At 8pm tonight, I will be done with my master's degree in library and information science. The fact completely blows my mind. It means that my undergraduate graduation was already two years ago. It doesn't feel like all that long ago I was wrapping up a semester of student teaching at a high school in the suburbs of Chicago, wondering what the heck I could possibly do with the B.A. in English I had completed, and was still waiting to hear back from U of I to find out if I had gotten into the library school or not.
But I did. And there have been a lot of ups and downs during that time. I've gotten to explore this time-honored institution we all know as the library and I can more strongly appreciate the intricacies that build them into such awe-inspiring centers of knowledge and power. After taking cataloging, I'll never again take the complexities of assigning a Dewey Decimal Number and subject headings to a non-fiction book for granted. And thanks to taking such amazing classes like children's lit, YA lit, and adult lit, I finally started doing my own writing and have fallen in love with the incredible literature that is out there for teens right now.
My final course for all of this is LIS418LE - Community Engagement. Over the past 16 weeks, we've discussed what makes a community, what engagement entails, and each student in the class has given the opportunity to pick the topic of discussion for our final projects - a 30 minute presentation on a community or engagement initiative we are particularly interested in or passionate about.
Last week, I gave my talk entitled Teen Virtual Communities, the Positive Impact They Have on Adolescent Development, and How Libraries Can Help Support Them. I gave background and definitions and an explanation about how this fit into our class topics, and then I gave examples. Now not everyone in this particular class is on the school library track or involved in the YA world, but they were all blown away by the Vlogbrothers duo of John and Hank Green, particularly the various avenues of social media they utilize and the outreach that Nerdfighteria is so passionate about such as the Project for Awesome and the Foundation to Decrease World Suck. They laughed when I told them about Maureen Johnson and were impressed by the enthusiasm she expresses every day in her tweets and in her Ask Auntie MJ posts during NaNoWriMo 2011. They were also touched by Heather Brewer's devotion to bullying prevention and how she doesn't just write about it in her books, but also plans to host her own anti-bullying conference and is always there to support the Minion Horde.
The biggest compliment I got from my peers was that my enthusiasm was obvious, but I don't even feel like I can take credit for that. In library school, being a nerd is pretty much mandatory, and with such inspiring people like those I mentioned in my presentation and beyond (there are so many more I wanted to include, but darn those time limits!), how could I not be excited? I got very high marks on my research and presentation, and so thanks to the power of the nerd/YA/awesome community, I'll be finishing grad school on a high note. (Well, finishing my master's anyway. Who knows if a doctorate could be in store for me? hehe)
So starting tomorrow, I'll be a Librarian (in education if not in job title) and I can't believe it's finally here. There were a lot of days where I thought this would never happen, and I've never been quite so happy to be wrong. And none of it would have been possible without the generous support of my family, friends, and classmates. And also thank you to people who inspire me day after day to do more, try something new, dare to suck, be different, and to never, ever forget to be awesome.