CAS Decision Made

I have decided that I will not write my thesis and thus will not finish my Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) from UIUC.

Earlier this morning I emailed my Dean, who is also my advisor, with my decision.

As some of you know, circumstances arose almost exactly 3 years ago that, at the time, I was considering a temporary derailment.  I had just finished my course work towards my degree and was registered for my 8 hours of thesis credit to be completed in the spring semester of 2008.  But I found myself unable to process the things I had learned, and unable to get them down on paper.  I was burned out after 10 years of mostly full-time education.  In consultation with my faculty, we decided I would take a break for a few months and then write the thesis.

Many things happened in the intervening months, some bad, most good. Some even extraordinary. Many have been mentioned on this blog. I now find myself up against a university imposed deadline of defending before the spring 2011 semester is over.  While I would like to finish, and have always intended to do so, I find my heart is simply not in it.

I know that many would counsel that I buckle down and “just do it.”  And while that is a strategy, it is not one that will work for me; not any longer at least.  It has been a couple of years now since I wrote anything “academic” and I am finding it more than difficult to pick up where I left off.

And, No, I did not leave this until the last minute. I have been re-reading and re-familiarizing myself with my materials and my argument for the last several months. This fall I had set myself two tasks. First, draft one, preferably two, chapters and send them to my advisor. It would have been nice to do more but I figured that if I could get that far—back into the groove, so to speak—then the remaining 3-4 chapters would come fairly easily. Second, write an article for a major journal based on my concluding chapter. In fact, if done correctly, it could then easily be retrofitted to serve as the conclusion. The article could have been simple or detailed. It certainly wasn’t a given to have been accepted for publication, but it was semi-invited.

I tried to work on these two tasks but I got nowhere. I put myself in anguish, I tortured myself, I scolded myself. I chastised myself for doing anything besides them, and I generally made myself feel miserable, all the while getting nowhere on them.

This needs to end now!

I even forewent taking any of several classes that I was seriously interested in this current term (Dec-Feb) at Briar Cliff with professors whom I want to study with. A couple of these are nearing retirement, also, so that was a tough decision.

Pros of not writing the thesis

  • Can stop causing myself so much anguish and other negative feelings, all of which have real consequences in my life.
  • Can move on with the many other interests and passions that are calling to me.
  • Will perhaps be freed up mentally and emotionally to finally write one or more papers on my topic, when I am good and ready to do so.
  • I still received—as in took—a great education at UIUC GSLIS.
  • I have the required professional degree required to be a librarian.

Cons of not writing the thesis

  • May need to get a 2nd masters. This assumes I get back in the academic librarian game, at a place with tenure and at one requiring a 2nd masters for tenure, and one which would have accepted my CAS as equivalent.

In a perfect world I would prefer to have finished this degree. While it was a struggle coming to realize what it was that I was going to do and that a decision had to be made, after a while, the decision was an easy one. Taking care of myself is what matters most.

I am still fully coming to grips with the decision but I do know that it is the proper one for me. I already feel a great sense of relief, and release, because this educational journey (the CAS) has been a huge part of my life for almost 5 years now and will take some time to fully process its end.

Thank you to everyone for your encouragement and support over the last several years.  It has meant a great deal to me!  I am still highly interested in Integrationism and issues of language and communication within library and information science. So you may well see more from me on these topics.

Is someone trying to tell me something?

Twice in the last week I have been disappeared from assorted campus directories.

Recently the Library debuted a new website for staff, including a new personnel directory. The personnel directory is available in 3 versions (that I noticed): Faculty by name, Staff by name, and by Department. I was in the old directory. I have been Visiting Faculty since Aug. 2008. Just completely disappeared from the new one.

This morning I discovered that I was no longer in the GSLIS directory. Not as a CAS student, which I still am. Nor, period. Now keep in mind this directory includes alums. Disappeared completely from it, I did.

No doubt these are coincidences. But I’m beginning to wonder.

If you want me gone UIUC then just have the cojones to tell me it’s time to go.

habitually probing generalist

Change of blog name

I have changed the name of my blog. Again. This time it should not break any of the Internet nor should you need to change feeds; I hope.

3 years ago tomorrow I moved my blog to WordPress and renamed it Off the Mark. This was after a few years of blogging at Typepad under the name …the thought are broken…. I had put out a call for suggestions and for slightly different reasons both Walt Crawford and Richard Urban recommended Off the Mark. For those and other reasons I liked it. But over time various (possible) connotations have been bugging me. I was certainly aware of them then but I dismissed them, at least in my own mind.

