It was gradual evolution, a long series of small wins and tiny breakthroughs” -james clear

Click here to download a PDF of the required learning points for my MLIS. 

 

 

After taking The Foundation class

 

For my first semester in librarian school, I took a foundational, introductory course which gives a broad overview of librarianship and information science (A1). It describes libraries in ancient and classical times, changes to libraries in the 20th century due to efforts to turn librarianship into a profession, and the needs of libraries and museums now in the 21st century. 

I was glad for the opportunity to explore so many different areas of LIS (B5). I have a lot of preconceived notions about this occupation that are still changing. I used to think of librarianship as a stale, bureaucratic occupation that could get boring quickly, but I am pleased to find that it is a dynamic environment that is experiencing a lot of shifts and pivots. There seems to be a lot of opportunity to influence the way libraries will move into the future. I believe that working in a library could help fulfill my ideals about making a broad, up-to-date, high-quality education available to students. 

There is a much broader range of tasks than I had anticipated, and it is a much more managerial type of role than I had expected. I wasn’t certain that I was going down the right path, and I wasn’t sure how I might fit into this world, but I believe there is a place in it for me. 

A career in librarianship is consistent with what I want to do. Librarianship is open, innovative, and curious. It’s a commitment to constantly updating knowledge. One of our first assignments was to interview an established librarian, and I had the pleasure of getting a behind-the-scenes tour of an academic library. It cemented my predilection towards academia. I hope to find work in a college. I want to help ambitious young people improve the world (C9). I don’t mind getting the additional education expected of an academic librarian–in fact, I am looking forward to it! 

There is a cross-over between librarianship and technology that I was not expecting. For quite a while now I’ve had an interest in science and technology, so I was thrilled to be able to look into artificial intelligence for my main paper in my foundational course. Knowing so little about AI was a nagging itch at the back of my head before doing this paper, but now I see that it has so much potential to completely change our day-to-day lives, and even to render work obsolete for the majority of the population. It’s one of the most significant topics in information science. China is using artificial intelligence to change the way consumers make their purchases, drive, and do their banking. AI is probably the tool being used when programs say they are “learning” from their users. I think it should be considered a foundational topic for everyone to know about. 

The focus on data that libraries have transitioned to ensures that librarianship will remain relevant long after work itself loses most of its relevance. This, and the encouragement I received from taking a couple of web design classes make me feel as though a focus on digital technology will be an area I can and want to contribute to. It is a relief to know that this MLIS program is giving me skills that are going to have a big impact on my ability to manage an information environment. Doing this research paper helped me to understand our introduction to ontologies, and the Semantic Web. Metadata is an area I would definitely like to look into further in my MLIS program. It fits in very well with the programming classes I am taking concurrently at my local community college (B7). 

I was first introduced to the community college’s computer programming certificate by taking their HTML/CSS/Javascript class and their PHP/MySQL class. I took these classes in anticipation of their usefulness for this masters program. Going into technical detail while doing a couple of projects really added a lot to the broad, theoretical overview that the masters program focuses on. Now I see myself finishing up a computer programming-related certificate. I know from my interview with the academic librarian that librarians will split up their work as a team, and that some librarians take on more of a systems librarian role than others.

I’ve also heard that people with MLIS degrees also get jobs in publishing, and I see the potential applications of this MLIS. The eBook that we created was a very simple project, but it demonstrates how it is possible for anyone to become a published, read author. The MLIS could help address questions of taste, quality, and marketing for authors. Libraries are also responsible for integrating self-published books from community members into their collections, which is something that particularly interests me. I self publish from time to time, and I love to support people who self publish. It seems to me that librarians are required to exercise a lot of executive judgment, while maintaining a service orientation, which almost seems like having to juggle opposites. I suppose it’s no different than an artist having to be a creator, self-critical, and a self-promoter.

Some of the other things I learned in my foundational course were the influence of culture on data creation, data sharing and data organization, changes in the publishing industry, eBooks and the digital media industry, social media, the effects of digitizing government documents, copyright and open access, intellectual freedom, quality of information (including Wikipedia and the wisdom of crowds), issues in management, demonstrating one’s value, the differences between information environments and other environments (medical, retail, manufacturing, etc.), differences between large and small libraries, library and museum websites and mobile apps, digital collections (including archives), classification schemes and subject headings, controlled vocabularies and ontologies, MARC, metadata, and linked data. I think that if a coworker or supervisor were to reference most of these topics, I would at least have a starting point to begin further research. My mind wouldn’t be completely blank. I would be able to investigate further to apply my understanding to practical problems. 

I think that there are a lot of details that I will only be able to pick up on the job, but I don’t think it could be said that my masters education didn’t teach me anything practical about this occupation. I’ve especially come away from this foundational course with an understanding of the basic principles of librarianship: humanism, information literacy, the communication of knowledge, privacy, lifelong learning, service to the community, and professionalism.

