Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How's library school going?

Lots of people have asked me this recently, and I've been so busy and sick that I haven't been able to give a good answer.  But tonight's class made me realize some really neat things that I wanted to share.

I had to give a short (max 20 minutes) presentation on the concepts of precision and recall in information retrieval systems.  Basically, they are two statistical measures of how well such a system is doing its job in finding the information users need.  (That's really all you need to know about them; if you want more detail, the wikipedia article is very good.)

Anyway, I did some "research" which consisted of reading my textbooks, the wiki article, and parts of a research study that actually used these terms to evaluate a system.  I made a powerpoint and thought about the concepts until I understood them as well as I possibly could.  During the presentation, I didn't have to look at my slides very much, and I certainly didn't read from them (because I *HATE* it when people do that), and I asked the class questions to make sure they were following and understood.  I felt comfortable speaking to a large group (I think there are about 25 students), and that confidence showed through in my presentation.

Afterward, several of my fellow students commented on how good it was.  One girl said, "Will you do my presentation for me?"  Another said, "You should be a teacher," which made me laugh.  To be honest, I was embarrassed by some of the other presentations; people reading off their slides, not looking at the audience, not knowing what topic came next, etc.  I didn't realize that giving a short presentation was such a challenging task, but apparently it is, and I'm good at it.

The other part that made me happy tonight was that I realized that library and information science may allow me to use skills that I have and don't get to use often.  For example, I like math.  I like how logical it is, how it moves step-by-step, how it renders complex situations into easily manipulated factors.  For a long time I thought I wasn't good at math, because I wasn't as good as other kids in my class.  But it turns out, I am good at it; just in a different way.  I've never been one to memorize formulas, equations, or what they're calling "math facts" now; I was always more interested in what math could do.  I once used trigonometry to design the angles on an A-line skirt.  Today I showed how to use percentages and statistics to measure the usefulness of an online catalog.

What I'm saying, I guess, is that librarianship isn't just about books.  I love books; but I also love logic and computers and teaching and lots of other things.  I think library science is a good place for me, because I'll have the opportunity to use many of those skills and interests.


  1. Hence library *science.* :)
    Yay! This was an uplifting post to read.

  2. This reminds me of my own interest in library science. You get to do many things!