Thursday, June 18, 2009

And now for something completely different

So I might have mentioned back in November or December that I was busy with some other project, and you might have been wondering what project I could have besides raising my daughter. I was studying for the GRE--again; I took it back on November 1, 1997, and the reason I can tell you the exact day is that our neighbors had a freaking loud Halloween party until 3 AM the night before, so after three hours of sleep I drove half an hour to Bothell, which was not my first choice of testing site, to take one of the last regular paper administrations of the GRE, because I am old-fashioned like that. And they gave me three analytic sections, the bastards, which fried my brain. But somehow I did fine and a couple of grad schools let me go there and the rest is history.

Then ten years later I took the GRE on a computer (and found out my verbal and math scores immediately--nice!), with a writing section instead of a brain-thrashing logic section (YAY because if I cannot write an essay on a test after teaching students how to write essays on tests, then I should be shot), and I did better overall, especially on the verbal section (YAY because if I do not have an awesome vocabulary after teaching students Greek and Latin roots, then I should be shot). So, yes, that was two paragraphs of me talking about how great I am at taking standardized tests, which I realize is completely obnoxious, but I've spent so much of my life honing that one basically useless-in-real-life skill that I am going to do those two paragraphs and I've got it out of my system now, thanks.

Oh, but why on earth did I take the GRE again?

Well, back when I was in college I applied to library school, got in, and decided not to go, instead working in an office for a year and then going to grad school in religious studies. Which, all in all, I would not take back for the world because it got me 1. Virginia 2. Justin 3. Auletta, not necessarily in order of importance, plus a lot of great educational experience, travels, new friends, and who knows what all else would have been different from staying in Seattle, which I would have if I'd gone to library school. But in the last couple of years, a few things have been nudging at me: 1. if I can check a zillion books out of the library but barely write a page of my dissertation, maybe research is not what I should be doing so much as helping other people research, 2. anyone who knows me, including, well, me, knows I am the sort of person you would have expected to be a librarian since birth, and 3. having a masters in library science would be a good way to get a job, if not my dream job as an academic librarian, anywhere we end up, and probably a much more humane job for a mom of one or more children than whatever teaching job I can procure in a shaky market in some proximity to whatever Justin's doing. So I applied to library science programs, and if you don't have a PhD yet (ahem) you have to take the GRE to do that.

Obviously there is a catch here, which is that we're in New Haven for the next year and who knows where after that, and the MLS is usually a two-year program. Actually another thing that planted this idea in my mind is that Southern Connecticut State University, which was even closer than Yale to our original carriage-house home in Woodbridge, has a library science program, but it's not ranked and I figured I could get into a top-ranked school. Now the best library science programs, weirdly, aren't at Ivy League schools or anything. Yale doesn't even have one, which is a shame because it has an awesome library system with two Gutenberg Bibles even, in case they need a spare. Here are the top for library science programs:

1. University of Illinois
1. (tied) University of North Carolina
3. Syracuse University
4. University of Washington

Count them: there are three schools there out of four to which I have some kind of geographical or familial connection. Of those four, all but UNC have some sort of distance-learning program. ! I decided Illinois was out because their online program requires a residency every term and what the heck am I going to do in Urbana, but the other three were possibilities: if nothing else I could depend on the kindness of Justin's extensive family in Chapel Hill to get me through the first year of their program and long-distance marriage, except in the end I decided that was crazy.

So ultimately I decided to go to Syracuse because 1. I got in 2. with a little funding 3. to a school that's an hour from Ithaca and only requires a one-week residency this summer, although I can take courses on campus whenever I want and 4. third is not that much lower than tied for first when I don't have to rearrange my life around third. Also when I visited everyone seemed really nice and happy, and one thing I've learned in my many, many years of grad school is that being a happy student among happy students is a really important consideration.

Thus, next month I am leaving Auletta with Justin and the greater Schwabs for a week while I do an intensive residency in Syracuse, and that will be the beginning of approximately two years of study (various moves, present and possibly future children, etc. permitting) leading to a master's in library science and, with any luck, a position as an academic librarian, ideally in a seminary or div school (I've talked to a couple of librarians at YDS about my prospects and I think I'll be well prepared) but we'll see where we end up.

I started a blog called Vivarium a couple of months ago because it seems like library blogging is The Thing to Do, and, not surprisingly, creating a blog is one of my first assignments. Looks like I'm on top of that. I will be using it a lot for class assignments, so those of you who read GWFH might find it excruciatingly boring, but you can follow along if you like. I am debating whether to keep it on Blogger because blogger is (pro) free but (con) has kind of lame layout options, and also I'm not sure I want my professional profile to be connected to my occasionally political-ranting, tortured-sentence-writing, mommy-blogger profile, but since I'm sure all these universes will collide on Facebook in a matter of moments there is probably no use trying to untangle all the weird strands of my life.


Deanna said...

Yeah, right, completely different!

I walked your library science application paperwork at UW to their offices MYSELF because you handed it to me and said, "Could you save me a stamp, and this way I know it'll get there safely?"

And then you didn't even bother going. Not that I'm bitter or anything... ;)

Still, I can see why you didn't go with UW this time, though it would have somehow fitting if you had. And then I could have claimed partial credit for helping.

Margaret said...

Oh yay! That's awesome Juliet! I'm glad you found a program that's a good fit for you and your family. If you want another blogging option, you could try WordPress, which is also free.

Juliet said...

Wow, Deanna, I totally forgot I used you as my personal courier. At least this time I didn't send you to upstate New York!

Margaret, thank you! I considered using WordPress, but both vivarium and vivariumblog were taken as domain names on WordPress, and I couldn't think of any other variation of vivarium I wanted to use. And of course doesn't even have any posts. You know how it goes.

lauriemcfarland said...

Wow! Where have I been? Sounds like a great direction for you. Congrats!