The End of the Semester

Sitting at a coffee shop down the road from my house watching the world go by.  I am working (or I am supposed to be working) on my final assignment for my very first term of my Master of Library Studies.  (By the way, I was accepted.)

It’s been almost a year since I’ve updated – mostly due to the excitement, stress, and infinite number of course readings to delve into.  Despite the ongoing exhaustion, it’s been one of the nicest feelings in the world to finally be working towards a goal rather than drifting a bit aimlessly.  My final assignment is to discuss what I believe about my future in librarianship.

It’s due on Friday and to be honest, I haven’t started on it yet.

What do I believe about where I’m going as a librarian?  This should be an easy assignment.

All I can think of is right before I knew that I was going to be admitted to the program, my boss introduced me to Anita Sarkeesian and she graciously took me as her guest of honor to the BC Library Awards.  (Very exclusive.  Very fancy.  Consider it to be the book worm’s version of the Oscars.) She was doing a speech on video games, gender, communication styles, and libraries.  I remember just sitting there being shocked that I was even allowed to attend the conference.  After listening to her speech and the awards for different innovative projects in various libraries .. I knew without any doubt that this.. this is what I wanted to be doing.  New events.  Incorporating new technologies into library settings.  Discussing VIDEO GAMES in a LIBRARY. (Seriously.  Add cats in there somewhere and all of my interests would have been in one place.  I would have died.)

How do you even put that into a paper?

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I’m sure I’ll figure it out.  But wanted to make a quick update to say that everything is wonderful.  I’m going to be a librarian and I can’t wait.  (Though I might die of happiness on my way there.)

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Three Profound Tips On Applying For Your MLIS

It’s been a disheartening year since I applied to the University of British Columbia for their Master’s in Library Science program (apparently librarianing is now a science – laugh away bio majors) and was ultimately rejected.

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The rejection was real.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I’d already attended UBC in hopes of being a teacher and, once having my true destiny as a librarian unlocked, quickly withdrew from the program to begin training to become Dewey Decimal’s protégé – never to be seen again.

Maybe my reputation as a book thief has preceded me and I have now blackened my name as a future librarian.

Or it could have been that while I was submitting my application, my internet-famous-and-smug-about-it boyfriend turned up on my door step and decided to have the break up talk right then and there. I kept trying to tell him it was fine and he just needed to leave.  However, in his mind, he thought this meant he should stay and try to console me.

I would have preferred a break-up text.  (Perhaps he knew that I’d be desperate to have it done with so I could finish submitting my application and planned accordingly.)

In any case, some time has passed and I’m now ready to move on from the horrible rejection that ensued from that fateful night.

Below are three helpful tips I’ve uncovered through blood, sweat, and tears in applying for an MLIS.

1. The Style of Your CV Should Not Be a Direct Reflection On You As a Person

Or at least this is what my ex boss thinks. As he is a quite successful and literary type of person, I decided that he would be the perfect choice to look over my CV and assure me that all of my life experience has been leading up to this moment.  The university staff would be out of their minds not to accept me.

Instead, he told me the following:

“You’ve used the bullets in the opposite way that they’re intended. […] And they’re a little wobbly.  They seem to wander like drunks down the margin. Resumes should not actually resemble private lives.
Key thing to remember.”

Point taken.

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Get those bullet points in line or else people will think you’re a drunkard.

2. Your References Are Not Beyond Bribery

Although you don’t want your prospective university to think you’re a drunkard based on how you use bullet points, faculty from your previous university will embrace you for it.  Especially if you offer them beer in exchange for writing your reference.  In fact, if this is your second time requesting one from them, this point is absolutely crucial.

None of this, “I would be eternally grateful” bullshit that wikihow recommends.

My request: How do you feel about my owing you 22 drinks instead of the previously established 11?
Prof’s response:
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As to whether that reference was actually coherent or not is another matter.

3. Do Not Say The Words “I Love Books” In Your Statement of Intent.  No Matter How Challenging.

I actually picked this tip up from another website.  I’m sorry.  I don’t know which one.  But the author of said web page made an excellent point.  Anybody going for a career as a librarian is going to love books.  It would be very strange if they didn’t.

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If you have to talk about how much you love reading, say something original or tell a story behind why you love books so much.

I talked about escaping from the torturous prison cell of the public school system to find sanctuary in the library.

…I’ll let you know how that application goes.

If not – third time’s a charm, right?


On the off chance that these tips did not solve all of your burning questions about applying to library school, I highly recommend checking out this post from hackyourlibraryschool.com

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Hero’s Journey

It’s my first time visiting the Central Library in Vancouver and I feel like I’ve walked into a coliseum in a whimsical, fantasy world.  The trees are shaped so that their bare pillars reach forever into the sky, ending in spherical masses of multi-coloured leaves.  People are sitting under them reading, drinking coffee, talking at pigeons, and drinking wine out of paper bags.  This is absolutely where I belong.

