So I have finished my classes, finished that last pesky assignment and have given myself a week to let it all sink in. Now time for my reviews of classes and profs, along with some final thoughts for those using this blog as a way to gauge Western as a Library School.
Academic Libraries (Online) – As far as an online class goes, this wasn’t a bad class. 3 essays, 1 site visit and weekly participation. Due to the fact you don’t go to classes you are required to write a 300 word response to an academic issue (plus citation), and write a 100 word annotated bibliography of a alternative reading each week. So 400 words per week x 10-12 weeks = 4000 – 4800 words….for 20% of your mark….not too bad. At first I thought this was horrible, but I’ve had worse. The prof wasn’t bad, but with it being an online course you don’t really get to know the prof.
Consumer Health – After class one you will be thinking the learning style of the class is out of touch with reality. Problem based learning is where each week you tackle a topic regard consumer health questions, but you don’t actually come up with a solution, just ideas about the solution. Have I lost anyone yet? The class seemed like a joke, but as it moved on things started to make sense, and by the end I was a believer in Problem Based Learning. The Prof, Selinda Berg, is a nice person, though she seems easily flustered or forgetful most of the time.
Archival Description – Another Riedstra course, he could put a herd of raging elephants to sleep. This class was a very practical course, the last course I had with him (which is a prerequisite for this course) was very theory based. In this course you learn RAD, basically archival cataloging rules. You complete three practical assignments that are designed for you to grasp the system, along with a 12-15 page essay and a final assignment. The final assignment is to go out to a real archive (which the prof will pre select) and catalogue a new or partially catalogued fonds in groups of 2 -4 people. This was hands on stuff, I chose to do Elgin County Archives and worked with another person to organize files from the mid 19th and early 20th century.
Information Behavior – Taught by the lovely Elisabeth Davies, this course takes you through the way in which different people handle information. Ranging from Engineers and medical professionals to musicians, academics, and parent; the class covered a range of different people. The lectures were interesting, but the readings were very heavy. A lot of psychology and sociology in the readings. A great class if you can get through those types of readings.
Storytelling – I was so pumped for this course, but just like profs can make a class, they can also break the class. The prof for this class was a PhD student and won’t likely be teaching the class again, but he definitely broke the class. We had to review some of the literature, that wasn’t bad, except that the literature wasn’t well related to the content of the class. The class was advertised as a storytelling class where you get to practice your skills at telling stories in general, whether that be for children’s story time or in the interview when the dreaded “tell me about a time….” question comes up. We told two stories officially throughout the term, and had to write an auto ethnography. I had never heard of these before, but here is the low down. An auto ethnography is an academic paper written in first person, using a story arc to fill in the reader. I can feel the blank stares, this went against everything I had been taught about academic writing. Needless to say this class was a disaster and am glad to have survived it, maybe a different teacher will make it better, it could have been a great class.
The Library School in Western University is a compressed program, though can be extended. The compressed program I took had me racing to the end of each semester, and I feel I did not get as much out of it as I could have, had I taken a 2 year program. I feel the classes were too many at once, too short and gave little to no time for reflection on what you could have learned. Because I have never gone to library school before, I have nothing to compare it to. Many professors have tried to explain to me that Western, as a library school, is considered a top school in Canada. I have also heard horror stories from some students who have gone to U of T or U of Alberta. Is it the best school, I hope not, is it a bad school, no! I think the MLIS program at Western is adequate and gets you the basic skills needed to do the job, but is nothing spectacular or special, aside from the Co-Op option, that will put you a step ahead of those in other programs.