Thursday, September 29, 2011


Lesson 23: Good things come to those who wait.

Oldy but a goody, as we say in my family. But when I got to class today, guess what we had! SWEET NASA CHAIRS!

All of a sudden, I'm so much more comfortable sitting in class. But unfortunately, ours are plain old grey, not lime green. I guess they didn't get the memo that MLIS students are a bizarre and wild bunch who should have chairs coloured to reflect that.

Still. Soooooo nice! I finally have space to put things in class! I feel like a winner! A very, very comfortable winner.

A+, McGill!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 22: Competition is Overrated

I'm not a very competitive person. I'm more of a supportive type. I learned a long time ago that if I use others to measure my success, I'm usually the one who comes out the loser, and that is more hurtful than helpful. So instead, I do what I want to do, even if I'm not good at it, just because I enjoy doing it. I still get down on myself sometimes because there are some people who are just better at everything I want to be good at than I am, like a certain best friend/musician/linguist extraordinaire that I could mention. But in general, I don't see someone doing something and feel that drive to just do it better, I get the urge to let them know how awesome they are, so that they suffer no doubts about their abilities.

Apparently, that is strange. Oh well.

I will say however, that I feel like I'm now in competition with the classroom next door. They just got these sweet lime-green NASA chairs to replace the tiny, side-desked chairs we all have whose desks don't even swing out of the way. Our's are stationary and lock together! Their's are awesome and swivel and have wheels, and a basket underneath to hold your bag, and a fully moveable desk that can go on either side, and are a sweet colour to boot! Yet again, I come out on the losing side of a comparison. (sarcasm) This is totally new... (/sarcasm)

Lesson 22: If the classroom's empty, feel free to lead an expedition to check out those sweet new chairs... they're niiiiice!

Day 21: I know it sounds sordid / But you'll be rewarded...

My broom bruise is coming in well, and I actually went to a 7am run with a few members of the Quidditch team. I don't think I'm the same person who has been at York for the past 4 years... I mean... Wow! But this is a library school blog! Not a Quidditch blog! Geez!

I really just had work today. Tuesday is a no class day! But that doesn't mean I didn't learn!

Lesson 21: Always carry your multi-tool. Yes, even in a library. I'm going to be bringing mine from now on. We needed to file down a key in order to open the cabinet that holds our loanable laptops, luckily, one of the liaison librarians carries their multi-tool because they bike to work. Problem solved!

The Scouting motto is basically my motto for life: Be Prepared.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 20: Doctors are fail

I missed part of my class today in order to go to the doctor. He claims I'm fine, as though being violently ill three times in as many weeks is totes normal. So I feel like it was a bit of a waste of time, though no more of a waste of time than being in class would have been. Looked over a friend's notes and they were almost identical to the ones I took in class last week. Oh well!

Also had work and Quidditch practice. Sounds like stuff is going to be heating up in a major way on the pitch! Lets just hope my poor, rickety body held together with hopes, dreams and duct tape can keep up...

Lesson 20: The Library and Archives of Canada has a sweet catalogue that is very much worth checking out. I had never given it much thought, but now that I've gotten a glimpse, I really want to just browse through it. Seriously, take a look!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 19: Da Stacks Are Dat-a Way

For the first few weeks of classes, I couldn't spell McGill. My hands naturally kept spelling it McHill.  I think that tells you something about how I feel about the school. Trust me, people who work at libraries don't need to go to the gym. Shelving bound journals is all the weight training I need, and you walk around that library enough, that's your low intensity cardio right there.

Plus there's the fact that my library, and all my classes, are at the top of a big freakin' hill. Seriously, I walk up it, top speed so I'm not late, every day. With a bag on. I am breathing hella heavy by the time I'm there.

Which brings us to the lesson.

Lesson 19: Own the sweat stains. Everyone has them. We all walk the same hill to get to class, it's inevitable. Don't be embarrassed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 18: This book was written from BEYOOOOND THE GRAVE

Cataloguing class, work and the first Quidditch practice I'm actually participating in (I wanna be the Keeper!); it's a long yet awesome day.

