In which I begin graduate school

So… This will serve as my blog for IST 511. I opted not to tack this on to one of my (many) existing blogs, as I think I’m likely to develop my thoughts more fully if I’m not trying to serve more than one purpose.

Anyway. As a first post I thought it would be constructive to lay out why I’m here. (Library school. Not the intarwebz.)

We talked in class about the many ways librarians are defined, and what it came down to was our mission. Interacting with so many others that want to become librarians for reasons so different from my own makes me feel a bit like I’m swimming in mission. Of course we want to oppose censorship/preserve historic buildings/teach children to read/build databases… It’s amazing to see how many different ways people are tackling this question of how to make, store, access and disseminate knowledge.

My own experience is a bit more humble. I come to the field by way of A Wrinkle in Time and the Dixie Chicks.

To try to make an extremely long, convoluted story short, I had a poor attitude about learning for much of my life. I didn’t enjoy school, primarily because it was so much work, and because no one could give me a good answer to explain why I had to go to that much trouble. In sixth grade I asked my teacher why we had to learn about rocks, and she replied that it was in case we wanted to be geologists. That was basically the only answer I was ever given – “It’s about getting a job.” It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized that the process of learning about rocks, or fractals or Chaucer or whatever was actually teaching me how to learn. If I had seen school as being about skills rather than facts I probably would have been a lot more enthusiastic.

Over the course of high school, my worldview became increasingly narrow as I got more and more involved with my church. I began to self-censor because I was so offended by things that I read. I felt like my friends in the church would judge me for even considering ideas outside the normal scope of Christian dogma.

A lot of things collided for me around 2003. I started to realize that my friends in the church were not necessarily good people. I began a photography program at Onondaga Community College that exposed me to wildly new ideas and ways of combining knowledge. Natalie Maines opened her mouth, and the violence of the backlash against her made me really look at how our society makes decisions. And I reread A Wrinkle in Time, which helped me understand that information doesn’t have to be explicitly religious to be good or sacred. All of this combined to shatter my worldview and rebuild it around the belief that all knowledge is useful, worthy, and good, and that if as a society we are going to proceed toward truth, we need all of our people actively seeking and processing knowledge.

It’s both a societal and a personal philosophy. I think it’s crucial to society that people think and speak freely rather than subscribing to a broad set of beliefs. I also believe that on the individual level, every person has the right to access whatever information he or she needs to become his or her own best self. It’s this second part that leads me into school librarianship specifically. I want to make kids aware that they should not trust anyone else to tell them what to believe. They should question everything, and seek the best information to make their own decisions. Empowered to find and evaluate answers, we are equipped to navigate this world on our own terms.

(I’ll be honest. I wrote this post because I wanted to, before reading anyone else’s. I may come back and post some more if I discover that this was not at all within the scope of the assignment. But either way, I’m leaving it, because I hope that the record of what motivated me to come here will be something I can return to over the next 2 years.)


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