Click to download AI paper.

 

Why I chose to take

“Science Information and its presentation”

(Request/explanation given to the University)

 

I would like to request that INFO 578 be used to help fulfill my MLIS requirements. I think it will be useful to me as a librarian, because I would like to work for a STEM university or a research institute. Also, I just have a passion for some kinds of physics. Some structure, dedicated time, and a place to exchange ideas about science sounds like something that would fulfill a deep need I do not always attend to. I think I would benefit tremendously by learning how to communicate complex and unusual ideas to a general audience.

Course Description: In today’s digital society, people have access to a wide variety of information sources and scientific data. In this course, students will learn about the role of science and scientific data in society, and they will consider means for making science information findable and understandable for a wide variety of audiences. This course will provide students an interdisciplinary experience for considering science data and how that information gets shared across contexts.

How it partially fulfills the MLIS requirements:

A3) “Students will demonstrate understanding of the use of information and communication technologies including social aspects of information in providing information resources and services in libraries and other information environments.”

I believe that this class helps with the social aspects of providing science information. It is concerned with communicating scientific ideas, and seems to invite students to compassionately grapple with ideas in society that could use a more scientific perspective, like anti-vaxxing.

B6) “Students will demonstrate knowledge of the management of information resources, services, and organizations and apply this knowledge to their areas of career interest.”

My area of career interest might require the ability to discern which scientific media would be most helpful in a collection for a given audience, and perhaps defend those choices.

B7) “Students will demonstrate knowledge of the roles of interdisciplinary, interprofessional, and community collaboration and alliances in the provision of library and information services.”

This class seems highly interdisciplinary, given that we will all choose our own scientific topic to dwell on for the semester, and I am certain that we will all come from different undergraduate programs, and have different work experiences to draw from. Also, the focus of the class seems to be on community.

 

Click to download pop culture review.

Here are some “ads” I made for these sciences during a unit about different types of advertising appeals (e.g. an appeal to health, a fear appeal, etc.).

These are the appeals the ads are based on:

 

Fear Appeal: If we don’t start working on incorporating chaos back into mathematical formalism in graduate programs, when we get a grip on quantum computing and increase the computing power by literally a million times a billion, there will be a massive, uncoordinated scramble to suddenly start figuring out where and how to factor in chaos and complexity into nearly every social and technological system we have.

 

Health/Morality Appeal: If we develop a more sturdy set of theorems for studying complex adaptive systems, we’ll be much better prepared for technological and biological change. We’ll be better prepared for future pandemics, and fewer people will fall through the holes in our social support systems.

 

An ad advocating for teaching chaos.

 

 

An ad advocating for funding complex adaptive systems research. 

Middle point reflection

These are the courses I took after my first semester.

LIS 515 (Organization of Information) focused on the basic concepts involved in ordering categories of objects and creating relationships between objects that are both located in our physical world and our digital world. I’m including a small thesaurus I constructed using a controlled vocabulary. (Click here to download it.) Controlled vocabularies, relational databases, and using metadata are the earliest ways that libraries have ordered their collections. It is the way that information was organized before full-text searches were made possible with more powerful computers.

 

Our discussions revolved around the following topics: 1) Analyzing what, why, how much, when, by whom, and where a collection is being organized; 2) Analyzing who the users are and what types of people they are, why they care about the collection, the size of the collection, the criteria for selecting items to organize, the properties of those items that are used to organize the collection, how users interact with the collection, and what the plans are for the collection in the long-term; 3) Intrinsic versus extrinsic properties of items; 4) Relationships (relational properties) and kinds of relationships, like symmetrical, transitive, inverse. The domains and ranges of relationships; 5) Triples; 6) Dublin Core’s term sets; 7) JSON; 8) XML; 9) RDF; 10) Types of data, like blobs, dictionaries, trees, etc. 11) Metadata schemas; 12) Thesauruses; 13) Controlled vocabularies versus tagging; 14) Scope notes; 15) Categorization and classification (enumerative and faceted); 16) Databases; 17) Full-text retrieval.

 

We had three required assignments which involved organizing a collection of your choice. I chose to organize my art supplies. >>>

I’m open to working for a museum after learning a little bit about that in the introductory LIS 504 class, and INFO 578 has a lot of applications to that kind of work since it’s about writing science for a general audience in popular mediums. Social media content and displays need to be made and they need to have engaging information about the artifacts displayed.

The specific topics we discussed were: 1) Breaking down research papers into language for the general population; 2) Story structure; 3) Using simple and common words; 4) Popular keywords and hashtags; 5) Making pop culture connections; 6) Different types of advertising appeals; 7) Making gifs; 8) Conspiracy theories and other misinformation.

