Friday, May 26, 2006

Here it is. . . my beast of burden! Don't tell me how it could improve, I have already submitted it and your comments will just lead to a truly neurotic moment. Just enjoy, smile and send the admissions people happy thoughts so they accept me with lots and lots of funding!

Amy Greer
Statement of Purpose
GSLIS Applicant

From the day letters finally formed words in my mind, my nose has been in a book. Whether escaping to a fantasy world or attempting to understand horrific events in our history, I find serenity in the written word. At the ripe old age of 6, I discovered big buildings filled with books for me to read, and I was hooked. Libraries have always been my port in the storm, my familiar amidst the unfamiliar, my structure amidst chaos and my house of knowledge. Now, at the ripe old age of 27, I want to contribute to the very system that helped foster my love of learning.

With my MLS, I hope to work in archives and/or special collections as a librarian, a preservationist, an educator, a communicator and a historian. As a librarian and preservationist, I want to organize and maintain historical documents and artifacts for the education and enjoyment of subsequent generations. As an educator and communicator, I want to inform the public of the many resources available to them in understanding our history and our future. As a historian, I look forward to handling such precious materials as letters to friends, playbills, manuscripts, and much more. Through one profession, I can fulfill innumerable goals and pursue a variety of interests, while acting as a public servant.

Through my studies at Wheaton College (in MA), I developed a deep interest in the histories of both theatre and sexuality. An intriguing research project on the theatrical norms and mores of Louis XIV’s court and an intensive independent study on Oscar Wilde compelled me to apply to Master’s programs in theatre history. Once in the Theatre History program at the University of Pittsburgh, I delved deeper into the 17th century while continuing my exploration of Oscar Wilde. Much of the research I did throughout my two-year program focused on the development of sexual norms on stage ranging from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. This research incorporated dramatic literature, primary sources, paintings, commercials, and costume designs to gain a well-rounded understanding of the cultural modes.

During this time, I gained familiarity with and appreciation for the myriad of materials in the Curtis Theatre Collection housed in Hillman Library. Handling these primary sources dating from 150 years ago and beyond enthralled me. Not only was the material itself fascinating but so also was the way in which the materials were preserved, stored and maintained. I found myself asking just as many questions about how the archivists maintained the collection as where to find my materials. By preserving these artifacts, the Curtis Collection fulfills its mission to offer all people the opportunity to have direct contact with history—and it is in this mission I want to participate.

Becoming a librarian and archivist will allow me to actively pursue my passions. Wheaton and the University of Pittsburgh have fostered my love of research and history, and now I look to the University of Rhode Island to provide me with the knowledge to help cultivate others love of research and history. I believe I have an obligation to our young people to preserve and protect precious items that illuminate our past and inform our future. I know the University of Rhode Island is the place to help me fulfill this obligation.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Let's face it, focus has never been my strong suit. Sure, I can focus on a conversation, a movie, a book, but when it comes to choosing a paper topic, a boyfriend or a career, I find it nearly impossible to focus on any one thing. Having been raised to be a lifelong learner, I have been both blessed and cursed with a love of many subjects. Over the years, I have dreamed of being a toll booth collector, a veterinarian, a cashier, an actress, an equestrienne, a professor, a writer and a librarian. Whenever I enter training for one thing, I dream of doing another. It is not so much that the grass seems greener but more that I don't ever want to feel pigeon-holed. Knowing the world is my oyster both excites and terrifies me because the opportunities are endless. For many, this cliche suggests that over time they have the opportunity to explore many areas. They will never be trapped in one occupation but instead may dabble in many fields--perhaps at the same time. For me, my oyster--my life of opportunity means that I have much to choose from, with "choose" being the operative word. It means that after far too much researching, exploring and discussing, I will eventually need to take action. I feel forever frozen in a world of indecision and opportunities while I continue in jobs I hate.

Now, after reading the above, imagine me trying to write a statement of purpose. Not statements of purposes or a brainstorm of possibilities, but a statement which outlines a singular purpose. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my worst nightmare--and my task for the day.

I am supposed to be writing a statement of purpose for entrance into a graduate program in library science. I am supposed to be outlining the reasons I want to attend library school, what qualifies me for library school and what I hope to do post-library school. At this point, I am confident that library school is right for me as it offers me a myriad of neat opportunities AND actually makes me employable for a change. Well, it will at least present me the chance to get a job that I might actually LIKE--a major change for me. And, part of the reason I am attracted to the field is that there are many directions it could take me, making it rather difficult to state a singular purpose to gain entry into a program. While I recognize they are not going to hold me to any stated purpose, it is difficult for me to even pick one thing to focus on, whether binding or not.

