Student Snippets


Libraries Are Awesome!

We had quite the festive end to the semester last Saturday with fresh bagels and muffins in the classroom and SNOW!! I realize this is New England where snow is more a matter of course and a mundane winter inconvenience, but I am from Virginia and still firmly in the "snow is awesome" camp. It started around 11 am in South Hadley and I left immediately after class to start my two-hour drive back to CT, where it had started around 8 am. Golly it was a beautiful (albeit messy and slow) drive! I listened to Christmas music and thought about the holidays and relished in my new freedom from homework.

This was one long semester, but thankfully the end was much easier than the beginning. With the biggest assignments out of the way I've had some time to reflect on what I've learned from both my classes. It may not surprise you to hear that in library school you will learn a lot about why libraries are so awesome. I am definitely coming away from this semester with an even greater appreciation for libraries and archives.

In my class LIS 407: Information Sources & Services (aka reference) we learned all about the resources available in the library. Each week we had to explore and then evaluate one source from a weekly list. At the end of the semester, I now have a list of 206 different individual resources, of all types. Some of these are free online, some are books in the library, many are digital, and some require log-in with library credentials. I have evaluated maybe about 15 of them, and used many more to complete assignments for the class. There are lots that I still haven't even looked at! I am blown away by the quality, depth, and richness of these resources and thrilled that I now have the skills and knowledge to utilize them both as a librarian and as an individual. There is information in these sources that can actually improve people's lives. For one assignment I even took a closer look at my own local library and discovered a ton of resources I never knew were there.  Here I thought I could find most of what I needed from a Google search, but this class has shown me the light and the light is good.

The archives class (LIS 438) was my first real introduction and hands-on experience with archives. I've gained a better understanding of what archivists actually do and a better appreciation for archives' role in history and society. Archival material is different from library material in that it is unique and an organic by-product of the activities that created it. Therefore, the way that archivists provide access is much different from libraries, but the goals are largely the same. It strikes me as both a very challenging and very fulfilling profession.

In summary, both the library and archives fields are service-oriented: we exist to provide services (and resources) that improve society as a whole and individual lives. I am still amazed at all the people in the world who don't use libraries, barely know of their existence, or even question their value. And I would say that societal awareness and appreciation of archives is even lower than that of libraries. And yet here we are: deliberating over questions of ethics, debating how best to promote social justice, and engineering our spaces and services to be ever more inclusive and equitable. Librarians and archivists stand always ready to serve - whether our service communities appreciate it or not.