A few months after renaming my blog I read an article for a class and my tagline was born. That tagline is now being promoted to the name of my blog. Henceforth, this space is to be known as habitually probing generalist.

I feel that that far better represents me and how I’d like to be known. For now, Off the Mark will be my tagline.

In the interest of disclosure, I feel that the primary reason for this change is that which I stated above—Off the Mark carries certain negative connotations which I no longer am willing to ignore and habitually probing generalist better represents the external face I want to present. Secondarily, though, I cannot deny that the phrase “off the mark” is heavily represented and used on the Internet. There is a greeting card company with that name (I have enjoyed giving a card or 3 to others from that company; check them out) and at least another blog or two, besides being a common phrase in its own right. “Habitually probing generalist” appears to be only used by me and a few others who have referenced my tagline. Thus, I am laying claim to it. Carole Palmer deserves a boatload of credit for it but I alone am responsible for this specific formulation.

Working toward this change I made myself a new favicon about 2 weeks ago. No longer is my favicon barely distinguishable pink flowers but is a blue background with a whitish “hpg” in it. I still need to do a little code editing so the fonts are switched for the name and tagline on the blog but that can wait. A looming physical move takes precedence.

With my blogging output over the last year a few of you might well ask “What is the point of a name change for a moribund blog?” Sadly, that is a valid question. I cannot make any promises but ….

CAS project

Friday I met with my academic advisor, Dean John Unsworth, about my CAS paper, for the first time in about 11 months. The gist of what we discussed is that things are settling down in my life (as much as possible for someone with a temporary job) and that I am ready, and looking forward, to beginning on the job of writing and defending this paper.

First, I must get physically moved across town and somewhat unpacked but then I should be able to devote far more time to it than I was willing to over the last year. The love of my life and I will live together and there will be no more of that whose apartment are we going to?, are you/am I spending the night?, blah blah. Perhaps more importantly, I will have research time once my 2nd year Visiting Professor appointment starts 16 August. This should make a major difference in my mental ability to focus on the task at hand. Also, S will be majorly busy and working many hours in September and October so I hope to use some of that time to get back in the flow of reading and writing towards a directed end.

My time over the last year has by no stretch been a waste! I have read far more broadly in a vast array of disciplines, topics and genres, which has better prepared me to think about and critique the actual use of language and communication. I was on a panel at ASIS&T last year where I spoke about Integrationism in regards to tagging. I also attended the 1st Ethics of Information Organization conference this May.

I now have an idea for a draft proposal for a presentation at the 2nd Ethics conference next year. This also forms a small but core portion of my critique of the uses of the concepts of language and communication in LIS. Thus, working towards fleshing this out will be a big help in a key premise of my argument. I might also be able to then expand on it or shift it a bit to present at ASIS&T or the SIG-CR preconference next year in 2010.

I also have an idea for a way to have interested parties work with me to compile a “listing” of theories of language and communication used in LIS and citations of works that explicitly use them, well or not. On this head, though, I am first doing a bit of research to seed the list and to determine what might be the best tool to use for a (small, I assume) group to manage it while making it publicly available. Stay tuned.

… and this means what for the blog?

Well, I hope that I will blogging much of what I get up to. I will need to reread many things and refresh my memory of what they say. Summarizing these for the blog is a possibility, as is comparing and contrasting ideas. Bouncing ideas and/or draft paragraphs/sections of my paper or my conference presentation ideas off of my readers are distinct possibilities, too.

No promises. But. I hope that I can claim that—for the near future, at least—I am back.

Sing a song with a friend
Change the shape that I’m in,
And get back in the game,
And start playin’ again

John Prine. Clay Pigeons.

O, most frabjous day

Things have sort of “settled down” around here; here being the blog. Related things in my daily life got “interesting” and have only progressed. Today was a most enlightening day. [Yes, Christina, that “interesting” was purposefully vague, and for you.  😉 ]

Wow. What to say, or not say? Been working on this for a while now since …, well, mid-June.  Been doing a lot of thinking and a couple two days ago I started drafting a post, and some drafts of things referenced in the draft post and making a list of “sources.”

