INFO 5200- Information Organization

Why is this class suggested to be so difficult? Why do UNT advisors recommend not taking INFO 5200 in addition to other classes?

Image by Слава Вольгин from Pixabay 

In the semester I took this course, INFO 520, Information Organization, I decided that although it would make further my graduation date, it was worth my mental health with two young kids and my teaching job to just take this class.

Lesson #1

Read directions and then check your work against them

Lesson #2

If you are not proficient in technical writing, you will fail or get better at it

Lesson #3

Turning in your system at the end of the semester is the sweetest feeling

Lesson 1- I remember feeling very good about my first submission where we were instructed to outline the “Collection and Information Objects,” the “Users’ demographics and knowledge” and predict “User’s problems and questions.” I appreciated many aspects of our professor, especially the weekly chats in which he answers questions as long as there are questions. Secondly, in creating this system for this collection, I thought it was incredibly beneficial for the student to choose what their collection wanted to be. In this way, this painstaking process of creating this system has a powerful purpose. In my case, I was creating a collection of diverse books. This allowed me to explore books with diverse characters and come up with what constitutes diverse. In the end, my ten objects included books with LGBTQIA+, Latinx, Native, African American, and immigrant characters as well as characters suffering with mental illness and addiction.

And then I got my first “grade” back. My work was unable to be graded because I did not follow the format given. I submitted it again. It was again returned because my format did not meet the format requirements. I remember screaming and crying. When I calmed myself, I looked again at the format and realized, no, I had not in fact followed the format. Read directions and check your work.

Lesson 2 – As an undergraduate, I once started a Shapespeare essay with “In addition.” I was a horrible writer and only received an A with any writing that I did when it was creative writing. I remember my professor of music something compared my writing to Camus or Satre. Writing like Camus does not help when you are creating a 40 page document of an information system. Thankfully, my first few semesters of my master’s had helped me tame down my writing and write logically and coherently with no sentences starting with “In addition.”

The key to writing technically is being succinct and less is more. At one point, Professor Enoch, answering a question, said that we were welcome to copy phrases and apply them throughout. For example, in my forty page IOP, I wrote “this is because” a total of forty seven times. I use the term “information object” fifty nine times. I use the phrase “is required” twenty times. My favorite fiction writers would never write like that. Chimamda Adichie would never have used such redundancy in Half of a Yellow Sun in describing the horrors of the Biafran War in Nigeria. Gabriel Garcia Marquez would never have used such phrases to demonstrate unrequited love in Love in the Time of Cholera. No, because this is technical writing. I really did improve in this writing style although it was taxing. At one point, I noticed my thinking face during this writing process, froze my facial expression and took a selfie. Technical writing is not my best look but I made it work.

Technical writing thinking face

Lesson 3 – In the end, this mega assignment and journey was a huge success. I cried twice and according to my husband, once said in my sleep that I was quitting my master’s. But I did it and the experience that I had will serve me in understanding my future users (students), tagging, thesauri and most importantly (in my opinion), technical writing. I can be an artist through and through, but whether I am writing a grant proposal or demonstrating the value and worth of the library using statistics and data to my administrator, my writing will need to be technical, succinct and free from verbosity.

Final draft of my IOP


Image by Слава Вольгин from Pixabay

You need a degree for that?

I was on my way to get a haircut after nearly 7 months of neglecting to do so. 

I had chopped my hair off to make my life easier for my current chapter of my life (work, school, kid, trying to live healthy). While I take time to workout, cook my meals and sleep, I do not take the same time to cut my hair, do my nails, go shopping. So, I made an appointment with my hair dresser and here is what transpired, in the form of a play:

Scene One: Saturday afternoon, unnamed Salon and Spa, woman’s head is resting on a shampoo bowl, another woman is starting to wash her hair.

Hair Stylist: What’s new with you?

Me: You know, working and I’m still working on getting my Master’s in Library Science 

Hair Stylist: You know, if I were to make any cuts to the federal budget, that would be one of the first two things to go: library and postal service. I mean, we should just get rid of the mail getting delivered on Saturdays

Me: ….. [surprised, but calm] Ok, do you every go to the library?

Hair Stylist: No, I haven’t set foot in the library in years. 

