Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Okay, here it is: the new blog!


The only thing I have left to say about school is that now I'm having nightmares about some math class I never attended and I have assignments due for it but I don't know anything and they're due tomorrow along with 8 other assignments and it's already after 7pm and I have too much to do!!! Ack! I hope I don't have these dreams for the rest of my life now. =)

Well, thanks for reading and enjoy the new blog!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!!!

I turned in my last project last night and my professor actually had it graded and responded to me by 1 a.m.! I passed with flying colors!!

I must admit I feel a certain sense of... something missing...guilt...I must be forgetting something, some other assignment I was supposed to do. Am I really done!? Is that it!? It seems so anticlimactic. Oh well, I'm enjoying my freedom anyway.

I don't know that there is much more to say in this blog, since it is a blog all about my library school experience. So...stay tuned for an all new blog!! (Just what you wanted, I know =)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Well, I'm down to one assignment left!! I finished up my last Research Methods assignment on Sunday.

My last assignment is to "create an international NGO that addresses an important social issue of our time." I'm pretty excited about this assignment especially since I see it as a way to really bring together much of what I've learned in both Library classes and Development classes.

My original thought was to create some library organization in some country overseas, but I was a bit discouraged about coming up with some new innovative idea, what with how many innovate ideas are already out there. I mean, could I really, in a couple weeks time, come up with something more creative than libraries on camel-back or boat libraries or stuff like that?

So I've gone to the other side of my interest and am looking more locally. After some research in my Research Methods class I found out that there hasn't been a whole lot of research done on the information needs of the Spanish-speaking population in the US. If this hasn't been done for one of the largest minority populations here - just imagine all the others!

Let me back up and say more broadly that Information Behavior is the idea of how people look for information, what information they need, what they do with it, how they store it or retrieve it, how they share it, etc. The Information Needs of a 20-something versus an 80-something are quite different. It's the same with people living in cities versus in the country; or think about what information you need to get your job done versus what information the CEO of your company needs.
Information Needs are important for libraries to know so they can develop their collections and services in appropriate ways. If you're in a community that really wants to know about gardening and bee-keeping, you'll have a good selection of materials about that.

The problem with not knowing Information Needs is that you can't necessarily develop a really useful collection. That's why Collection Development often starts with assessing who is in your community.

Anyway, the organization I dreamed up is a sort of research/consulting thing where researchers help libraries find out who is in their community and what their needs are so they can develop collections and programs appropriately.

And right now I'm procrastinating, so...back to work...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My last week of school had been mostly unremarkable. The same somewhat-inane classes, boring discussions, the minute hand seemingly stuck in place - until tonight.

My Thursday night class never fails to deliver! What a perfect last class it was. We started out with class evaluations which took a few minutes.
Some of the students in class had decided it would be fun to thank our professor by buying him a goat through World Vision (which is where he works). Everyone was secretly passing money around so the whole class was in on it. Our teacher was really touched by the gift.
He had announced last week that tonight we would have treats and if anyone wanted to bring stuff we could. So there was a huge spread of sandwiches, chips and dips, muffins, cookies, veggies, bread and cheese. It was such a party atmosphere!

And then the guest speaker, Angela, began. She was a wonderful woman who works with World Vision on women's & children's issues. She's from England originally so has a great accent - and you all know how much I love accents! =)

She started out telling us her personal story, how she had been a successful actress in England and then moved to San Francisco without any real skills and no money. She managed to get a job as a receptionist of sorts at a job agency and in a number of years managed to rise up to be one of the most successful head-hunters in the US.

Then in 1990 she was flipping channels and came across the Barbara Walters special about the orphanages in Romania. She was watching these horrible images of children with disabilities living alone and virtually uncared for, naked and hungry, with no one ever touching them. And she suddenly knew without a shadow of a doubt what she needed to do with the rest of her life.

She described to us how she went to Romania to help the people, how she started a non-profit to take in funds, how she helped send money and resources to Romania, and how lives were improved and now all of this care is done in the country and the non-profit was ended.

She eventually went to work for World Vision. She talked about work she did in Bosnia when the war was going on. She told the story of a woman who had returned to her village with her husband and child to check on their father. Soon after they arrived the militia/army/whoever arrived. Without asking questions, they shot all the men in front of their wives and children. They burned down the houses (this woman's father was burned to death in the house). Then they took the women to a local school and made them prisoners there and raped them until they were almost all pregnant. I guess they wanted to start a new generation of a specific ethnicity. They kept the women there and tried to keep them from aborting. When this particular woman was 8 months pregnant, they kicked her out with nothing in the middle of winter. She had the baby and named him after her dead husband. But many women tried to abort. Some gave birth and put their babies in the icy river and let them float away. Some gave up their children for adoption.
The horrible things people did I just can't imagine or believe. So Angela goes into Bosnia to ask the widows what they need and how they can be supported - since they aren't talking to the men relief workers. She meets with some of the women and they ask for Prozac! Angela doesn't have any, but you know what she did bring for them? She says to us, you're in a war torn country, you're a widow, everything is wretched...what do you want? Angela brought a suitcase full of sexy underwear! It was so simple, but it made the women feel like women again.

Angela also worked on issues like female genital mutilation in Africa and a host of other things.

