Friday Night in Grad School

Well, I just finished my third job for the day--this morning I worked at Barnes & Noble from 7-11am; then I had my first shift at the Massachusetts Historical Society from 1-4:45pm; then I finished up a batch of carrier additions for Lean Logistics after supper. Hopefully this will be the only day I put in that many shifts! I will be finishing up next week at Barnes & Noble, and start my regular schedule at the MHS on October 22nd. Everyone has been wonderful, and I am so excited to start in earnest (but grateful I will not be doing double-duty until then)!

I thought I would take a moment, before finishing the final draft of my Evaluation of Information Services evaluation proposal, to sit down and write a little bulletin about what I have been doing this week in library school (I am still on the fence about the whole am-I-an-archivist/am-I-a-librarian divide; I'm glad my new job title is "Library Assistant.").

I knew I had arrived in library science school when I went out to Blick art supplies and purchased a dozen soft lead pencils and a pencil case this week. I need to take notes at my internship, and other various places where pens are highly discouraged, and I was always finding myself without the proper tools. I am very pleased, and may soon (my archivist-historian friends assure me) find myself preferring pencils above all other writing implements. I have not taken the next step, which would be to start taking "notes" using a laptop and digital camera.

I also know I am in grad school because I have become extremely forgetful. Since being offered the MHS job last week I have locked myself out of my room once, left my wallet at work, forgotten my T-pass for the subway, and (the crowning achievement) left my mobile phone in a cab on my way home from Barnes & Noble Sunday night . . . in my defense, it was 2am following music inventory, but still . . . the cab driver was kind enough to return it unscathed the following day on his rounds through the neighborhood.

This week in classes:
  • In Evaluation of Information Services, we were testing our "evaluation tools" (social-science speak for surveys and data-collection exercises) designed to evaluate how well the library science school website works (verdict=not-so-well). After posting this, I have to go do the final draft of my group's evaluation proposal, with the appended "tools" and bibliography.
  • Introduction to Archives is tackling "arrangement & description," which are the fancy technical terms for the order in which items are put in their boxes and how they are written up in the "finding aid" (another fancy term, which I think of as the archival equivalent of a detailed card catalog record plus book index: it helps researchers decide what--if anything--they want to see from a given collection, and where it's located). We have been divided up into groups to write practice finding aids; my group got a collection of personal papers from the Simmons archive about an alumna who served as an Army dietitian during WWII.
  • For History Methods this week, we were technically talking about archives (and since the class is full of future archivists, there were a lot of people personally invested in the subject). I personally became side-tracked by theoretical issues of space and gender through our reading assignment from Bonnie Smith's The Gender of History, which is about the professionalization of history in the 19th century and how it was explicitly coded as the realm of men. "Truth was where women were not," Smith writes, "[truth was] some invisible and free territory purged of error by historical work" (which was done, of course, by male scholars). My weekly response paper was about how the physical sources of history and physical bodies (such as, ahem, the bodies of women) have the potential to disrupt our grand and tidy narratives of historical, universal "truth."

In other news, the course offerings for Spring 2008 were hot off the press yesterday, at least in the History department. I find myself torn between "9/11 Narratives," taught by an Islamic World historian with a frightening amount of energy, and "Lives of Faith: Early American Religious Biography & Autobiography." In library science, I will most likely be taking Oral History and Cataloging.

. . . and then I stopped by the public library on my lunch hour today to return a few books, and somehow left with a few more: Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care; Emma Bull's War for the Oaks; and The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (I'm reading the series in reverse order). If I find any time to actually read any of these titles, you'll hear about it here . . .

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