In fact, having just decided that I need to be a librarian, I’m on my way in to take out some books on the subject.  I’m imagining finding a plethora of useful knowledge with titles such as:  How To Librarian (1st Ed).  Becoming a Librarian For Dummies.  On Saying “Shh!” and Really Meaning It.  Melvin Dewey: An Illustrated Biography.  (The man who invented the Dewey Decimal System is kind of a hunk.)

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(See?)

I can’t imagine a better way to begin my career path as a Librarian Extraordinaire than taking books out on the subject. From the library.  It’s kind of poetic, like a quasi-Hero’s Journey à la Bilbo Baggins. (This line of reasoning made a lot more sense in my head before I typed it out.)

In any matter, I adventure into the library – armed with an assortment of call numbers and a bag with the inscription ‘I Love to Read’ emblazoned upon the side – to meet my destiny.

My destiny is apparently a library worker with roguish good looks and (highly coveted) white librarian gloves.  He’s loading up a cart full of books from a series of shelves that seem to be constructed in what used to be a study centre.  Various pieces of paper have been tacked to each shelf designating general subjects of the material placed there. I don’t see, ‘library books on libraries’ on any of them.  I’ll have to ask the guy in the gloves.

I do a couple laps in and around the section trying to decide on what my opening line should be.  I couldn’t be more flustered if the revered Melvin Dewey himself was standing in front of me.  Maybe when I tell him that I’m looking for books on how to be a librarian, he’ll escort me to the front desk to fill out paperwork to be his new apprentice.  Maybe he’ll fall deeply in love with my cataloging skills and ask me to marry him.  Maybe we’ll start a librarian legacy.  All of our children will be librarians.  We’ll form.. the Dewey Decimal Dynasty.

“Um. Hi.  Sorry. This section is under construction,”  he says.  Impatiently, it seems.

I’m standing directly in his way.  It’s very romantic.

“Oh, hey.  I was just.. looking for a book. Maybe you can help me.”  I pull out my list of call numbers from my book bag.  I hope he takes notice of how the bag says that I love to read.  In case he didn’t already gather that from my being in the library and, consequently, in his way.

He squints at the scrawled call numbers.  I inwardly kick myself for writing them on the back of a Shoppers receipt and hope to God that it isn’t for tampons and chocolate.

“Huh.  Do you know the titles of the books?”

It’s my time to shine.  “Actually, I’m looking for books on libraries.  On how to be a librarian.”  Surely he must see that we’re meant to be together.  I decide to leave the part about our Triple D Dynasty out of it. For now.

“Interesting,” he says.  “Yeah, the library section’s been moved somewhere. I don’t know where we put it. Sorry I can’t help you.”

“You lost the library books?” I can’t help but gasp.

“Well not all of them,” he says.  “Just the ones on libraries.”

“So only the most important ones.”

He laughs, probably thinking that I’m joking.  “They’ll turn up.  Do you need them for a paper or something?”

“No.  They’re just.. for my own personal use.”

He gives me a look.  Obviously thinking I’m a total weirdo.  Maybe I am.  (Dewey wouldn’t have thought so.)

“You should try placing a hold on them online.”

I can’t think of how to argue with this so I agree. “Yeah. It’s not urgent or anything,” I say.  It’s not like my entire destiny was supposed to begin today.

Instead, I take out No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July so I can spend the night feeling reassured that someone out there is just a little bit more awkward and misplaced than I am.

Or at the very least, is on the same level.

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The Life and Times of a Single Bookworm.

blinddate

Now that I’ve moved on to Vancouver, I’m missing the “Blind Date With a Book” event that the Strathmore Municipal Library put on last year for Valentine’s.  It led me to read something that I probably would have never discovered on my own as well as finding one of my favourite books of the year.  (Paul Hoffman’s The Golden Age of Censorship).

The library wrapped up books in red paper with short “dating bios” on the covers and put them in a display by the door.   The bar-codes were written on the side to check out so you didn’t know which book you had until you went home to unwrap it.

Definitely beat a night spent rummaging through an endless onslaught of chin shots, neck beards, and desperate usernames on OkCupid.  ..There’s always tomorrow.

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Framed at the Vancouver Public Library

May 2014. I decided to pack two suitcases and take a Greyhound from Strathmore, Alberta to Vancouver, BC on a whim.  It was a difficult process trying to decide what to pack.  My HP desktop or.. clothes?  When it came down to it, I decided that it didn’t matter how many resumes I sent out from said computer, nobody was going to hire a naked girl.

Well.  Some places would.

Probably not the places that I’d be applying to.

Still, you can rent library computers to find work.  You can’t really rent clothes – at least not very efficiently.

Did you know that in Vancouver, you get library cards for free?

