Another tale of library school woe

I have so fucking had it with library school. I know I’ve bitched about it before, so if the scintilating subject of librarianship doesn’t thrill you, hie thee to the hills.

I’m taking an online class right now with Professor Nutjob. Professor Nutjob only teaches online due an “incident” that happened on campus over ten years ago. No one really knows the full story (or even if the partial story is true). Anyway, I’d taken a class with Professor Nutjob before and while he was an insufferble ass that I loathed, he was a fair grader, so I thought I’d give him another shot with a short session summer course.

But once again, Professor Nutjob has managed to top himself. The class mainly focuses around a message board where the Professor posts discussion topics and we have to respond with cites from outside journals or other websites. Occasionally we’re asked to just supply our opinions.

One day, a student asks Professor Nutjob about due dates on assignments. He explodes on the kid, basically calling him stupid and questioning his ability to be a graduate student. Someone else chimes in “Oh, this must be an example of how not to be a manager” (it’s a management class). He rips that student a new asshole as well. No one else responds out of fear. Two days later he tsk tsks us for not picking up on the fact that he really was trying to show us how a bad manager would react. Bullshit says I.

Then came his dealings with me. On Tuesday I get an email from him (the only email I’ve received all semester) telling me “You must have dropped the class already because I’ve received no homework from you.” I’m floored. I tell him I’m not dropping the class and I resend my homework assignments in a subsequent email. I should have pointed out my participation on my message board (I have more posts than half the class), but it slipped my mind.

He responds to my first email only (not the one with my homework), berating me for using the school’s email system because “it’s broken.” Correction moron, it was “broken” a year ago (the occasional timeout, and the occasional delayed email, nothing more), but the school fixed it. So I resend everything from my home email (with Read Receipts this time) just to be sure.

So here I am two days later with no response from Professor Nutjob at all. No returned Read Receipts, no responses to my email. Either he’s not checking his email at all or he’s deliberately squashing my Read Receipts. Which would make him either a jerkass or a supreme douchebag.

Oh, and just for icing, he routinely closes the weekly threads an hour early, completely oblivious to the fact that most of us have jobs we have to be at during the day and take classes expecting to do the work at night.

No beef with the rest of it (this guy sounds like a complete tool), but some people squash read receipts out of principle. I don’t like the idea of my email client sending information about my email habits out to people who send email to me. The last thing a professor needs are people on his case that he read their email a few hours ago, but didn’t respond to it yet. In your case, a few days is long enough to be annoyed, but plenty of people will have unrealistic expectations.

Not to get away from the rant, but by any chance was the traumatic event in this professor’s life a group project where one of the teams had a paranoid schizophrenic member who threatened other team members, ranted about how Bill Clinton kidnapped her son, thought she was being slowly poisoned, and then eventually killed her roommate? (more info)

If so, I can’t say I hated this professor, but he was fairly ineffectual about getting her out of our team and into some psychiatric help. Ahh, library school, and some think it sounds boring.

The professor I hated was the one who could give me absolutely no reason why I got a B on a project rather than an A.

I can understand that. I often squash Read Receipts myself on principle as well. But in an email exchange where one party says he hasn’t received the emails is time to put that principle aside.

Whoa. Thankfully, that’s not the guy.

I agree in brick&mortar classes where assignments are emailed, but online classes are a bit different. Where there’s no personal interaction, I think it’s far more valid to request one if only to verify received it (no way to prove they’ve read it of course).

The one good thing about online classes is that you have proof of when you sent the assignment if it becomes an issue.

It sounds like Nutjob is not a tool so much as a guy on the edge of a complete psycho episode. I wouldn’t buy the “I was giving an example of ‘Bad Kirk’” explanation either. Have you spoken with other students about him? Because numbers and solidarity will help if his grading has to be challenged. (He must be tenured or they wouldn’t let him get away with this.)

I often felt that library school was easily the most boring and tiresome and ridiculous of endeavors that was preparing me for little or nothing in the real world. When I graduated- turned out I was pretty much right. :smiley: The reference questions in grad school were just ridiculously harder than they have been anywhere I’ve ever worked (I’ve had some questions I wasn’t able to answer either because the info didn’t exist or we didn’t have access to it. What I’ve never had were (and these are all actual questions I had in grad school assignments):

1- Whether a particular Hebrew prayer could be performed for AIDS patients; this prayer was so obscure that (and this is literal) a Hebrew speaking Israeli army veteran who sold Judaic antiquities, was the author of a book on the congregation of the Sardis synagogue under the Byzantine empire, and who was studying to be a rabbi had never heard of the prayer. (I found the answer though it took me about 14 hours of work, something you’d NEVER do in the real world; I’m absolutely convinced the professor, who hated electronic information, entered the closed stacks, picked a book off the shelf (this being- kid you not- a bibliography on AIDS in England from the late 1980s that was falling apart and was only in the actual card catalog [had never been cataloged electronically] and just picked a citation at random.

