Confirmation

It’s been a whirlwind these past few weeks. I had Orientation for the University of Iowa SLIS (School of Library and Information Science), and then survived the first week of classes. I feel a bit like my head is going to explode with all this new information and ever growing list of things that I want to accomplish in the next two years, and then for the rest of my life.

The things that have been stressful are much like any other program, I imagine. Because LIS doesn’t have an undergraduate component, it is entirely new information. The upside of this is that all thirty some of the first years at UIowa SLIS are starting on equal footing. There is a lot of reading, and discussion on a level most of us are not used to, though it was not entirely unanticipated. It’s a big difference from undergrad– though for me this is to be expected since, as my good friend puts it, “I went to college for singing, not thinking!”  In undergrad I felt we were being trained to give”good” answers. Now I feel we are begin expected to ask “good” questions. It is exhilarating, but intimidating, and I can’t help feeling that my acceptance was a mistake and that most of the others in the room are much smarter than I am. It only drives me to work harder, overachiever that I am, and to conquer the new and scary obstacles that lie ahead.

More significantly, however, has been the overwhelming feeling for the first time in my life that I am exactly where I am supposed to be doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. I went to school for music because I liked singing and was good at it in high school, but I always felt like a bit of an outsider with the other crazy singers. I never quite belonged. I’d rather read than practice. I’d rather discuss Ann Patchett’s latest book than the Chicago Symphony’s latest concert. Don’t get me wrong, music is hugely important to me and there was much about my time there that I will always hold dear, but it was just never quite right.

I felt the same way about teaching. I loved teaching. I loved my students (most of them anyway) and I loved watching them learn and grow. But in the back of my mind was a jealous voice that said, “Hey! What about me! I want to learn new things!” There was always part of me that knew that I couldn’t imagine myself as a classroom teacher forever, nor as a principal or other administrator. Where then did I belong?

Sitting in orientation listening to the faculty talk about their favorite things about the LIS field provided firm confirmation that where I belong is in the LIS field. They talked about the ability to shift focus from topic to topic over the life of one’s career, they talked about the commitment to life long learning, they talked about books and about the all encompassing word “information” and the myriad of ways we contribute to the world. And I knew this was where I belonged.

After a week of classes I know it even more strongly. These classes and professors encourage me to ask questions I never thought I could ask, engage in discussion about things I never thought anyone else could be interested in (e.g. when exactly does information become knowledge?). My classmates come from a variety of backgrounds but we all come together in our interest in “boring things”… and might be writing a musical about Librarians in our spare time this year. This group of people, with whom I discussed the definition of “Knowledge,” the merits of “Firefly” vs. “Farscape,” anticipation at the launching of “Pottermore,” a case of censorship in Dubuque in the 1950s and the formation of a Librarian a cappella group in the span of several hours, is one of the few communities I have felt I truly belonged. I don’t have to hide my Nerd Card here, in fact it is encouraged. I’m not the only one who wants to spend my days in the Special Collections Library and reading books about organizing books.

I was reading a post on http://hacklibschool.wordpress.com/ in which there was a link to  Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement Speech. It was fascinating to hear him talk about how important it is to find what you love, and to never stop looking until you find it. It’s an opinion echoed in Ken Robinson’s book “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, which I highly recommend. (Ken Robinson is a bit of a hero of mine) I’ve actually read/listened to a lot of commencement speeches, and the best ones, including JK Rowling, Ann Patchett, and Stephen Colbert’s speeches discuss how you will make mistakes and change direction along the winding road of life, but how when you find your passion in life it will all, ultimately, be worth it.

So far, so good!

Quote of the day: “If you are trying to add, say, a rock to a traditional library cataloging system, that’s just not going to work. It doesn’t fit into the entry categories. What do you put under these? Author- God. Date- a freaking long time ago. It just doesn’t work”

~My Concepts professor~

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