This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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A glimmer? Could it be? #LightAtTheEndOfTheTunnel #MLIS #KentState #LibrarySchool

Just coming up for air. This semester is going to be the hump. I was warned to take both these classes alone, but I can’t swing it. Taking them together means I might graduate at the end of the year, trying to take them separately means at least another year. So, together it is. Classes started on Monday. I’m not drowning, yet, but I’m swimming hard.

20150116_221111Digital Preservation. I thought I had some idea what that is. Not so much. But it IS fascinating. It’s almost as interesting to me as the more traditional forms of preservation and archival work. I am not going to be sorry I took this class. I am beginning to panic about my own digital stewardship of family files. There isn’t likely one among us who have done a good job with this. I thought that I had a handle on all of it. No, no I do not. The more I learn, the more I find out what I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of digital preservation projects lining up for when I finish this class.

Cataloging and Classification I. Yeah, I knew this one was going to be rough. Outside the library world, maybe folks don’t know how tough this one might be. Trust me, it’s a bear. It will likely be one of the most useful classes I take in the whole MLIS program. I’ve had almost no experience with the nitty gritty of this stuff, though. It’s pretty foreign. Wish me luck!

I’m actually pretty proud of myself for staying caught up this week. It’s just the first of ten, but I’m ON IT! I am beating my chest and feeling like I’ve GOT THIS. I’ll be panicking again tomorrow, but for tonight, I am in CHARGE!

Now, if I can arrange a practicum for this summer, I can take Intro to Archives in the fall and GRADUATE IN DECEMBER!

Good grief! Is that light I see at the end of the tunnel?

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Jumping back in…

More than two months have passed since I’ve found the time to sit down and write a full length post. I’ve got a few drafts sitting neglected and growing more stale by the day. I’m sitting down with a blank page now and thinking about all the things I’ve meant to write about this spring. I am all over the place. I have thoughts to share on politics and current events, the graduations in my circle of friends and family, end of life issues as I watch the last of my children’s great grandparents live out their lives, food and diet thoughts, observations on my children and the wrap up of their school year, even a few insights on library school and all the great experience I’m gaining volunteering at the seminary. And the weather.

But it’s too much. I am having trouble boiling it down. Not an uncommon problem for me. And this time, I’ve let it snowball to a problem so big, I’m truly unable to figure out where to begin. I think the best solution is to just start writing and see how it goes. Tonight I’ll start with school stuff. Not because it’s biggest in my mind, or because there’s the most to talk about, but because I hope I’m wrapping it up for a few weeks.

I finished the rare book class and got my grades for that and the special library class. A and A-, respectively. I was so upset about the first A-, but I guess it hurts less the more you get. I’m thrilled to have not gotten a B, yet. That rare books class was such an amazing ride. It’s the longest class I’ve taken so far in the MLIS program, and it was by far the most intense. I learned an amazing amount. I fell more deeply in love with books, as objects. At the same time, I became even more ready to accept whatever path this career is going to take, whether I actually get to work with old books or archives, or end up doing something completely different. As long as I’m working with helping people somewhere find answers, I think I’ll be okay. Surprisingly, I found out more about my ability to do research in that rare book class than I had anticipated. Perhaps that is because the professor wasn’t just looking to teach us about old books, but how to find answers. I got into this field because I am that person, that know-nothing know-it-all who loves to find the answer for you. I’m thrilled when I can give you real answers to whatever question you have. It took me until I was forty to find out that there is actually a field for that, and that it’s not about being right because I’m not wrong, rather because I really truly found the answer and I’m right!

