Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

On Catching Up, Belonging, and Library Stats

As I wrote my last post it seemed as if summer was just beginning, and now I am watching the longest day of the year fade away over the endless, undulating lines of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am in Virginia right now, and I can't get over how awesome it is that I can be on vacation in the middle of my summer class at Simmons. I love this blended format.   

The days are sliding by just as summer days should, and I find my time agreeably divided between homework, leisure reading, and hiking. I've made several visits to my old library, the one I'm using for my assignments, and it has been so fun to chat with the librarians again now that I'm in library school. Suddenly I find myself interested in and caring about topics that had never crossed my mind back when I was the library assistant: things such as acquisition policies, weeding strategy, and the future of information literacy education at the university. The director and I had a lengthy chat about these and many more subjects and I had that settling, confirming feeling that I belong here, in this field. If I weren't so worried about being a nuisance I'd show up every day and follow the librarians around, asking questions about everything. The Von Canon Library is very proud of its legacy of library workers that go on to attend library school. I think the number stands at 13, which is impressive considering the small size of the school and its complete lack of any library/information science courses.

For the evaluation assignment I have coming up, I've been collecting a variety of the library's usage statistics (with which my friends have been very generous). The library stands indebted to one of its former directors for his insistence on detailed and precise statistics. This task fell under my purview when I became the library assistant, and it has been the task of every library assistant since. When I first started I could not believe the amount of stats the library collected, nor could I imagine a use for all these numbers. While I enjoyed the process and took pride in the level of detail and comprehensiveness that my reports achieved, I did not appreciate the real power of all this quantified documentation of the library's services. In class I am learning more about the value of statistics for evaluating library collections, campaigning for funds, advocating for the library, and making informed decisions. I am also learning about the limits of quantitative data - what the numbers can't show you. In a perfect world, libraries wouldn't have to constantly justify and document their value with numbers and figures. But in our world, those numbers and figures sure do lend some heft to our claims and serve many other useful purposes. In any case, it's a fascinating area for me and I hope to learn more about this in school. Until then, please enjoy this dweeby picture of me sitting at my old library desk, looking at library stats and feeling happy as a clam: 

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