That Slow Slide into Summer

Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Blog | No Comments

It took me so long to finally publish my LOEX post that I thought I’d write an update of my summer so far. I’m leaving tomorrow for the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, so I wanted to go over what I’ve been up to before I leave. For a while it was a strange spring/summer hybrid climate-wise here in Bloomington, but I think I can say with confidence that it’s now feeling authentically summery. I spent every day of my Memorial Day weekend in my apartment complex’s newly opened pool.

Lately I’ve been dividing my time up between my digital mapping internship, an EAD workshop, and work. I’ve been fairly frazzled–I’m hoping once I return to Bloomington from Victoria I’ll be able to settle into a routine. I knew from the outset that my summer would decrease in intensity as the days go by, so I’m not surprised. My mapping internship is going well, I’d say; it is fairly experimental and research-based, so none of us are quite sure where it will take us yet. I will be documenting the internship on my new blog, which I’m designating as my go-to spot for internship ramblings. (Commenting on readings and other observations is a requirement for credit internships in SLIS.) We agreed it would be great to chart the experience in a public format so that those who are undertaking similar geocoding/geospatial/map discovery implementations in a digital library setting can benefit from our experiences. I definitely have some catching up to do on my internship blog; while I’ve taken fastidious notes during my readings, that hasn’t magically transformed into polished posts yet. Fancy that. The goal is to have it significantly more filled out post-DHSI. 

I am adoring the 6-week Encoded Archival Description (EAD) workshop I’m currently enrolled in. (Dad, I know you’re reading this so I’ll translate for you: EAD is an XML-based standard for encoding archival finding aids, which are basically lists of everything within a particular collection in an archive. EAD was created so that archives could have a uniform way of encoding finding aids and therefore be able to share, maintain, and index them better. Standards are good news.) EAD is a class I actually don’t feel enraged and/or merely resigned to be paying for, which is a beautiful thing. It’s taught by a cataloger and the associate director of the DLP. The class is divided up into pre-class readings and blog posts/comments, lecture and in-class examples, and encoding homework. It has kept me on my toes and because it is unrelenting in building upon each week, I do feel like I know EAD. I could encode finding aids like a pro. I find myself geeking out over metadata like a true library nerd, so it’s nice to feel confident in this area. Our class will conclude with each person encoding a fourth and final finding aid using the best practices of a non-IU institution. My best practices are those used by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Books & Manuscript Library at Duke University. Our last class takes place a few days after I return from DHSI so I have my work cut out for me as far as getting everything wrapped up in a non-stressful manner. Then the following week I start the MODS workshop with one of the same instructors! I’m deeming this the summer of metadata. Bliss.

In other news, I’ve made my debut at the SLIS Career Center as the new Career Analyst. Brennan and I met for coffee a few weeks ago to talk strategy. It’s an interesting role because we work so few hours (4 in office, 2 out of office) and yet we both feel motivated to push, do more, provide more. However, SLIS recently announced a forthcoming merger with the IU School of Informatics. One of the listed benefits to SLIS students was something like “availability of more extensive career services as provided by the School of Informatics.” The merger makes sense and I certainly don’t object to SLIS students having additional venues for career assistance; however, I hope that our tiny career office will not be neglected with the assumption that students have and therefore will make use of the Informatics career office. Frankly, I don’t think they will. Maybe three students will. My reasoning? The School of Informatics is a hugely unknown entity. I have a vague idea of where it is located, that’s it. Informatics is a weird discipline that not a lot of people even understand as it usually defies definition (“uhh, let’s see, well, it’s kind of a mix of computer science and systems analysis and business, just a whole lot of stuff.” -response I usually get after asking an informatics student to explain their discipline.) If I’m a dual-degree student who doesn’t get it, I doubt many of my peers will. Unless I was in dire straits or feeling the heat of the job hunt I wouldn’t take the energy to 1) find the place and 2) cross my fingers that they can even advise me effectively given my broad interests in digital projects and metadata, instruction, archives and special collections, etc. I do not think they would be equipped to advise an MLS student.

I’ll be blunt: to me, stagnancy is neglect. I’m concerned that the SLIS Career Center is not growing to fit the needs of students. However, I need to temper my enthusiasm for throwing tons of energy into it by remembering how I’m getting compensated. Having an abundance of ideas and being so completely desensitized to working for free is a dangerous combination. My supervisor has very reasonable expectations for our tasks given the hours we are working, for which I am grateful… I may just have to resist and only take on select projects this time around. I have my own career to focus on.

In other news, my recent HackLibSchool post on why YOU (yes, you!) should present at conferences while in library school was retweeted by ALAjoblist. Then Annie let me know that it was also picked up by last week’s American Libraries Direct! (all the way towards the bottom under “Tips & Ideas”)

So! The boyfriend drops me off at the Indy airport tonight so that I can catch a 6am flight to Chicago, then Denver, the San Francisco, then Victoria… I’ll have the weekend to explore and probably spend too much money. DHSI starts next Monday. You know I love writing conference posts, so one will emerge here at some point.

Enough about me! I’m interested in how you’re spending your summer. What are you up to these days?

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