2-[same professor]-Give 8 different theories of origin for the history of clapping/applause. None can be from the Internet. (3 or 4 are easy to find, after 5 or 6 you’re really stretching- oh, we weren’t allowed to use the Internet for this.) Again, unless you’re the personal reference librarian to a mad emperor with odd flights of fancy, you’re NEVER going to actually have this type of reference question. (You might conceivably get “I’m writing a paper on the history of applause, can you help me find sources?” but you’re not going to get “I need 8 differing non-Internet sources on this obscure topic, could you take a few hours to help me?” questions

3- Being taught the basics of a classification software that nobody had used for about 5 years at the time (it was DOS based even!)

And other such nonsense.

Don’t know if you’ve encountered this type of frustration, but if you have trust me-that’s NOT librarianship, reference or otherwise. Besides which, 90% of your training as a librarian is going to be OTJ because there’s not a lot of common ground between working in a huge downtown library with a million+ volumes/a one room branch library in the suburbs/the archives of a gas company/the Widener Library at Harvard/the Fanny Lou Spitalfield Memorial Library & Daycare at JUNIOR SAMPLES JUNIOR COLLEGE & PIT BARBECUE/The Library of the Museum of Pennsylvania Dutch Gay & Lesbian Folk History/CNN, etc.; it’s going to need to be tailored to each. The best thing a reference librarian in training (which I’ve no idea if you are or not) can do is to learn about every major database they’re likely to see and their everchanging interfaces (such as Lexis Nexis- ugh- great content, decides to change it’s interface in a Word2003 to Word2007 major change way about every 3rd Wednesday). Also, if you’re interested in reference courses and they have anything on Government Documents, take that- it’s a very very very very rich and much unknown source of information.
I know as recently as last year the U of AL, where I graduated, was still teaching DIALOG in its reference courses; that’s a service nobody uses anymore, and I’ve asked at conferences out of curiosity. This pissed me off, particularly since they still did not have a course in basic web design (either assuming that it’s something everybody was just born knowing OR that it’s not really important anyway in librarianship [B.S.- it’s been required at every job I’ve had except my current one at a McCollege.])

Sorry for babbling- the point is Nutjob sounds like he has an automatic weapon and an Arby’s in his future. I just hope it’s unloaded.

I’m sorry, man. Library school sucks the goat ass. It’s something you have to suffer through to get the degree to get the job you want. I wish they’d just let you pay for it outright instead of wasting your time for a couple years, but there you go. I met the stupidest people I’ve ever worked with in my life in library school.

God but isn’t that the truth? I assumed it was just me.

Of the faculty the worst were the Luddites who wouldn’t accept librarianship was never going back to a 1970s paradigm. Of the students the worst were (sorry to all schoolteachers) the schoolteachers, most of whom had all the intellectual curiosity of beige wallpaper. There were bright ones as well (particularly among the non-trads) but as a rule they weren’t nearly as interesting as you’d expect librarians to be (no joking intended) or as most of the people (including the ones I didn’t like) who I’ve met in the profession since.

I could forgive that, if they were as hot as Rachel Weisz.

Wow, where are you all going to school? I just graduated from library school (Simmons College in Boston), and I had no such problems with my professors or fellow students. The worst experience I had was with a professor who would correct the grammar of the articles I would quote in my papers, but I don’t think he took off points from my grade for that.

The one thing I thought was weird was that in every single one of my classes, there was always one student who clearly had some sort of socialization problems, and it was a different person each time.

I feel your pain. I’m taking a composition for IT professionals course and the instructor spends most of his time telling us about his mental health woes.

If you respond to anything he says with anything other than “ooh, professor, I’m learning so much, thank you!!!” he tears you a new asshole and your next paper just dropped 15 points.

We had people who struggled MIGHTILY with the assignment that was essentially “Cite things.” The fact that we had to have a great big major assignment about citation format is bad enough, but that people who all had some sort of college degree just could NOT GRASP it… Jesus H. Fucking Christ, I’m getting upset thinking about it.

And that’s just the stupidity of the other students, not even the rank idiocy of the classes themselves. Let me tell you about the Wheel Model of Ethical Decision Making sometime.

I mean, there’s some dumb liberrians out there, but none of them are half as stupid as the library students. I’ve worked in academic, public, and special libraries and not found the true morons I met as a grad student. Are they media specialists? They couldn’t be there getting their M.R.S, of that I am certain.

