Yesterday, a lot of life was breathed back into the campus. All the faculty were back preparing for classes and getting last minute preparations ready. A fair amount of students were also back. The new freshman class was getting oriented to the place and orientation leaders were running around as well, doing an excellent job I might add.
Towards the end of the day all the faculty put on their academic regalia and processed over to convocation. I have to say that I really think academia is both great and humorous in all the tradition and pageantry that goes along with it. The St. Andrew’s Pipe Band of Vermont performed the processional and recessional on the bagpipes, and it was truly something to behold.
The best speaker of the entire ceremony was clear and away Pat Robins Chairman of Symquest who was receiving the Distinguished Citizen award. He talked mainly about service to the community which is something I have been thinking about lately. I know that I would really like to get more involved making the place where I live better. He also talked about how fear is one of the only things that can stop us. It stops us from undertaking risks and new challenges. His speech was an uplifting one and I can see why he received this award.
The only unfortunate part of the whole thing was that at some points the students started talking while people were giving speeches. I can understand their excitement seeing as how they are entering a completely new phase of their life and everything they are used to has changed. I also heard that last year only a handful of the new students showed up, so I suppose this is quite the improvement. I am probably just becoming an old fuddy duddy anyway.
There was one final thing that I thought was very cool. President Dave Finney made the students a promise that if they had a 3.0 GPA by sophmore year, he would pay for their passport to study abroad. Bravo sir.
This news story from CNN about a teacher in Indiana who was fired for using the book Freedom Writers to get her students excited about English really got me angry. I found myself yelling at the moving picture of the school board president. She said that the teacher, Connie, was sending “students a very poor message, in that, if you’re told no, do it any way; if it feels good do it.” It seems to me that that is just not the case. Connie was standing up for what was right no matter what the consequences. I think that is an excellent message to be sending today’s students.
The teacher Connie has been teaching for 27 years and 149 out of the 150 students she was teaching got permission from their parents to read the book. This is a clear case of censorship and narrow-mindedness on the part of the school board. Is anyone one else aggravated by this?
Seeing as how my library school career is almost over I figured I would reflect on what I have gained from my experience:
- I learned that technology is not frightening and out of reach for me. I took an Information Architecture Class that introduced me to XHTML and CSS and since then I realized that I can actually create web pages and make computers do my bidding. Library School introduced me to a whole new world using emerging technologies and empowered me to create things and learn more.
- I have gained confidence in my public speaking ability and my teaching skills due to a practicum in which I designed and taught numerous library instruction classes. I can now conduct classes and speak in front of groups with much more ease. I have improved on my presentation skills which will be very useful to me in searching for a job.
- I have been introduced to the important issues and debates going on in Library Science such as the issue of Open Access or the debate about MARC records. I have a lot more knowledge about the field as well as tools available to me to learn more should I want to.
- I am much more knowledgeable now about copyright law and fair use. I understand how things like electronic reserves, course packets, and interlibrary loans work in terms of copyright. I also understand about other copyright issues such as fair use or licenses. I think that this is fundamental to any library education.
- I have gained a strong network of people whom I can contact about various issues that come up later in my career. If I have a question about cataloging I have multiple places to turn. If I need a reference that can vouch for my instruction skills I know people. The relationships that I have built are just as important as the knowledge that I have gained here.
Library school has been a good experience. It has also been productive. I have gained a lot of new knowledge, but I have also grown as a person. I have changed a lot since I have come here to Madison, and for the most part it has been for the better. Even if library school gave me nothing else, it gave me the opportunity to grow into a more complete person.