Had a particularly interesting lesson in Cataloguing about books written by mediums.
Lesson 18: The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) have a rule for cataloguing books that were written by spirits through mediums. So if you're ever looking for a book by author and see a few options, one of which has "(Spirit)" next to it, that particular option will contain all the books written by that person after their death related through a medium.

Some examples from McGill's catalogue include Sister M.G.'s "The purgatory manuscript : the relations of a nun with a soul in purgatory" and Sitting Bull's "message from spirit life" written by (from?) him the year after he died... The spirit of one Robert Hugh Benson seems to have had a particularly active afterlife.


The More You Know....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 17: What even just happened...

Very nearly got to do a project about the history of organized crime in Canada, but turns out, that's not a viable topic. Too bad.

Anyways, today's lesson is an unfortunate truth about scheduling at McGill.
Lesson 17: All classes are scheduled to start at 35 minutes past the hour and end at 25 minutes past the hour. Unfortunately, most professors have decided this means that they can start their classes at half past with no issue. I'm sorry, but that's an issue to me. Class is scheduled for 8:35, I will probably show up at 8:33. I am not late. Stop making it so that I seem to be. I do not appreciate it.

Sad Panda.

Day 16: Working, working all the live long day...

Today was a day of calm, relaxing work. I also caved and got myself a deviantART profile where I'm going to catalogue my attempt to teach myself to draw. Tangential but fun!

Work today brought up a very important (to University library users) PSA that has to happen, so I offer it in lieu of the usual lesson.

Course Reserves PSA: A lot of schools allow professors to pull books vital to their classes from normal circulation, and offer them instead as reserves, where you can only borrow them for 2-3 hours at a time. This way, all the students have access to the text books without shelling out the huge amount of money to buy them. Overdue fines for course reserves are BY THE MINUTE. This is something people don't seem to understand. If you are told it is due at 3:30PM, but keep it overnight and return it at 10AM, that is an entire night of minutes you are paying (5cents per minute) for.

So please, for your own pocketbook's sake, return reserve books early when at all possible. And if you return them late, don't take it out on the poor library workers who are merely the bearers of bad news, and have probably spent the entire evening previous apologizing to all your classmates who tried to borrow the book but couldn't because you kept it.

(Also, reserves are different from holds. Please be clear.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 15: Fear is the Mind Killer

Allow me to rephrase that: Sickness is the mind killer.
Despite an awesome weekend of Comic-Con, my Sunday was destroyed by being violently, violently ill, for no discernible reason. I wound up missing all the panels I had wanted to see (no Stan Lee for me :( ), though I did manage to stay at Comic-Con long enough to take some great photos, and get basically the rest of my Christmas shopping done. Regardless, I was feeling human enough to get up for class this morning, I just have yet to test if I can eat again yet.

Today's class was Bibliographic and Factual Sources, and we covered Open Access in our discussion portion, and catalogues in the class.

Lesson 16: I need to learn to love WorldCat.

Perhaps it's been the librarians around me being disdainful towards WorldCat that's made me wary and hesitant of it's usefulness, but from what I heard in class today, it is an incredible resource with a lot of potential. It seems that it just requires some intense GoogleFu. GoogleFu is something I have in abundance.

With over 200 million items, on a variety of topics, from around the world (74,000 institutions in 170 countries), I cannot neglect WorldCat just because I find it has a tendency to be obnoxious, uncooperative and, dependent on my mood, garish.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 14: Librarians are Awesome

No classes today. My Fridays and Tuesdays are both free, making me one happy camper! I wasn't completely away from school though. We had a big get together at what I understand is the official campus dive bar, or as someone said "the classiest dive bar around".

It looks like the MLIS pub night will become an unofficial weekly event. I'm looking forward to it because of this week's special day off bonus lesson...

Bonus lesson: Beware the quiet ones. Not exactly a new lesson, it's been around a long time, even immortalized as a trope on, but today this lesson was reinforced in the most awesome ways. Hence the title of today's post, which could just as easily be phrased: "Information professionals are awesome". But that's not nearly as catchy, is it?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 13: Tedium, not always a bad thing

Hooray for cataloguing class! Frankly, I quite like it. Maybe I just have a weird standard, but there you have it. I also had work again today, which I also rather enjoy. Today's lesson is related to difficulty and tediousness.

