Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Conditional acceptance?

After a horrific step towards getting into college, three weeks later I received another letter from the college:

Dear Applicant:
Re: Library and Information Technology

Your application will be processed for the 2003 intake of the program conditional to successful completion of the following:

Submit a two page autobiography to the Enrolment Services within 20 days of
the date of this letter.

Submit an official final mark transcript or certified photo copy for the courses you are currently enroled in Official transcripts should be submitted as soon as completed but no later than July 15, 2002.

Attend a personal interview. Interview details will be forwarded later in the fall as soon as the dates have been finalized.

All applicants are required to have a minimum of 35 WPM in keyboarding with not more than three errors on a five minute timing. The keyboarding skills requirement must be
completed prior to entry into this program. (A keyboarding test will be administered
following the interview)

*In the meantime in order to prepare for the keyboarding test, you may wish to access this web site : http://www.qwery.com/ and download the sample version of the Ainsworth Keyboard Trainer.

This program requires students to read textbooks, articles, journals and instructional packages at a fairly high level of proficiency as there is a considerable amount of material to cover in a short period of time. Your current reading level indicates that you should continue to develop your reading comprehension skills* and then successfully complete a
re-test in reading skills. To arrange for another test ...

If you have any questions concerning your application, please contact Enrolment Services ...


Enrolment Services

* You may wish to enroll in a 40 hour Reading Comprehension and Study Skills course available through Continuing Education. Although this course is not required it is strongly

There was also a list of courses I coull complete by continuing or distance education if I so wished. At the time it wasn't something that I was thinking of.

I was also provided with an updated pamphlet with basic information regarding the program: the courses I would take in each semester, the entrance requirements, and some questions that were probably asked a lot.

To end off tonight's post, I'm going to include my autobiography that I sent to Enrolment Services:

On Thursday, June 7, 1984, I, Rach, entered the world as the first child of my parents, at the Princess Alexandra Maternity Wing in Treliske Hospital, Truro, England. Moments after I was born, I was followed into the world by my brother.

For the first sixteen years of my life, I lived in the county of Cornwall, England. My family and I lived on the outskirts of a small town, named Padstow, in a country cottage, for seven years before moving into the farmhouse my grandparents had lived in.

When I was eleven years old, I transferred from the local elementary school to the local high school. I remember on my first day I was nervous, knowing just a small group of people from the six previous years of school, among two hundred students who were in the same exact positon as me.

At the age of fourteen, I developed a involvement in libraries. I would spend every lunchtime in the library of school, shelving or issuing books. In my fourth year at high school, a new librarian, Mrs. L, started working in the library. Like every librarian, Mrs. L was used to running the library on a different system than that of the one which was being used. Over time, Mrs. L gradually changed the library policies, and as a supporter, I was willing to help in any way I possibly could, whether it was shelving books, issuing books or entering new books into the library computer database.

Two years ago, when I was sixteen, my family and I emigrated to Canada in hope for a better quality of life. It was hard to leave friends and family I cared about but it was also exciting to experience life in a different country that would open new and exciting opportunities for me.

The first year of living in Canada was spent getting used to living life differently from what I had been used to. Money, accents, terminology of words, all were new and different from what I had previously experienced, but these were just minor incidents that I needed to learn to survive in a new country. Although it's nothing to revert back to words people here know nothing of!

I am graduating from SCS on Thursday, June 27th, 2002, with a total of 33 credits. I plan to attend Red River College from September 2003 to study their 2 year Library and Information Technology program so that I can continue working in libraries.

Life is important. Although there can be many rollercoaster rides in life, these experiences make us better people in the long run. I am happy, surrounded by family and friends who care about me, and are there when I need them. I have been supported in life by many friends and family who want to see me suceed in life, and I know that I am grateful
for them to be so close to me.

I am planning for the future, although taking one day a time, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I realise that what I do today, and in turn tomorrow, will help me further in achieving my dreams and goals.

In the future, I hope that I am happy and looking towards the future with as much excitement as I have now. In fifteen years, I would like to be living in a quiet town with my husband and two children. I would be working in the town library, which I would be able to run by myself.

