This is part of Hack Library School’s Day in the Life (#HLSDITL), a project that encourages library students from all over to share what library school is really like. 

Here is a little bit about me before we get started: I’m Sarah and I’m a second year student of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I’m taking three courses this semester, working as the Digital Preservation Graduate Assistant at the Main Library, and volunteering at The Urbana Free Library. I’m also the President of a student organization called GSLIS Connections.


I spent the weekend in Chicago, so the first thing I had to do today was catch up on email! The first order of business was to correct the date of my student organization sponsored pumpkin carving party. I mistakenly sent out an email that listed the day of the party as tonight, so I had to repost it. Thankfully, someone brought it to my attention before it was too late. I like organizing these kind of lighthearted events that are meant to bring people of the community together. It isn’t easy to take a night off (trust me, I organize these things and then kick myself for it later), but I do think that it is valuable to get to know other people in your program. Just think of it as interview prep! Learning interpersonal skills is just as essential as anything you pick up in class.

After having the weekend off, I’m not sure that I was wholly prepared for Monday. Luckily, I had time to catch up on the reading for my Intro to Databases class. Today we learned the Five Normal Forms of relational database theory. Sometimes this class is so abstract that I leave utterly bewildered. I’m much better when we are able to apply the concepts during our class workshops. I know that there are people who are much different learners than me, but I’m the worst at theory. When I read a theory about anything, I tend to agree. I mean, what do I know?! It’s only when I’m putting the theory into practice that I realize what I would like to be done differently. Usually I have to do the examples from the book in order to understand the concepts. I guess I’m more of a slow and steady learner in that way.

After a quick lunch break, I headed to work. On Mondays, I work from 1:30 – 5:30 pm. My job isn’t customer-facing, so I can it quits well before the library closes at 11:00 pm. Last Friday, I began a media reformatting project with the Digital Preservation Coordinator. I was eager to pick that up again, but I knew that I probably had to return to another project. My boss sent me an email that stated we would begin to go over the digital collections in our care and clean-up some of the messy file directory structures in preparation for their ingest into our digital repository. Our department (well, my boss and myself) are responsible for the legacy content of the UIUC Library’s digitization projects. Imagine if you had access to 600,000+ files on your computer from your library’s digitization efforts! It’s easy to get lost looking at one collection or another.

Part of my job is tracking down the associated metadata for the digital objects in our care. The files stored on our servers are often the master copies from the production unit of our library, Digital Content Creation (DCC), without any associated metadata. One of the collections I looked at today (a historic aerial photo collection) is available through a digital image platform hosted by the library. The access system has metadata about the objects, but the metadata files themselves are nowhere to be found! Well, they may turn up somewhere, but the Metadata Librarian had to give me a referral to another librarian in the Map Library.

After work, I spent a few minutes checking email again. I’m helping to organize a GSLIS field trip to Chicago on November 8th. We’re visiting the Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago, the Harold Washington Library, and the Columbia College library. There are four student organizations helping with the planning, so it can be a bit unruly. I accidentally sent some misinformation through the email chain (I wanted to send the email out quickly, so I didn’t proofread carefully!), and I spent several more emails trying to set the record straight.

After work, I stopped at the store to pick up candy and candles for the pumpkin carving party. I only had a few minutes to spare before I was scheduled to attend the ACRL Committee Meeting at 6:00 pm. I haven’t participated much in the ALA student group on campus. I’m interested in how the committees work, so I have elected to attend meetings of the Field Trip Committee and now ACRL. It was nice to meet some new people. We brainstormed about new topics and speakers who we could invite to talk at GSLIS. I threw in my vote for Sarah Shreeves, the coordinator for IDEALS (the UIUC digital repository) and the coordinator for the Scholarly Commons because I’m interested in her research on metadata interoperability.

It’s nearly the end of the day and I haven’t done most of the things from my to-do list! A day in the life of this library student means making a pot of tea at 10:00 pm and finally sitting down to do homework.


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