Mine was U. of AL, which is co-ed and public but fully accredited and reasonably well respected (never had trouble getting a job anyway). I’ve heard almost identical tales to mine from Florida State U. and U. of IL students as well.

, and I had no such problems with my professors or fellow students. The worst experience I had was with a professor who would correct the grammar of the articles I would quote in my papers, but I don’t think he took off points from my grade for that.

Simmons must be really selective as that’s way below average for any major .:cool:
Zsofia: madonna, but I think I know exactly what you’re talking about, except in my class (library management, where I learned all I’ll ever need to know about how great a job my professor did at every place she was ever a manager but how stupid all of her employees were and how nobody ever seemed to realize how great she was) it was called Roulette rather than Wheel (which probably means it’s the same basic system but the professor who created it changed just enough not to be called a plagiarist and still get tenure). I’ve since supervised employees in several jobs and I’ve had to make some pretty tough and trying decisions and sometimes with some ‘unique’ personalities involved, but you learn pretty quickly that something involving widgets and flowcharts just doesn’t really have a lot of practical value.

I went to the U of TN, and while there were certainly some people in my classes who fit the description, it certainly wasn’t everyone. While there was one professor who was irritating, there wasn’t anyone as bad as the one described in the OP.

The best classes I had were the ones taught by working librarians - my reference class was one such, because we got realistic assignments (and I can even accept having to learn Dialog, because it did have value). Many of ones taught by those PhD’s who’d never really worked in the library? Yeah, those were the useless ones (my User Instruction prof, for an example - apparently we were so honest in her evals that she still doesn’t teach that class. Instead, they have a librarian from the university library teach it.)

Three days later and I finally get a reply. My work was not “creative” enough for him (he’s the kind of professor who will answer any question about any assignment with the phrase “Be creative!” and that’s it), but he still felt my assignments were pretty good and gave me decent marks.

So I guess the streak remains, jackass, but a fair grader.

Librarian (among other things) here. Justin, what library school do you attend? I never had anything like that kind of trouble at the University of South Florida (Tampa).

I’d rather not say just yet. I have a fear that Professor Nutjob lurks here. I don’t have any proof, it’s just a hunch, but this place fits several of his personality quirks.

After the class is over, I’ll gladly share.

We actually had to write an essay on How We Used the Wheel Model of Ethical Decision Making. I said, quite frankly, everybody here is an adult with a college degree. MOST people here are on their second career (I was one of the youngest students - just took a year off after college and went right in.) If you have not yet learned how to make an ethical decision by now, a wheel model is not going to help you and is in fact a hell of an insult.

Yeah, I’ve had to make some hard decisions at work, and have yet to consult Mr. Wheel. I have on occasion consulted the SDMB, however.

Not one of my library school classes was taught by a working librarian. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Library school is almost (unless you take classes like Indexing or Cataloging or sometimes Serials, etc, which I did) completely devoid of practical knowledge. You don’t get a bit of “explaining to a patron why you can’t do their taxes for them” or “what’s that smell?” or “let’s play Find That Paper Jam!” or even stuff you really ought to have a whole class on, like Dealing with Disruptive Patrons. We learned all about their delicate and sensitive civil rights but not a damned thing about how to tell somebody their kid is climbing the stacks like a monkey, or how to deal with people who are threatening to call the cops on you, or even how to keep yourself emotionally healthy when all day you deal with people who get off on being assholes to people who can’t say anything back to them. (I had a couple years of retail under my belt that help with that one.)

The value you get out of library school, in my experience, is in GA-type jobs, internships, personal relationships, and the stupid piece of paper you need to get the job you want.

Did anybody else have to keep the @#$@*&ing Journal? I will never ever understand the purpose of that one, especially since it was in my cataloging course. “Dear Diary, today I learned about CyberDewey for laserdiscs… it made me really understand my place in the cosmos, and just how tiny I am… towards afternoon it rained, but the sweet gentle drops of one of the religions you’d find in BL”. Made no sense at all- ask me to copy catalog something or to write an essay about advangates of SuDocs over LoC perhaps, but don’t try to make it a creative exercise.

I had thought this was limited to the nutcase I had in grad school (the one from Berkeley who was always astonished that we weren’t Berkeley) but was astonished when I learned it’s done in other schools as well.

We were told about the journal assignment (apparently other Cataloging professors at my school use it), but the professor I had said she didn’t understand the point of it.

Apparently it’s very popular with a certain set of professors who think it makes Cataloging more “fun.”

A group of us who took cataloging together learned pretty quick how to make cataloging more fun. I can’t give too much away, but it involved the exchange of currency for relatively large doses of ethanol-based beverages.

And this is a guy who wants to be a cataloger talking. :slight_smile: