Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fangirl of my Own Field

Before the fangirl-ing, I did promise some introduction of self and establishment of organization, so here goes:

The Plan (since it's simpler than I am):
Mondays: Posts about Words, Books, Writing, and/or Libraries - as larger concepts
Wednesdays: Posts about life as a librarian larvae
Sat/Sunday: Book Review

Me (These always feel like personals profiles):
I'm a 30 year-old teacher-turned-librarian-larvae, attending the GSLIS (graduate school of library and information science). In the past seven years, I have taught English at an inner-city school in Memphis, college Composition I/II at a state school in Missouri, English/Yearbook at a rural school outside of Colorado Spring, ESL in S.Korea, and Comp again at two Illinois CCs.

I'm increasingly less violently single. I love to travel, and have a wee bit of an obsession with compasses and my car, a 2003 Honda Civic plastered in bumper stickers bearing the name Persephone. Sarcasm and blatant honesty are my natural habitats, which leads me to a high level of social awkwardness, despite my love of meeting and connecting with new people.

I love books, words, stories, music, libraries, tattoos with meaning, not sitting still, and crafting with fiber arts (knit, crochet, sew, etc...). When I watch TV or movies (usually as background noise for other things I'm doing), it's Supernatural, Gilmore Girls, Buffy (or anything Joss Whedon), or movies that are character-driven and/or a little off.

My area of interest in LIS is libraries as socio-cultural spaces, specifically creating library spaces for teenagers that would promote growth and learning in ways they need (instead of ways that state-testing mandates).

That being said, my GSLIS discovery of the week is how much everything ties in to everything else. This seems simple - of course an English teacher would find things connecting in library classes. But it really seems this week that serendipity has been raining down all over me.

For example, I didn't even realize that "library spaces" were something you could study as a field. There's been a lot of concern in the last 40 or so years about making libraries into more than just a place for people to borrow books. In the past decade, there's been a lot of shifting in the style of academic libraries to suit user needs -- more computers, less or more librarian-help for students, as needed. There's even a (somewhat controversial) category of librarianship called User Experience, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Even more narrowly, there is the study of libraries as socio-cultural spaces. Think about it - at many a public library you can get information about how to get a job, research a new religion, take a class in HTML, meet with a book group, find tax forms to fill out, and read People magazine. I truly believe the library now is a place built against ignorance, including but not limited to the information contained within its walls and computers. The terms used to describe librarians supports this - advocate, teacher, relentless, seeker.

All this makes me want to delve into the questions of what effect do libraries have on people and what effect do people have on libraries? What do people use libraries for now, as opposed to 20 years ago (or 50 or 100)? What type of physical space would best promote a critical learning environment for teenagers? How can we make them lifelong learners, and not just people set on graduating to the next grade level/pay grade?

All that being said, what makes me squee with joy about my field of choice is the fact that it's the more practical sister to my former life as an English  major. The study of English and education is about providing critical thinking/reading/writing/learning opportunities for my students. The direction I'm meandering within LIS wants to provide the EXACT same things, but in a practical manner. Where teaching is curriculum-mandated (and curriculum is stated/government mandated), libraries are mandated by the needs of the patrons. Granted, the patron needs will be driven by their education needs...but not being the wielder of the red grading pen means I can go beyond what the lesson plan says.

(I'm aware of my idealism. It's gotten me through 30 years of a chosen, whirlwind life, so I'm keeping it!).

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