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Okay, so it’s been – what – over a month? since my last post.  I could open a new tab and find out for certain, but I’m trying something out here … just writing for the sake of writing.

Or it might be more accurate to say I’m writing for the sake of letting anyone out there who only knows me through this blog know that I am indeed still alive.  Just very, very busy.

These two months – September and October – are the Run For Your Life Non-Stop months at my job.  I find this time exhilarating, challenging, breath-taking and exhausting. And my classes this term are dynamic, fun and  well-balanced.  It’s actually a very good term on the whole.

But, as you might have guessed from my last post, I’ve been thinking a lot about personal expression.  This includes a lot of different things for me — everything from individual style to creative outlets to one’s writing voice.  I’ve had some great conversations about this with various people this semester, giving me plenty of food for thought.

From an art student friend, I’m learning about using the influence of the great masters in your craft as a process toward finding your own voice.  I had always been frustrated by all the influences on me, feeling that I would never know what *I* wanted to say, because I have so many other writers buried in my sub-conscious.  But this friend has pointed out to me something rather obvious — that these influences blend together and form a mosaic that becomes a part of your voice.  That those masters had mosaics of their own, going back farther than we can see.

From a kindred spirit with a love of words, I’m rediscovering the subtle power of poetry.   My study of poetry has been  varied but rather lazy up till now.  I’ve always shied around the science of poetry, never really delving into the mechanics too much for fear of tarnishing the enchantment of poems with the nuts and bolts.  But this friend has shown me and reminded me that, linguistically, the careful and deliberate construction of poetry is key to its power.

So with all this in mind, I plan to steal away some time for myself to revisit some familiar and unfamiliar masters, unlock some favorite and foreign poems, and allow this mosaic I’m sitting on to show itself bit by bit.

I started this term full of excitement for the Latin 101 class that I was taking — “Latin!” I thought to myself, “one of the languages that started it all.  The original Romance tongue.  The root of almost everything we say.”  How delightful, yes?I think my honeymoon phase with this language is coming to an end.  I still love learning it — as I love learning any new language — but the more I learn about the ancient Roman culture (in the context of “this is where we came from”) the less thrilled I am with it.  For one thing, the Romans stole a lot from the Greeks — I knew that, but I didn’t realize how much they stole.  And then we start getting into all the connotations behind words … for example, did you know the word behind “virtue” originally meant “manly”?  Ech.

But the connection that has forever discolored Latin in my eyes is below:

bellum : war … neuter, II decl. noun
bellus, bella, bellum : beautiful, pretty, charming, handsome… adjective

That’s right – the neuter form of the word meaning “beautiful” is also the word for “war” … WTF?!  How can any culture combine these two concepts into the same word?!?  “War” and “Beauty” …?  I’m so disgusted and disappointed.  You let me down, Latin.  I don’t think our relationship will ever be the same again.

I’m terribly disappointed… shouldn’t there be a New England or West Coast in there somewhere?

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English
10% Dixie
10% Yankee
5% Midwestern
5% Upper Midwestern

28 September 2006

What do we call those people in the libraries? No, not the employees, those *other* people.  The people who wander in voluntarily just to find stuff, read stuff, or nap on the overstuffed chairs.  What do we call them?  I stumbled upon just such a discussion in the archives of the jESSE library education listserv for the sake of a class assignment.  The thread was called “Customers” and – as you might imagine – many people took issue with calling their people-in-the-libraries “customers” or even “clients”… for some reason, no one argued against “patron” really, but one fellow did bring up the old tradition of calling them “readers” which I found absolutely endearing, however, that was immediately squashed by someone pointing out that people do much more than read in libraries (depends on how you define “read” I say).

All in all, one thing has become very clear to me – not only from this listserv discussion, but also from discussions in classes.  The issue is not about what we call the people-in-the-libraries, it’s really about what we call ourselvses.  We’re trying to express far too many variables with “librarian” and that’s what keeps getting us into trouble.  On the listserv, some people were offended that others were offended by “customer” because, in fact, their libraries were commercial and charged for their services.  Therefore, they had customers.  Others worked in medical libraries and had seperate issues of their own with using the term “patient” for their … um… visitors.