Been talking to some folks, in various venues, more face-to-face lately; been trying to talk to a few others, various venues, mostly f-2-f at moment but not entirely [I seriously need to reach out to a couple folks … once I has plan]; I have a new advisor at school; and also someone I am seriously discussing my perceived communication issues, amongst other things, with.

But today brought a whole new level of interestingness. I really am not about to go into much, yet and if at all, but today I listened to the entire Q&A for the Gorman colloquium and it seems my lived experience as perceived at the time [and some odd coincidences at school] led me to perceive my communication issues vastly differently from what they truly are.

After the very pleasant shock of how I sounded in my comments to Michael Gorman—direct, perhaps blunt, but level-headed and with little emotion—I had a few conversations with a couple of amazing women, some of whom I have already been talking with, that really helped put some things in perspective.

After today I have a much better idea of the issues I face—talking them through with wonderful and intelligent people also really helps.

I am not a failure. I also must remember the impossibly high standards that I set for myself before saying such silly things again. I did fail, momentarily [and in highly specific and narrow ways]. I am not a failure. I know so very much. There is always more to learn.

This little non-event has done some serious work for me. I have a much better idea of who I am and what I am committed to. I have fully embraced the knowledge that this commitment may well impact my earning potential. I will always be “that guy.” When what I want is to be this guy and in many more contexts.

I’m going to stay kind of quiet for a while most likely but know that I am working on some things. And, me? Please know that I am as fine as the wonderful little summer storms we had earlier this evening [yes, I adore them] and that I am Stargazing.

Today was a very affirming, most frabjous, day.

What is it with UIUC and this guy

Tomorrow, Wednesday, 18 June 2008, 2 – 3:30 PM

Library Colloquium: Michael Gorman : Are Libraries Still Vital to Research?

Why do we keep bringing him here?

And, yes, I am well aware of his connection to UIUC. But, honestly, you’d think people might have outgrown him by now. Perhaps if more of our students could learn to think for themselves and to read a bit more widely ….

This quote from the news announcement I find particularly ironic:

If you need a refresher on Michael Gorman’s fascinating career, check his entry in Wikipedia which also provides links to some of his publications and other biographical sources.

There’s something just a tad bit too delicious to think about when someone links to Wikipedia to reference Gorman’s career. Don’t you think?

Part of the lecture is supposed to be on core competencies for LIS education, a major platform of Gorman’s ALA Presidency. I am assuming this post at Doc Martens’ theorywatch is in reference to them.

What a nice laundry list that. I will be interested in hearing how and to what depth they will be measured/evaluated. Or will it be enough for ALA as accrediting agency—as it is now—for programs just to claim that they address them. Actually, now, programs only have to claim that they address what they think is valuable [Yes, it isn’t quite so simplistic I know. But honestly that’s about what it reduces to.]. Not sure if this is much of an improvement but I need more details first.

I could just as easily pick on any set of these competencies, but I’ll choose those particularly close to my heart:

3. Organization of Recorded Knowledge and Information

3A. The principles involved in the organization and representation of recorded knowledge and information.

3B. The developmental, descriptive, and evaluative skills needed to organize recorded knowledge and information resources.

3C. The systems of cataloging, metadata, indexing, and classification standards and methods used to organize recorded knowledge and information.

Is it going to be enough that prospective graduates of accredited programs can list some principles, some skills and some “systems” used, or will they actually have to understand these principles, apply the skills, and demonstrate knowledge and ability to apply these systems?

Here’s a cite from an email about Gorman’s visit:

Michael will address the continuing importance of libraries to researchers and will cover the nature of research, the nature of the human record today, the skills of modern librarians (this will touch on the proposed “core competences” for ALA accredited LIS programs), and the importance of the bibliographic architecture of research libraries.

I have no doubt that Gorman will address these topics. My concern is with what qualifications anyone thinks he has to address these topics, or some of them anyway. The nature of the human record today. The skills of modern librarians. This is just funny. In a sad way.

Yes. I will be there. Who could resist such a show? And, honestly, as someone highly interested in the education of “modern librarians”—whatever the heck those might be—I’m dying to hear more about the ALA version of No Librarian Left Behind.

Update: Before any comments came in I realized I ought to say a bit more but instead went for a run. While I was out 3 comments came in [for reference sake].

I want to add that I do have some respect for Michael Gorman, or more accurately for some of the things he has done, said, and written. I have read several of his books and many of his articles. I hold many of the same values as he does, particularly values in relationship to the profession of librarianship. I just think they can and should be espoused and embodied differently than he does. In fact, if you search this blog you will find several cases where I defended or, at least, supported him.

