January 26, 2011

Thoughts on Masters of Library & Information Studies (So Far)

So, now that I have completed one term (4 courses) and am on to my second, I have some comments about my particular library and information studies program (MLIS at University of Alberta) I would like to share.  First of all, since this question is asked perpetually by those interested in LIS programs: the state of job availability is much more positive in Canada than in the United States, from the commentary I have heard.  In the various list serves I am on...there always seems to be new opportunities becoming available...though more often for senior positions or related to technical services. But generally, I would say there are a range of opportunities available across seniority, institutions and experience levels. Metatdata Librarians are particularly in demand. In Canada, I believe the LIS profession is healthy.

In my first term I took 4 required courses. This course-based Masters is 16 courses plus a capping exercise (as opposed to thesis-based), with an IT requirement of 2 courses within the 16.  The School states you can finish the program in 2 academic years, which I plan to do. Many, many students take the program part-time...one student has been taking courses for 7 years in fact. The problem with this in my school, is that there are few Spring and Summer session courses offered.  Although, you can take external courses, one practicum, or a directed study (in conjunction with seminar courses if needed).  Here are some comments about last term's courses.
  • LIS 501 Foundations of Library and Information Studies - Introduction to LIS. Different types of librarians and their roles. Looked at Mission Statements, Goals and Objectives of Institutions.  Some assignments were directed at developing soft skills. I found the Career Development Planning assignment helpful. We were fortunate enough to be taught by visiting scholar Dr. Brooke Sheldon, which made the course quite a fun experience.
  • LIS 502 Organization of Knowledge and Information - All about the theories behind how we organize, analyze, transmit and retrieve knowledge.  Disliked the assignments, which were reflective papers and a final exam, but enjoyed the content and exercises.
  • LIS 503 Information Services - This course is basically Reference Services 101. The most practical course last term, the most demanding, but the most rewarding and some "fun" assignments (i.e. presentation of a reference source, evaluation of a reference interview).
  • LIS 504 Leadership and Management Principles for Library and Information Services - If you did not have any management or supervisory experience, the course would be more challenging because a lot of discussion was required by the professor in the lectures and in an online discussion forum.
This term I am taking another required course (LIS 505) and three electives.
  • LIS 505 Introduction to Research - A step by step progression to creating a research proposal. Oh you bet I am intimidated!  Students often go on to extend the proposal as their thesis.
  • LIS 532 Cataloguing and Classification - Yes, this is all about MARC encoding, ISBD and AACR2R cataloging rules. Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal Classification.  But this class is applicable if you are interested in metadata, which is becoming increasingly important with the semantic web.
  • LIS 533 Database Design for Information Management (IT) - More about theory, the process of database development and good database design, than creating a database.
  • LIS 538 Digital Libraries (IT) - What is a digital library? What are good Digital Collections?  These questions are more complicated than you may think. We do get to create a small digital library at the end. Super excited about this!
All my courses this term develop practical skills...and this is my whole mandate - Information Technology (practical and technical skills).  Most of the assignments in the courses allow you to target the program to wherever your interests are. This is the best way to get the most out of the program.

Last term I decided not to work and I received good grades (though these are really not so important unless you are applying for scholarships).  This term will be the same though I plan on working next academic year.  Working and participating in a full-time MLIS program is a fine balance. Including class time and time required for all readings, sourcing and assignments, I would say I devote 30+ hours per week and probably closer to 40+ hours per week the last 6 to 8 weeks of the term, to the program. I would also say I am the average student...not one who is completely dedicated...I want a life too!

Many scholarships are given out by the school automatically and other scholarships require applications with research proposals....yes research proposals!  Needless to say, I probably will not be receiving any scholarships in the program. Why? I do not have a second Masters, second undergrad degree or a Doctorate, and these are the usual candidates for scholarship money.

The majority of students in the program are looking at entering traditional library roles after graduating (roles in academic, special and public libraries). Other roles include archives and schools...and even more non-traditional and alternative are jobs in the information profession and the corporate world...which is this gray fuzzy area seemingly impossible to gain any insight on - this is my focus and I did find one good printed resource called What's the Alternative? by Rachel Singer Gordon.

The most rewarding aspect about being in library school is putting behind me the sense of feeling like "the piece that won't fit into the puzzle" of the professional world.  I have made many friends, we all have different backgrounds but we have the same desire to acquire an MLIS, although we all have different interests and want to accomplish different things. Being exposed to others, with various creative ideas and collaborating on different assignments (yes, group work is heavy in some courses) has exposed me to a variety of perspectives. I have grown so much as a person from this experience.

The profession is a small one, so its important to be visible, network, join committees and generally participate.  Really, not as scary as you may think!!!  Everyone is very supportive. I decided to go to library school...because everything in me was telling me it was something I just HAD to do. Don't go to library school on a whim. Make sure it becomes a thought that never goes away. I recommend having a strong interest on a subject related to the profession. Its not necessary to be in the profession or have worked in the profession, but you must have an open mind, the ability to adapt to change and a willingness to learn, learn, learn.

Related Posts
First Impressions First Week of Library School
Ever Felt There Was Something You Just Had To Do?

January 22, 2011

Giveaway Winner!!!

The winner of A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent is...

Busy Working Mama


January 19, 2011

GIVEAWAY Reminder - A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent

Reminder you have only a couple more days to enter the giveaway for A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent.  This novel would be a great addition to your historical fiction collection!!!

For here for more details and to enter the giveaway.

