Well, the original plan was to blog through school, keeping track of all I was doing and learning. Turns out that doing an MLIS is both very different from and yet somehow exactly how I recall grad school from the first time around. I do remember how I was pretty much all school, all the time back then – which, in what is so much of an understatement as to come full circle and nearly be on top of the statement, is much easier when it’s just you and your new husband, not including two boys, two dogs, and a host of other responsibilities. I had enough trouble dealing with crap like folding laundry and obtaining adequate nutrition then.
And then there are the differences, which make the whole thing more ludicrous. That first graduate degree was in music, and it would be insulting your intelligence, no matter who you are, to explain that a master’s degree in music is a difficult thing. Of course it is. Tons of work, tons of time, lots of high expectations from the instructors and from yourself. In the case of my particular degree, though (a degree in music history or theory would have been another story), it was less about the scholarly study and more about the elbow grease and imagination. “Write a fugue for a wind quintet” is not the same as “Do a study of the literature available and discuss how Bacon’s scientific method relates to the practice of collection assessment.” We had to take research and bibliography courses back at Bowling Green, but there is a world of difference between doing cursory examinations of a handful of texts on 18th century counterpoint to spot the pros and cons of each and delving into a couple of scholarly articles presenting opposing opinions on the Library Bill of Rights, written from the perspective that you, the Reader, obviously already have a well-grounded understanding of Social Contract Theory and intellectual freedom practices…
Talk about going from zero to sixty. I spent the first few weeks of the semester just trying to learn how the gear shift worked.
I took two classes this semester, one on collection development and the other a foundational class that is one of four “core” classes required of every MLIS student. The collection class turned out to be the “easier” of the two, though not because it was easy. I took it online, which actually made it feel more challenging to me; rather than being “on” one day a week, I had to keep returning and returning to the forums to discuss each week’s readings and ideas. And there were many, many readings, and few of them were what you’d call “accessible.” But it was interesting material, and it really made clear to me just how little I understood back when I actually worked as a librarian and performed actual collection development. Selection policy? I had to email the director to see if we’d even had one back then; I certainly never saw it, and my unedu-ma-cated butt didn’t even know to ask for such a thing. Intellectual freedom? I knew what I knew as a trained composer, and, luckily, a lot of the principles apply across the board. Budgeting? Luckily, that wasn’t my department. 😉 So it was nice to learn that I hadn’t been making any huge mistakes then, but valuable to uncover what I should have known before attempting the task.
The foundations class was harder, especially considering that the professor was one of those instructors that somehow manage to convey a sense of capital-A Authority. She was pleasant, witty, and fairly casual, but you just got the idea that screwing up here was not something you wanted to do. It wasn’t just me; speaking to other students, comments were mostly in the neighborhood of “she just makes me so nervous!” There was a lot of work, but not very many graded assignments – two papers, one group project, one short presentation, and class participation. The papers were the big thing, of course, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief yesterday when I submitted the final one, ending the semester. It’s a short reprieve, though. The professor joked on the last day that if we got an A, we could carry that with us for the rest of the program: “I got an A from [professor]!” I and the other Public Library Leadership student in the class exchanged glances. This instructor is the one in charge of our concentration.
And now it’s summer, and I was supposed to get two weeks off before diving into my next class, one on information organization. Unfortunately, I got a notification that the section in which I’d enrolled was cancelled, and that I’d need to sign up for the section starting a little later in the summer. I’ve signed up for an information access and retrieval class then, and we were warned strongly against taking simultaneous classes in the summer, as they tend to get more challenging in the compressed format. Even so, I have no good choice in the matter.
My concentration is almost completely structured, with the “electives” not really being “elective.” Of the eleven classes I need, four are the core ones everybody takes, and three or four (depending on changes they may be making as I type) are required for the PLL concentration. Of the remaining 3-4 (depending on that change) “electives,” I’ve already taken collection management, and I’ve been “strongly encouraged” to take the library management class (well, duh). My instructor thinks the third spot should go to a legal issues for managers class, and the fourth slot might end up being the same whether it was in the concentration requirements or electives: independent research.
The problem is that a lot of those course are offered sporadically, and there’s talk of trying to get them on a three-semester rotation. In other words, when they are offered, I need to take them then. I have a working plan figured, based on that, and it’s pretty contingent on my not straying too far from it. The plan means that I need to get those two core classes done this summer, and if that means I have to suffer through them simultaneously, then I guess those six weeks in July and beginning of August are just going to hurt. Eh. I can hurt.
Anyway, the kids are still in school for now, and I have a little time to catch up on everything that’s been falling to the side, especially over the last week or so while I finished that paper. Oh, was that a bad call, by the way. Two classes into the degree, and I decide for my final “issues” paper to discuss the shortfalls of various classification systems. You know, the classification systems I’ll probably be learning all about this summer. Turns out I barely understood Dewey. So that was fun. And while I was hustling to put the final touches on it last night, our town got hit with Weather, and I had to drag the kids and the dogs down to the basement, where I basically had to wrestle Gideon and Evie into submission until the tornado warning expired. I guess all the times I told them they weren’t allowed to go down there made an impression, because Evie fought like crazy not to go, and then they spent the entire time panicking.
Ten days until the anniversary of my surgery. I’ve managed to go almost a whole year with my blood staying where it belongs! It’s the little things that make life worthwhile.