But I also lost most of my respect for him over the last couple of years based on many of the things he has said and written. I do think he has much to offer our profession still. I just have no faith that he will stick to those things, nor that he will realize that he is failing at many of the things on the proposed list of core competencies; things which are critical to the future of the profession.

And while I agree with all 3 of the commenters so far, I do not agree with jenny’s 1st point. Having been president of ALA in no way whatsoever qualifies any one to speak on the issues he is supposed to be addressing. It may “certify”, allow, or more accurately, entitle one to speak on them. But then I didn’t realize this is an entitlement profession. In fact, are not entitlement and profession, at least in the senses I mean them, exclusive of each other?

So, lest any one get confused, I am not a Michael Gorman hater. I just do not think he is qualified to address, or even willing to properly engage with, many of the issues at hand. I am also fairly certain that I can back those statements up to anyone but the most die-hard MG fans or the ostriches of the profession.

What have I been up to?

What a question. I feel like I need a recap of some of it myself sometimes.

I hope to have some semi-substantial blog posts and/or Flickr sets for some of these but I’d like to get them mentioned before they all become old news.

[some kind of division]

Been watching a fair few movies, started running (4x 5x 6x now), and have been taking and uploading lots of photos.

“Article” project

This is an ongoing project that I got a recent jump on due to my school hiatus, if it is possible to say that [hiatus, that is].

Flickr set. Main pic.

This is one of the things I’ve been considering blogging. But it mostly seems like a waste of time; for any system to work for someone it must meet their individual—current and future—modes of working. Any idiot can say: enter them into a citation manager (that meets your needs), put them into some sort of order (which also meets your needs), and stick them in something (that works for you).

Besides, who else has so many printed and photocopied things?

Much of what I might say is already in the Flickr set via notes and comments; especially on the “main pic.” By the way, I could very simply publish assorted bibliographies of all this, to include good discovery metadata (COinS).

Reading some David Bade things

UIUC Progressive Librarians Guild is hosting a lunch time (11:30-1 PM) discussion with David Bade on Monday, 21 April 2008.

Technology Waits For No One: Thinking About Technology, Progress and Responsibility in Academic Librarianship

I’ve been getting something on e-reserve (Harris’ Epilogue) and making another short Word doc available.

David’s been sharing a few other things with me, too. 🙂

Job Search

Nothing going on here. Have nothing out at the moment.

The End of the Semester

We have 3 weeks left in the semester and then finals week. After Subject Access/Analysis seminar Tuesday, one of my fellow classmates asked me how I was dealing with the end of the semester. I had to tell her, not so bad, but then it isn’t the end for me.

She knows I’m only sitting in on Subject Access/Analysis and that I was sitting in on Allen’s Ontologies, but she rightly assumed I should be taking something. Anyway, I kind of felt a little bad cause I knew she was just looking for a little commiseration and reassurance that we’ll both get through. And in a sense, I took that from her. So. Bad.

But about 20 minutes later when I realized that this was the first semester in 10 years in which I wasn’t facing her exact situation, I decided that I will not feel bad about not being in that space right now when I “fail” more of my friends.

But I am prepared now. I can most certainly empathize, sympathize, feel you, and so on to an extraordinary level. I will not lord my situation over any one [cause I’d like to have been finishing, too]. But I will not feel bad when any of my friends put us in the same same situation as Tuesday afternoon.

I am taking a Deferral on my paper; hope to write it in the Fall.

Since I won’t be walking the stage and I’ll be going to the GSLIS Commencement any way [lots of friends’ big day] I volunteered to help. Looks like I’ll be the “candid photographer.” Will have to have lots of little short conversations but I’ll be “forced” to move around and see folks at Commencement and at the reception. 🙂

[Volunteering. It’s an addiction.] [Also got 2 other students to volunteer. Surely that counts towards being an Enabler of Vices.]

[the other part of the union of topics]

ASIS&T panel

Mentioned this a bit back. Been trying to work out what we are actually doing based on reviewers’ feedback.

Fifth Annual GSLIS Storytelling Festival, Saturday, 18 April

[Audio] [My Flickr set] [Program]

I know that I’ve made 3 of these, but I might have actually made the last four. It is always excellent. Excellent storytelling and excellent art on the whiteboard behind the tellers. I have taken photos the last 3 years but since I sit in the back row and feel that the flash would be intrusive to, well, everyone, I haven’t gotten too many good ones. This year’s camera is radically different than the ones in the past. It worked better and I got some good shots. And then ….