So, that class ended on the Friday before Mother’s Day. The next class started on the Tuesday after. In effect, I’ve been in school with no break since right after Christmas. Not so tough, I guess, if school is the main event in your life, but it was wearing thin for me. There’s still a week to go in this class, but then I’m done for the summer. A couple pass/fail workshops, but I think the pressure is off until fall. I need the break. I need the break bad. The kids need the break. The HOUSE needs the break. Oh, good Lord, my house is a wreck.

summer21We’ve got big plans for the summer around here. I’m gonna get this house clean for real. Stop laughing, it could happen. We’re going to spend lots of time at the pool and I’m going to read. For FUN! We’re going to go to the zoo. It’s gonna be a good summer, I think. The kids are playing ball, and going to a couple Vacation Bible School weeks, but that’s about it. The big kids can ride bikes to a few friends in the neighborhood and the park. The little one can swim more independently in the kiddie pool. The three of them can be way more mobile than they have been in summers past. I am hoping that they can experience some of the extra freedom and unstructured time that marked summers of most childhood for most of my generation. Wish me luck.

So, maybe tomorrow I can tell you more about all that other crap going on in my head. Today, I guess that’s enough. It’s something, anyway.

 


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Miss me?

I have a lot of things I’ve been thinking about writing. I have five or six separate posts I want to get into writing, and it probably just isn’t going to happen. One, in particular is languishing. Some friends in the neighborhood have a foster son they would love to adopt, and there’s all sorts of nastiness in their story highlighting how broken our system is, and I’d love to tell you all about that, and maybe even get some support going for them to try and reverse the most likely outcome of their situation. I won’t, though, because I won’t take the chance that anything I write, or share, or post, or tweet, or whatever, could put the tiniest chance they have of winning for the side of GOOD at risk. That’s a tough position to be in. Not as tough as this little boy’s situation and that of the foster family that loves him dearly, but tough. I’ll share their story when it’s resolved, and in the meantime, let’s all pray that it has a happy ending.

In other, happier news, I finished my ten week course this semester. Final grade looks like an A minus. Still an A, but not a four point A. I’m disappointed because I lost a couple points for some careless mistakes. I can’t believe I’m beating myself up over an A minus, but I am. A little. Just a little, just for a minute. Now I can focus on the sixteen week course I’m taking in Rare Books. I’m having such a great time with this class, even though I’ve fallen behind finishing the other class. This week was “Spring Break” which just means I didn’t have any NEW work for that class. I’d meant to spend most of the week catching up, but it didn’t work out quite that well. It will be a busy weekend. I’m not terribly worried. I have a lot to do, but I’m confident that I can get it done.

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Photo by dbking, flickr

This class is so engaging and so fascinating to me. I’m working on a virtual exhibit of Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass. On Wednesday, I went out to the Rare Books room at OSU to see a first impression, published in 1855. It was a little thrilling to just be able to sign in and then HOLD the book. I could handle it, and read it, and smell it, and examine it. I could not, however, photograph it, but that’s okay. I pulled up the The Walt Whitman Archives and compared the book in front of me to the digitized version of a first impression that they have online. Wow, that was awesome. Those two books might have come off the presses RIGHT next to each other. There were only 795 copies of this edition printed, and even fewer with that lovely green cloth cover. And this one is in wonderful shape. It was such a privilege to play with it, and it ramped up my love of the rare books and archives part of this profession. I wish I could count on finding a job in that particular area, but it seems unlikely. Nonetheless, I will be looking for more opportunities to volunteer in the field, even if just for the fun of it.

Speaking of volunteering, I’m thrilled to be starting my first official volunteer gig with Hamma Library at Trinity Seminary next week. I will likely just be doing some general helping out and shadowing, but I’m excited to be spending some time in a library as something other than a patron! I interviewed the director of Hamma for my Special Library class that just finished up, and everyone there was wonderfully helpful and lovely. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them and to gathering some experience from them.

