Course Reviews, Take Two!

Next up in the series LIS Classes: Insights From Those in the Know  is Heather Hans.

LIS 600, Foundations

I found LIS 600 to be one of the easier courses in the program. Meant as an introduction to the themes and issues of library and information studies, the course centers around class discussions and hands-on projects, including a creative project and an Action Research Project. Most people try to take this class in their first semester, both because it’s a great introduction to the vastness of the profession and because you often make a lot of friends in this class. I took the class online, and Beth Martin did a great job of facilitating online discussions, but I do see certain advantages to taking this class in person, if possible.

LIS 635, Media Production

LIS 635 can be a challenging course, even for students with a good background in technology. Students are expected to learn new media programs and applications quickly and achieve high design standards within a short period of time. The projects are mostly pretty interesting: Students learn the basics of Photoshop and learn to edit photos; students create hyperlinked Adobe PDF files using the layout capacities of Microsoft Word; they create an information kiosk using PowerPoint; they create a video using iMovie or another video editing program; and they create a basic website using Composer to highlight their media projects.

Instructional Design concepts and models are introduced in the lectures, but I felt like more explanation was needed, and I wish we had been given more time in class was given to work with new programs or work on a specific project. Program introductions were short and fast, and I spent an average of 6-10 hours outside of class completing each project. This course has been offered both online and in person. At times Mac users weren’t accommodated in the project formats. Some guidance was given on open-source programs and free trials, but students with both operating systems had difficulty obtaining the programs. I mainly taught myself how to use each program, with the help of a knowledgeable classmate, and I am happy about the skills I learned through the different projects.

LIS 640, Cataloging

Oh, cataloging… some people really understand this course, and others struggle through it. The secret that I finally got about halfway through the course is that there is no single right answer in cataloging. It’s subjective, and different librarians often catalog the same item in different ways. I think that’s what makes the subject difficult, and that’s why many people say cataloging is more of an art than a science.

In the class we learned the basic history and organization of cataloging systems and then learned to catalog items using both the Dewey Decimal System and Library of Congress. In addition to weekly reading assignments, several hands-on homework assignments were given, and students completed a midterm and a final with open-ended questions about cataloging systems and issues (it helps to take good notes in class). I found the material itself challenging at times (it’s a lot to take in at once), but I thought the grading was pretty generous. All in all, whatever type of librarian you’re going to be, it’s helpful to at least know the basics of cataloging. Then, hopefully, you can leave the “art” of it to someone who really loves it!


3 thoughts on “Course Reviews, Take Two!

  1. These are great reviews, thanks! What I ended up discovering with cataloging was that, after a couple of tries I more or less understood how to follow the rules of Dewey (LC was…shakier but still doable). The tricky part was in really understanding the subject matter and not interpreting aspects of the subject that weren’t there. More often than not when I got off track, it was because I hadn’t identified the subject matter well enough, not that I hadn’t used the system correctly.

  2. I definitely recommend taking LIS 600 in person! That class (and the post-class hangouts at College Hill) is how I made almost all of my friends in the program – people I will continue to connect with for professional development and networking in the future. It really helped the program feel like a community. I’d also add that 600 is a pretty reading-intensive class, for those who are preparing to take it. Definitely set aside 2-3 hours each week to read and process the materials in order to be prepared for class.

  3. You nailed all of these reviews. Cataloging will drive you insane if you are looking for “the” answer. I am in LIS 635 right now & you are spot on with your assessment. I can’t stress enough how important it is to carefully read the instructions in 635 and to follow them word for word. The examples are critical in 635, too, because you can study them and reverse-engineer your project to meet his expectations. Never center your text in 635! It is a cardinal sin in that class LOL.

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