Read All the Things or: Over-preparing for Library School

Now that I’ve finally made a decision about what to do and where to go to get my MLIS, I’ve once again entered full panic mode, albeit this time in a different direction. I honestly considered printing off the student handbook to read and highlight the whole thing – how much of a dweeb am I? But I’ve also been hoping to get some good summer reading in so that I don’t feel totally lost at sea during my first classes, mostly inspired by this post at hls (which I also read obsessively). Here’s what I have so far:

I lifted The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown from Christina’s list. I’m not usually much of a self-help reader, but perhaps branching out will lead me to something useful. Also, my library happened to have a copy, so it turned out to be convenient to pick up.

I knew I had to add Ann Cvetkovitch’s Archive of Feelings to my list after reading Sadler and Bourg’s awesome article “Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery,” which I would absolutely recommend as immediate required reading – feminist evaluations of libraries! Be still my beating heart. Anyway, as a possible archivist, I’m fascinated by the ways that trauma and oppression affect our collections – how do we incorporate the very real feelings that accompany an archive into our presentation, evaluation, and understanding of them? I’m hoping this book will provide a good forum for thinking about some of these issues.

I also stumbled upon Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums during some other poking around on the internet – I’ve honestly forgotten what even lead me there, but I somehow started reading about tribal libraries and archives. I’ve often thought about the issue of Native American artifacts in outside museums and archives and all the issues that go along with taking materials from a marginalized culture and presenting them as our own, but I am so shortsighted that I hadn’t really thought about the institutions that belong to these cultures. I’m excited and fascinated to read about how these organizations are serving native communities.

So these are the library/career related books I’m planning to read this summer so far – I’m hesitant to pick any more because I can kind of be a slow reader and I’d also like to leave room for the fun stuff. If I surprise myself, I might peruse something else from this list that Christina linked to – bless hls and their enabling of my obsessive reading. Thinking about returning to school has also made me nostalgic for my English major days, so I might read along with some of Yale’s Open Courses on literature. I’ve been saying I would do this for years, though, so I’m not gonna hold my breath.

If any of you are in the same boat and have summer reading plans, I would love to hear about it. If you’ve been in the boat before and have some recommended reading, send that stuff my way. Encouragement, challenges, cries of frustration, and impassioned arguments are always welcome in the comments.

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Updates, Decisions, and Reluctance to Commit: A Belated Post

I started this blog six months ago with every intention of detailing the ups and downs of my road to graduate school. I think my ultimate goal was to actually just pressure myself to think about it and make a decision, but I quickly learned two things: 1) going back and forth between options is NOT INTERESTING. I started to bore even myself with the will-she won’t-she nonsense. And 2) I didn’t feel like making a decision, and I wasn’t going to think about it seriously and with finality until I absolutely had to. Life is so easy when you push difficult decisions to the side and forget about them. That is, until you absolutely can’t ignore them, and you realize you’ve spent a whole year putting off your problems.

Earlier in the year I applied and got accepted to San Jose State’s library program, and had pretty much decided that I would do an online program, save some money, and work through school. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but it seemed sensible and practical and I had finally realized that your degree is what you put into it. I could make any program worthwhile for myself. I already work at a library and gain new skills everyday – really, I was getting more practical experience at work than I would at school anyway. I let my brain relax a bit – this would be totally fine.

Then about a month ago, the University of Denver emailed to check on my deferred status. I let out a melancholy sigh while I tried to prepare myself to turn them down. Even though I know it’s kind of silly, I love the feeling of being in college on a beautiful campus with other souls that are just trying to learn new things. It’s probably elitist and cheesy and pretentious, but it’s a truth I know about myself. So it was with a heavy heart that I thought about what I would tell them. However, while I was dramatically considering my options (probably staring out a rainy window with some swelling orchestra music in the background – definitely not at the reference desk with my chin in my hands), they sent a second email with an update about my financial aid. They decided to award me significantly more scholarship money than they had offered the year previously. Suddenly my decision didn’t seem so easy.

After talking it over with everyone who would listen, doing some furious budgeting, and fretting about it until my stomach hurt, I realized that it might not be so impossible after all. Between living at home and working two jobs, I might even be able to pay tuition out of pocket and avoid having all of the debt that I’ve been so worried about for the past year. So this is my final decision: I’m going to go to DU while continuing to work at my current job, try to save as much money as I can so that I can give it all to them over the next two years, be in an environment that I know I’ll like, and finally become a real librarian. It probably won’t be easy or pleasant, but then again, online classes probably wouldn’t be either.

Now I just have decide on a specialization. And I thought the hard stuff was behind me.

If you’ve offered or provided assistance throughout the past year, listened to my anguished whining, or sent me snapchats of your face, thank you. Please continue being excellent, and I will try to be better in return.