The problem with going to grad school...

...is that it makes the process of blogging that much more difficult. Now that I’m in “paper” mode I feel I should do extensive research and cite every source and concept to make sure my point holds water.

This is generally a good idea, but it sure puts a kink in blogging a good stream of consciousness rant.

For example, I personally believe that Bush approving wiretaps without a warrent amounts to a gross violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

However, to see if my interpretation is accurate I’d have to read a decades worth of federal laws and case law including the Olmstead Case, the Federal Communications Act, Nardone v. United States, Goldman v. United States and Berger v. New York among others.

Unfortunately, even when it’s condensed by FindLaw, I’m just not up to it tonight—let alone the fact that I’m not an attorney (a fact that’s hammered into our heads as a reference librarian).

I guess I’d have to conclude by saying “I guess that’s what we have the courts for… I hope.”

Posted in Grad-School

School's finally out

I can’t believe this year has gone by so fast. One of my cohorts at my library does a fun Christmas poem summarizing the year at the library and asked me if I had any recollections that would make for good poem fodder. I sat there and realized I couldn’t remember a single thing at that moment. Then again, the past month has been insane. Between annotated bibliographies and websites, I’m ready for a break.

I had my last class on Saturday and I’m now half-way toward my MLS. 18 credits down, 18 to go. I’m glad I’ll be off for a month before starting my second year of grad school. I’ll even take a vacation in January before classes start up again.

I have plenty of things to do over the month—cleaning house, weatherization (well overdue) and applying for a scholarship. Right now though, I’m reading a mystery novel (William Tapply’s “Nervous Water”)—ah the luxury.

The Christmas poem is read at our annual staff Christmas dinner which was a lot of fun. For gift swap my director pulled my name and I received a gift certificate to our new Local Harvest Market which is a really neat grocery specializing in gourmet and organic foodstuffs.

I went a few days later and decided to eat things I’ve never had before. The first was sushi. Apparently California rolls, made from rice, seaweed, crab and cucumber, are the “gateway” sushi. I guess people understand crab better than raw fish. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it was absolutely delicious, though wasabi will undoubtedly be an acquired taste. Oddly, the other think I experimented with was pumpkin seeds.

When sushi is exciting you know I’ve been living a boring life of late—homework, homework and homework. Oh well. Maybe I’ll do something or think of something worth blogging.

Posted in Life

I need feedback for grad school project

At midnight tonight Iím turning in a website I developed for my information architecture class (Iím working on my library science masters at Indiana University).

If any of you wonderful folks would be willing to give it a look and leave me some critical review, thatíd be wonderful.

This project is for a rural county public library in southern Indiana (pop. 32,000). I wanted to create a site that put a face on the services and products offered by the library in a way that will interact with the public (though Iím still working on comments). Hereís the test siteÖ

Madison-Jefferson County Public Library

I have a series of questions Iím trying to find answers to. Pick one to answer or pick many. Any feedback is welcome. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Page Layout

Are the pages consistent, is it easy to read?

Organization & Sequence

Is the content well-organized? Can you sense a logic in the order and presentation? Are you finding what you expect to find in various parts of the site?

Navigation Links

Are you finding your way around easily enough? Are you getting lost anywhere?

Overall Evaluation

What are their overall impressions? What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the pages? Do you find the site interesting or boring?

Any thoughts at all are welcome

Posted in Grad-School

Information architecture and my brain

My information architecture class has been taking my brain power of late. Indeed, I haven’t thought about much besides that.

The class requires me to create a website for a “real” client. Of course, when I mentioned this to my library director I was offered the opportunity to redesign our library’s website. Even though we are a smaller library I find this to be a plum assignment so I’m grabbing it.

That said, trying to get a handle on how to structure such a large amount of content and still allow for room to grow is pretty mind boggling. Then you have to create an interface that allows people to readily find the information they desire. Even something as seemingly simple as labels can be tricky.

For example, take what we call “pathfinders.” These are a combination of bibliography and cheat sheet on particular topics. They could include book titles, topic shelf numbers (741.5 is my favorite Dewey Decimal number), recommended search phrases for our catalog, recommended websites, et al.

However, other than librarians, who would instantly understand what a pathfinder is. I worked at a library for months before I realized what one was. So what do you call it? An information guide? subject guide? cheat sheet? There are no accepted terms really. Nonetheless, the key is for people to find them and use them.

The bottom line is you really have to empathize with the person doing the searching or surfing and test the living daylights out of the site to see how other people use it.

To top that off, I am trying to figure out how to use the Textpattern content management system to handle the site. It’s very nice software, but it can only handle a certain breadth of content. For example, my “Read & Relax” pages would have topics categorized by genre and item material. No problem. However, the pathfinders would be categorized by subject area. The kids page, in turn, would then be sorted by genre and reading level. As a result, I have come to realize that I am really designing a half dozen websites under the umbrella of the library masthead.

If you would like to be in my testing group, send me an email and tell me just a little about yourself and what you use library websites for. I’d appreciate the feedback. If you live in our fair Jefferson County, Indiana, all the better!

Posted in Grad-School

Class at Glendale Mall

IUPUI might as well have been closed today. Some sort of marathon was running in downtown Indianapolis and the student parking lot was shut down so the runners have somewhere to park. Do they not realize there are still classes on campus?

According to our prof, they know, but decide to pick up the PR and good will as IUPUI is still fighting for an identity.

So our prof relocated our class to the Glendale Mall on the northside of Indy. IUPUI has several classrooms in the mall and the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library has a branch library there.

I was looking foward to it as the mall library is supposed to be a shining example of the species. I peeked in and it indeed looked like a nice library. I was thinking about staying after class and working on my homework. But when the time came to stay I couldn’t shake the noise and the loud mariachi music being played in the mall. I started feeling claustrophobic and it felt like my soul was getting sucked out.

I just don’t get it, I most of the time I just can’t stand being in a mall anymore. I have class there again next Saturday, maybe if I get a good night’s sleep my soul will be stout.

Posted in Grad-School

Disasters and disabilities

As you may recall, I took a class entitled “Technology and Resources for Patrons with Special Needs.” Part of the class is to freely explore issues relating to disabilities and bringing your research home to libraries if possible.

As the remainders of Hurricane Dennis rolled over Madison, I wrote about how natural disasters impact people with disabilities. Now that Katrina simply devestated New Orleans, I’m reminded of the assignment.

The assignment took the shape of an informal journal (I wrote other entries as well that I may share). Thus, even though I wrote it for a grad school, this is not really academic writing. Then again is it possible to get academic writing out of a former-journalist hack such as myself?

The paper is on the flip side…

Posted in Grad-School

First day of classes

Today was my first day of fall semester. One of the things I have found that I’m actually enjoying is my drive to Indianapolis.

I thought I would hate the two hour drive. With podcasts the time flies by acceptably, but what I find I’m enjoying is watching the terrain change.

It seems every week the farms fields change their appearance, the crops grow, the weather changes, the look changes.

Today it was very hazy and soft. Looking over the fields, each row of trees into the distance took on its own shade of grayish green—it made me think of paper art. The soybeans are a lush fluffy green right now—though one field I could see a tinge of gold on the tips.

It was nice.

Meanwhile, I’m excited about classes. A couple years ago, I heard a retiring library science professor speak at a state reference conference—she was great. Well it turns out IUPUI talked her into teaching a few classes and I have her for my reference course. She has an obvious passion for libraries and teaching so it should be a good class.

Posted in Grad-School

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