20140328_072828MIDDLE BIRD IS NINE! My second kid is NINE YEARS OLD! Somehow, I’m feeling like the capital letter scream is just not conveying how knocked out I am by this. My oldest turned ten in January and I celebrated a decade of motherhood, but somehow, this kid’s ninth birthday is heavier! Perhaps it’s that he’s the kid requiring the most attention and general parenting challenge acceptance lately, but I just can’t believe he’s halfway to eighteen! He’s such a wonderful, amazing, sweet, brilliant, thoroughly infuriating kid! I’m so proud of him, so in love with him, and so blown away with how fast he’s growing up. He has challenged everything I thought I knew about parenting and little boys. He’s fighting every day to be the person God created him to be. Even when it doesn’t look much like he’s fighting, I know he’s struggling, and I’m proud of him for sticking with it even when I’m exhausted with frustration. This kid was a total surprise, as much as that third kid four years later. When he was born, there was a true knot in his umbilical chord. Though of the three kids, his birth was by far the easiest for me, I will never forget hearing Dr. D’s first words after, “It’s a BOY!” He said, “Whoa, you don’t usually see that with a live birth!” Jarring, but there he was, screaming his little heart out, announcing his giant presence with all the gusto he still brings to each day of his life. Oh, he’s a live birth, alright. Maybe more alive than the rest of us. He is a challenge to parent, but I pray every day that his dad and I can be up to the task, because that giant presence will serve him well someday. I’m certain that he has work to do on this planet. We all do, but he has something special to accomplish, and I’m so excited to watch him do it. Happy Birthday, buddy.

 

 


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I’m a Book Nerd, and it’s not just that I love to read.

20140116_101454Classes have started again. I finished up my core classes last semester so now I get to move on to the more interesting stuff that drew me into the MLIS program in the first place. This semester I’m taking 60616, The Special Library, and 60665, Rare Books. Both are fascinating topics, and there is a lot of overlap in the material, I think. I’m already getting myself confused about which class I’m reading what article for, but that’s okay. I received one of the textbooks for the Rare Books class, An Introduction to Bibliographical and Textual Studies and yeah, I got excited! I turned it over and read the back. I found this quote:

To a reader of Joyce’s Ulysses, it makes a difference whether one of Stephen Dedalus’s first thoughts is “No mother” (as in the printed version)or “No, mother!”(as in the manuscript). The scholarship surrounding such textual differences — and why this discipline should concern readers and literary scholars alike — is the focus of William Proctor Williams and Craig S. Abbott’s acclaimed handbook.

YES! Yes, it matters! It so matters. The original matters, the changes matter, the WHY matters! If only I’d realized that such a study, such a field, actually existed when I was going to college the first time. Well, maybe not. I was pretty oblivious to much of anything then, but I know that THIS, this stuff, has always been fascinating to me!

I’m often engaged in discussions with Christians much more fundamental than myself. They often quote chapter and verse to support certain arguments and I sometimes find it extremely frustrating. Their understanding of what they quote is often very literal and very English based. Since none of the Bible was originally written in English, they are very often completely wrong (in my opinion) in their interpretation. I’ve always been fascinated by trying to study the oldest possible texts, and how translating scripture from the language it was originally written in (even after generations of oral tradition in another language) with some understanding of the original language can so totally change the obvious meaning of a passage. Take all this along with the historical context that scriptures were written in, and you get such a different meaning than a surface reading of a modern English translation. Again, author intent must be considered, especially since the Gospels often contradict each other. FASCINATING STUFF!

Yeah, I guess I’m a little pumped up. This semester is incredibly heavy as far as reading goes. Every available moment will be used to keep caught up on the reading assignments. It’s going to be a challenge, but one I’m excited about. And somewhere in there I’m going to have to get myself into some kind of volunteer gig, hopefully with the Ohio Historical Society or Worthington Libraries. We’ll see. Swimming upstream again, but at least the water is fine, the sun is shining, and I’ve got an excellent cheering section.