 

 

LIS 671 (Introduction to Digital Curation and Preservation) gave us some insight into the challenges of digital preservation, and some of the options for preservation, like migration, bit-level preservation, making replicas through 3D printing, and watching for file format obsolescence.

 

The bulk of our work was in discussion boards, but we also had three assignments: researching jobs in digital preservation, creating a finding aid based on materials from the Harvey Company, and comparing institutions’ preservation policies to the standard formula American libraries tend to use.

 

We had some options for our final project. I chose to build on my interest in science and wrote a paper comparing and contrasting research data management in different scientific subjects. (Click here to download it.) My final paper looks at a specific social group (scientific researchers) and ways that librarians can fill roles to serve that community. The class in general looks at the broader world and how librarians can use digital technology to serve various communities.

 

The topics we read about and discussed in small groups were: 1) An exchange of specific digital collections classmates were interested in; 2) A history of digital collections and the digitization of physical collections; 3) Important issues in the current digital preservation landscape, NFTs, and the authenticity and uniqueness of records; 4) Hex and digital infrastructures (like technical systems, APIs, and algorithms); 5) The DCC curation model (the lifecycle of digitally-preserved items); 6) Establishing intent for the appraisal and selection of digital items for a collection. DROID software; 7) Supporting the research needs of different fields (social science, hard science, etc.); 8) Digital curation for museums. Digitizing museum collections and sharing them online; 9) “Post-custodial” ways of managing collections. Physical and intellectual control of digital items; 10) Provenance, original order, and respect des fonds; 11) Digital copies and file formats; 12) METS and PREMIS; 13) Fixity and digital curation workflows; 14) Digital curation policy and the sustainability of digital collections; 15) Digital repositories and microservices. >>>

 

 

LIS 672 (Introduction to Applied Technology) walked us through the process of building a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server on a virtual machine.

 

For my final project, I made a PowerPoint that reviewed key topics about how to build a LAMP server. (Click here to download the mp4 video.)

 

LIS 673 (Managing the Digital Information Environment) helped me to define my own personal best practices as a group leader. Leadership is often thrust upon one unexpectedly, so one should prepare. The class wasn’t focused on technology. It was about managing people, and planning digital projects. We discussed the following topics: 1) An introduction to Bolman and Deal’s “four frames” theory of management styles; 2) Missing and vision statements; 3) Strategy (goals and objectives); 4) Planning tools; 5) Strategic thinking; 6) Project management and its tools; 7) Agile development; 8) Information ecologies; 9) Managing outcomes; 10) Needs assessments; 11) Risk management; and 12) Program and program management ethics. The class had a lot of assignments that had us working with specific worksheets and templates and specific software for managing information organizations.

 

In the second half of my MLIS, I plan to keep a focus on technology. My goal is to find work that is mainly behind the scenes.

 

 

 

Profession Development reflection

 

I took a Python class at my local community college (Yavapai College) in order to fulfill this ePortfolio writing requirement: the professional development reflection. I chose a Python class because learning to program in Python is an incredibly practical skill for an office worker to invest in to increase employability. Python is one of the most popular and in-demand computer programming languages today, and its applications cut across many disciplines. 

 

For librarians, Python can be used to automate tasks on the computer, to create research projects, to organize and present statistical data, to create games which can be used for training and other educational purposes, and to build custom apps. I plan to look at information science and other types of jobs as well.

 

I took this introductory Python class at Yavapai College at the same time that I took an introductory data mining class in R at the University of Arizona. These are the two standard languages one should know if one is to get involved with data science. They are frequently taught together. Although R is designed to be more directly useful for data science, Python is also used by data scientists frequently. Both can be used in data mining apps like Jupyter. Data science relates directly to how to do research in academic librarianship, where faculty librarians are expected to publish papers on a regular basis. Data science models are also useful for collection development and optimizing finances.

 

We were taught that it’s fairly uncommon for librarians who write academic papers to formulate theories. Data science is about using statistics to find interesting patterns one might not have otherwise noticed. I believe that academic librarians using data science methods would be more likely to make breakthrough discoveries, because the tools one is using when one builds a model for data are beyond human. 

 

Even before I went to librarian school, I’d heard that academic libraries are trying to get more and more involved in managing data for researchers at colleges. When I had my internship with the county library offices, they also seemed to work with a lot of data in order to look for emerging patterns. The systems librarian was even earning another master’s degree in Data Science because she considered it so relevant to her job. She was learning Python during the time that I interned there. Even earlier in my journey with this master’s degree, I interviewed a librarian at Embry-Riddle who mentioned taking a class in R and was really glad that she did, because it was helpful in her position as a collection manager.

