Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Introduction to Libraries

Introduction to Libraries is the introductory course in RRC's Library and Information Technology program. Six years ago, it was actually two courses - Introduction to Libraries and Basic Library Procedures. Therefore, if I was taking one course while on my gap year, I just as well take both courses, to save me the hassle of being in a class where I'd already studied half the course. I remember I went to the very first class in college, and when I looked at the course outline, there was very little that I hadn't studied in the previous year.

There was actually a number of classes where everyone went to visit different libraries - which was something as a distance ed. student I hadn't had the opportunity to experience. Unfortunately each two and a half hour class was scheduled as the last class of the day (Tuesday and Friday afternoons in Autumn 2003) after lunch, which I rarely stayed around for ... and none of my classmates mentioned it to me until almost one of the very last tours. Perhaps I should have attended the class, perhaps I should have listened to the instructor cover topics I had read about in the previous year - because I could have got a lot more insight from other people, and perhaps even learnt something that hadn't been brought up in the notes provided.

The two courses were exactly what they say they are: an introduction to libraries, and basic library procedures, designed to invoke an understanding of the library world. Introduction to libraries, as it was in Autumn 2003 was an introduction to various library types, their organization, purpose, function and services. Students acquired skills in basic library procedures such as simple book repair, materials processing, shelving, and all circulation aspects. Procedural variations according to library type were also covered. Students visited a variety of libraries. Levels of library employees are studied with particular emphasis on the role and duties of library technicians. The importance of professional associations are covered.

These courses really opened my eyes. For sure, there was information that I already knew, but for some topics - explanations. One module for Introduction to Libraries concerned the history of books - from all the way back in Egypt and the first libraries, to today, and what the future could bring.

I'm going to have to do some thinking regarding what I want to write about the courses in the next few days. I know that I don't want to spend hours on end writing up my notes, which will be boring and tedious for everyone - for me to write, and for someone else to read. I can't put assignments online! Therefore, if I don't really blog in the next week, it will more than likely be because I'm trying to work out what I'm writing next. I know that I have about five years to cover in this blog, including the present, but I want to work chronologically because it won't make sense to anyone to jump from the past to the present to the future to the past again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Studying via distance education

Finally today, I would like to share some words about studying via distance education.

It's different from studying in a regular classroom. There's just you. There's no physical teacher, no classmates to bounce ideas off of.

Therefore, it's important to have the motivation to study when necessary - and get assignments handed in on time. When I took my two distance education courses, Introduction to Libraries and Basic Library Procedures, it was important to know when my assignments were due, and what information I needed to have studied in preparation.

One of my disadvantages studying was that the mailing time between me and the city varied. I've received letters within 2, 3, 4 days of it being mailed. I've also had things that have taken a week. Therefore, knowing a average time it takes for the mail to be sent is important. There's no point in sending something off two days before it's due because it may arrive on time. It may be delayed - and doesn't necessarily make you look good.

You have to be determined to succeed, and to balance your education and your personal life. I would study in the mornings, and on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, volunteer at the local school. I made the effort to study, to read notes and to gather insight.

With my courses, my instructors only ever saw the assignments I completed. They don't necessarily have any idea whether I read the material provided to me, although for some assignments it was absolutely mandatory - answers were based on how well you had understood what had been provided.

Above all, you have to be determined to succeed. I managed to get an A and a B through distance education, although that's not to say that I would have done as well with other courses. I put a lot of hard work into my studying and it paid off.

It's no cheaper than taking a regular course through a educational institution. However, it can lighten an otherwise heavy course load and give you the opportunity for some more hours a week to dedicate to other courses.

We will see how my work schedule permits me this week to blog - I hope it's not quite as hectic, but of course it won't be known tomorrow morning.

The reading test

Luckily when I was rescheduling the dreaded reading test, I was able to reschedule it so that I didn't have to travel to Winnipeg and back - I was able to reschedule it to be at a local adult education centre.

It wasn't that different from the first time ... just eight months later in a different place. I made sure that I took all the time that I was possibly allowed to ensure that I didn't waste my time.

The one thing I remember about it was how long it took to get any results back. I mean, it only took about three weeks to find out that I hadn't passed the original test. In January 2003? I didn't hear anything in January or February. Surely they would let me know whether I had passed, or whether I would have to attempt the test again?

It took some phone calls and e-mails to confirm that I had indeed passed the test and that I didn't have to worry about it anymore. I was firmly on my way to success!


On December 2, 2002, I received yet another letter from the college:

Dear Applicant:

Re: Library and Information Technology

Congratulations! You have been accepted for the fall 2003 intake of this program conditional to successful completion of the following [ ] requirements. Information regarding registration for the fall term will be forwarded in May 2003 as soon as the details have been finalized.

[ ] Submit an official final transcript (or certified photo copies) for the courses you are currently enrolled in. Final transcripts should be submitted as soon as the course(s) are completed but no later than July 15, 2003.

[ ] Your current reading level indicates that you should continue to develop your reading skills and successfully complete a re-test in reading skills.

If you have any questions concerning your application, or if you will not be enrolling in the fall, please contact ... the Enrolment Services.


Enrolment Services

Note: If you complete courses from the Library and Information Technology program available through Continuing Education or Distance Education or other post-secondary courses/programs, please provide official transcripts as soon as they become available.

A blur

I have to admit I don't remember a great deal about my interview. I wouldn't like to say it was because it was nearly six years ago, or that so much has happened in the intervening years that everything's a blur. However, I'm sure that I asked and answered questions, and there was more knowledge that I gained from the experience that proved I was on the right path.

Arranging the interview

On October 1, 2002, I received another letter from the college, which read as follows:

Re: Library and Information Technology

The Selection Committee would like you to attend an orientation interview. The interview will provide you with information about the various aspects of the program, the curriculum including the practicum placements, program costs, employment prospects, etc. The interview will take approximately 20 minutes. Following this you will be asked to complete a short writing assignment and a *keyboarding test.

Prior to attending the interview you are encouraged to do some research on library careers and the types of libraries.

Your interview has been scheduled for:


TIME: 1:00PM


Parking is available in the East Lot, Entrance 2. The fee for parking is $1.00 (loonies only) for one hour. See map on the reverse.

Please contact JB at ... if you need to reschedule.


Enrolment Services

*If you do not achieve 35 wpm on this test, another test can be scheduled for you.

In the meantime...

Work has been crazy busy this week, so I will apologise for the lack of postings this week now. The province has a lot of annual reports --- no, must correct myself, sessional papers --- that arrived at the library this week, so getting those catalogued and all that jazz has been a priority. We have twelve shelves for the depository libraries, and the shelf for the National Library is already on its second pile. I have already been told that we will probably have to work on two shipments for the month - I guess so that we're not influxing the depositories with as many titles at once as we have actually had in ours! Now, where was I in the past...?