Save NYC Libraries!

As I predicted, I’ve not been very good about updating this blog.  My first semester at SJSU SLIS was difficult, mostly in terms of balancing grad work with my current job and other things.  But I really enjoyed my classes, learned a lot, and managed to get good grades! My second semester has just started, and this time I’m only taking one class, as the summer semester is condensed and because I’m moving and starting a new job.

That’s right, I’m moving from Tulsa, Oklahoma to New York City on Saturday.  I will no longer be teaching, but will instead be a Tech Coordinator at the new Relay Graduate School of Education.  Though the job is not directly related to library science, I think the tech skills and networking I’ll be able to do will definitely help me in the future.  And I’m excited to be living in a big city!

One of the first things I researched for my move, of course, was the city’s public libraries. It turns out that there are three library systems in NYC: the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Library. All are available to anyone who lives or works in the state of New York…and unfortunately, all of them face drastic budget cuts.  I am optimistic that the cuts won’t be nearly so bad when the final budget comes out, but the thing is, public libraries shouldn’t be facing any cuts at all.  In tough economic times, they are needed more than ever as providers of information and as community meeting spaces for everyone, even the most disadvantaged.

The Queens Library has a video on their careers page that shows pretty well why my ideal career would be to work as a librarian in an urban public library.  My two years teaching showed me that good teachers in urban public schools can definitely make a difference, and indeed, are vital components of closing the achievement gap.  But my time teaching has also shown me first-hand that good schools and good teachers are not enough to ensure equality of opportunity.  As a public librarian, I’d be able to help educate not just students, but their entire families.  I could still help students with their school curriculum through implementing literacy programs and homework help tutoring, but could also help others by providing computer classes and English language classes and job hunting seminars.

Though some cities recognize the importance of public libraries, enough don’t that I’m trying to keep my options open, in case I’m not able to get a job at a public library.  But my advocacy of public libraries is not just so that I can get a job.  I’m lucky.  I happened to be born to a family where college education was a given.  I have one degree, and soon it will be two, and though I may have difficulty finding a job at times and may have to watch my spending, I highly doubt I will ever have to wonder where my next meal is coming from.  There are so many people for whom this is just not true, and it is for them that I advocate for libraries.   It is for them, and for the recent immigrants to our country, and for everyone else who faces far more disadvantages than I likely ever will.  Education and information and technology are equalizers when everyone has the same access to all of them, and libraries are one of the things that help provide everyone with that access.

So whether you live in NYC, or elsewhere, be an advocate for your library!

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library.  The only entrance requirement is interest.  ~Lady Bird Johnson

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.  ~Andrew Carnegie

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.  ~Quoted in The Whole Earth Catalog, 1980 edition, originally created by Stewart Brand

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Together Everyone Achieves More

(Part 2 of 2 posts for the Personal Skills Module of LIBR 203)

“TEAM stands for ‘together everyone achieves more’.”

Though the saying is certainly a cliché, there is truth in it.  Collaboration and communication allow groups to get done far more together than they would individually.  A couple of weeks ago, at a staff meeting, we did a team building exercise where we wrote a joint résumé listing the combined strengths and experiences of everyone in our group.  The result was pretty impressive, and a great illustration of how teams allow people to pool their strengths and compensate for each others’ weaknesses.  I only have a year and a half’s experience teaching, but if I work in a team I can learn from my coworkers who have been teaching for twenty years or more.  On the other hand, I have more skills in technology than many of my coworkers, and I can help them in return in that area.  When we work in a team, we can learn from each other, as well as have everyone focus on doing what they do best.

Teamwork is essential in every job, and it’s something I’d like my students to learn as well.  Not only will it be a skill they need once they start working, but we learn so much more when we discuss our learning, put it to practical use, and teach it to others.  However, my students hate doing group work, unless they can choose their group members.  Even then, they have not been taught how to work together or handle conflict.  I hoped that by listening to the lectures in this module of my class, I would not only learn how to be a better team member myself, but also how to teach my 5th graders to work together. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Ready for Online Learning?

(Part 1 of 2 posts for the Personal Skills Module of LIBR 203)

Why did I choose to earn my MLIS online? After all, I do enjoy sitting in lectures, and in-person interaction with my professors and peers. There’s something to be said for being literally surrounded by other learners, and I’m going to miss the atmosphere.

However, right now I’m working a full-time job, and it’d be difficult for me to squeeze scheduled classes in given my limited time. Even if I were lucky enough to find classes that fit my schedule, however, there’s also the issue that this is my second year as a Teach for America corps member. While I think I’m going to teach for at least a third year, or at least stay here in Oklahoma working somewhere else, I’m not sure. I could move back to California, or even go abroad. An online grad school program gives me the flexibility to take classes no matter where I am, and what else I’m doing.

The readiness assessments and “Tips for Success” in my LIBR 203 course, however, reminds me that there is a price to pay for this flexibility in time management, and there are also challenges specific to online interaction that I must keep in mind. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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An Introduction

As this is a new blog, I thought I’d give a quick overview of who I am and what I’m doing here.  So here goes…

My name is Jennifer, and I am an aspiring librarian who has just started taking classes through San Jose State University’s online Masters of Library and Information Science program.   I am so excited to be back in school!  I received my BA in History (minors in Mathematics and Computer Science) from Baylor University in May 2010, and have missed taking classes in the year and a half since then.

Getting an MLIS is something I’ve been looking at on and off for a couple of years now, even though I’d heard that getting a job in the field can be tough. But I do love working with information, so I decided to finally take the plunge. As I’m currently a 5th grade teacher, my tentative plan is to go the route of Teacher Librarianship, but I’m open to other specialties as well. While I’m pretty sure I don’t want to stay in the classroom full time after I receive my MA, I do love teaching. So no matter what I choose, it’ll probably still involve teaching others how to research and work with information!

Stay tuned for further musings as I embark on this grand new adventure!


Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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