I admit, this blog post is *incredibly* overdue, I’ve not written here in months. This isn’t because I’ve been rushed off my feet, simply that I’m a lazy bugger who never *quite* gets around to doing things if I don’t have a deadline… Honestly, I have just had 3 weeks of for Christmas, I had a whole list of things I wanted to get done, and I didn’t even get through the first (an assignment that’s due in 5 days…). Alas, I am writing this post now because I’m on the enquiry desk at the library (I’ve managed to get an evenings/weekend library assistant job in the university library ) with nothing to do, and I did a lot of my blogging on the enquiry desk last year so it seems to be the right time to ramble.
SO! I have been a library student for an entire term, and it has been… an experience. Having had 2 years out from uni between courses, I can safely say that I am no longer cut out for student life and am most definitely looking forward to finishing, getting a job, and having some structure!!! I still miss Bradford probably more than I should – I actually dreamt about breaking into my old apartment not long ago. I’m far too grumpy to be living in student halls again. You know how there is always that weirdo on every corridor who no one ever sees? Yeah. That’s me.
Coursewise, I know I’m on the right course for me. One of the reasons I had applied to Loughborough was because of a gender module they offered, which is no longer available because the academic moved to New Zealand, but despite that, the other modules are interesting enough. I had 3 modules on the go last term – Information Services & Libraries, Information Organisation & Retrieval, and Information Needs & Information Literacy.
The first was a very basic overview module where we looked at different types of libraries each week. If I’m honest, I didn’t really learn anything new in this module, as the tutor spent a lot of time just surfing the web in front of us so there wasn’t much to be gained. When I asked questions about public libraries he also kind of skirted around the answers, and when it came to clinical libraries I felt I knew most of it already from helping out the health studies librarian at Bradford last year. The session on academic libraries was probably the most interesting, as one of the staff members from the uni library came to talk to us about space management and learning environments, which is something I really started to get my teeth into last year. At the end of the module, we had to give presentations in pairs on common challenges across the library sectors, and myself and my partner focused on funding, technology, and advocacy. These really do seem to crop up absolutely everywhere we look – librarians are forced to fight for their existence and prove that they’re still relevant across all of the different sectors that we looked at – even in schools and hospitals. This module really did help us to realise just quite how misunderstood librarianship as a profession is, and it was, quite frankly, rather depressing. This got worse when I chose to write my assignment on the challenges faced by public libraries. I started with funding problems, and this took up the entire essay through the form of closures, volunteers, privatisation etc. It was super, super interesting whilst also being hideously sobering, but also confirmed my desire to get into this career. Cheesy as it sounds, I want to make a positive difference to people’s lives, and I think (hope!) that I can if I go into something like public libraries.
The next module, Information Organisation and Retrieval, has really appealed to my geek side. We were given an overview of various methods of cataloguing (tagging, AACR2, MARC) and classification (Dewey, LC, UDC). Whilst I already had some knowledge on most of these, it was interesting to get a brief history of them – my favourite fact is that Mr Dewey himself snuck women (who were forbidden) into a college to teach them how to be librarians! The assignments for this module were like a breath of fresh air compared to my other modules, as they were practical tasks instead of long essays. I particularly enjoyed using MARC tags, as I had done a *lot* of this in the acquisitions department at Bradford, so I felt I had a leg up already. When it came to classifying using DDC though, I felt the class was a bit too basic, as we were given a dumbed down copy of Dewey to work from – I had worked with the four volumes of it at Bradford, but here I had maybe 10 sides of a4, pretty disappointing! All in all, the module was good for a basic overview of what goes on in these areas, but it was nowhere near enough to be able to do these as a job.
My other weekly module was an incredibly dull way to spend my Thursday mornings indeed. Information Needs and Information Literacy. The topic itself had the potential to be very interesting, but the lecturer was the most boring and difficult-to-listen-to man, who was seriously lacking in teaching skills. Three hours every week of unadulterated boredom. Absolute doom. I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you much of what was taught, because I wasn’t paying attention… I’ve been trying my best to be a good student this year because I was so rubbish at it in my first degree, but not even I could stomach this module. I just know we were shown model after model after model of information behaviour, and then learning theories, and the lecture talked a lot about his own work and not much else. The assignments weren’t too bad, however. I wrote my first one on the information needs of prisoners and designed a service to cater for those needs. I picked the need to be kept up to date with information about the outside world (current affairs etc.) and designed a study/discussion/research scheme that could be run in a prison library. Prison libraries really interest me because I can see the potential in them to make changes to people’s lives and be creative in the job, although I’m aware there are many limits and constrains in reality. Being a prison librarian is definitely something that I’d like to try out in the future some time though, possibly because I’ve spent too much time watching prison dramas… The second assignment was to make a presentation in pairs designing an information literacy intervention. I once again paired with my friend who was also a GT last year, and we picked what I thought was the obvious choice (although no other groups did this, which I found odd) – information literacy for students. We drew on past experience from sessions we’d helped out with ourselves in the past, planning a session for students who were struggling to find relevant and reliable resources for an assignment. We got a 78, the highest mark I’ve ever had at university, so YAY!
I’ve had a couple of other ‘block’ modules this year too, which are all day every day for around a week, I’m not going to cover those now though as I think I’ve said enough.
Basically, I’m doing well on my course, applying myself [most of the time], and looking forward to what the future will bring.