Welcome to What’s Your Lib School Like? Part One! In this series, we’ll be asking our contributing writers questions about their library school.
Question 1: What has been your favorite class so far at your lib school? What did you like about it?
I’m a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My favorite class in library school has been Administration and Management of Libraries and Information Centers. One of the main reasons I liked this class so much was because the instructor used the flipped classroom approach, which I’ve written about before. Basically, instead of lecturing the entire class period, we would participate in discussion groups and do more active learning activities. Besides the instruction style, I loved that we discussed very real issues that will be relevant in our careers. For example, we talked a lot about ethical dilemmas, hiring practices, and budgeting.
I’m in my (fingers crossed) final semester at the University of Maryland, College Park’s iSchool. I’m an online-only student. My favorite class so far has been Information Policy, which covered a lot of the political side of librarianship and who really has the right to what information. Think internet filters, FOIA requests, etc. I liked it for a few reasons, which can mostly be boiled down into me being a Political Science major as an undergrad. But the biggest draw for me was the final project where we wrote mock-up Congressional Research Service briefs on an information policy topic of our choosing. Mine was on Open Access. I liked it because this was a far deeper look at the topic than I get to do in most of my classes, and writing a brief as though I was an expert lead me to learn a lot more about the topic than I think I otherwise would have.
I’m in my final month and a bit at UCL in London, England – no teaching at the moment as we’re all due to hand in our 12-15k dissertation on September 1st… Wish us luck. In some ways we’re quite a traditional library school, turning out a lot of fantastic rare books librarians – my favourite class combined this element with some genuinely cutting edge stuff. Cataloguing and Classification (aka Cat & Class) is a core class, combining cataloguing training (what else) in both AACR2 and RDA, but this year we also had a really thorough intro to BIBFRAME, RDF and linked data in general. In the further Cat & Class module I also took, we studied rare book cataloguing in more detail, cataloguing books in a language you don’t speak and we also learned about SPARQL queries to supplement our BIBFRAME knowledge. My department’s doing a massive BIBFRAME project so it was a great chance to see what’s new and learn from the experts, as well as getting a good grounding in a proper library skill!
I graduated in May from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign as an on-campus student. One of my favorite classes was Planning, Production, & Practice of Library & Museum Exhibitions. I loved it because it was really a combination of so many fantastic things: exhibits (duh), rare books (it was taught by the director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library), programming (we had to plan programs to go with our exhibits, web design (our final assignment was a web exhibit!), and project management (important LIS skill!). I ended up using things I learned in the class at my job, where we have a small display case for exhibits and produce corresponding digital exhibits.
I’m half way through the Master’s program at the University of Michigan iSchool. One of my favorite courses has been Interaction Design. The class was the perfect blend of design theory and technical practice (with prototyping tools like Axure and proto.io). I appreciated the structured arc of the course, with the final product being a high fidelity UI prototype. We moved from identifying a community need, to investigating that need, and into iterative versions of our designs, responding to group critique and user testing. It was really gratifying to take a library web tool that I helped develop as an intern last summer, and redesign the UI to make it more useful, usable, and meaningful to my patrons.