library school check-in (part 3 of 4)

pigs from Fanshawe Pioneer Village

Read Part 1 & Part 2

Since I neglected to do a write up at this semester’s halfway mark, you get a novel of a wrap up of my second term of library school.

I really enjoyed the five classes I took this term. After getting through the five required intro classes, I was more than ready to dig into more focused topics in Special Libraries, Archival Description, Information Policy, Archival Administration, and Information Literacy.

In Special Libraries, my group developed a proposal for a mobile library operating out of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Our primary user group were survivors of the Canadian residential school system and their families, and we worked to make this proposal both feasible within assignment guidelines and respectful. One of the best outcomes for this project was learning about how best I can support Indigenous communities through librarianship and realizing how much I had to learn about serving patrons who are so often marginalized and not included in the conversations about library services that affect them and my group strove to include these voices as we found them. I personally found the work of Monique Woroniak, the Association for Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, and the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials to be helpful in guiding my work. Also important to my approach was April Hathcock’s blog on being a good ally (seriously, if you haven’t read this, please do).

I thoroughly enjoyed the other four classes I took and the work I did in each one. In Archival Description I researched and wrote on Irish standards and created a fonds for a collection of zines and prints at the campus art gallery. I found Archival Administration to be a practical and useful course for running an archive, and I learned a lot about the nitty gritty of daily operations. Information Policy was a dense but interesting course; I did my research paper on the data collection and privacy policies of menstrual health apps and wearable devices. This became my driving force later in the term and I’m going to attempt to take this further in an individual study over the winter. The class I was most excited for was Information Literacy, and I’m glad I took it. Instruction is one of my professional interests and goals, and is an area I lack experience in. Part of the course was developing, planning, and teaching a 15-minute session that had to incorporate aspects of our material: information literacy, ACRL standards, active learning, and lesson planning. My session focused on identifying gaps in an array of news articles on one topic, and why being able to see what was present, but also what wasn’t, and why that skill is important. One of my personal goals was to work in an aspect of critical information literacy and I feel that I did it successfully, especially for such a short lesson.

Overall, I enjoyed all of my courses, though I want to note that all five of my instructors this term are contract instructors; I was not taught by a single tenured or tenure-track instructor during this term. Given the discussion on precarious employment in LIS and academia, the significance of this needs no explanation.

Progressive Librarians Guild marching in the London Pride Parade

I was extra involved this semester with ARLIS (arts libraries), ACA (archives), PLG (social justice and activism), SOGS (grad student society), MLIS Student Council, and volunteering in the Pride Library through which I participated in several events, fundraisers, and tours. With the Progressive Librarians Guild, I marched in the London Pride Parade and was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reaction from parade viewers. With ACA, I toured the resource centres for herbology and zoology on campus. Since my background is in neither of those, I found both to be educational just on how they organize and classify items because they differ so much from library classification. One centre has a specific method of “cataloguing” that’s unique to biologists that I’d never heard of: the information has to be physically attached to the item because they don’t trust notes or journals to track it accurately. It’s an interesting take on whose “authority” is trusted!

In a new kind of adventure, I also served as Academic Liaison for my program’s student council. I’d acted as a student liaison during my undergraduate, but acting in this role was very different. I learned a lot about communication, navigating tense dynamics, conflict resolution, the concept of “neutrality” and staying neutral in frustrating situations, and what that means and can look like in academia.

Entering my second term, I knew that I wanted to share what I’d learned and I signed up through my program’s mentorship program that matches existing students with incoming ones. I really enjoyed taking part so much that I’m doing this again this fall.

I was again humbled and honoured to be nominated for the Spirit of Librarianship Award, and by two different colleagues! To know that people see what you are doing and like it enough to put your name forward is tremendously validating. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by thoughtful, intelligent, bright minds at FIMS.

During my break between terms I reflected on what I had learned and if I was achieving the goals I had set out for myself. When I was entering the program, I didn’t plan on persuing a co-op work placement given that I have nine years of experience as a library technician. After chatting with some students who had returned from co-op, I decided that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass on. I entered into the process with gusto, only to apply for a placement with an early closing date, and be successful! While there were other placements and projects that piqued my interest, I was grateful to avoid the stressful rounds of interviews later in the term. I’ll be spending my fall in Ottawa as I complete a four month co-op at a government library. I’m very excited because it’s so different from anything else I’ve ever done. If you’re a LIS/GLAM professional in Ottawa/Hull and would like to connect, please do!

Aside from school, I’ve been picking away at the book chapter I’m co-writing with a former colleague. When I was drafting this recap, we had received our first round of feedback and were working on our revisions. Since then, we met for a Starbucks fueled writing marathon and have submitted our revision. We’re also exploring submitting our work to a conference, and that proposal is another project in the works.

I also signed off on my submissions to a poetry anthology with Frog Hollow Press, The City Series: Halifax, which is expected to be released in fall 2016.

enjoying a much needed beach visit over reading week

Ahh… me time. I found my second term to be much more relaxed compared to the first: less assignments, time for actually hanging out with friends, sleepovers, and overall down time. I attended the Blyth Festival and had Margaret Atwood sign a book while I trembled in silence in front of her (cross that off my bucket list!). I sang every week at karaoke at Molly Blooms on Richmond Street. I cheered for Stirling Hart (my fave!) at the Stihl Timbersports competition in Victoria Park. I even had time to travel briefly for my sister’s graduation (from nursing with honours!) and for a family reunion near the end of term. And of course, playing Pokemon Go to my heart’s content on a campus littered with stops and gyms.

Yet, the term was still fast-paced and had its stressful moments. Over the term, I referenced Jason Hammond’s themes for each semester of the FIMS MLIS program: anxiety, anger, and apathy, occurring in exactly that order. I was due for the Angry Term, and it delivered. It wasn’t every day, all day, but it was a low flame that continued to burn over fourteen weeks. In my first term, stress manifested itself through losing my voice; this term that changed to insomnia. Ever the optimist, I like to see this as a learning opportunity too. Near the end of term, I found that I was constantly grumpy and focusing on the negative. That really spoke to how I was lacking balance between school and the rest of my life. That’s something that I’m using moving forward to make time for activities that reset; for me, those things are photography and painting.

inspiration from Lab B

Now that I’ve had a few weeks to digest my second term and create a little distance, I genuinely loved my second term of library school. I had more exposure to streams I hadn’t seriously considered, like corporate or specialized libraries or archives, and I was able to participate in a lot of activities and groups.

So what’s next?

I was home in Nova Scotia for a quick visit to throw my BFF a baby shower, visit family and friends, and swim in the ocean. I’ve moved from London to Ottawa for a co-op placement and I love being here. I’m not a newbie to this city – my mum lives here and I lived in Orleans for a few months with Katimavik – but I’m looking forward to getting to know the city, and government librarianship, a little better. I’m continuing work on my chapter and a related conference presentation, and preparing a proposal for an individual study based on my work in Information Policy.
I considered taking an online course while on co-op but my finances and I decided to pass on that. Instead I’m going to enjoy working again, and use my downtime to focus on my photography blog and develop poetry submissions to creative writing journals.

Again, if you’re entering the MLIS program at FIMS, thinking about applying, or are an LIS professional in the Ottawa area and would like to connect, please reach out! I love meeting new people who also love chatting about library work.


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