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Laundry, dishes, and dust

Thought I was gone for good, didn’t you?  Ahh, never underestimate my ability to drop and then restart any form of journaling!  Yes, I had grand plans for the things I would write about during this long break between school terms, but it somehow just didn’t happen.  I’d look at the computer and think about sitting down to the keyboard and it just seemed like the last thing in the world I wanted to do.  I’d wonder what I could tell you, and nothing came to mind.  So a day would pass and pretty soon a week, and now almost two months.  And it’s not like I feel I have so much to tell you today, but somehow it feels right to be sitting here typing.  At least I can babble a while.  I won’t be offended if you’ve already closed the page.

photo (1)photoI could write for two hours about what we’ve been up to since I last posted, but most of it is pretty boring, and pretty standard.  School ended for the kids.  Girlie finished the year with strong grades, Middle Bird’s were better than last term.  I’ve lost a tiny bit more weight and I’m still working on it.  Daddy Bird and I went to Florida to visit one of my best friends for her Fortieth Birthday and found out we like visiting South Florida, but love living in Ohio.   Baby Bird has peed in the potty a bunch of times but with no regularity and has still never pooped there.  The weather is warmer and both kids are playing ball.  It’s Girlie’s second year at softball and she’s not the star of the team by any stretch, but she’s getting better and she seems to love it.  Middle Bird has never played before so he’s getting a tough dose of reality since most of the boys have a year or more experience.  I think he thought he would just decide to be great and it would come naturally.  Not so much.  But he’s still enthusiastic and I’m really proud of him for keeping that up.  He’ll get better.

/net/brutus/hsm/dept/mktg/nemo/PersonalityPoses/Dory/ncr_dory.per8.34.tifLife goes on, you know?  I do the laundry and it piles up again.  I empty the dishwasher (or Daddy Bird does, he’s good at that chore!) and it just fills up again.  I vacuum and watch the dust settle again.  It all feels like swimming against the current a little bit.  But we have to keep swimming.  Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!  Just keep swimming.  Thanks, Dory.  Heading into the summer of chaos and freestyle stroking at full speed into the fray, I’ll just keep swimming.

Got an email from one of my two professors for next term yesterday.  I love that she’s in communication a full WEEK before the start of classes.  She included the textbook information and I was able to put it on reserve at the Worthington Library.  I’m the only requester so far, so maybe I won’t have to buy it at all!  She also included a big explanation of the 8 week course with the same curriculum as the 15 week course and how we should plan carefully to get it all done.  Phew, good thing it’s the only thing I have to worry about for the next eight weeks, right?  Oh, wait!  There’s that other class, and these three kids and the damn laundry, dishes, and dust.  Whatever.  It will get done.  Or it won’t.  Priorities will be set and corners will be cut.  This is just the way it is.  As long as everyone is fed and safe, it’s all good.

Did I tell you I got the A last term?  Yeah, that’s right.  It’s just one class, but so far I’ve got the 4.0.  Somehow I just can’t let that go.  I will be crushed if I don’t keep that.  Wish me luck.  Sure, it’s going to take me busting my ass, but it’s going to take a bit of luck, too.

I have some theological things floating around in my head that I want to write about.  I don’t know how to phrase the questions I’m trying to answer, yet, so I guess I can’t write about them just yet.  It’s coming, though.  Might help if someone asks about them later.


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Without preparation, I heard

Without preparation, I heard.  Just to repeat.  It was amazing.


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Without preparation, I heard

Photo from kent.edu

Photo from kent.edu

When I found out that Elie Wiesel was to speak at Kent, and that as a student, I could get a free ticket, I did not hesitate to claim my ticket and spring for one more at just $20.  A very reasonable price for the opportunity to see such an incredible figure.  Holocaust survivor, writer, humanitarian, teacher, all around amazing man.  I had grand plans to reread Night, which I haven’t read since high school, and look up more of his work.  I wanted to be prepared to see him.  To remind myself of his talents in storytelling and presenting a spiritual message in a physical story.  Yeah, big plans that never happened.  And for once, I’m glad I didn’t get around to my big plans.

I am certain that Professor Wiesel has given pretty much the exact same talk many times.  He was introduced by the president of the university and we could all hear him clearly and watch as his words scrolled under his picture on the two giant screens, closed caption style.  Then when the professor started to speak, my heart sunk.  I could barely hear him, and I couldn’t understand him at all.  I read the scroll of his words, but clearly the person imputing his words was having trouble, too, so it was delayed and not even close to verbatim.  But the place was silent.  Everyone in the place, more than 5000 people, strained to hear him.  We sat up straight, tilted our heads, and struggled to drink in the message he was delivering.  There was a collective response to the difficulty in hearing him that surprised me.  We, as a group, all seemed to lean in, to wish the microphone or sound engineer to adjust it so we could hear better.  We physically wished to hear him.  It was moving before we even found ourselves understanding him.

