Busy Week

It was a busy week, one of the busier I’ve had at SI. I had a poster presentation on Wednesday afternoon based on some of the work in my summer directed field experience with the IPL (as did about 60 or 70 other SI students, based on their various DFEs), and I had a screening interview on Friday afternoon for a fellowship at North Carolina State. Both went reasonably well, I think, although I think I may have flubbed a question in the interview. Nonetheless, it was good practice, if nothing else. They seemed to like my resume. They wanted to know why I had chosen to go to library school after my previous work experience in law firms and civil service (although my jobs in high school, during summers in college, and my first job out of college were all library jobs), a question which I have a feeling I’m going to get a lot and am going to have to form a coherent answer about.

The poster presentation was a lot of advance work. I began planning the poster a couple of weeks beforehand. We had to submit a title for the poster on October 1, but other than that, I hadn’t done much work on it. (I can’t believe I actually “planned” this thing, because I’ve never put together a poster in my life unless it was a really crappy one in junior high that I’ve completely forgotten about.) I struggled with ideas for days and days and finally the little light bulb went off over my fat head and a burst of something approaching creativity ensued. There was a map to be obtained, and there were JPGs of covers of newspapers to be found, and there were articles to be read about the distinction between print news and online news, and there were sections to lay out on PowerPoint, and there was much gritting of teeth over the uselessness of PowerPoint in its Windows incarnation, and there was sleeplessness and worry. This process somehow unfolded deliberately and did not completely collapse into confusion and ennui, which surprised me.

The actual physical labor on the slides for the poster and the poster itself didn’t really start up in earnest until the Wednesday or Thursday of the week prior to the event. I got a lot of help from Steve; in fact, although the poster would have gotten done with or without Steve’s help, because it had to be done to receive credit for the DFE, the poster wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without his good eye for detail, his visual instinct (an instinct I just don’t have), and his hard work. Steve and I (mostly Steve, because he’s better at it) sat at the dinner table for hours on Tuesday night cutting out letters for the banner with scissors and Exacto knife only to discover that the banner ended up too large for the final product. Then there was the mishap in which I forgot to include one of the words of the banner (our banner titles were submitted in advance, and I had no clue whether it would be an issue if the final title on the poster didn’t exactly match the submission) and we had to drive to Angell Hall at midnight to print out that single word.

Anyway, the final product looked great, and the event was well-attended, not only by the presenters, but by professors, potential employers, and other SI students. A lot of the other students had fantastic posters and fantastic DFEs. One student who’s in my cataloging study/work group had a really great poster on his work adding blogs to the IPL, complete with photos of the front pages of dozens of blogs flying off the sides of the poster like a blizzard. A friend of mine had a terrific poster of her experience going through a culinary archive.

One first-year student asked me about my experience at IPL and I was able to talk to him at length about the worthwhileness of having worked there. A number of people paid compliments. I was nervous at first but acquitted myself fairly well, I think. I could have rehearsed my spiel a little better, but I managed.

The poster ended up winning what I gather was the equivalent of an honorable mention (there were two $25 Borders certificate winners and five $10 winners, and I was one of the latter), which was surprising and gratifying. I gave the gift certificate to Steve, of course, but I owe him way more than that for his help (and his patience when I was starting to fray at the edges late in the night).