I was out of memory. WTF? I’d already replaced the batteries, but that’s routine. Out of memory? I only remember running out of memory once. That was shortly after getting my first digital camera and was at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis in April 2006. It was Spring and there were 100,000s of flowers and trees in bloom and I took a couple hundred photos. But never since.

Well. I had bought a larger capacity memory card than came standard when I got my first camera, and it subsequently moved into 2 more cameras. 256MB.

I keep forgetting that at some point recently I managed to accidentally put the new camera in highest-quality mode. Yeah. I got 74 pictures. It filled up right before Rachel Shulman and thus I missed almost the whole back half of the program. I really feel bad about that.

So I remedied that a couple days ago. For probably less than I paid for the 256MB card initially, I bought a 4GB card. And if I somehow fill that one up before exhausting all the batteries I can carry then I have a “small” backup card. Sweet!

The Festival was awesome! And the art this year was superb. It was done this year, and I think the year before last, by Tiffany Carter. [I had to ask. And I suggested that whoever the artist is each year ought to have their name in the program; it may have been once before.] [Left-side] [Right-side]

Afterwards, a few of us went to a friend’s house and had a drink, conversation, and cat-watching and NSFW [you get my water bottle there].

Opportunity sent my way

A person of quality recently sent me a nice opportunity; thank you. Still to hear from the other party, though.


Found out Monday that my petition to withdraw from my independent study was denied. So that means I will either be keeping that F and my A- GPA. Or I do something about it for my own pride.

This was not good news but I was kind of expecting it. Have not decided what I am doing yet. Considering possibilities; talking to some folks. Lots of things going on around here that could use some terminologies services thinking.

Scheming and pondering at the same time.

Crane Alley Guinness Mondays

A little birdie whispered in my ear that the Alley would soon be doing away with the Monday $2 Guinness / Harp special. I have feared this one coming for a while now, too. Seems they want to run some other specials. Fair enough, I guess, but it will affect my lifestyle. And they’ll get a lot less of my money.

Sara is going to library school

My daughter called me on my birthday (back in Feb.) to tell me “Happy Birthday and, oh, by the way, I’m applying to library school.” I hadn’t even known it was on the table. I was hoping that Sara might wander on to grad school some day but I wasn’t going to harass her. We’d talk about it when she wanted to let me know what she was thinking. She worked very hard her whole life in school, but especially throughout high school, because she knew if she wanted an opportunity for a good education she was responsible for it, in many ways. Four more years of school at Oberlin took its toll.

I do not prod my kids for much in the way of information. I know another parent who does that and it drives the kids crazy. I’d rather have what they want me, or think I need, to know than a bit more grudgingly dragged from them.

Monday evening, Sara called to tell me she got accepted. Yippee! She’s currently an indexer & abstracter at Chemical Abstracts where she intends to remain full-time with a flexible schedule. Her education is in chemistry and she has a year of nanotech research under her belt prior to about 8 months at Chem Abs so far.

Other than probably academic, I have no idea what area of librarianship she intends to focus on. And I’m happy with that. I’m twice her age and I changed my mind after getting here so she ought to have that opportunity. I have, of course, put her in touch with Christina because if Sara is thinking sci/tech librarianship then this is my friend best suited to introduce her to that world.

Also trying to talk her into coming to ASIS&T this year since it’s in her city.

[Yes. I purposely left out where she’s attending. It is not here, which is perfectly fine.]

Sandy Berman and panel

Wednesday evening, Sandy Berman and 3 others, along with a moderator, joined in a panel discussion on the question of, “What is a progressive librarian?” [Flickr set]

  • Carolyn Anthony, Director, Skokie Public Library
  • Sandy Berman
  • Allison Sutton, Social Science Librarian, UIUC
  • Anke Voss, Archivist, Champaign County, IL
  • Moderator : Abdul Alkalimat, Professor, GSLIS

I had volunteered to meet Sandy at the Illini Union and walk him over to GSLIS at 5:15. I went to the Quad side of the Union, visited the ATM, tried to call my son back, and took some photos to kill a few minutes before meeting Sandy out front.

