Sunday, September 10, 2006

Considering my course of study

It's been something like 5 months since I worked out how exactly I was going to earn both Master's degrees in just 2 more years. Going through my papers near my desk, I rediscovered the plan I drew up, and thought it might be of interest to someone.

I've already taken all my Core courses in LSC, as well as Special Libraries and Information Architecture. The former got me into the profession of librarianship, and the latter focused my interest in online systems design. This semester, in addition to my other pre-requisite computer courses, I'm taking CSC 436: Database Management Systems and LSC 550: Cataloging of Digital and Non-book resources.

I see it all fitting together like this: I want to focus on web-based information applications. Most simply, this is websites, but it can get rapidly more complex as the information dealt with grows. Advanced cataloging will allow for clear organization of most any kind of material, according to whatever standards have been accepted. Databases are the electronic systems that make cataloged information accessible and searchable. I will continue with database development in CSC 536, the advanced database course. I will also pick up a course on Operating Systems and Networks, since they are the background structures that make databases possible. Back in library school, I will take a course on Indexing and Abstracting (LSC 545) or Information Storage and Retrieval (LSC 549), depending on availability. This will provide a more generalized ability to categorize things. A course in Digital Libraries will fill in some of the practical knowledge in making these online structures work.

I had originally planned to take several credits of a Professional Field Experience (PFE), possibly at Massachusetts Historical Society, possible at Brown University. However, looking more deeply at the course listings and what I think is most valuable for me as a professional, I think I will take LSC 593: independent work, instead. This will allow me to make my webpage the focus of credit hours. I have several databases I'd like to design (one of which I'll get to do for CSC 436 this semester!), and I know I won't get to them if I make them pet projects. This way, not only will I get to do work that I find personally valuable and stimulating, but I will also do something practical that I can show to potential employers. I already have experience in a library setting, working reference at one of the best Bibliographic Instruction libraries in the country. I like my coworkers, and if I did a PFE, I'd likely need to quit. Better to keep on at the reference desk, at least until next summer.

There is also the matter of my thesis, which will hopefully provide me with an academic outlet for melding my two degrees. Perhaps I can relate it to my website, or perhaps it will be more content to post. That remains to be seen; I must seek council.