Monday, January 9, 2017

Masters of Library Science

17. Earn a masters degree.




When I created my 40x40 list, I had earned 15 credits toward my Masters of Library Science degree and was waiting for readmission to the program after taking a year and a half off due to monetary, medical, and other life-related reasons.


My first semester back in the program was the spring of 2015.  I took two courses, which my program considers to be a full-time classload.  One was the Acquisition and Management of Knowledge and Information (formerly known as Collection Development), and the other was Youth Services.  Both required that I spend time volunteering in actual libraries (both school and public) and creating program plans, in addition to tons of academic work.


Then I took two summer courses, which was especially rough with my four kids home with my during the summer.  Each course was condensed into a shortened 6-week intensive course and was incredibly hard to get all the work completed.  It involved a lot of time spent with my four kids playing at the public library while I did observations of the patrons, the workers, and the collection for my Evaluation of Information Sources and Services course.  During that time, I also volunteered for a week as a leader at Girl Scout camp, so it was nothing short of a miracle (and an absolute lack of sleep) that the work got turned in that week).  Then, when that one was done, we did a lot of movies at home while I did Grant Writing for Libraries.  Grant Writing also happened to fall during the time that I took my circus on the road for not one but TWO week-long trips--the kids to day camp for a week, with me and all four kids staying in a friend's basement, and then our whole family traveling up to Michigan for a vacation with my dad, stepmom, and siblings.  So my laptop and textbooks went along on those trips, and it involved a lot of late nights for me after the kids were in bed.  Being that I was on the road for a full 1/3 of the course, it was a little touch-and-go at times, and my stress level was pretty high, but it got done and I was happy with the results.


Then in the fall of 2015, I went back to work full time as an elementary school librarian.  Because I am crazy, and also because I was on a timeline for graduation because I'd had to apply for readmission to the program and my earlier credits were going to expire if I didn't hurry up and finish, I continued to carry the courseload of a full-time student while also working full-time.  I took School Media, which was incredibly applicable to what I was doing in my job every day and a fascinating, hands-on course that I utterly loved, but was also an intensely heavy workload.  I also took Seminar for Literature for Youth, which was one of my two favorite courses ever, but was also easily the most time-intensive class I ever had.  It involved reading a minimum of 500 pages of novels per week, on top of the academic reading for the course, on top of the multiple weekly assignments we had to submit.


In the spring of 2016, the end was in sight.  It was my final semester in the program.  I took Online Searching, which I initially didn't think would be terribly applicable to my job as a school librarian--but boy, was I wrong.  I have used the skillset that I learned in that course nearly daily in my current job as a high school media specialist.  I also worked with my advisor on an independent study, called Directed Readings, in which I plunged more directly into a study of some of the struggles that face school media specialists.  Those courses comprised another full-time student load; I continued to work full-time; and to make things REALLY interested, I also picked up a part-time job for supplemental income.  Sleep was rare.


Then, in May of 2016, I finally graduated with my Masters of Library Science, completing the journey that I had begun by taking the GRE when Liam was only a month old.  The success was bittersweet, as I had to leave my job at the elementary school library (the same school where my kids attended), due to their refusal to hire a licensed librarian.  Under the old superintendent, the strategic plan had called for media specialists in all schools; under the new superintendent, the revised plan keeps aides in the elementaries and makes some other (in my opinion) very negative changes.  So after earning my hardwon degree, I was out of a job.


I spent the summer working at the local public library, assisting with the summer reading program.  My kids switched elementary schools to be under a more supportive principal (though still under the same superintendent, so there's that).  And I found a full-time job as a media specialist at a junior-senior high school with an incredible administration, albeit an hour's drive away.  So that's where I'm at now.  Goal #17, achieved.



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