Seeing as I knew I only had a few minutes alone with Sandy I took a peek at his site and checked out his biography [probably have a copy somewhere, but this was easier]. I noticed he had spent a few years in Germany in the 60s so I took that as my angle. Upon meeting him he immediately asked me what my story was. Knowing I had about 7 minute tops I gave a 2-minute or so answer [stop snickering, you!], to which he politely asked a couple further questions. So somewhere a bit past halfway to GSLIS as soon as I had given my latest reply to Sandy I spit out something along the lines of, “Iknewwe’donlyhaveafewminutestogether / soIscannedyourbioforsomethingofinterest /andIwanttoaskyouaboutyourtimeinGermany.” To which we immediately had a short but spirited conversation with many points in common. We have shared several locations in space (Germany) together, just about 15 years apart.

Sandy was quite easy to talk to and before you knew it we were at GSLIS. I handed him off to Abdul Alkalimat, our moderator. Turns out they had met when Sandy was in Uganda in 1971-72.

I got a few photos of the pot luck that aren’t necessarily good photos but they capture the feel. Most of the photos are of the panel discussion, which was quite good.

Afterwards, Abdul, Kate Williams (GSLIS faculty), Sandy, I and a few other students went to Murphy’s for a beer. Nice time, to say the least, except for the table of very loud undergrad boys next to us. I walked Sandy back to the Union from Murphy’s. The weather was excellent for an evening stroll and I got a few more minutes with Sandy.

Jer at Fort Hood

Ten minutes after walking Sandy back to the Union, getting a hug and saying goodbye, I finally got hold of my son. He had just signed into Fort Hood and ended up in the new (2nd) battalion in the Division’s Aviation Regiment.

They are packing their bags this Monday and they head back to Iraq in July. He hasn’t even been issued his gear and he’s supposed to sealing it up to be shipped off on Monday. He had just signed a lease a couple days before. Volunteering can get you in some seriously jacked up ….

I had a rough day or so after hearing this, but I’m putting it off to the side for now. July is not April.

I’m thinking I might head down there for a couple/several days in late May or June; whatever works best for him.

Update [Sat. eve]: They now leave the 2nd week of June. I will probably be heading down there.

Update [Sun. morning]: Narrower leave period than he originally thought; will be probably heading down there sometime between 22 May – 1 June once he knows how much leave he’ll have. He just got off a month’s so he may not have much left.

It’s times like this that make me smile that we even use the same words [serve/service] to describe what librarians do for their patrons/customers and what service members do for their nation.

I guess the main difference is in the kind and amount of sacrifices made.


Some unexpected positives; some not unexpected negatives (and positives). A massive [expected] negative. It’s my life.

GSLIS Publications digitally available to all

I wrote about this once before (last July) when it had begun but now the major announcement has gone out. If I hadn’t already known about it I would be downright giddy!

The University Library has digitized the following publication series from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science:

Allerton Park Institute Proceedings (1954-1997) [502 items]
Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing (1963-1995) [473 items]
Occasional Papers (1949-2004) [209 items]

These publications are preserved in IDEALS (the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship), a digital repository created and maintained by the University Library.

Visit the GSLIS publications “community” within IDEALS at:

To track the addition of major collections to IDEALS, visit:

A fair few issues of Library Trends are also available from that same link. It looks like volume 52(3):Winter 2004 – 56(3):Winter 2008 are currently available [263 items] with topics as diverse as the philosophy of information, LIS pioneers, organizational development and leadership, consumer health issues, children’s access and use of digital resources, research methods, GIS, and so on. Certainly a bit of something for everyone.

The quality of all the ones I have seen so far is incredible.

All in all there are already over 1400 items (article-level) available from these four titles.

I challenge anyone to have a look around and then try and tell me they can’t find something of quality to read in our literature.

And for those of you who know my love for print I will reproduce my response to my friend Jenny who asked why I was so excited since I can see them all in the library that is literally on top of me, one floor up:

Hey jenny. Very true about the cataloging records for the Allerton stuff (sure wish I could fix it!).

Very valid question you ask. I do generally prefer to have something in print that I can read and I love seeing these things in their original manifestations, but …

My main reason for excitement is that others can access these wonderful sources, from near or far.

But some of *my* reasons follow:

1 If it is the library’s copy (or otherwise not mine) then I cannot highlight or write in it.

2 I cannot keep it for future consultation.

3 I am allergic to the condition many of these older items are in.

4 They are sometimes quite frail and even if in decent shape may not be after the gentlest of efforts at photocopying.

5 Having a pdf I can save and use it for a long time. I can print it and write/highlight all over it if I desire. And I have yet to find a pdf that I am allergic to.