January 10, 2011

GIVEAWAY and Review: A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent

As heiress to the famous Laurent Fashion Dolls business, Marguerite Ashby’s future seems secure. But France still seethes with violence in the wake of the Revolution. And when Marguerite’s husband Nicholas is killed during a riot at their shop, she leaves home vowing never to return. Instead, the young widow travels to Edinburgh and joins her old friend, Marie Tussaud, who has established a touring wax exhibition.

Under the great Tussaud’s patient instruction, Marguerite learns to mold wax into stunningly lifelike creations. When Prime Minister William Pitt commissions a wax figure of military hero Admiral Nelson, Marguerite becomes immersed in a dangerous adventure—and earns the admiration of two very different men. And as Britain battles to overthrow Napoleon and flush out spies against the Crown, Marguerite will find her own loyalties, and her heart, under fire from all sides.

With wit, flair, and a masterful eye for telling details, Christine Trent brings one of history’s most fascinating eras to vibrant life in an unforgettable story of desire, ambition, treachery, and courage.

I was impressed with Christine Trent's debut The Queen's Dollmaker in early 2010.  The novel appealed to me because it featured a strong, independent heroine with the unique employment of being an artist and entrepreneur in dollmaking. I am equally as impressed with Trent's sophomore release A Royal Likeness. Marguerite is a sympathetic character and it was a great pleasure to read about her escapades. I had planned on reading the book over a couple days but once I started reading I couldn't put it down and stayed up to the wee hours of the morning to finish it!!

A Royal Likeness combines history of the Napoleonic Era, including fascinating details about the Battle of Trafalgar, an abundance of adventure and intrigue, and a good dose of romantic interest.  The novel stands on its own, although I do recommend reading The Queen's Dollmaker first, to better understand the enmity between Marguerite and her husband's mother and brother, Maude and Nathaniel Ashby, two characters easy to dislike intensely. I also recommend reading The Queen's Dollmaker so you can meet the hero and heroine of that novel, Claudette and William, who appear in A Royal Likeness.

Marguerite's naivety and preoccupation with overcoming the grief from the loss of her husband gets her into a bit of trouble, ok more than bit, but she soon learns to become independent and face challenges with courage and determination. I would like to mention the hijinks Maurguerite gets up to, but I think this would spoil the story a bit so I will refrain. The author gives this character more adventure than she ever expected, when all she was trying to do was survive the death of her beloved husband.

For me, Christine Trent's novels stand out from others through attention to the details. Beyond the historical content, I learned things about ships I never knew before and the process of wax modeling was fascinating. I highly recommend this novel if you love quality historical fiction, adventure and intrigue, and original characters. Christine Trent's next novel is The Prince's Pavilion, to be released in 2012 by Kensington Books.

My Rating: 4.5



Christine Trent is generously providing a copy of A Royal Likeness for giveaway. To enter please leave a comment on this post.  The contest is open to International entries.

One entry for leaving a comment on this post.  Please include your email address.
One entry if you are a Follower of this blog.
Two entries if you post about this contest on your own blog.

Please include how many entries you have in your comment on this post (if you post about this contest on your blog please include the link in your comment on this post).

The entry deadline is Friday, January 21st 11:59 PM MST. 

The winner will be announced Saturday, January 22nd. 

Good Luck!!!

Related Posts

Christine Trent's Upcoming Sophomore Release - A Royal Likeness
The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent

January 8, 2011

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Classic Novel and A&E Miniseries

So over the holidays I had myself a bit of a Scarlet Pimpernel marathon.  I read the classic novel by Baroness Orczy and then watched the 1999 A&E six-part TV miniseries featuring Richard Grant and Elizabeth McGovern. Notwithstanding, I have watched the original 1934 The Scarlet Pimpernel movie starring Leslie Howard over half a dozen times, my favourite film version.

Simply brilliant.  Two words that sum up the novel. I cannot believe it has taken me so long to read this classic novel but it was absolutely wonderful. The only thing wrong with the novel is that it was too darn short! I mourned the ending of the adventure. There are sequels (and prequels) to the original story but I am content to have read just The Scarlet Pimpernel and no farther, which I will explain why in a bit more detail below.

Orczy was brilliant at characterization...contrasting mannerisms and speech of characters from different strata of society in England and in France.  The adventure is taut and rollicking and the longings of Percy and Marguerite wrap around your heart. Though short in length, the book has many nuances of emotion and thoughts by the characters, adding dimension to the story that is lacking in the film versions. For instance, in film versions it never comes across that Marguerite is an intellectual, as well as an actress, but that is how she is described by Baroness Orczy.

I think the miniseries is enjoyable in the context of the events of the French Revolution, though I venture the miniseries is not entirely accurate. As to staying true to the plot and relationships in the novel, the miniseries takes many, many liberties, which I think is unfortunate. There are many surprising events happening, many of which I did not agree with, which has decided me not to continue to read any more novels in the series, to preserve my pleasure of The Scarlet Pimpernel novel. Now having read the book, gaining more understanding about the motivations of all the characters, I appreciate the story even more and rank it as one of my all time favourite story concepts.

My favourite quote from the 1999 A&E TV miniseries is when Sir William Wetherby says to Percy, "More pimp than Pimpernel, what".  I laughed hysterically...In the last episode Sir Percy plays at a bit of matchmaking...    

I have watched The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) many times, each time enjoying it as much as the first time. The 1934 version captures the intensity, fraught emotions and sweetness of love renewed imparted in the novel. So I highly recommend the novel by Baroness Orczy and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) movie but only recommend the A&E TV miniseries (1999) version for those you interested in another perspective of the French Revolution and a bit of adventure.

My Rating - Novel: 4.5
My Rating - A&E Miniseries: 3.0

Amazon.com This Amazon edition is enriched with notes and commentary.

A&E Miniseries