Posts Tagged IST_511
I just took this class as an intense 5-day Maymester. We had a few assignments along the way, but they were all pretty much variations on a theme (actually, schema) so there’s not much point in breaking this post down into an entry for each.
The basic structure of the class was 2 hours of lecture followed by an hour in the lab in which we practiced one of the metadata schemas we previously learned about. This was good practice, to the point that I wish the entire course took place in the computer lab so that we could try out each scheme discussed as we were discussing it. Then again, they aren’t all so different, nor are the modes of input so different, that each one needs to have that kind of attention lavished on it.
In that vein, I wish we had had labs to practice other aspects of metadata, like specifications and crosswalks and best practices guides instead of lightly skimming over them at the end. Even if we didn’t go over examples in a lab, it still would have been nice to have gotten more focus on these in lecture instead of just throwing us into the deep end with graded assignments and whatever we could get out of the book… anything to have received a little more preparation for the final project. I’d like to know what this course is like (and what my impression of the material would be) when allowed a full semester. I can understand IST 511 being reasonably condensed to a Maymester, but not so much this one.
Another issue that was a condition of the Maymester timing: It was very frustrating to be, technically, halfway through the class and have absolutely no idea what my performance was like. We had assignments to submit on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and on Wednesday I had only one grade. For a fast-paced course with limited assignments that are all rather similar to one another (so ignorantly making the same mistake repeatedly is very possible), this was terrible.
Over the course of this semester, IST 676 (Digital Libraries) collaboratively built a wiki on the subject of digital libraries– what they are, examples thereof, preservation, benefits and problems, the users, et cetera. Now, at the end of the semester, we have a pretty massive repository of information about digital libraries.
This was an interesting project as I had never really contributed to a wiki before beyond grammatical edits. It became apparent midway through that it would have been a good idea to have established standards at the beginning regarding fonts, sizes, colors, and how content would be added. There were also a number of posts that tried to follow a more “discussion” type of format, which the wiki did not really facilitate. It seems to work better as a collaborative essay or link listing. Perhaps I’m just used to seeing cohesive wikis whose articles are actually articles. The later addition of the “team discussion” forum was a good move in that light.
It was a little strange working with people who I never physically saw and for the most part never directly interacted with. This was the most extreme end of the different levels of group interaction I had in each of my classes. In 605, we regularly did group work all semester long and really got to know each other. In 511, our groups only came together for a mini-presentation shortly before we needed to get our real project done. My group worked out fine, but we definitely didn’t have the same level of rapport as did the 605 groups.
This past Wednesday our IST 511 groups presented our posters on contentious/unsettled topics libraries are currently dealing with. Our audience was each other, older library students, and some faculty and librarians who wandered in.
I found the poster session to be more fun than I had anticipated: it was neat to explain a topic I had become so familiar with [Dewey Decimal versus bookstores' BISAC for book classification] to those who stopped by and generally had no familiarity with it. I was actually a bit disappointed by the decline in visitors in the second hour (though that was anticipated) when it was my turn to stand by our poster and talk. I definitely didn’t have the problem of being swamped by 10 people at once.
The only part that could be considered a negative was the awkward moment in between someone arriving at the poster and when they would start asking questions. I felt I should be engaging them in some way rather than just watching them to gauge how fast they were reading, but of course they needed time to find out the poster topic in the first place. I suppose this is not as much an issue in busier poster sessions, though.
This was definitely a fun experience and interestingly different from a standard lecture-style presentation, both on the presenter and the presentee ends. Discussions often sprang up about the topic with both the presenters and other audience members thanks to the flexible, interactive nature of the session. This also forced us to really be on the ball with our topics and improvise quickly, as our listeners could easily interject a difficult question we hadn’t anticipated.
I have to say, I don’t know when the last time I had to use APA style was. In my undergrad courses, I was always told to choose either MLA or APA or some other recognized citation style: I used MLA because it was closer to what I had used in high school. I can’t say I’m very impressed by the APA style, and if the whole point of citations is to make them findable by readers, then including the first name would be good first step.
We discussed afterward why there might be so many citation styles (different professions wanting to emphasize different things, etc) and if it would ever be possible to create a universal citation style (widespread conclusion: probably not). I can understand people being wary to change or compromise a style they may have always used or championed.
However, in the end, it’s just slightly different ways of citing sources that largely vary in how nit-picky they can be in terms of punctuation, capitalization nuances, and word order. Ultimately, does it really matter if someone decides they want to mostly do APA style but with more capitalization in the title? Would that one discrepancy render all the citations useless? Of course not.
And if all the vital information is present, how much does the precision of order matter? After all, one could argue that a reader would not be able to distinguish the author from the publisher from the chapter heading from the title without a standard format. Of course, if one is only familiar with one particular citation style (and as I have learned, there many, many nuances in the correct citation, depending on what portion or format of a work is being used), then a proper citation in a different style isn’t going to be as clear as it was intended to be.
I met with Barbara Giardina, the manager of the Betts branch public library. My most striking impression of the interview was how perfectly situated in her environment Ms. Giardina seemed. She had not originally planned on a library career (her earlier degrees were in biology and equine science) but she felt she was incorporating all her life’s experiences into the job. She stressed that there was no such thing as a typical day and life regularly intervenes in her work plans.
She was adamant, however, that a library is a “center of the community, not a community center”—rather, it is not an active force in programs but inviting for people to participate. This was, to me, an interestingly traditional stance, as more and more people don’t seem want to use libraries as a quiet place of books.
Curiously, she was very enthusiastic about e-books, since they cannot be stolen (something I hadn’t considered before, especially since I tend to focus on the related potential copyright “theft” for those things) and would not take up valuable physical space. So many people are too busy to come in and physically grab books, whereas a download service would be available at all hours. This is certainly true, but it seems a little at odds with her feelings on the role of libraries in the community– if libraries become online repositories of e-books, what else can the physical building become?