In my classes, our discussions completely change depending on the student – are we talking about a school context? a public library context? an academic context?  And the expectations of each “librarian” are completely different.  An academic librarian should have at least two Masters degrees.  A school librarian should have teaching certification.  A law librarian should have a JD.  And then that brings us into library science curriculum.  Did you know – in some countries, library science is treated as a vocational degree?  Are we trying to lump vocational and professional work together here in the States?  Supposedly (I said “supposedly!”) one of the first library schools here was a school of “Library Economy” and thus, women were the students because it was far more “economical” to hire them than men.  This was a school for training the library clerks – the true librarians were still academic men who were paid better.

So… I’m having a lot of issues with this whole profession right now.  I. Myself. Personally. Really like the whole librarian idea.  Especially in today’s world of info technology and social software and possibility, possibility, possibility.  History, however, makes me question the … validity? scholarship? clout? of this field.  How can we -new library students – take ourselves seriously if no one else does? Even in classes and in the literature I detect… I detect a constant subliminal apology.  It really drives me crazy.  In fact, it almost makes me not want to be associated with this field, but I’m young enough apparently to be optimistic.  I see a lot of cool, smart, savvy people in my classes – my fellow students.  I see very capable people teaching some of these classes.  Surely, with a population like this, library science can’t stay marginalized forever, right?

I guess my biggest complaint about library science classes so far is just how dated they feel.  The role models they’re giving me are all dead and gone.  Who are the movers and shakers recently??  They should be in this material now, related to everything else we’re reading.  Why haven’t any of my classes even mentioned Web 2.0 or Library 2.0??  Hello – buzzwords!

Perhaps I’m being too impatient.  It wouldn’t be the first time.  But I just wanted to voice these concerns now, so that I can look back in six months and ask myself, “Well, Self, do you feel better now? ”  In the meantime I am still amused and delighted with discussions about “clients” vs. “customers” vs. “patrons” and I still love books and I still think information rules the world.

For some reason, the thought of students still changing their class schedules two weeks into the term brings out a bit of rolling eyes and “tsk, tsk” from some people, but I say phooey on that. Why shouldn’t students change their schedules when they realize particular classes won’t work for them?

Yes, it is two weeks into the term, and I have just changed my schedule.

And I do believe it is all for the best. I dropped an on-line class, in which we’re expected to learn something while listening to the professor over our headphones / computer speakers, pay attention to the students chatting in the “classroom” (would this be tolerated during a lecture in a real classroom?) and also follow the links to the “slides” provided by instructor or students. I know I’ll have to give on-line classes another try at some point, but I wanted to keep my “I’m in graduate school!” high for at least the first term. That high is renewed a little bit each time I have my Global Perspectives class, for example. Good discussions, informative material, very knowledgeable instructor. I know the instructor for the on-line class is also very knowledgeable, and I’m sure taking the same class on-campus would give me a very different impression. It really was just the interface that I did not like… ironic, as the class was on Interface Design.

My new wonderful class is … (trumpets!) Sociolinguistics! You see, I’ve been trying to figure out what my ideal degree would be… I thought about English, Linguistics, Comparative Literature… but it seems like my ideal degree would be called simply “Modern Languages” and I would simply learn all sorts of languages and sit around a simple dinner with great wine with all my Modern Languages colleagues and we would talk about all the strange differences along the Indo-European language tree and what is Basque, anyway? Someone would say something in Italian, which sounds like a bad pun in German, and we would all laugh.

Barring that, though, this Sociolinguistics subject is getting me much closer to my ideal than anything else has. This all came about after talking with my adviser (why did I wait? I don’t know.), who asked me, quite simply, what do I want to do with a library degree? I answered that I wanted to study libraries *and* languages. That my dream research topic would be looking at which languages were heavily populating the internet vs. populating the Earth, and projecting about where those on-line language numbers are leading us. (Surprise: English is only 35% of the internet now. Don’t think you need to learn other languages? Think again.) He suggested I really look at customizing my degree to fit my interests, reminded me of the electives from other departments that I can take to complement the library classes. And it’s working out perfectly this term – Sociolinguistics on one hand, Global Perspectives of Libraries on the other. I love this stuff. I don’t know what kind of job I could get with this… I just hope it’s a job with accents and umlauts.

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