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hello, superheroes

August 10, 2012

Librarian boot camp (at the Syracuse University iSchool, where I’m pursuing my MLIS) began with a meeting of the information league – a gathering of a wide range of information superheroes, meeting for the first time to begin a mission to help the world access information for good, not evil. Well, kind of.

CC image “Superheroes crossing” courtesy of Brett Jordan on Flickr

When we arrived to begin our first class at the iSchool, IST601 – Information and Information Environments, we were greeted as superheroes by iSchool professor, and gamification expert, Scott Nicholson. He instructed us to design a sticker badge that would acknowledge our superhero identities. The best I could think of in 15 minutes was to call myself the Advocate. This name has three meanings for me: first of all, in all my years as a designer for theatre and dance, I have considered myself an advocate for the audience, reminding the rest of the production team that the audience will be sitting there with none of the knowledge that has come from weeks of rehearsals. I try to remind them that they need to start at zero, and provide any information that the audience needs to understand the characters and the plot. Secondly, I am very good at playing Devil’s Advocate, pointing out the opposite side to any issue, whether I agree with it or not, just to make sure that all sides have been taken into consideration. Thirdly, I have learned the importance of teaching others to advocate for themselves – something that does not come easily to many people.

Proudly wearing our badges (well, maybe not –  mostly it felt pretty silly at first, which was precisely why it worked so well as an icebreaker, because we all felt silly together) we “flew” into the open stairwells of the Hall of Languages, and were instructed to keep “flying” around until Scott stopped us and gave us a mission to problem solve with a group of 5-7 other superheroes around us. The real challenge? We had to figure out how our particular superhero powers would complement each other to solve the hypothetical task at hand. Of course this was a great example of how we need to combine forces in collaborative teams for the work that’s ahead of us – and however silly we felt, it was a refreshing way to start the adventure that is Information School.

However, as soon as we had finished our superhero icebreaker and returned to the lecture hall and had a moment to reflect, I immediately wanted to revise my superhero identity. Professor Dave Lankes had already started me thinking about my mission after I read his book, The Atlas of New Librarianship, for IST511, and then his introductory lecture for IST601 made me think about it even more, as I sat there contemplating my superpowers. Advocacy is important to me, but that’s only one part of my larger mission. How do I define that mission? How do I apply my particular superhero powers to this mission? What is it that I bring to the table that no one else brings, at least not in quite the same way? I feel like I need to figure this all out right now, but I keep trying to comfort myself that the space and time of library school will help me to articulate this all better. So, I’m still working on the most catchy superhero title to represent the larger mission – I’ll keep you posted.

My next post will delve deeper into my mission statement . . .

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