Reflecting on Spring term

Are you done?  Have you submitted that last paper, or taken your final exam?  Are you trying to catch up on all those chores you could not get to because you were too busy reading/studying/writing or attending class?  

For many of us, we have a short break between terms. Others are attending mini-terms or going to professional conferences like ALA. In short, we are busy and will continue to be until, like others in our respective schools, we can walk across that stage and get that piece of paper that shows the world that we are library professionals. 

So, how are you feeling? Are you relaxed/relieved that the term is over?  Are you already planning your next-term strategies?  Indulge me as I spend a few moments reflecting on my first term as an older graduate student.

I am happy to report that in spite of thirty-plus years in an Ivy League Academic Library, I still have a lot to learn.  I took two out of three of my required courses this term, Information Environment, and Information Representation and Organization.  My classes had a mix of students who were in public libraries, academic, data management or archives.  I found the diversity in age and backgrounds really enhanced our discussions as we studied information science topics.

During my undergraduate years, I dreaded team assignments.  In my experience, there was always one or two people who were not team players, causing stress and extra work for the rest of us.  My teams this term were terrific.  We quickly recognized each other’s strengths—in both classes my team assignments garnered top marks for content and presentation.  It made me appreciate the benefits of bouncing ideas off others and has created connections that I didn’t expect to make in a distance program.

Another bonus has been the ability to translate what I am learning in class directly into my work environment.  My library is implementing a new library system in a few weeks.  My Information Representation and Organization course has made me look more critically at how information is presented, not only for library staff but more importantly for the public catalog used by our patrons.

Graduate school, and working, and keeping a life balance with your family and friends is difficult. There were days that I wondered if I could really dig deep enough to write that paper, attend that class, or get more than six hours of sleep before starting all over again.  With a term behind me and five more to go, I have learned to be thankful for:

  • Sleep—can you say power nap?
  • Whiteboards—they are your new best tool.
  • Netflix—when you are trying to unwind from class.
  • Domestic chores, because sometimes doing laundry helps you absorb all of that dense reading.
  • Road trips, even if it just a quick getaway, help a lot.
  • Colleagues, who can help explain RDA triples and all those library acronyms.
  • My dog Cody, who always knew when to come into my study and put his head on my lap.
  • My friends, who understood each time I bailed on them, and made sure to get me to the movies and book group even when I didn’t read the book.
  • My son and daughter-in-law for asking me how I was doing and putting up with my endless tech questions.
  • My partner, who encouraged me to get this degree and has listened, supported and championed me every step of the way.  

This summer I will be immersing myself in young adult literature and children’s picture books. I look forward to reading genres I haven’t read in many years and reconnecting with my classmates over a completely different curriculum.  

Have tips or strategies you learned this term or others?  Send them to me, and I will report back in a future post.  In the meantime, congratulations on surviving your term! Now go relax and reconnect with your tribe.  

Lisa Ladd has just completed her first term at University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Information Science. Her dog Cody is very happy she has a few days off.

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