 

The experience of the class was fast-paced, but not unmanageable. Unfortunately, this Python class was condensed into the latter eight weeks of the semester, and so was the R class. I was concerned that the work might be too much. (I consider myself rather slow when it comes to learning about both statistics and programming. I have the interest, but not the speed. There is also some prerequisite math required to understand a lot of data science, and it has been a long time since I was a physics major.) So I wrote to my Python professor and asked if there was any reading I could do in advance to prepare for the class. He told me to read the first eight chapters, and I did. 

 

The first eight chapters covered the basics of any programming language, and also covered the specifics of Python. The topics included: setting up the programming environment, variables, strings, whitespace, numbers, comments, lists, indexing, moving and changing elements in a list, sorting and organizing a list, printing, for loops, the meaning of indents, if statements, dictionaries, while loops, accepting user input, functions, importing modules, and generally-accepted style practices. 

 

My eyes usually glaze over by the time I get to textbook chapters on functions, but fortunately, I had lots of energy to spare to read the chapter on functions very carefully. I had been doing some practice problems in Python on HackerRank.com over the summer, and functions and lists were challenging for me. It was really helpful to sit down and read a general overview of all the rules instead of Googling them piecemeal. I stopped reading just short of the chapters on classes and files.

 

When the class started and I got to see the syllabus, I knew this class would help me to network online. I’ve developed a stronger interest in the information science portion of the Master of Library and Information Science over the course of the program, and I know that in the technology world, it’s very important to have a public online presence. This Python class has a fairly large project at the end of it, so it should be something I can share on my ePortfolio, GitHub, and possibly my resume. 

 

Then at about the same time that the Python class started, I got a look at INFO 523, my data mining class. The first week involved reading four chapters of R code. Right when I looked at the syntax, I felt that I was dealing with a blend of Python and MATLAB. The professor will even allow us to do the homework in Python if we make a special request. Fortunately, the data mining class teaches us how to set up a GitHub account, which ties perfectly into the Python class. 

 

The Python class really started to intensify for me when it came to the week about while loops and functions. When it came to the functions lab, I spent six hours straight on a single problem. I did not change out of my pajamas that day. I didn’t even take a walk; by the time I came up for some air, it was dark outside. After six hours of Googling, reading sassy StackExchange comments, and experimenting with finding out how types change after being processed by functions, and figuring out all kinds of new ways to cast things, and learning how to build and then access items in nested dictionaries, and how to use multiple loops to navigate nested lists, and really questioning and rethinking my logic–all I needed to do was add a single if statement in the right spot. 

 

At that point in the semester, I would do school work every day except for Sunday, so I would have a day off. But I did not have a day off that week or any week after that! Things only got more challenging. 

 

Right now, I’m looking ahead in the course modules and see that the class will culminate in a final lesson involving connecting to an API. That sounds incredibly intimidating to me. You have to depend on the company to have everything working and then hope that they will communicate that effectively to you. I plan to try connecting to Twitter’s API to create a celebrity fan program letting the user know what the most recent and most popular Tweets about that person are.

 

I have final projects/presentations in all my classes this semester. For Python, I plan to create something called “The Boredom Breaker for Craftsy Folks.” It will be a quiz set up like a decision tree in which the program tries to help someone interested in crafts pick a new craft to work on. The program will then connect to Etsy’s API and return the most popular kit for that craft type. 

 

These assignments may sound a little frivolous, but taking this Python course and familiarizing myself with the language helped me tremendously in my data mining course. My final project for data mining involved analyzing lots of Python code in order to find the right data mining methods to present on.

 

Some of the competencies this professional development class covered include the first two foundational competencies:

 

 A1) Students will demonstrate understanding of basic principles, concepts, and terminology related to the creation, organization, management, access, and use of knowledge and information and will demonstrate the ability to apply them to practical problems. 

 

I believe that Python has a lot to do with the creation of knowledge and information. Its relationship to data science means that Python often transforms raw data into information and then knowledge. It also has a lot to do with the management, access, and use of information as many websites and apps are created using Python.

 

A2) Students will demonstrate understanding of the nature of research, research methods and the role of research in library and information science and additionally, demonstrate the ability to apply research findings to practical problems.

 

Python is used by mathematicians, scientists, and financial analysts to do their research. Librarians are often either faculty at universities or called upon to advocate for themselves in order to receive resources, which requires research in order to structure arguments that can be defended well. Facts, evidence, and logic can be very persuasive when used in conjunction with other rhetorical methods.

 

In summary, Python is a powerful, cross-platform, in-demand programming language that will open up not just librarian jobs that involve helping people manage data, but also open up opportunities for information science-related jobs. I am confident that taking this class has expanded my opportunities for finding a job and that it will make me more useful on the job.

 

Click to view Python assignments on GitHub.