My first month of grad school has absolutely flown. I can’t believe how fast it is going. I also feel like I’m always a little bit behind, even when I’m working ahead. I’m not entirely sure how that happens, haha!
You want an update on my impressions? You got it! I began the semester with 5 classes. Two are required, SI 501 (Contextual Inquiry) and SI 502 (Not the official name: Programming), and the other three were electives, SI 647 (Reference and Information Services), SI 528 (Records Management), and SI 588 (Fundamentals of Human Behavior). I made one change before the semester started, after talking with some students and enjoying a presentation by one of the faculty at orientation. I dropped SI 528, and picked up SI 580 (Introduction to Archives and Records Management). After the first class I dropped SI 588, because as the professor pointed out, it should more appropriately be named “Understanding Human Behavior for Interaction Design.” It was much more focused on 1. math (blech) and 2. UI design. I was hoping for something that I could apply more broadly.
In a nutshell, that means I’m a busy girl. SI 647 has a project due week after next in which we have to create a reference collection for a certain type of library. I signed up for the Community College Library, so our group is building a wiki (per the assignment instructions) then each of us will be choosing two to three sources for each major reference category (biography, encyclopedia, bibliography, etc.) that meet the needs of our target populations. That is the first of four assignments. The class has been enjoyable so far and has directly contributed to my work, as I am working as a reference student assistant at Taubman Health Sciences Library. This is on top of a prodigious amount of reading (commonly heard “wait, she wants us to read half of this 750 page book , this week?”).
SI 580 is a survey course that gives us an introduction to the facets (concepts, history, vocabulary, etc.) of archives and records. If nothing else, it has cemented my lack of enthusiasm for the traditional archives style careers, but piqued my interest in the confluence of records management and preservation in the information life cycle. I know to most people that sounds like being poked in the eye with a sharp stick, but I lubs it!
SI 502, has been my saving grace this semester. First, we have weekly assignments that give a feeling of accomplishment when they are done (if you’re doing them right anyway). It also is just plain interesting. I like learning how things work and fit together and this class outlines that on both a broad and narrow scope.
Finally, SI 501, what can I say? My group is great, the lectures are terrible. I feel like we could have about 1/3 the amount of lecture time and increase discussion sessions by the remainder of the time and get a much better balance of what is needed. Here’s the thing about Contextual Inquiry, you are probably already doing it, you just didn’t know what it was called. Most people who have been working for any amount of time have had to work on a project (sometimes with a group to varying degrees of success). This class just formalizes the project planning and group work process and breaks down the processes that are normally somewhat lumped together (i.e. flowcharts, brainstorming, and recommendations are all separate modules).
Other than classes, I’ve tried to also fit in time for extracurricular activities. I’ve gone to meets for non-traditional students, LGBTQA students, and students interested in social justice advocacy. I’m participating with a group that are writing a proposal to answer the Gates Foundation college apps challenge. To my delight I also got to participate in the Banned Books Week Read Out at the Hatcher Graduate Library.
I started this post over two weeks ago, and am just finishing it now, that should give an idea of how hectic my schedule has been 😉 What has everyone else been up to in the new school year?