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!