Either Hello Spring or Hello Frenzy of Constant Activity. You Pick.

Hello blog friends! It’s been awhile.

These days I haven’t been doing a lot of blogging–though, if you haven’t seen it already, I did co-write a post on digital humanities courses with Barbarajean Majewski at HackLibSchool recently. Beyond that, I’ve been steadily attacking the growing pile of work that’s in front of me. With only FIVE weeks until the semester ends (how did that happen?) it’s time to ward off thoughts of making quilts like this and instead reroute my brain back toward academic motivation. Today I thought I’d do a little catch-up and share some of the projects that have consumed my time lately.

Society of Indiana Archivists Annual Meeting Panel Presentation – On Saturday, April 28th, I will be doing a panel presentation with three of my dearest friends. The theme of the meeting is outreach. Initially I wasn’t sure what my topic would be, but finally I decided to focus on my experience starting a Twitter account for the Society of American Archivists-Student Chapter and using it to promote our conference in early March. It was a fine experience but there are a LOT of things I will do differently the next time around. I found that while I was familiar with Twitter from having a personal account, I had absolutely no idea how to use it for promotion purposes. At the meeting I’ll be able to share some of the practical tips I’ve picked up with archivists interested in using Twitter for outreach purposes.

It’s a 50 minute session, so my fellow presenters and I will each have 10 minutes to talk. To conclude our session we’ll chat for an additional 10 minutes about the results of a survey we are currently in the process of sending out through the SLIS listserv. The survey asks questions about use of outreach tactics and student use of various social media sites. It’s a 6-question survey, but we still have to jump through the hoops of getting exempt from IRB, getting an advisor on board, all that. And ugh, the clock is ticking. 

LOEX Poster Presentation – My poster proposal for this year’s LOEX conference was accepted, so I’m headed to Columbus, Ohio, the first week of May! Char Booth (who I ran into at the hotel elevator then later had a beer with at last year’s Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians conference) is the keynote speaker. I love that LOEX is happening one year after WAAL, my very first library conference, at which she was also the keynote speaker! Fate, I tell you!

Now that my abstract is on the LOEX website (along with my fellow Instruction Assistant Sara’s abstract! Go IU!) it’s starting to feel real. My poster, which will focus on ways to incorporate Google and Wikipedia into one-shot library instruction sessions, is, um, a work in progress. Here’s a confession: I keep doubting these ideas I’m going to be pitching! I’m plagued by thoughts that my instruction ideas are silly, useless, or have already been done. I know it’s just a poster session, I know that instruction librarians surpass the enthusiasm of any other group of librarians I’ve ever met (and are therefore encouraging and open and kind), and I know it will be quick and painless. I get it. But so far my poster isn’t tangible, it’s just ideas. I think I’ll probably feel better when it’s arranged according to the high standards I try to set for myself. 

Brown County Public Library Website – For the final project of my Information Architecture for the Web course, we are expected to work with a client and create a website for them. I chose to build a website for the public library located in nearby Nashville, Indiana. The current website looks outdated, but even worse is that it’s hardly functional… and libraries NEED a usable, engaging website, however basic. These days I daresay this is vital to their survival, so I’m happy to help out in whatever way I can.

My professor for this class has emphasized over and over the importance of gaining real-world experience working with clients and developing project management skills. It has been a bit of a rocky road thus far, given that halfway through the semester I discovered both that I was expected to use a Content Management System AND that the library director, my primary contact, was retiring. As of right now I’m working with WordPress to develop the website; I’m brand new to using it as a CMS, but it’s going okay so far. It is certainly easier than using Joomla or Drupal. The new BCPL director has now become involved in the process; she has been great at giving me information and keeping in touch. At this point, I need tweak my theme to better implement my design, create my sandbox, and work with the director to refine content. I’ll be sure to share the end results! 

Henry Miller/Eve McClure Correspondence Omeka Exhibit – A requirement of my Digital Humanities course is a final project of our choosing, and I have opted to curate an online exhibit that features select correspondence between Henry Miller and his soon-to-be fourth wife, Eve McClure. I’ve always been fascinated by letters and journals, so before I chose my topic for the exhibit I explored some of the Lilly’s other wondrous collections. At only one box, the Miller mss. II was a lot more manageable to sift through than the Edith Wharton correspondence or even the amusing repartees exchanged between Dashiell Hammett and his secretary. The chronology of the Miller-McClure letters begins in the fall of 1951 with 28-year-old Eve’s starstruck letters to the well-known 60-year-old author, though over the subsequent two years the flirtation becomes mutual and the formerly introductory letters turn into gushing love letters. The letters from 1953 lead up to their marriage in December, at which point the Lilly’s collection of letters between the two lovers ends.

