Journal Entry #4
Dear Future Librarian,
You are about to embark on a journey full of emotions and knowledge. Your emotions will range from pure anxiety and utter defeat to relaxation and ease of knowing that what you did was correct after all. This course is not easy, but, by no means, is it difficult. The only way to make this course more difficult for yourself is to procrastinate and do assignments last minute.
When you break down each of the eight modules, they have a specific reason to be introduced at that specific time. The following is a list to allow you to understand the basics of what the overall course will have in store for you:
-Module 1: The Introduction, Understanding Bibliographic Records, Standardized Cataloging, Searching and Cataloging for Non-English Speakers
Here is where you will be introduced to the class along with your group members for the course. Like the many classes you have taken before this one, the class is small, so get to know your peers and teacher earlier rather than later. One of the first assignments is one of the longest. Do not hesitate to reach out for help from your fellow librarians or Professor Edwards. Many of the upcoming assignments require quite a bit of research, so get your mouse ready to go!
At the end of every unit or chunk of units, you will have a journal entry to reflect on how your learning experience went. Go back and truly take the time to reflect, going activity to activity, examining what you learned and could use in the future to better your skills. I, personally, will be adding my posts to my blog for my final portfolio to reflect on my learning experiences as my course work comes to an end.
This was where my anxiety was at an all-time high. I had never encountered any of the work we were currently asked to do and even the textbook couldn’t save me. I felt like I was constantly knocking on my school librarian’s window asking for help. But, you know what? They are there to help, and they want to help. Once I got over my fear of being looked at strangely or seeming like I didn’t know anything, I was much more relaxed when it came to asking questions and getting the answers I needed. My tip for you is to go in with an open mind, knowing that you won’t know everything, and that it is okay to ask questions and do a little side research on assignments.
-Module 2: Subject Authorities
This one will require quite a bit of practice and can be time consuming at times. I urge you to reach out to your fellow librarian friends or co-workers and obtain a PDF copy or list of SEARS subject headings for reference. I received a PDF version, and I saved it to my computer for easy searching, using it throughout the course. By searching for “sears subject headings full list” in Google, your top hit will result in an 800+ page document that you can scan through.
The second most important portion of this module is something that will affect you in the future: the organization of materials paper. Here is where you will choose your thesis question, post it to the group, and critique others’ questions to help them narrow down a true thesis and help with what they could potentially use as research.
My anxiety spiked a bit here because I had not written a research paper it quite some time. Again, I asked my school’s librarian for help and received some really great feedback. Along with feedback, he also informed me of some websites and individuals who would be good to explore based on my topic. I was upset with myself when I couldn’t figure out the “key” to SEARS subject headings, but I found out that there was no “key” per se, rather you just had to practice over and over again. It really put into perspective how hard catalogers work to get the correct information into the database.
-Module 3: Dewey Decimal System
Besides module two, this is the longest module with the most work. Again, do not procrastinate on these assignments. The Dewey Decimal Task Card assignment that deals with exploration of the Dewey Decimal System was tricky at first, but once you understand what to do, it becomes much easier. When you go to the public library, do not do the whole “I know everything smile” and walk away. Soon, you will be a librarian and will know that smile means that you actually need help but are too afraid to ask. Approach that desk, and ask a question! The librarians and aides are there to help you with this assignment.
Take Professor Edwards’ words to heart. There were a few assignments where the entire class did not do too well in, and Professor Edwards allowed us to go back and fix the problems, having us state in written reflections why we chose the original answers and if we understood the correct answers. This was hands down one of the best learning experiences I have had in my course work to date. It is one thing to give the answers, but it is another thing to give the answers and have you go back and understand your work. In the end, most students would not have taken the time to go back and review. Since we were capable of getting a grade change, it really put into perspective how much we should go back and review our work, much like reviewing anything you input into a computer for children and adults in the future.
-Module 4, 5, and 6: MARC Records, Locating and Copying Records, Original Cataloging, and BestMARC Cataloging Tools
When I say that BestMARC is one of the most easily accessible and user-friendly websites, I am not joking. I absolutely loved the BestMARC website and being able to go in and add, edit, and download files. This is another portion of the class where you need to take special care to go through the content before the activities or it will become very confusing very fast. Once you are in the program, with the side by side tutorial, you will realize how much fun the program really is. Be sure to save everything as one of the assignments is going to be used for your portfolio.
Cataloging is not hard, but you learn that it is time consuming. The programs are interactive, easy to use, and fun as long as you watch the tutorials and practice a bit. After speaking with several librarians at several locations (schools ranging from elementary to high school, public branches, and online discussions), you start to realize that every single person serves a different role in the cataloging department. Some school districts have one main higher up group who does the majority of it, while others have the head librarian of each school individually catalog. Whatever your district or branch chooses, it is still vital information for anyone, especially when it comes to searching for a specific book.
The second most interesting thing I found during the course of these modules was how different each cataloging program can be. In my school district we use Follett Destiny, but your district/branch may have another focus. It is interesting to even see the difference between SEARS and The Library of Congress’ subject headings. Take into account all of the different ways you may see a single resource.
The next important chunk of these modules is the practice TExES scenario questions. Don’t overthink things, just use what you know! From my understanding, I got both questions correct because I didn’t sit on it and dwell, I went ahead and chose the answer that fit best. The questions are not hard, but if you have not taken this course or taken it seriously, I could foresee some issues. These are the types of questions you will see on the actual certification test, so take your time to research and review before answering.
-Module 7: Automation Systems Cataloging
This was the most difficult assignment of them all because you have to take everything you know and put it into practice. You are required to add your own catalog record for six different books, provided by Professor Edwards. What makes this so difficult is that none of the books are real, including the title, descriptions, and there is a lack of a book cover. What helped me most with this assignment was to print out the assignment, separating the lines with plenty of space in between, and to break down each section, highlighting the portions that belong to each tag number.
The best advice Professor Edwards gave was to make a duplicate copy to your original catalog, so that you can go in and edit the end result once she has reviewed your work. I chose to make mine into a PowerPoint slideshow because I am familiar with the program. The PowerPoint allowed me to go in and make one slide with the information given by Professor Edwards, the next slide with my information, and the last slide of the bunch with my original cataloging for each book. I highly recommend you transfer over your work as soon as it comes back to you so that you are not pressed for time later on.
-Module 8: RDA Dipping In and Awareness
The horrid research paper is not as horrid as you think. In fact, my peers discussed some of the most interesting topics and they, along with Professor Edwards, helped me choose a final topic, leading to my final paper. The paper was interesting because you dig into some real numbers and data to weave into your paper.
If I could, I would suggest the same gentleman that my librarian suggested to me when it came to research: Keith Curry Lance. This man saved my life! His website is littered with journals and information that pertains to almost everyone’s’ topics. If you do not choose to use him, he is still a great source of information!
The best part about this entire course is how specific Professor Edwards is about her loaded, oral lectures, her notations in Smore, and the additional videos added to help guide you in the process. It may seem like a bit much at first, but I urge you to go through the content and videos before moving on to any activities.
Remember to have fun, ask questions, and know that you are not alone. You’ve got this!