Lesson 15: Cataloguing is not hard. Cataloguing is tedious, but it is not difficult. It's easy to confuse the two, something being tedious usually makes it hard to do, but only in the sense that when something is tedious, the mental energy necessary to really get down to it and complete the job, is higher. But that does not make it difficult. In fact, I'm finding I'm rather enjoying the tedium. It's even... soothing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 12: Chickens Shouldn't Fit in Potholes

My first experience of ultra intense Wednesday has been completed. Information System Design followed by a lab for the same class, followed by Information and Society with the irrepressible professor back from Greece with candies in tow.

So exhausted by the end, but all in all it was fun!

Lesson 14: Primary and Secondary sources aren't as black and white as I had always thought. A scanned copy of a journal actually doesn't qualify as the same as having the journal in hand. Basically, I need to go back and redo every bibliography I've done ever made...


[and yes that title is serious: the mayor of Dorval was paying people 5$ if they found a pothole they could fit a chicken in]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 11: Laundry day / See you there / Underthings / Tumbling

An interesting confluence of fate. Because I was running a little late, I ran right past my friend from middle school/early high school, and didn't even know it until he posted on my Facebook wall that he thought he saw my doppleganger. I'm sure there's a lesson in that...

But no classes today, just work. I had a rather redundant feeling lesson on library organization and shelving order. My official supervisor, after more than a week of me working there, taught me how to organize call numbers and alphabetize.

Lesson 13: People love to teach, but hate to learn. Being taught information you feel you already know inspires feelings of indignation, but teaching people about things, even if they claim to already know them, makes you feel productive and useful. If you feel like you already know something, sitting and listening may feel like a waste of time, but you never know when you might learn that a space counts as a letter.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 10: and I can finally buy my books!

The last first of the semester: my first Bibliographic and Factual Sources class. Because our year started on a Thursday, and the intervening Monday was labour day, we're in our third week of classes, and just now starting one of our classes. Today's lesson is one I had already learned in undergrad, but that really proved its importance today.

Lesson 12: Never buy your textbooks for a course until you've had at least one class. You never know when the edition switch will make a world of difference. For instance, the latest edition of our primary book for Bibliographic and Factual Sources was basically a complete revamp; a nasty situation for everyone who already bought the previous edition!

Also, buying textbooks should be preceded, or followed, by a stiff drink. You need something to soften the blow of that price tag... yikes!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Special Weekend Edition!: Fibrefest, bran not included

Ottawa is a weird and wonderful place, and since my trip here was school inspired, I felt that it warranted a special weekend post!

In Ottawa, radio stations have contests to win babies, and they have a little thing called Fibrefest. Fibrefest is all about fibers and the textile arts. And librarians love their knitting, so doubly appropriate!

Special Weekend Lesson: Button collecting is apparently a huge and serious hobby in southern Ontario. People came all the way from St. Catherine's and even lovely ol' Guelph just for Button Mania.

Given my penchant for accumulating buttons, this may just be a great new hobby for me... I found some great buttons in the poke box. Including a gorgeous button with the McGill crest on it! I'll post a picture of that one here when I can.

EDIT: I was just joking about the winning a baby thing because I saw some pretty ridiculous ads, but it turns out, the ads were 100% serious and you can currently actually win a baby for real on the radio in Ottawa... There's another lesson in this: never assume the ridiculous is a joke, sometimes it actually is disturbingly real.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 9: On OSAP and provincial weirdness

Today was remarkable in that it was just so inexplicable.

I started out by going to work, doing pick-ups, sorting, loans desk... the usual, punctuated by looking up photos of the aftermath of yesterday's McTavish Reservoir overflow. But then, at the end of work, I had to rush to the bus station to take an impromptu, emergency trip to Ottawa. Why?, you may ask. That is the topic of today's lessons!

As a University student, I have never been eligible for OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program), for various wild, wacky and highly bureaucratic reasons. However, now that I'm not even attending school in Ontario, I am eligible just by virtue of the fact I've been out of high school for just over four years. Which brings us to our first lesson.