But we managed to follow his talk.  Between lip reading and the slightly delayed scroll of paraphrase, we managed to follow the first several minutes of what he came to tell us.  He talked about April 11, 1945.  He talked about the liberation of Buchenwald and how they didn’t know what to do.  The Americans showed up and said, “Hey, you’re free!”  And the Jews in the camp just looked at each other in confusion.  What is this “free?”  They’d very nearly lost the ability to even comprehend that concept.  Can you IMAGINE?  So, they prayed the prayer of the dead.  Together, at the same time, just began just praying for the dead.  We took this in.

He talked about education.  His, his oppressors, in general.  He asked how could this happen.  How COULD this happen?  It wasn’t a lack of education.  These people had fancy degrees from the best schools.  They WERE educated.  And, yet, this happened.  These things happened.  And if we as a civilization get some sort of collective Alzheimer’s disease,  it can happen again.  It will happen again.

So, he tells us these things, and by now the moderator and the sound engineers have offered him a handheld microphone, which he accepted to great applause from the audience.  He tells us all this and we listen, rapt in our attempts to hear every word.  Then he starts to talk about hope.  How can there be hope after an experience like the one he had at the hands of the Nazis?  How can hope and faith survive after such things have happened, perpetrated by the some of the best educated in the world at the time?  How can there be hope for the future.  His answer was so simple, so basic, so wonderful.  It amounts to this: nobody can take the hope from anyone else, ever.  If we see no hope, we must invent it.  We must invent reasons to hope, or just hope itself.  It is not for him, or anyone else to TAKE another’s hope.

He talked more about faith, and tradition.  He has, obviously, a very Jewish perspective on these things, but that perspective was not lost on this Christian.  He talked about how his faith has been tested and he has arrived at a conclusion.  That is that sometimes it does not matter that you question your faith.  Faith is more than “I believe.”  He is unable to turn his back on the faith of his parents and grandparents because of what they believed and because of how they lived it.  It would not be right for him to deny THEIR faith, their traditions.  I was reminded of a conversation I had with my daughter a few months ago.  She was in tears because she had worked herself into a tizzy because she found herself questioning her own belief in God.  I held her and assured her that it is absolutely okay to question.  God does not expect an eight-year-old girl to understand and accept the answers that generation after generation of grown ups have devoted their lives to figuring out.  To not doubt is to not really value the faith you have, I think.  I assured her that it is enough, at eight years old to simply accept my faith and that I tell her it is true, and that God will never, ever turn His back on her for her doubts.  (I know that many of you will disagree with me on this theologically and philosophically, and I will be happy to discuss it in more depth later if there is interest, both from a religious and a parenting view)

There was so much more that he said about hope, over an over that word, “hope.”  I can’t even take it all in.  I will dig out my paperback copy of Night.  I have reserved several other of his works at my local library already.  I left last night wanting to soak him up and immerse myself in his message of hope and wisdom, and by extension, of love and forgiveness.  He strengthened my faith, and I wanted more of that.  I am glad I didn’t read more before last night.  I might have been more familiar with the things he said, as I’m sure he has said them all before many times.  But it wouldn’t have filled me in the same way.  It wouldn’t have been the same breathtaking experience.  I don’t think I could have heard him, really heard him, with the same full meaning.


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We’re party animals, aren’t we?

Yup.  My mother and I will make the nearly three hour drive today to Kent, Ohio.  We’re going to see Elie Wiesel speak at Kent State.  The event begins at 7 and we will not likely get home before 1am.  We are both trilled at this chance to see the author of Night.  I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this event.  I had grand plans to reread so much of his writings before today, but it didn’t get done.  I guess I’l reread in light of what I see tonight.