In School But Not In School

Last semester I took two classes. They were both a veritable firestorm of homework and I was burning the candle at both end. So I decided to scale back my class load and just take one class this semester. Now I’m dealing with the antithesis problem: the workload is so light that I almost feel like the candle isn’t burning at all.

So I’m trying to fill my free time (a concept that has always scared me) with a few extracurricular activities. I thought I’d share a few of them in case anyone else either  has some of that scary free time, or is simply a glutton for punishment.
Research Assistant

One of the professors is doing a slew of research projects and lobbied the student body for volunteers. I jumped right on that pony. ‘Tis but copying tweets from a list of academic libraries to see how libraries are making use of the tools at their disposal. Monotonous would be an understatement for this work. My eyes tend to glaze over after the 10 page of tweets. Still, while I’m not particularly enjoying it, it’s made me feel connected to the LIS field, which is what I’d hoped for.

Boston Teachers Union School “Spring Break”

This one has yet to happen, but during Spring Break I plan to spend a morning or two at the school doing cataloging, labeling, or processing of books. I’ve not a clue what that will actually entail but it’ll allow me to get my hands dirty. I actually took the week off of work, too. I was going to take just one day off but wanted to leave open the opportunity to go back another day should I feel like it. Well, that and the fact that I’ve not taken any more than a long weekend since my honeymoon in Hawaii last May. I do tend to forget to take vacations…

Peabody Essex Museum rare-book handling

Yet another volunteer opportunity. This time, the museum is asking for help packaging a collection of rare-books in preparation for moving them. I emailed the lady for more info and she said HR is handling the arrangement of volunteers. I hope they’ll take some after hours and/or weekend help because how cool would it be to handle rare books? Very.

Second Day at the Robbins Library

I’ve been volunteering at my friendly neighborhood library for nigh on a year now. At first I was doing 2 nights a week. When school started in the fall, however, I had to cut back to just one. During that time I’ve become Master of the Holds! Carts upon carts are loaded for me when I come in. I finagle, flip, and fit books on the shelves behind the circ desk. I relieve the back room of a few carts a night and know my work, though workaday, is appreciated. What it is not, however, is helping me learn the inner workings of a library. Which is why I volunteer in the first place. So when Barbara came up to me last night and said that very thing, I pitched the idea of a couple of hours in the morning. I’ve planned on asking my boss for a 2 hour break once a week and wanted to know which morning would be most useful to the library. The timing seemed impeccable, I was to have my bi-weekly meeting with my boss today. Alas! I was not that lucky. He had to cancel and I haven’t had a chance to ask yet. Here’s hoping…

When I started this blog entry I didn’t realize all my examples would be volunteer opportunities. But I’m not surprised. Money is tight and libraries don’t have the cash to hire enough full-time folks let alone a temp worker. So in most cases volunteers are welcomed with open arms and I’m reminded of something an alumnus said at the information session I attended before I applied to Simmons. She said volunteer, get out there, it doesn’t matter what you do, just get into the field and get some experience. I seem to have unconsciously taken that to heart.


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