Leaving Zombieland (or, How I Found Library School)

Hello Hack Library School types!

It occurs to me the About section is a bit sparse for this kind of blogging. I’m Angela Galvan, wearer of many hats and dreaded non-identities. I am a student with Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science. In addition to offering in-person classes in Kent and an online option, there is a satellite program based out of the State Library of Ohio in Columbus. I am affiliated with the Columbus campus and after this semester is over I will only have my practicum/paper/whatever to complete for my MLIS. Right now I’m taking courses in Futures Research, Cultural Informatics, and Reference Sources for Social Sciences.

I’m head of interlibrary services for The Ohio State University Health Sciences Library, but my official title is Digital Reformatting Specialist. My days can be an odd mix of tasks: digitizing old yearbooks and ephemera for the College of Medicine, helping physicians, nurses, and researchers get resources, helping students navigate library websites, and working with other departments throughout the university to streamline service to patrons. I wrestle with ILLiad daily and help other universities troubleshoot their own systems. I manage a handful of bright and dedicated undergraduates.

Between what reads like All The Things and my own research interests (digital humanities, disease narratives, virtual estates, and the history of night and shiftworkers), I have many conversations with students, staff, and faculty who find themselves in my office wondering if I’m the right person to talk with.

My path to librarianship was accidental. In 2009 I was a post-baccalaureate student in Oregon where I studied history and political science. My campus library was looking for interns in Special Collections and University Archives to gather information on the history of the university and its presidents. Although I enjoyed this kind of research it never occurred to me to explore library school as an option. I was stuck in a dead-end night job as a hotel clerk. I was a zombie in class, albeit a productive one. Determined to overcome my days as a slacker, I worked nights full time, was in class until mid-afternoon, tutored a fellow student in antebellum history, and went to my internship.

For a variety of reasons, Columbus, Ohio crystallized as a destination. My friends threw me a nice going away party, happy I’d achieved escape velocity from small town Oregon but convinced I’d end up dismembered in Bucky the Snowshovel Murderer’s basement. I took only what I could carry: the clothes on my back, some personal items, and two books. I moved in with strangers I met over Craigslist in a city I had no other connections with and never visited.

“But they have a dog, see?” I insisted.

“So did the guy in Silence of the Lambs,” my friends countered. This was a reasonable point and I won’t claim I wasn’t scared, discouraged, or worried that moving was a terrible mistake. I was lucky. I landed in a beautiful neighborhood with a supportive network of new friends, many of whom were librarians.

I continued to work nights and took a second job with Columbus Metropolitan Library. The librarians encouraged me to apply to Kent State’s program and I enrolled in 2011. Again, zombieland. I did not sleep for 18 months.  I have no idea how I did this without ending up in a hospital and my one night off became devoted to library school.

Four years after leaving home, I consider myself an adopted Buckeye. Not only do I drink the Kool-Aid, I make it in fresh, scarlet batches every morning. No longer a service industry drone, I’m one of those dorks that walks to work happy and excited to see what I can do to fight world suck.

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