Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Productive snow day

So no snow today, well, it's coming down now, at last. Lily had the day off, but so did Dave, so I took off this morning and drove the 20 minutes down to Mount Holyoke College (MHC) to get my print sources done.

What "getting my print sources done" means is, we have a list of, say, 25 different dictionaries, from the OED to Merriam Websters 11 to Black's Law Dictionary to a slang dictionary. We have to find the exact volume and edition--they're all available in the Mount Holyoke College reference room, although if we can find them elsewhere that's perfectly acceptable--and review it, briefly. Look it over for a few minutes. There's an acronym, LURES, to look at encyclopedias, that I find useful:

Level of user (high school? grad student)
Updating policies (every decade? monthly online?)
Research aids (bibliographies, maps, charts, etc.)
Electronic availability (CD-ROM? website?)
Special features (a music dictionary with a CD in the back, with music clips, e.g.)

And lest I'm not being clear, we have 25 dictionaries this week, and 25 encyclopedias, mostly in print, so I have to be at the library. We had 25 sources last week, and most of them were online, actually. In the end we'll have 250+ we have to know for the final. Yes, that's a lot.

Anyway, the room at MHC is gorgeous, a Harry Potter Great Hall-style high vaulted ceiling with several huge lattice wood arches that span the arch in several places, lots of light from the high windows that line the walls. They have that old fashioned, kind of melted glass that I can't remember the name of and am too lazy to look up. The room is more modern and warm that HP, it's lined with bookshelves, carpeted, with big open spaces and tables and comfy chairs. It was pretty full today, with people working and eating and reading.

I worked with my iPod in, listening to Caroline or Change (!) for awhile, until my classmate Graham came and we doubleteamed it. We're part of a five-member study group that hasn't actually met altogether yet, but maybe we will some time. Actually what happened was, he was my Library Slave and got all the books and brought them back to our table for us to review. I did one round of picking, but then I got behind, and he'd finish first and take back the stuff we'd used and pick up a new stack for us to review. We took our notes and chatted from time to time. I still have a few more dictionaries to do, but I feel much better now.

Lily helped me put together a 3-ring binder last night, with subject dividers and name tabs. She made me labels for each section of references, things like dictionaries, encyclopedias, business, gov docs, indexes and full text, stuff like that. When we ran out of dividers and label tape Dave even took her over to Staples and got some more. It was wicked fun and I felt like, okay, maybe some of this will rub off on Lily. (Now I have one more thing to role-model--being a student!)

I've made Word files out of each list of topics, about 15, and I am annotating each item. Each of us in the class is assigned two to four every week, and I'll include their comments too, of course. But it's important for me to be able to look at them too, so I can say, oh, The Encyclopedia of Judaica will be a good place to start for that question on the origins of Passover, or try the Dictionary of Symbols for an interesting take on Jung.

Being a reference librarian appears to be something like a general interest reporter--you have a set amount of skills that you use to find information about topics ranging from tide pools to Anika Noni Rose to the origins of grokking to different types of crosses.

What this all means is, today was a good day. Even though I'm behind, I am starting to see what the task at hand is, how it all falls together, and what is being expected of me in the semi-weekly assignments and the papers and the final. In the final we will have 75 minutes to answer 50 questions about what sources would answer a particular query. It's open book, at this lovely reference library at MHC, and if I know my stuff by then, it will be total gas. I'm looking forward to it.


  1. I am so enjoying your posts as you enter this new journey. xoxo

  2. Hi Sasha,
    So, you are going to school to be a refernce librarian? That is awesome! I am aiming to be one myself too, though I still need to get my bachelor's. What school are you attending?


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