Relief work, transformational development, stuff like this - it is incredibly hard. It's hard just to hear what is going on! Someone in class asked her, what does she do to keep from going crazy? Because some people do - they can't take the stress and the horrific nature of what they see. They turn to alcohol, smoking, becoming emotionally cold and turned off, they have anger problems. So Angela shared what she does.
During the day when she's doing work she keeps her heart at 1 and her mind at 10. She's not cold or heartless, but she keeps her heart and emotions under control.
At night, she puts her mind at 0 and her heart at 10. She makes sure she has a room of her own so she can have alone time. She cries her eyes out and prays. And then, she pulls out a trashy romance novel!

Anyway, she went on for almost three hours about her experiences, what she'd learned, answering questions from us - all with humor and passion. She was an incredible speaker, very encouraging and uplifting. I laughed, I cried (okay, I almost did anyway).

What an incredible way to end my graduate school career.

Well, it's not quite over yet. I have two papers to finish, but by next Thursday I'll have turned it all in and I'll be done.

I'm not quite sure what to think. It seems somewhat anti-climactic - probably because graduation isn't till next summer! I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad when class was over. I know, I know. I've been counting down like a maniac, obviously I've been excited to get this over with! But, while there are a lot of things I won't miss about school, there are plenty of things I will miss.

I'll miss all my peers that are so intelligent and the incredible class discussions we sometimes have.
I'll miss that camaraderie around big projects and dumb homework.
I'll miss the passionate professors.

I was passing the time in a class recently and trying to write up a list of what made for a good prof and what made for a bad one. It hit me tonight finally - and it seems sort of obvious, and perhaps too simple - what makes a good professor is someone who is really passionate about what they're teaching! I can look back at some of my favorite classes and favorite teachers, and they were so good because the professor was passionate about the subject and that came through in their teaching.
I don't feel like I often meet fellow co-workers who are gung-ho passionate about their job. So I'll miss that a bit.

I could go on, but it's too late to keep putting sentences together. Don't worry though, I'm not quite done with this whole blog just yet! More to come...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Seven hours, 20 minutes left to go - not that I'm counting down or anything!! =)

I'm celebrating my birthday today, so hopefully I'll get around to writing something about school one last time this week.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Six days left. Heck, might as well get down to days at this point. 16 hours even! That's sort of misleading since it doesn't include finals week. I don't have finals of course, but I do have one paper due on Thursday of finals week so that means I really won't be done for 2 1/2 weeks (December 13th).

Almost all the assignments for my research class are due in the last couple weeks of school. Last week I turned in an interesting paper that proposed a research project to find out the information behavior of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the US. Today I turned in a quick assignment on analyzing statistical data. I have another one like that due, and an assignment on human subjects in research and ethics. Following that is an assignment about analyzing a research scenario or something.

I finished that paper for my Transformation class and am now just working on the final assignment. Holy cow. I have to create my own NGO. We're supposed to center our work around the Hedgehog Principle developed by Jim Collins. In a nutshell, it has three parts:

1. What are you deeply passionate about?
2. What can you do better than anyone else in the world?
3. What drives your resource engine? (i.e. money, time, other resources that keep you going)

Of course I'm trying to think of some library-related NGO to develop but I've hit a major wall. Yes, I'm passionate about libraries and all that. And I can even think of an assortment of ways to keep the resources flowing. I just don't know that I can come up with a better idea than some of the ones I've learned about. There are some incredible examples out there:

Probigua in Guatemala
Northern Territory Library in Australia
Rural Education and Development in Nepal
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha in Bangladesh
Smart Cape Access Project in South Africa
BiblioRedes project in Chile
Blue Trunk Libraries throughout Africa and Southeast Asia
Camel Mobile Library Service in Kenya
Everyone's Reading in Africa initiative out of South Africa

There are more than this I'm sure. I don't know how to compete with such fantastic ideas. Of course, I could focus on some NGO based in the US. I kind of feel at a loss there too.

Perhaps I should sleep on it another night... =)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Brief procrastinating break-time...

Okay, so I'm working on my third paper for my Thursday night class. I'm comparing, contrasting, and critiquing Muhamad Yunus' Banker to the Poor, Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom, and C.K. Prahalad's The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.

I've been slogging through Sen's book for a good week or two, and I do mean slogging. The guy is very intelligent and he makes some really good points, but I have two issues with his book that have become very distracting.

The first is his incessant habit of mentioning things he's already mentioned. Following are a few quotes from pages 217-218:

"...which I have already articulated in earlier chapters..."
"I have presented these issues already in the book..."
"...discussed in chapter 8."
"As was noted..."
"...cited earlier."
"...referred to earlier..."

All in two pages! He spends so much time going over things he's already gone over it's a wonder there is much content in the book. Okay, I'm being a bit cynical, but he did do this 13 times just in this one chapter. It's starting to wear on me.

Second, he has a tendency to use interjections. A lot. Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of interjections - but within reason. Sen will write a sentence, for example, that makes immense use (such as this one), of interjections in commas, interjections in parentheses - not to mention interjections in dashes - as well as italicized words and "phrases" in quotes - but not because he's quoting someone (he's just making a comment - I guess - about the particular words in quotes (and yes, he'll even have an interjection within an interjection!)).

Sometimes I have no idea what he has said by the time I get to the end of a sentence. Perhaps I'm a moron. Who knows. But he did say in the beginning that he wanted this book to be more accessible and understandable to non-economists. That's why he put his other interjections, in the form of notes, at the end of the book. All 53 pages of them.

I've heard Prahalad is much more readable. Here's hoping.