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

Hello World

Hello World

I have now been pursuing my Master’s for one month. There is life before now and there is life now. There is life before baby and there is life now. There is life before being a teacher and there is life now. Life now is all these things and more. And yet, it is calm in many ways and therapeutic. There is a mindfulness that occurs everyday when I wake up as I scan how I feel, gauge how my sleep was, and start the day. 

I don’t know what I expected starting this degree other than the face that I would be filling in a lot of gaps in content since I currently teach choir and not language arts or reading. I do know that I expected to read more young adult books. Here are two things that have happily surprised me. 

I have been able to apply what I have been learning immediately. I had never heard of inquiry based learning and as soon as I read the Levitov article from our required reading entitled, “School libraries, librarians and inquiry learning,” I tried some things out in the choir classroom the next day. After going over a very rough lesson (my first time) on using objective vocabulary to describe the tone and pitch of a singer, I had students answer a few questions on an exit card. The last question was, “What questions do you have about the voice?”

  1. How would you describe the tone of the singer
  2. How would you describe the pitch (range and register)
  3. What questions do you have about the voice?

Why had I never done this before?

I found the rewards and joy in this inquiry based approach. Some questions the students asked were about me personally, “Why did you cut your hair?” Others were questions I didn’t know they had, “How can you hurt your voice?” “How do you become an opera singer?” “How high can you sing?” 

Secondly, I realized that young adult literature isn’t awful. I have been so elitist in my view of literature, that for the longest time, I refused to read anything other than classics with authors like Tolstoy and Proust. I have come to realize that I have been limiting myself to Western male literature. In the past 9 months, I have read a dozen young adult books. I have found that instead of vapid stories of cheesy teen love, there exists poignant, funny, honest and devastatingly heartbreaking young adult literature