6 I will have access if/when I am no longer present to use the physical items.

7 I can point people to them with more than a disembodied citation.

8 As much as I love the physical items, I, too, love the convenience of “immediate” electronic delivery for many and varied reasons.

9 I can find them despite the bad cataloging that exists for the physical items. While I often forget where I found some source on the web, I am fairly sure that I will remember where to find these as they are some of my favorite sources. I have also blogged about them and can just search my blog now if I forget the rest.

I could probably think up a few more reasons for myself or for others that are part of my excitement, but this is a great start.

Yes, I love the print and am so very grateful to be where I am and to have access to them, but I may not always have that access and I am allergic to much of the older materials; materials that I, in fact, value.

As long as I have a web connection I have access to the digital copies and once saved to my computer I have “perpetual” access to a copy of my own.

I hope this gave you some sense of why I am excited. :)

So please do yourself a favor and “check them out.”

… and number one is fleshing out these dreams of mine.

Atlanta’s a distant memory
Montgomery a recent blur
and Tulsa burns on the desert floor
like a signal fire

I got Willie on the radio
a dozen things on my mind
and number one is fleshing out
these dreams of mine

Cowboy Junkies — 200 More Miles

A little over a week ago I wrote to a handful of those I consider myself close to to tell them of a recent decision of mine. It was quite gratifying and reaffirming to hear back from many of them over the next couple of days, and by a half dozen of them within an hour of sending them my message! My friends are amazing!

Those locally I have been trying to catch up with personally, although I have missed a couple due to Spring Break happening this past week. [Sara, I’ve been looking for you.]

Perhaps, though, I should start at something like the beginning.

I have been at this university education thing for a very long time. For the last ten and a half years I have been at it mostly full-time. All the while I have been employed at least half-time and often more. There was a 3-year period, sort of in the middle, where I worked full-time and went to school half-time for the fun of it … and because the university paid for it, I was able to take classes with people I really cared to learn from, and it kept my loans in deferment.

I have actually been in and out of the higher ed classroom for far longer seeing as I entered Illinois State in 1998 with 118 hours of accepted transfer credit (90 of which I could apply) accumulated during my time in the Army.

Over those 10+ years of mostly full-time schooling I have “progressed” in the ways in which I deal with the joys and stresses of the classroom and, even more so, with the kinds of work students are expected to generate so that their learning can be codified and graded. It started out being fairly difficult and while it (the product) always remained difficult to produce the ways in which it is difficult changed such that at some point the process actually became quite easy such that producing products which demonstrated my learning was easy. Difficult work, but easy nonetheless [I hope that makes some sense].

I seem to be long past that point anymore. I have loved my time at GSLIS for many reasons, but for a long time now I have been increasingly unhappy with the process of higher education. I have often complained of the semester system—here on this blog and elsewhere—and especially lately have complained of the need come the end of the semester to produce something which an instructor can grade. Have not my efforts to learn, to challenge myself, my classmates and the instructor already been amply demonstrated throughout the semester?

Simply put. I am burnt out.

This was to be my final semester and I was going to end it with a 3rd Mother’s Day graduation. My only real task was to write my CAS paper and defend. After consultation with my advisor, GSLIS admin, and my employer I have decided to put myself on a non-academic “sabbatical.” That is, I am taking an incomplete and doing other things for a while.

I shall not go into all of the details of the thought process or situation but the only negative thing that can honestly be said is that I won’t be “done” in May. Theoretically, I need to finish before the start of next Spring semester.

I am still working my 2 assistantships at 60% time. Thus, I haven’t really freed up much time. I will still attend the seminar on subject access/analysis, although I have unfortunately not been attending Allen’s ontologies class for several weeks now [Remember, I am just sitting in on these classes].

I m still applying for jobs although I am seeing very few that are appealing or which I feel qualified for. There are many other sorts of jobs I would consider but the ones in those lines of work (terminologies) which show up in the places I am looking seem to mostly be massively corporate or government, mostly defense.

Yes, I am applying for jobs. I have had an MLS for almost 2 years now. While I would have preferred to be finished with my CAS before taking a job there is really no reason to do so. As far along as I am now will only require me to come back—if I leave—for one day to defend; everything else can be done electronically.

