Light at the end of the tunnel

Hi.  This is year two for me.  I was fortunate to be one of the last to take Tom Wilding’s boot camp 504 class.  At the time it was killer, but like most things, after it was over, the best memory was that it was DONE!  Not completely true.  504 is the foundation and throughout the rest of your studies at SIRLS you will remember many topics covered during this important class.  So take a deep breath, smile and know that everything being covered is useful and that everyone presenting wishes you each success. 

Tina Harris

As my studies are approaching to the final months of this semester, the SIRLS program has been such a wonderful experience in allowing me to learn about the diverse fields of library ad information science. During these past two months I have been working as the library/media assistant at an elementary school. Although it is very different from my past job at the Arizona Health Sciences Library, I have learned many new skills.The students are a very diverse population ranging from Hispanic, Somali, Afghani, Turkish, Russia, Romania, African, and so many more ethnic groups.

Anne Spire

Hello Everyone,

My name is Anne Spire and I am in my third semester as a SIRLS student.  I feel very fortunate to be involved in Knowledge River and to be a part of Cohort 13.  My fellow cohort members have been very supportive, friendly, and encouraging towards each other and me.  It has been a great experience to make new friendships in KR and in my graduate assistantship. 

Welcome from Alexa Tulk!

Welcome KR Cohort 13! I hope you guys haven't been too overwhelmed, the first semester is always the toughest but there are so many wonderful experiences to look forward to! I have been able to work at both the public library and Special Collections and have gained so much knowledge, new skills, and relationships along the way.

On Being a Parent, SIRLS Student and KR Scholar

by Diana Almader-Douglas (KR Alum, Cohort 9) and Lisa R Aguilera (KR Scholar, Cohort 10)

Going Back to School, Don’t Panic:  There is a lot to take in (especially if you are returning to school after several years like I did) and it can get overwhelming, but there is plenty of support from School of Information Resources & Library Science (SIRLS), Knowledge River (KR), administration, management and your advisor.  Along the way, there have also been some very understanding, helpful and supportive instructors.  Just ask.
On Family:  The biggest concern when going back to school relates to knowing that the quality/ amount of time with my kids would diminished.  Luckily, my kids were at an ages that I could explain the positive impact continuing my education would have on their lives.   Within the first few weeks my children were asking for more attention and voicing their upset and disappointment.  It was an adjustment for all of us, but it didn’t take long until an understanding and new routine was created.  And by the second month, they told me they were happy and proud I went back to school.  
I found that going over my schedule every day helped. My children thrived in consistent and regular routines, and during grad school, my schedule was far from that. They felt more reassured when they stayed informed of my fluctuating schedule.
Create a Schedule to Work and Study: If you are able, set up your work schedule while kids  are in school. Most student and GA positions are flexible enough to allow you to stay home with the kids when they are sick or on vacation. Studying was a bit more challenging, but do-able.  At first I tried studying after my kids went to sleep (after 8:30 p.m.).  That’s mostly what I ended up doing, but I still had to take time out to study on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.  Oh yeah, and that doing homework from 8:30 p.m. to midnight had its limits.  I couldn’t do that every night.  Eventually, I was able to find a way. 
Ask for Help: This has been one of the most challenging things for me to do since becoming a mom. But it is very important.  Luckily my family is very supportive and have made all the difference in encouraging me and in helping me take care of my kids.  
Make Connections:  It is so important to make connections with your peers in your KR cohort, other cohorts, as well as other SIRLS students.  Seek support especially when responsibilities seem overwhelming.  Your peers have already experienced or are experiencing what you will be going through as a parent and/or a grad student.  It is so important to connect with others who understand and empathize.  Just calling each other on the phone or meeting over lunch can be helpful and energizing.  You will be expected to participate in study groups, conferences, clubs, associations, KR/SIRLS events, and of course social events and gatherings.  These are all important ways to connect but try to be selective about your activities. If childcare becomes an issue, consider asking if your children are welcome to attend.  The connections I have made in the past year have been of great support and have truly enriched my grad student experience and my life.
On Doing Your Best:  Sometimes I have run myself ragged, functioning on little sleep, feeling pulled in a thousand different directions, and stressing that I am not doing any of it “right”.  Thinking that I have just wanted to do my best and be the best I can be.  Well what has been reinforced through this past year’s experiences is that “doing my best” looks different on any given day.  That doing my best doesn’t mean being perfect or functioning at the highest peak of performance EVERY minute of EVERY day.  As a mom, there is so much that I already do.  I had to learn to acknowledge that being a mom, and working, and going to school, and taking care of myself in the process is, well, beyond-words-challenging.  Putting the added pressure to “be the best I can be all the time”, there just wasn’t room or time or energy or (after a very short while) desire for that.  Just realizing that doing my best looks different on any given day is important.  
Find Balance:  Finding balance between taking care of family, household responsibilities, working, studying and taking care of self is very challenging, and may seem obvious, but something that is easily forgotten when things get busier than you ever thought they could get.  
Taking time for myself is the way that I have created balance in my life.  Taking some time everyday to something I really love to do, just for me.  It may be an hour’s time, or a few hours.  It may mean treating myself to lunch, or just doing nothing but watching my favorite movie for the thousandth time, OR getting to sleep by 8 p.m.  Whatever the pleasure, finding time to give yourself what you need on a daily basis is the single most important thing you can do to create balance and promote health and joy.  

GAship at Arizona Health and Sciences Library (AHSL)

By Lisa R. Aguilera, KR Scholar (Cohort 10)

I have been working at the AHSL and it has been a great learning experience.  I have had the pleasure of working with experienced and knowledgeable people who are friendly and always willing to help.  When I started my graduate assistantship I knew nothing about medical librarianship.  I have been given many and different opportunities to experience this area of librarianship from different perspectives.  I had the opportunity to work on two digitization projects, one a converting Prescription for Health videos to mp4 and working with the metadata, and the other digitizing the Arizona Medical Journal.  Each project pertaining to medical history in Arizona and we hope will eventually become a part of the Arizona Memory Project.  I have spent some time working at the AHSL reference desk, attending webinars, attending classes given by AHSL outreach librarians, attending meetings of the Pima County Community Health Task Force, and collaborating with the Interlibrary Loan department (ILL) and learning a little bit about what they do.  Recently, Jacob and I were able to visit the medical libraries at TMC, the Veteran’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital, and in doing so had the chance to meet the librarians that work there and learn a little about what they do.  There are so many people to thank, so many people that were so great to work with and be around on a daily basis, and really a wide range of opportunities and areas of medical librarianship to learn about.  Now I am looking forward to May 18th when I will be attending the 2012 Medical Library Association Conference in Seattle. I feel very fortunate for the experience and grateful for all of the great people I have had the opportunity to work with. Those that I worked most closely with were Mary Holcomb, Dave Piper, Amanda Escalante, Jacob Metoxen, Diana Almader-Douglas, thank you for making each day a pleasant learning experience and for all of your support.  Thanks to Jeanette Ryan and Gary Freiburger for facilitating these opportunities.  Also thanks to Yamila, Annabelle, Brooke, Nga, Hannah, Linda, Mikel, Diana, Kathy, Laura, Jose, Ricky, Skip, Tessie, Mary, Javad and Joan.  It has been a pleasure!