Lesson 10) Check your student aid eligibility yearly. You never know when something that didn't seem terribly relevant to you will all of a sudden be the biggest deal to those providing possible aid.

As I have never been eligible, but tried to apply once upon a time, I had an account with OSAP but didn't have any of the details to access it. I know now that because I'd never successfully submitted an application, they didn't even have a name associated with my account. Regardless, they wanted me to go into a financial aid office in person to gain access to my account. But as a cross-provincial student (ie/ an Ontario resident living and going to school in Quebec), this is where our next lesson comes from.

Lesson 11) Provincial student aid organizations are really bad at sharing. If you go to an out-of-province school, anything you do through your own school's financial office will take infinitely longer to process. Getting your account number and password, for instance, is instantaneous at an in-province institution even if it's one you do not and have never attended (such as, in my case, the University of Ottawa) but if done through your own, out-of-province institution would take up to 6 weeks to process. All because you're working across provincial borders. Therefore... Bonus lesson: Deal with all provincial student aid questions while you're home, even if the closest University is one you have never had any interaction with.

Ya..... today really was a three lesson day. And I didn't even have class!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 8: Stress, my old friend...

Finally we begin our week of seconds. My second cataloguing class was today. I couldn't sleep last night until I finished the lab/homework exercises from WebCT because I wasn't 100% positive that it wasn't to be done for today (it wasn't. She actually handed it out in class. Whoops...).

Lesson 9) Don't stress, just sleep. You don't need a caffeine addiction to go along with your busy days. It'll just make you more frazzled and worsen your stress.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 7: Death by Acronym

Another first. This time it was the first class of Information System Design! (followed by the ABQLA meeting, followed by the McGill Multilingual Children's Library)
Because I was so busy today, you're getting two lessons again!

Lesson 7) A Masters in Library and Information Studies is basically an MBA by a different name; with a healthy dose of a Computer Science degree thrown in for good measure
Lesson 8) Student organizations aren't as intimidating as they seem! Get out, get involved! It looks really good on a resume and is a relatively light commitment (or so they've told me). I am now the co-Communications (or shadow Communications, oooOOOoo!) Officer of the ABQLA and am involved with the McGill MCL!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 6: High ho! High ho! It's off to work I go!

No classes today! Oh how I love my schedule...
So I worked all day instead! Fun stuff. The PGSS New Graduate Student Orientation was today as well, so today's lesson is somewhat related.

Lesson 6) You will never engender more envy than you will wearing a neon green flash drive bracelet. SWAG.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 5: Labour? I scoff in the face of labour!

Labour Day! I shall celebrate by doing no labour. Verily.
My iStudiez Pro (an iPad app) is telling me I have class. Liar. I'm taking the day off!
Class dismissed!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 4: Classes? We no need no stinkin' classes!

Off-center day of classes! My class that's normally Wednesday was actually today (a Friday?) because next Wednesday the professor's actually in Greece, so we need to get started so as not to fall behind. Confusing. Following that trend, my lessons today were all about confusion.

Lesson 5) People are generally uninterested in libraries and as a result seem to think they are organized by magic. They are also incapable of understanding interchangeable use of the terms "bookshelves" and "stacks" without a whole song and dance.

Bonus unnumbered lesson for non-library people: you know bookshelves. Bookselves are shelves for books, you've seen them in the library and you probably have at least one in your house, even if you don't use it for books. Point of interest though, when we have bookshelves in the library, we also tend to call them "the stacks". I don't want you to be confused when we refer to "that stack over there". We aren't talking about a pile of books, that's just what we call the shelves. Same thing when we refer to entries, we're talking about catalogue entries, usually on the computer, not entrances.

I feel that sometimes we can be confusing without meaning to. Just remember that we are professionals, experts if you will. Just like I wouldn't necessarily understand if you started talking about things from your field with the terms you use with your colleagues, we will use our terms when talking with you because that's how we speak when we're in the library, and sometimes we forget that we're not just talking to another colleague. So please accept my apologies for this in advance.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 3: Libraries Libraries Libraries!

First day of lectures! First day of work! Phew!

Lesson 4) The solitude of the stacks is inner calm like nothing else.