects but when I did this, I was able to demonstrate what I knew outside of course material. That is, connections that aren’t always obvious at first glance.
Another lesson affirmed was layering my learning. I often found that I could take material from one course’s lecture and apply it to a different course’s assignments. This is a pretty standard thing to do as a student, but I did it very literally this past term. For example, a group of my classmates delivered a presentation on learning commons; I took what I learned from their lecture, asked them about their primary sources, and used it in a budget and proposal project. Learning how to assess and measure an audience in a reference class informed how I give presentations. I integrated work and feedback from a research methods course into other classes. This approach definitely improved my quality of work and how I understood and applied what I was learning.
My fellow students were an incredible source of support and encouragement. We helped one another with assignments by bouncing ideas off one another, proofreading and editing, and sharing research. We burned off steam through karaoke, knitting groups, and yes, the inevitable chatting over a few pints. I was finishing up a co-written chapter draft near the end of term and my classmates were so supportive, checking in and asking me how the process was going. My cohort has moved from being complete strangers to great friends and future coworkers.
In what little time I had outside of my schedule, I explored my personal LIS interests: art librarianship, first gen students and other under represented groups in higher ed, and identity among LIS students and professionals. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on these last two points and working to synthesize it into a cohesive thought. Identity work was a major thread through my undergrad work in cultural studies and I’m keen to continue it. That will most likely come about as working on my own, though I’ve been thinking about exploring this through an independent study and/or submitting to a journal.
Next term, though, I’ll have my hands full with a diverse course load. I’ll be taking five courses: Special Libraries, Intro to Archival Admin, Archival Description, Information Policy, and Information Literacy. I’m especially looking forward to Info Literacy as I’m eager to dive into instruction and assessment, but I’m excited for all of my classes. I’ll also be continuing with executive work in several student chapters (including some social media fun with PLG, heads up!) and I’m considering a co-op position for the fall term. If anyone reading this wants to snap me up for 14 weeks, email me!
For now, I’m enjoying the break. My sister visited London for a short time (we went to Niagara Falls!) and I’m currently visiting my partner in the prairies. We’re reading American Gods together, I’m finishing knitting a shawl, and taking a rest from drinking so much coffee. All that, and rewatching Lemonade as often as I can.
Two more weeks of vacation and I’ll be back at it!