I don’t view my interest in/work on these letters as innovative by any means. Eve McClure was Henry Miller’s fourth wife and not even his last; they divorced in 1960, so there isn’t any long-lasting fairytale about their union. Henry’s tumultuous relationship with his second wife, June Miller, has been explored in great detail and I’m not sure poor Eve will ever get quite the attention she did from Henry Miller fans. And Henry’s love letters, while in my opinion very good, aren’t groundbreaking documents because so much of his correspondence has already been snatched up and published. (Of particular note is A Literate Passion, which includes his correspondence with-then lover Anais Nin.) Still, love notes are nice to read, don’t you think? I’m enjoying my topic whether or not it spurs wide interest.

Besides curating the small online exhibit, I am also going to use TEI on a group of the letters… more for my own ability to practice text encoding than anything else. At this point, I’ve uploaded my images, just about finished contributing metadata, and I’ll just need to add descriptions.

Beyond those projects, I’ve been finishing up other assignments as needed and of course working. In one of my last posts I mentioned that I’d gotten a job at the Kinsey Institute Digitization Lab; since beginning that job in February I’ve learned a LOT about digital images and the digitization process. I’m also currently being trained to take over a position in the SLIS Career Center starting this summer, so each week I’ve been putting in a few hours either doing research on my own or observing the current Career Analysts at work. The ALA Reaccreditation Board visited SLIS last Monday, and now that it’s over the faculty and staff seem to have all breathed a synchronous sigh of relief. However, I can already tell that the career services we offer will be expanding significantly given the Board’s comments, so the pressure will be on in my future role! 

I’ve also determined my summer plans. In an exciting and petrifying turn of events, I’ll be doing an internship at the Digital Library Program here at IU! Because I’m doing the digital libraries specialization through SLIS, an internship through the DLP is required. The DLP usually has interns working either in usability, metadata, TEI or digitization. I always thought I’d wait until next summer and complete the standard metadata internship, but about a month ago an email came through the listserv that the DLP was looking for a “map-based discovery services intern.” The description noted that the intern would be responsible for assessing location-related metadata for the DLP image collections, developing processing script/s, experimenting with mapping results using the Google Static Map API (applied programming interface) and SIMILE timeline, and other related duties. I was very excited, applied right away… and got it! All year I’ve had a growing interest in maps and visualizations; I think part of this is due to working for CNS and being literally surrounded by them all day. I also signed up for the Geographic Information Systems and the Humanities course I’ll be attending in June at DHSI way back in November, which means I’ve done quite a bit of reading on deep maps and the spatial humanities in the meantime. Now that I’ll also be completing this internship, I’m intrigued to see what direction it will take me. 

Despite my excitement, I’m definitely intimidated by the DLP. These librarians are the ones who I’ve gone to the Digital Library Brown Bag Lunches to see, the ones whose jobs I have coveted. Obviously I have a lot of fears: that I’m not qualified, that I’ll stumble through this internship and embarrass myself, that they’ll come to the conclusion that I’m not inherently techy enough, just a wannabe former English major. AND THEN I’LL NEVER GET A JOB WORKING WITH DIGITAL PROJECTS! That’s pretty much the succession of doomsday thoughts that my brain produces when insecure. But I know better than to listen and put off the internship until the last semester. After all, this is what I want to do, so the more experience working with digital projects the more I’ll be able to ensure that A) it’s what I actually want and B) keep myself competitive for my future job hunt. Plus, I’m hoping to develop relationships with librarians in the DLP and gain as much experience there as I can, whether through an additional internship or working there. I’m totally a DLP fangirl, and thus eagerly awaiting proving myself!

I won’t lie, the past month has been absolutely crazy. I’ve been getting by but I can tell that I’m somewhere near burnout, hanging out in the gray area. Telling myself I don’t believe in it works a little. I find that it’s an accumulation of little extras that I don’t take on that make me feel guilty, rather than larger projects that I keep on the forefront of my mind. For instance, on occasion I’ll hop on Twitter and scroll through tweets, but I’m certainly not contributing. I’m in absolute awe of the library people out there who are able to maintain a vibrant web/social media presence, because I often have this guilt about my failure to keep up. (I try very much not to, because I have SO much else going on, but it can be tricky to turn off the perfectionist brain.) After a long day spent staring at a computer screen, the last thing I want to do is read blogs or tweets or heaven forbid create content of my own. Rather, I watch vacuous shows streaming on Netflix to decompress (a vital component of my weekly workflow). I leave piles of dresses/papers/books on pretty much any empty surface and dishes in the sink. The free Natural Language Processing course I signed up for? Haven’t done a thing, and probably won’t. My progression through the weekly CodeYear assignments? On hold indefinitely. Given all of these tiny failings, I feel guilty sometimes… but overall, I have to remind myself that my circumstances are good, solid, stable. Just busy for the foreseeable future.

Do you feel grad school guilt? 
How is the end of yet another semester treating you?

1 Comment

  1. I totally feel grad school guilt, but I try to go through the same process as you: realize that there is only so much I can do, and I have selected the things I am doing carefully. Library school is all about getting the highest quality and most job-search useful skills and experience possible to get the best possible job coming out. There will be plenty of time for more learning, professional development, and social media presence once we’re in our undoubtedly awesome future jobs!

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