Me: I’m excited about it because the library serves so many in the community. It is a place where you have access to Wi-fi, books, and all these services for people with different needs

Hair Stylist: [changes subject]

Scene Two: Sunday evening, house of my relative, eating barbeque, potato salad and grilled vegetables

Me: So I’ve decided to get my Master’s in Library Science, to become a school librarian. 

Relative: A librarian? You have to go to school for that? ….Listen, all you need to know is this, “Shhhhh!”

Me: [chuckles uncomfortably] Actually libraries are super different now, they are places to meet and learn and create and they offer lots of services to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them.

Relative: [changes subject]

As a musician and educator, I never remember feeling that someone verbally lessened my career. When I experienced these interactions above, I was not shocked, but mildly surprised. In INFO 5001, I was exposed to ALA’s elevator speeches. I noted how proactive ALA was about forms of advocacy such as these.

 Here are the questions that quickly came to my mind upon further reflection:

Were my responses to these comments succinct, thoughtful? Were they a positive, and compelling response? Was I responding as an advocate for the library?

Am I prepared, verbally, to react to comments such as the ones above? 

These people were close and comfortable being open and honest with me. How can I be proactive about advocacy about a large community that might not be as vocal about their thoughts on the library? 

Spring Break 2019

Spring Break 2019

1st Day of Spring Break

Already, I have cleared, organized, cleaned, laundered and started reading the Hunger Games. This morning, I went to the Schimelpfenig library to return a book. I was returning Johnny Tremain: A Story of Boston in Revolt. I read the first few chapters, knowing all of its merits. It was strongly recommended by a friend, and it is a Newberry Medal winner. Still, I turned it in. I’ve read multiple blogs that say if you don’t love a book, don’t force yourself to read it. Put it down and pick up something you do love. So, that’s what I did. I regret nothing.

Flashcards and the word “toggle”

I saw it. I saw the word toggle for, to my knowledge, the first time. I was turning in my aforementioned Johnny Tremain book in the Plano automated system. I have returned so many books via this method, but had never noticed “Toggle languages” before. I have studied this word in my quizlet flashcards but was excited to see the actual word in front of me. I “toggled” and flipped through Spanish and Mandarin. I still used English.


After I checked out a bunch of 2×2 books, I took my little Alana to meet up with an old friend from High School, Criselda, at restaurant in a place called “Legacy West.” We updated each other about the ages of our kids and shared stories about life with kids and people around us. I told her about my starting graduate school and she very quickly said, “Veni, I can see those two professions fitting who you are.” Of course, she is referring to my current position as a choir director, and the position I will seek in several years, school librarian. I don’t feel like I need validation, but it is nice coming from someone you trust and respect.

Later that week….

After some serious nebulizer treatment for Alana’s cough and cold, we went to our first library event. “Rhyme Time” is a library offering where babies 0-24 months can be exposed to “songs, nursery rhymes and books” for early exposure to language. It was amazing. As soon as it started, I had a hard time not crying because I was so moved by the sweetness of it all. At the end of the event, the staff strongly encouraged us to fill out a feedback card. How much better would we be as teachers if we constantly asked our audience for feedback at the end of a lesson? After a 30 minute lesson, I definitely do not ask, “what did you like?,” “what can you start using at home immediately?,” or “what could the teacher do better” for feedback. I consistently have students complete exit cards asking what the learner has learned. Occasional exit cards, however, are very different from chronic feedback. What would my choir classroom if I constantly asked for feedback about the lesson?

We’ve been studying equity in our INFO 5001 course and this is it. The library is the most equitable place I know. The staff leading “Rhyme Time” were engaging, thoughful, kind and most of all, focused on modeling what type of interactions parents can be having with their kids. 

How does this relate to my being a future librarian? It makes me think of how I would offer services to the community I serve. How can I serve parents, students? More specifically, how can the library at which I work, serve parents and students who do not have resources? Even more, what resources can I help provide for families who do not have resources?

The week ended with time outside with little Alana, planting vegetables, reading “The Hunger Games” trilogy, napping and cleaning. Sunday night, I pulled out the handout from “Rhyme Time” and showed Mark, my husband what we learned that week. While I did not make it to a beach (which I love), or skiing (don’t know how), I feel rested, excited to teach and happy that I rested through learning.