Library school spring semester 2022 is underway. It’s my third semester. If you’re new to my blog, last year I started a masters program in library science with a focus on archives management.
My first two semesters were great, but just a bit too busy. I felt like graduate school was taking over my life. That was okay the first time around when I was in my twenties, but now in my mid-50s, with other responsibilities, three courses was too much. I was starting to feel like I was rushing to check off assignments instead of focusing on learning.
So this semester I’m taking two courses. They are Establishing Archives and Manuscript Programs and Introduction to Programming. The descriptions below, in italics, are from the catalog. Both are fully online courses.
Course 1: Establishing Archives and Manuscript Programs
Description: Developing a knowledge base that encompasses a variety of competencies around sustaining an archives is vital for archivists who often work in small one or two person repositories or may face the challenges of establishing new repositories. This course will analyze the requirements of such small or emerging programs and focus on the ways to develop strategic plans, locate and pursue sources of funding, market and design outreach, understand the physical and intellectual resources of an archival facility; and sustain program growth. The class will also examine these issues within the context of different types of archives (i.e. government, academic, historical societies).
This is a required course for the archives concentration. The class has been broken into small groups and each group has its own organization case study that will be the basis of our assignments. Half-way through the semester the teams will change. Two major group assignments are creating a strategic plan and writing a grant. There’s also a solo assignment to conduct a management study by interviewing a working archive manager and possibly their boss.
The textbooks we’re using:
- Peter Gottlieb and David W. Carmichael, eds., Leading and Managing Archives and Manuscripts Programs, (Chicago: SAA, 2019)
- Michael J. Kurtz, Managing Archival and Manuscript Repositories, (Chicago: SAA, 2004)
Course 2: Introduction to Programming
Description: Introduces computer science and programming using a high-level programming language (currently Python). Teaches program design in the context of contemporary practices both object oriented and procedural. Presents fundamental computer science topics through initiation and design of programs. Students learn to think logically and to apply this thinking to debugging computer programs.
This is my first elective in the program. In a course that I took last semester, Technology for Information Professionals, I learned HTML, CSS, and a tiny bit of Python. I knew some basic HTML but learning CSS, which I had previously been intimidated by, was a fairly easy and fun challenge. My first Python project was making the cursor draw a flower with different colored petals. It was so proud! In an archives course I learned Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and XML. Computer work, including coding, is now a significant part of archive work, much more so than I thought when I first started this program.
This course is a week-by-week building of skills and the final project is a hackerthon. We have a weekly lab and assignment, and will also read and comment on other student’s coding assignments. Everyone writes code and solves problems differently, so in addition to writing code, checking out other people’s code written to solve the same problem is a large part of the programming learning process.
A professor in one of the introductory lectures said not to worry about understanding things because nothing will make much sense for the first part of the course. Most people, he said, have an “ah-ha” moment in week seven. Please pray for me.
The text for this course is Python for Everybody by Charles Severence.
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about these courses or my studies in general. And I’m always open to advice!