For FREE.

My life was made.  This news alone told me that I’d finally come home to a land of cultured and civilized people.  Or so I thought.

Day one of my job search, someone stole my (FREE!!) library card.

I didn’t realize until I got home and spent the night wondering why somebody would resort to such a thing unless they were a genuinely terrible person.  Fine. Let them take it, I thought, seeing a future of bad karma awaiting this tasteless individual.  Since the cards were free, I’d just pick up another one.  For free.

However, I was called for an interview, got the job (thank goodness for clothes), and forgot all about the missing card and the poor condemned soul attached to it.

Weeks later, I received an e-mail about my overdue items.

  • The Twilight series. Books 1 – 4.
  • Twilight: The Movie.
  • A textbook titled, The Fundamentals of Ethics.
  • Anger Management: The Movie.

Whoever took my card was either a teenage girl or someone with a very dry sense of humor.  Probably both.  I kind of admired her.

The overdue charges weren’t astronomical, but at this point.. I’d realized that the delinquent/my hero probably had no intention of ever bringing the overdue items back.

Also, remember the two suitcases thing? I had no books left to read.  This was probably the greatest tragedy that I’d ever encountered in my adult life.

I marched back to the library, certain that they would understand my dilemma and secure me with another free library card.

Suspicious eyebrows were probably the worst thing that I could have encountered while explaining this situation.  The librarian to whom the eyebrows belonged insisted that she believed me (she totally didn’t), but I’d have to provide a police case number in order to regain access to my account.

To summarize: I’d have to call the police to report a stolen (free) library card.  On top of this, the library staff now saw me as a Twilight book thief. My shame was complete.

After much deliberation and countless self-deprecating Facebook posts, I finally summoned the nerve to call the Vancouver Police Department.

“Hi. I’d like to report a theft.”

The operator asked me for the date and time of the incident, followed by the question, “And what was stolen?”

“Books.  The Twilight saga.  Except they weren’t my books.  They belong to the library.  But they were on my card.  I didn’t take them out though; someone else did.  After they stole my card.  I’m calling to report the stolen library card, actually.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.”

The operator burst into hyena laughter, covered the receiver for a moment to regain her composure, and then asked me again if I was seriously phoning to report a stolen library card.

When I finally received the police report number (and then lost it and then found it again – I’ll spare everyone the details), the library still wasn’t satisfied. Only because I’d brought the police number to a different library than the card was stolen from.

The interaction ended with me near tears wailing at a security guard, “Do you know what I had to read today? The Canadian Tire flier.  FOR FUN.”

I think this was the point when they finally found their hearts.  Or they realized that I might have a nervous breakdown.  Whatever the case, I was given a new library card and was able to leave the building with a full stack of books.

Well. After having my bags checked.

Let this be a lesson to you all: If it ever comes down to a suitcase full of clothes or your computer.. go for the computer.

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A Kinda Short Introduction.

It’s 2012 and I’m counting an endless box of bouncy balls – prizes for the library summer reading program. We have to make sure that every single item that we ordered actually arrived so for the first three days of my new job, I’m tallying styrofoam airplanes, dinosaurs, bookmarks, and sticky slaphands that I know are going to end up on the ceiling of some unfortunate library. It’s not exactly what I expected when I signed on as the summer reading coordinator, but it’s not like I’m complaining. Most of the people in my program have picked up jobs at Walmart and Toys R Us. At least my job is much less menial. (I’m joking, bear with me.)

As I’m ruminating over my good fortune, I drop one of the balls and it goes jumping under the desk of one of the librarians.

“You know, you should really do this for a living,” she says. There are five enormous ferns on her desk so she has to whisper-scream to me through them. It makes me feel like we’re always on a top secret jungle safari.

“Counting toys?”

She picks up the ball and rolls it back to me. “I mean you should be a librarian,” she whispers through the foliage.

“Oh, maybe.” I’m nearly finished my English degree and pretty attached to the idea of being a teacher.

But then, I was also attached to the idea of being a princess.

“Well, think about it,” says the voice of my invisible spirit guide. “It seems like it would be up your alley.” I can almost see the glint of her glasses behind a gap in the leaves.

I promise that I’ll consider it.

It’s now the end of 2014. I’ve nearly finished my Education program. I’m less than thrilled about it. I enjoy hanging out with kids and talking about books. I love handing out the books. I love taking back the books. I love recommending them other books. I love when they recommend me books. I love hearing them talk to each other about the books. But this is pretty much it. Extracurricular activities threaten to steal my soul to the point of reoccuring dodgeball nightmares.

My friends all think that I’m in denial about my career path.

Especially when I borrow novels and hand them back with carefully reinforced spines.

It’s time to finally come to terms with reality..

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Hi.  I’m Nichole and I want to be a librarian.

More to follow.

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