Although I am young and have my future ahead of me, I am excited about what is in store for me. I know that the life I achieve will be made possible by the paths I choose to follow.

Would this help me further my dream?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The first challenge

For the next few weeks, anyway, I plan to focus on the past. There's no point in blogging about the present, when I should really tell my story from the beginning to the end. So, this is the warning!

In the spring of 2002, I applied to get into Red River College. I sent off my application form and the required fees. Several weeks later, a envelope arrived in the mail, with three sheets of paper as follows (for various reasons, contact information, identifying information will be removed):

April 9, 2002

Dear Applicant:

RE: Library and Information Technology

Thank you for applying to Red River College. Your application will be processed for the 2002 intake of the above program. Information regarding the required reading skills assessment test is enclosed.

Note: Pay the $25.00 non-refundable assessment fee in the Controller's Department, C212, prior to writing the assessment test. Your validated Assessment Fee Payment Form must be received by the Assessment Centre prior to your test date. The Assessment Fee Payment Form is attached.

If you have any questions concerning your application, please contact Enrolment Services.


Dear Applicant

RE: Reading Skills Assessment

The program you have applied for requires students to read textbooks, articles, journals and instructional packages at a fairly high level of proficiency as there is a considerable amount of material to cover in a short period of time. Due to the complexity of the reading material, the Selection Committee requests that you write a Reading Skills Assessment test.
Your test results MAY indicate that a 40 hour Reading Comprehension and Study Skills course, offered through Continuing Education, would be required prior to entry.

Your test is scheduled for:

DATE: MONDAY, MAY 06, 2002

TIME: 9:00 AM


Testing usually takes about an hour. Parking is available in the East Lot (see map on reverse). The fee for parking is $1.00 (loonies only) for one hour.

Note: There is a charge of $25.00 to write the reading assessment test. Submit the attached Assessment Fee Payment Form with your payment to the Controller's Department, C212. The validated form must be received by the Assessment Centre, D107, before you write the test. Please allow sufficient time to pay the $25.00 assessment fee in the Controller's Department, C212, and to find parking and the room as testing will commence promptly at the time given.

If you are unable to attend this test, contact to re-schedule.

P.S. Please bring your Social Insurance Number with you to the testing.

So, this was the beginning of everything. May 6, 2002, is all pretty much a haze. I remember that we set off to Winnipeg early in the morning, as my grandparents were visiting from England at the time, and it just happened that that was the very same day that they were beginning their journey home, so it wasn't that big of a deal for my dad to drive to Winnipeg just for me! We would have got to the college in reasonable time, and to find out where everything was.

I remember though that it wasn't just for the Library and Information Technology program that was being tested for that day. I remember that I got chatting to a student who was hoping to go into the nursing program, and that she would be tasking the same test that I was.

As for the test ... I believe that there were some extracts that I had to read, and then to answer a series of questions regarding them. I remember coming out and not feeling that confident.

As Cleopatra sang, "Life ain't easy".

What happened? What was the result of the test?

That, hopefully, will be revealed tomorrow...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finding an education institution

When I lived in England, I didn't know where I would go to college, or university, to gain qualifications to get into the library world. My mentor told me that she had gone to college for a one-year course.
Back in grade 11, everyone attended an afternoon devoted to specific colleges or universities in the area. I went to a seminar devoted to Red River College.

As I was looking through the handbook provided, I found the library and information technology program. As I look back at the very same handbook now, I see that the basic information for the program hasn't changed at all in the last 7 years. It's a two year diploma for 30 students every second September. The program takes a new intake in every odd year - so this school year (2008/2009) is the second year for students who started last year, and the next school year (2009/2010) will see 30 brand new faces for the instructors to teach.

The column with the information in is still highlighted. See, even at the age of 16/17, I was beginning to see where I could go. I realise a lot of people have a number of paths that they consider to take when they're going to college or university, but not me. It was just the one.

