On Choices

Upon entering library school last year, I had few goals. I wanted a degree that would allow me to work as a librarian within a certain geographic region. My first semester was broad coursework, that was labelled as largely applicable to most library settings. It was around mid-semester, when it was time to choose spring classes, that I began to question my goals for the program.

The current program requires 36 credit hours. Most classes provide 3 credit hours. This meant roughly 12 classes. 3 are predetermined. 3 provide some choice. 6 – providing no specializations – are free to choice. The impact of my potential choices was paralyzing. I started planning out when I would take what for the rest of my time at IU. I was frustrated I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to do in. I was beyond terrified that I’d miss something essential and it would cost me down the line.

It was also around this time that I began contemplating a dual degree (something I’m still contemplating), which would pair my library science degree with an information science degree. I felt it would give me more time and allow me a broader skillset.

I chose my spring semester classes. By near miracle, I landed a fantastic internship over the summer that allowed me to expand my work experience to a public library setting. It allowed me to work at a variety of service desks and with a variety of librarians who were beyond helpful with my questions and concerns about the profession. By the end of the summer I knew that if I was given a choice, I’d work in a public library.

Fall semester appeared for a second time, and I’m currently taking classes that I would have never chosen for myself last fall – some information science classes and a materials for youth class. These classes have reminded me that I’ll never get as much experience as I want before graduating. That there are computer programs I’ll walk away from while only barely understanding them. That there are books I will never, ever have the time to read.

It’s been a process. I’ve had to step away many times to remind myself to look at how much I am learning within the program, not how much I’m missing out on. I can create a survey and implement it. I can design and complete code for websites. I can find information within the congressional record or extract information from US Census data.

I chose spring classes a few weeks ago, and while the classes aren’t as technology or information science-based as this semester, they’re still on topics I have little experience with. I’m excited to start them.

-Malissa Renno

On Exploring Possibilities

When I came to Indiana University for library school, I thought I knew exactly what sort of career in librarianship I wanted. For two years during high school I had been a student intern in my school system’s fantastic elementary school library. Then for three years after high school I worked off and on with children in my rural town’s tiny public library, conducting storytimes, crafts, summer reading program events, and more. Early on I discovered my passion for rural public communities, children, and teens, so when I started grad school I was excited to take as many classes as possible about public libraries and youth services.

I was very quickly disappointed when I learned that there were so few courses at IU for youth services, and even fewer for public librarians in general. The majority of our courses have little relevance to public libraries, are almost entirely theoretical and geared toward academia, and few professors are practicing librarians, especially public librarians. Many specific courses that seem to be obviously important courses for public libraries, such as Public Library Services, Advanced Cataloging, Reader’s Advisory, Grant Writing, Genealogy and Local History, and (before this semester) Collection Development and Management, etc. either have not been offered in several years or are simply not offered at IU at all. As such, if a student is interested in these important public library courses, he or she will have to register with IUPUI to take the courses online and have the credits transferred. We are actually really lucky that we are able to do this, but I have not taken advantage of this opportunity as much as I could have. I learned in undergrad that I do much better in a classroom setting than online, which is why I chose a school like IU-Bloomington rather than an entirely online program through another university.

Despite my disappointment in the lack of youth and teen services courses, this also has forced me to choose some classes and talk to some professors that I otherwise may not have. I tried out an introductory cataloging course and absolutely loved it, which is apparently a weird thing to love, but I really did. Next semester I plan to take a class focusing on developing websites in the hopes that the rudimentary website skills I grow from this experience will help make me look a little more desirable to prospective employers. I am also currently considering taking an instructional course about teaching information literacy. And while this course is geared toward instruction in college and research libraries and school libraries, public libraries often offer instructional workshops or help students learn how to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.

I honestly never expected to enjoy the technical aspects of libraries, such as cataloging, creating and maintaining websites, or instruction, but I believe that these skills can be particularly beneficial in rural public libraries, where there are very few full-time staff members, each of whom must wear many different hats and complete a wide range of “other duties as assigned” that do not directly fall under their immediate job title. While I have been disappointed in the course offerings at IU, it has allowed me to try new things and has opened my mind to think about how I can tailor courses that are not obviously relevant in order to fit my needs and interests. I think I might still want to work with children and teens, but this process has given me new insights to other possible areas that I did not previously know I was interested in. It can be uncomfortable and intimidating to explore a topic, skill, or class that you know absolutely nothing about, but it can also be rewarding and even surprising if you are able to think about it in terms of exploring new possibilities.

-Kelsey Shanabarger

Vandals in the Stacks?

We just found out about Eng L470: “Vandals in the Stacks” Archives &Frontiering Women. This course sounds like a great opportunity to delve into the primary resources, the nitty gritty, the real stuff of what makes research research while also exploring the intellectual controversies of the collection & preservation of, and access to  this same “stuff.” Here’s the course description:  http://www.indiana.edu/~deanfac/blfal09/eng/eng_l470_29683.html 


If you want to read the book “Vandals in the Stacks?” by Richard Cox, according to IUCat there are two copies held in the Wells Library Research Collections.   Call number is Z687 .C75 2002, which means it’s shelved on the 11th floor.   Cox’s book was a response to Nicholson Baker’s book “Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper.”   There are two copies of this title also held in the Research Collections; call number Z695.655 .B35 2001.  Can you guess on which floor the Baker book is shelved?


And if you are interested in exploring the Wells Library, take the short trip up to the East Tower, 4th floor to visit the IU Archives where some of the “action” for L470 will take place!