Archive for December, 2007

New new job

Life really has been changing drastically, and quickly, since I started library school, and now there is more big change on the horizon: I just got a new job. The opportunity came about so suddenly; I really expected to be at the Schlesinger for at least a year but passing up this job would have been the biggest mistake of my library school experience. And what is the awesome, not-to-be-turned-down job? I’m going to be the assistant to the Systems Librarian in my college’s library. I’m going to learn to do everything he does to maintain the library’s technology stuff. Technology stuff? Yeah, I have brief moments of feeling like I’m in a little over my head, but I’m fairly confident, and everyone else’s confidence in me doesn’t hurt, either.

My first project involves learning Ruby on Rails. I had to spend the last three days just figuring out exactly what that is, and I’ll likely spend a large part of my winter break at home in San Diego teaching myself the Ruby programming language (or at least as much of it as possible) and playing around with Rails before I officially start the job, on January 8th. I’m going to get to learn MySQL. I’m going to get better at the whole web development/XHTML thing. I’m going to get to work extensively with the ILS. I am going to be able to get a kick ass job when I graduate and I am so excited.

I do feel bad about leaving the Schlesinger after only one semester, but seriously. Would you pass this up?

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It’s hard to believe an entire semester is already past. Today was meant to be my last day of classes, but with the storm here in Boston, most of the universities and colleges are closed and my class was canceled. Sort of anti-climactic.

When I think about the past four months, it strikes me how different my life is, and not just in the way I spend my time, but the way I think and what I think about. I feel as though I’ve stepped into an entirely new world, with a new language and new ideas and theories, and it requires all of my time and thought to understand it all. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult or challenging, but rather that you can’t be only halfway involved. As though libraries become your identity, somehow. And all of this sounds kind of cultish and unappealing, but I love it.

Some of my experiences this semester have been frustrating, yes. And I’m certainly not going to claim that library school, library science, librarianship in general is perfect–there are a lot of issues and problems within the field as it struggles to keep up with a changing information landscape. But because of that, this is a really exciting time to be involved.

And what is most exciting for me are some of the personal changes I’m noticing. I never considered myself a leader before, or a joiner, for that matter. I wasn’t into activities or organizations in high school or college, or in my professional life. But I made a conscious decision when I came to school to get as involved as I could, and after only one semester I can see what a huge difference that makes in the ways that I interact with others and the things I believe myself capable of doing. I keep joking to the boy that it’s easy for someone as shy and nondescript as myself to stand out among a group of librarians. (And yes, I am still allowed to be deprecating about librarians, even more so now that I’m going to be one.)

So I jumped into grad school head first and after one semester of frantic (and not-so-frantic) paddling, I like to think that I’ll be able to really contribute things to this profession and to my peers. And it’s been a long time since I felt like that, so at least we all know something good will come out of the $60,000 debt.

Now for five weeks of vacation.

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An article in newsday.com asks the (frankly boring) question, “Has the digital e-book moment arrived?” but looks for its answer in an unusual place: libraries.

Thomas Maier specifically asks Long Island librarians whether they will be purchasing Amazon Kindles for their libraries, and not surprisingly, the answer is largely no. Or at least, not yet.

I’d be surprised to see libraries purchase them at all. While I understand libraries need to keep up with the latest technology to remain competitive in the information marketplace (man, I hate that phrase), I don’t quite see how Kindles will help them do that. Loaning e-books and helping their readers use free electronic books on the web on their own Kindles, sure. I just don’t think Kindles, or any kind of electronic reader, are going to replace paper books entirely, and if there is any place that can keep our cultural love for the printed word (and I mean the really printed word) alive, it should be the library. Right?

In some respects I’d see it as akin to libraries purchasing iPods. I don’t really see the point. I don’t imagine that they would be loanable pieces of technology, and who is going to want to sit in the library and read a book in its entirety?

Now, I’m not the kind of girl who says things like, “Libraries will never need to purchase this technology.” Who can foresee how the publishing world will change? But I do think asking whether librarians will purchase Kindles for their libraries is the best way to answer the question “Have digital e-books arrived?” A better way, perhaps?

Would librarians buy Kindles for themselves? I thought I would never want a digital reading device. But the Kindle has definitely sparked some technolust in my soul. And that tells me, at least, that the e-book has arrived.

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