So what information is in this column? What did I learn about the program at the time?
Two Year Diploma
Intake: 30 students every second September (next intake 2001)

Six weeks of non-paid work experience included

The program combines technical and academic courses. The student learns the fundamentals of both manual and automaated systems for acquiring, organizing, and disseminating information in a variety of formats. Academic courses are directed towards boardening students' general knowledge in order to enhance their ability to function effectively in an information environment. A variety of instructional techniques are employed including oral presentations, written assignments and group projects.

Courses include:
- information retrieval
- cataloguing and classifying
- computer and internet skills
- acquiring and archiving information

You will find employment as:
- library technician/assistant
- information specialist
- cybrarian
- research assistant/analyst

And what about the entrance requirements?

Well, further on in the book, it says the following qualifications were required:

Senior 4 with one 40S/G English credit or one 40S credit from compulsory core and 35wpm keyboarding speed. (Applied Math 40S recommended. Computer awareness course strongly recommended)

Separate columns indicate that there would be testing with an interview and/or orientation.

There were quite a few pros at the time for me. I would only have to move about three hours' away rather than further afield, and I could stay in the same province. I would be able to improve and extend my knowledge and skills.

It was just a shame that I was in the wrong grade at school and would have to wait longer to get into the course - if I was going to ...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why the library?

As I've already mentioned, I got my break in libraries by volunteering. It just felt right.

Despite my friends' opinions, I consider myself quite a boring person. I didn't excel at any particular subject at school - at least nothing that I thought I could continue with as I got older and to get a job with. I remember being at a year 9 options evening talking to the head of science, who was trying to convince me why I should take science classes every day for the next two years. My argument was that I was thoroughly convinced that whatever I ended up doing later in life, that science wasn't going to particularly help me in anyway.

Ten years later, do I regret only taking six hours of science every two weeks?

No, not at all.

I didn't take any science classes through grades 11 and 12. At college I took one Reference course which focused on science and technology. I passed it, and to my surprise, did reasonably well on the assignments searching for information. I came out with a B in that course, so my lack of science knowledge hasn't really hindered me so far!

Of course, taking two years to find employment didn't particularly help, but now that I'm getting my foot in the door, I'm climbing a mountain of books and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I learn something new every day. I want to be working in fifty years' time and learn something new the very day before I retire. I probably won't be working in the same positions that I'm currently in, but I will be still getting experience and knowledge.

Volunteering in libraries gave me a quench for this great adventure I'm embarking on. I'm not constantly working on one project; there's always something else to do.

Going to work every day is a pleasure. I get to work on a variety of projects every day. I'm constantly improving my skills and confidence. I'm gaining valuable knowledge and aiding those around me.

Above all, being in a library is where I belong. Some people have vocations to be doctors. Some people want to entertain the world for a living.

For me, the library is where I feel the most at ease. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Follow your passion

As I mentioned yesterday, I decided by the time I was in grade 12 that my future lied in the library world.

To be honest, I fell into the world quite by accident - I found lunchtimes at school fairly boring and often felt like a burden to those around me. There weren't really that many clubs I was interested in joining, and often I ended up sauntering towards the school library to spend at least part of my hour.

I started volunteering in the library towards the end of year 8*. There were several students I knew that were also volunteering, so between us, we helped the school librarian during some of the busiest times of the day.

The following year the library went through several changes, and we saw three librarians come and two go. Most staff and students probably didn't see that much of a change - the faces changed, but to those of us who were actually working, there were a lot of changes behind the scenes. Different staff liked doing things differently.

When Mrs. L. joined the school in September 1998, we faced more change. However, knowing that she was planning to be there for the forseeable future (and she's still there now!), I was personally ready to embrace whatever changes she wanted to implement - because in my eyes, I felt that the more changes there were in the same period of the time, the more static things would stay in the future.

So here's what I learnt back in those days, and what can possibly be applied to any jobs in the future:

  • Be passionate.

    If you love what you're doing, and you enjoy getting up to go to work every day, it will show in your work.

  • Enjoy learning.

    If you think as soon as you're out of school/college/university your learning stops, you're wrong. You have to embrace change and be ready and willing to adapt when necessary. When your boss chooses you to work on a brand new project, grab it with both hands and be willing to do the best job that you possibly can. Your work will be remembered in the long run! Don't be afraid to look back on the past: there have been occasions when something has been vaguely familiar, and then I've gone back to look through notes - I studied it at college. I did it at the position in the library.