My goal is to focus my energies elsewhere for a while—large portions of my life have been on hold for most of these past 10 years. What little time I gain by not actively working every free moment on my paper will be easily filled. I already have a list of projects, some major, and I haven’t even had to put any effort into identifying them.

I have finally figured out a system for organizing all those photocopied or printed out articles, book chapters, etc. that will work for me for now and which is flexible enough to grow and change with me and my interests. Many of you probably can’t even begin to imagine the amount of paper I have in folders, folders in boxes, and so on. Let’s just say that it is a lot. So I am entering them into Zotero, frequently backing up Zotero, and physically organizing them. Will I ever get finished? Not likely, no. But if I can get most of the important and more recent ones organized I will be happy.

I’d also like to try and fix many of the broken links in this blog that exist due to the migration from Typepad to my own domain. I haven’t started on that yet and I have concerns about how it might affect people’s feeds but we’ll just have to see. I doubt I can or even want to fix every link but there are quite a few I do want fixed.

Most all of my books now reside in my apartment and not in storage anymore so I would like to get more of them into my LibraryThing catalog.

I also still need to find an email and a feed reader solution to my current woes.

There are, of course, a million other things I could add; some more pressing than others. Asking someone out on a date is near the top of the list. Unfortunately, I know of no prospects at the moment. But perhaps a little more engagement with the wider world will present one. 🙂

Lest you think my CAS paper has evaporated, I can assure you that it has not. My plan is to primarily focus on other things for a while, perhaps even through summer. I am in the process of reading two books directly related to my topic but I have put them to the side for a bit. I hope to pick those up soon and work through them a bit more slowly than I have been. Basically, I have been cramming things into my mind non-stop since last May when I more or less came to my topic. No time to think, no time to muse, and certainly nothing approaching slow reading.

A short five years ago I was able to read DeLillo’s White Noise once and then produce a 14-page analysis of the lived morality as presented in the novel which actually impressed one of the professor’s I most admire in the world. Part of that may be due to lots of exposure to thinking about morality—both academically and as experienced in daily life—over the years. But part of it is where I was in my progress of academic productivity [pretty much in top form at that point].

My CAS paper has taken me into a realm where I have little formal education and where much lay thinking is mistaken due to two millennia of Western culture and education. Thus, I have had to work extra hard trying to come to grips with what I want to “produce.” Now that it is time to do so my mind has rebelled.

At first, when I floated the idea of perhaps delaying this a bit it was lovingly suggested that I “just do it” and then I could relax and follow this more where I want to take it as I further develop my research agenda [something I can actually say I have now]. I had to concur that that would be lovely. But I left that meeting feeling quite apprehensive. A week later when I went back to re-discuss my options it was readily agreed that my current plan is what is needed and it was immediately supported.

There are many reasons why the wise woman who is my advisor agreed a week later after trying to nudge me forward a week earlier. The reasons are no doubt complex, but when I asked her why she knew now that this was the right decision I was told that, “You turn gray. Today you aren’t gray and thus I know this is the right decision.” And here I always thought it was simply metaphor.

the sky is grey
the sand is grey
and the ocean is grey

and i feel right at home
in this stunning monochrome
alone in my way

ani difranco — grey — reckoning

This past Thursday when I told this story to one of my best friends ever—and my boss during what was probably the worst couple years of my life—she just looked at me funny for a few seconds. And then she said, “Of course you do!”

I guess all I can say is, “Here’s to learning to radiate all the colors of the spectrum!”

My intention regarding my paper is to distract my mind for a bit, dabble some directly on topic (soon), dabble on the periphery, let the mind do its own thing on its own time in the background, have conversations with others which will force me to be able to say what I want, and to finally get on it “full-time” come the start of the fall semester with the goal of defending at the end of fall.

I have received an enormous amount of support and validation from my advisor, other profs, GSLIS admin, the folks I work with at the Library, and especially from my friends and family. This, more than anything else, means the world to me. Thank you.

Sometimes I see myself fine, sometimes I need a witness.
And I like the whole truth,
but there are nights I only need forgiveness.
Sometimes they say, “I don’t know who you are
but let me walk with you some.”
And I say, “I am alone, that’s all,
you can’t save me from all the wrong I’ve done,”
But they’re waiting just the same,
With their flashlights and their semaphores,
And I act like I have faith and like that faith never ends
But I really just have friends.

Dar Williams — My Friends — End of the Summer