Booking Through Thursday: Assigned Reading
Booking Through Thursday asks: what about something you read for a class that you ended up liking (or loving)? An author you discovered that you might not have found? A genre you hadn’t thought about?
So here comes this question. Just as I’m about to dig into a truly epic pile of reading for library science grad school. There is a gigantic amount of things to read, and I am at this stage where all the information is new and perplexing, and therefore takes ages to grapple with. That, and the two classes I’m taking this semester are a barrage of acronyms. XML, CSS, AACR, FRBR, MARC. Right now I can barely imagine knowing what each of them stands for, let alone know what they each mean and when they apply to being a librarian.
Feeling a little overwhelmed by the scope and volume of it all, but on the other hand, I find what I am learning tremendously cool. Cataloging mystifies me right now but I’ve always had a sense of it as the secret and arcane knowledge of things that librarians know how to do that makes librarians so awe-inspiring, and let’s face it thoroughly badass.
As far as actual things I’ve read that I might read if I weren’t in grad school, there’s not a lot. A lot of the reading is the kind of thing that you only find fascinating if you’re determined to study information and library science. And a few of the readings are disastrously badly written, or at least I think so. (God, Svenonius is going to kill me!) Abstract with convoluted sentences, philosophical rambling and crazy amounts of jargon. It can be tough to muddle through.
Once I understand what I’m reading, I find it fascinating. It just takes a good slog through. My reference class last semester was a gold mine, for readings that people outside of the program would actually be interested in. We got to read Malcolm Gladwell! Always a good thing. Also, we read a little bit from David Weinberger, Too Big to Know. Over the summer, I tried to read the rest of the book, because I can tell it’s fascinating, but I don’t think I could get my head around it. I needed more of a break from grad school thoughts. It’s handy, though, to see so much written from the terms of popular science (more clearly, and in a more comprehensible style, in a way that’s captured the popular imagination in popular science and journalism. Some magazine articles are practically Cliff’s Notes for the things that I’m slogging through in desperately dry academic journals.
Before library science ate my brain, I can remember any number of times where I actually liked the books I was assigned to read in my classes. Anna Karenina is the one that always surprises people. It was amazingly long, of course, but I latched onto the idea of Tolstoy writing popular fiction, and being the Danielle Steele of his time. (An opinion that did not make me altogether popular with my English teacher), and that made me have way more fun reading. I also really liked the Odyssey. I keep meaning to go back and read the bits we didn’t get to in class. In one of my anthropology classes. We had an assignment that was so much fun that I felt like I was getting away with something. For an introduction to forensic anthropology, we had to read a Gideon Oliver mystery, by Aaron Elkins, then consult our textbook and see if the crime solving forensic anthropologist could have actually backed up his assertions with real science. I still read the series.