Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

My Unexpected Library Class

If you are like me, you'll come to library school with some idea of what librarianship looks like and what subjects your course of study may include. I can tell you that there are plenty of courses that you might expect, such as subject cataloging, history of the book, collection development, and library programs and services. But you will also find courses that you might not expect, like usability and user experience, knowledge management, web development, and information visualization. The fact of the matter is, there will be more classes offered that you want to take than you can fit into your program. Library school is both too long and way too short. If you're curious about Simmons' course offerings, you can view the full course catalog here.

Database management is one of those unexpected classes that I'm so excited to be taking. My interest in databases dates back to my internship at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the day my staff sponsor asked me if I had any knowledge or experience with Microsoft Access. I didn't, and so I performed all my tasks in Excel with the impression that it was not fully adequate for my assignment. Microsoft Access (and relational databases in general) was only a vague concept to me back then, but for some reason it stuck in my mind as something I wanted to learn. Fast forward to my first semester at Simmons and an assignment in the technology core class to create a technology tutorial. What did my partner and I choose? Microsoft Access.

Now my latent curiosity of 8 years is finally brought to fruition in a class all about databases. We are learning about database design (a combination of art + science), the various programming languages involved (HTML, SQL, PHP), issues surrounding data security and privacy, and recently, the process of knowledge discovery in databases. What I love about this class (besides the coolest instructor of all time) is that the skills and knowledge that we're gaining have wide applicability - certainly across libraries, museums, and archives but out into other fields as well. Knowledge discovery is a whole separate field in itself and databases are like a bridge of commonality between it and library science. I would love to work in traditional libraries and archives but I would also love it if my degree took me somewhere a little more unexpected. For some examples of this, check out Simmons' blog/podcast Beyond the Stacks: http://beyondthestacks.info/.

Keep an open mind when you come to library school - you may discover your most interesting and exciting opportunities lie outside the box of "traditional" librarianship.

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