  • Ask "What else is there I can do?"

    Go up and beyond your job duties. If you're finished working on something, ask a supervisor if there's something new you can try your hand at. This shows your employer that you're ready and willing. You can gain knowledge and experience regarding something that you didn't expect to do. At the age of 15 I was cataloguing books very basically using templates - not MARC, and it would be another four years before I would really understand the theory behind cataloguing. You may only scratch the surface of a topic, but in the future that basic knowledge might help you go a long way.

  • Embrace change.

    While most of us like things to stay the same, it's impossible for everything to remain static. In every library, there's something different. Different library software - I've used Heritage, Microcat, Winnebago, Athena, to name a few (there's definitely three I've not mentioned!) - have different emphases. While one programme might have something you love about it, the next one might have something that you could possibly not live without in the future.

Are you wondering if living in the library world is something for you? Volunteer! It's a great way to learn the basic library practises that are rudimentary to every library. Okay, you might spend just the few weeks shelving materials away, but that's the only way you're going to learn how the collection is shelved. Don't think for one minute that all libraries are the same - because they're not. Even volunteering for a couple of hours a week frees up the librarian's time to work on other duties - not only are you learning on the job, but you're going to be a great help to them. Actually, the more you work solely on one task, the more likely you're going to get the opportunity to do a different task so that you're not just concentrating on one skill. There's no point in going to college or university for two or three years to get a education in library training to find out it's not for you - get a taste for it before hand!

Remember that the library world is constantly changing. Skills you have in one job may not be necessary in the next. Already I can see what I'm taking away from each position I've been fortunate to work in, and there's something different, and something else that I can follow on with.

* I went to school in England until I left in year 11 in June 2000. I was in grade 11 and 12 in Canada. Just so you know what period of time I'm talking about, and where I was at the time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

About me

I have been blogging for about three years now, on my work, my personal life, for my friends and family to read. I have decided it's time that I start a blog solely on my work, so here it is!

I have been around the ins and outs of working libraries since the spring of 1998. I started volunteering in my school library during my lunchtimes, and when we got a totally awesome replacement at the start of the following school year, I really got into doing lots of things. I wasn't the only student volunteer there, but I was probably the most enthusiastic one and I got to do lots of things that the others weren't able to!

After being in the library for two years there, I moved schools twice in the following two years. My part-time Math course in grade 11 allowed me to volunteer in the local elementary school for an hour every day for a semester, and taking a half-day in grade 12 gave me another hour every day to volunteer. Granted that most of the time I spent shelving, it was still experience. By then, I decide that my future probably lied within the library world.

I looked into colleges where I could further my education, and found Red River College. They have a 2-year Library and Information Technology program in Winnipeg, with an alternate year intake. Unfortunately the year I graduated from high school (2002), was the year that didn't have a intake, so I spent the year continuing to volunteer at the local school and completing my first course via distance education on the advice of my instructors.

I graduated from college in 2005, and unfortunately took quite some time to get a job. I plan to go into depth into another post, but in the last year I've had four jobs, with only one that I really hated. I'm currently working two part-time jobs, and I've had two jobs - including one I'm currently working - that have been term positions, both of which have been extended twice.

However, I'm still young, and I know it will take some time before I end up with a permanent full-time job. For the time being, I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to work in some worthwhile positions and to improve my skills. If I had to have one goal about this blog, it would be to encourage someone to get into the library world. If one person does - then it will be worthwhile.

By the way, I'm not a total library geek. I have other interests too: I love to spend time with my friends, and in fact all my really good friends are people who don't have any connections to the library world. I love to go bowling (although I'm really bad - a good night is if I get one complete strike!), or just catch up with them. I love listening to music, and watching television - Doctor Who, Torchwood and House are three of my favourite shows. However this blog isn't about any of that --- and as I mentioned before, I have other blogs for that. This blog will be totally library related.

Anyway, I've got some ideas for posts in the future, and if there's anything that anyone wants to know - drop me a line, and I'll get around to a post in the future!