I love books--always have, always will. I love teenagers--their moodiness, their questioning, their need to fit in contradicting their desire for individuality. I love learning new things, just because I am interested. I love researching topics to better understand the whole picture. I love touching historical documents, wondering who originally owned them and what their story was. I love the musty smell of old books and the gluey smell of new ones. I love the whining spines of old books and the cracking spines of new ones. I love the anticipation of the first line and the sadness of the last. I love the excitement on the faces of young people as they experience a great book for the first time. I love perusing and meandering through stacks of books, marveling at the amount of energy, creativity and thought contained within each binding. I love the numbers and letters that instruct me of each book's subject. I love sharing my passion for all of the above with others. Because of all this, I want to go to library school. I want to excite others with literature, history and creativity. I want to preserve the work of others for the enjoyment of future generations. I want to make this information more easily accessible. How I will do this and through what modes, I am not yet sure--that is why I want to attend library school. It though school I hope to find my niche within the library world and I take it from there. Is that a clear enough statement of purpose?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Oh, the joys of rural Maine, high school fashion, richie-rich prep schools, mediocre a cappella, and modern travel. Over the past few weeks, I have smirked, grimaced and grinned at the places my job takes me. If nothing else, I have learned a great deal about people this past year and will marvel for years to come at the audacity and obliviousness of my fellow humans.

Today alone was exciting enough to last me a while—at least until the fall season. After an evening of a seriously upset stomach, I awoke groggy and grumpy. A college fair awaited me, but it would be an hour and a half drive just to get there. The drive went smoothly enough, and I was even able to eat a bit of breakfast with little protest from my testy stomach before the kids came. The kids—oh, the kids! Too busy seeing and being seen to speak with the lowly college reps, these adolescents pranced, preened and puttered by the rows of tables. After two hours of people watching, I packed up and hightailed it out of there.

When I got my car, I checked my voicemail to discover that my 5:15 flight had been cancelled and the only other flight was leaving in about three hours. I was three hours from the airport, at least, and knew I would have to be a speed demon to make the flight. In my haste, I neglected to check my gas gauge. Needless to say, approximately twenty minutes into my drive, I heard that dreaded ding informing me that I would soon run out of gas. The problem with this scenario was that I was miles from the nearest gas station in rural Maine. Houses were about ten miles apart and the land in between consisted of beautiful, large marshlands. My palms began to sweat and my brain whirred with possible solutions to this conceivably uncomfortable situation. I slowed my pace and coasted down hills, while praying and making promises to God. After miles of imaginative worst-case scenarios playing through my mind, a gas station appeared on the horizon. With this problem solved, it was on to Augusta to catch my flight.

Normally, I am a ten-mile-above-the-speed-limit kind of girl. I like to test the limits but not get too crazy. Today, however, I went a bit crazy. I will not disclose details for the sake of those who love me, or for those who would like to arrest me, but I definitely made good time today. The Pontiac G6 can move! Because my luck of late would have me miss the flight out of Augusta, I called Enterprise to create a contingency plan. They were great, as always, so I plowed onward knowing somehow, some way, I would get home tonight.

Of course my bladder always decides to be a diva when time is of the essence and throws a monstrous hissy fit. Demanding my undivided attention, I had to make a pit stop. At this point, gas stations are about thirty to forty miles apart and they are the only places of business along the route. Now, logically, this would mean that each gas station would have a public restroom because that is just what you do. When you are the only place for drivers to stop, you have a public bathroom out of love for your fellow humans. After running into two stores in a rather odd fashion, seeing the sign that said," No Public Restroom," and then hightailing it out of there (much to the amusement of the locals who hung out at the gas station), I finally found a bathroom. I get out of the car, run gingerly into the store (having now held it for about an hour or more), just in time to see a mother, a baby and a diaper bag step into the one bathroom available. At this moment, my heart dropped and my bladder shrieked. I paced, back and forth, back and forth, knowing that standing still would only get me stuck in some awkward position where moving would cause an accident--speaking from experienceembarrassingng to recount here. As a 27 year old, moments like these are truly humbling. Here I am, a smart, young professional doing the peepee dance in a public place where the wrong move could lead to a serious accident. When the mother and child pushed open the door, I flew by them, gave them a gentle shove out of the way, slammed the door, and finally found relief. Thank God!

An hour later, I pulled into AugustaÂ’s airport (which, by the way, consists of one airline counter, one bus counter, one rental car counter and, naturally, one Thai restaurant) and ran inside to find out if I could make the earlier flight. The airline attendant took my ID and was ready to put me on the plane when I realized my luggage and everything was still in the rental car I had not yet returned.

I madly unpacked my car, throwing out the amazing amount of trash I haccumulatedted in my two day trip to the butt crack of Maine. On my return to the "terminal," the flight folks loaded me and my bags through security. The two security guards were very stern, clearly taking their jobs very seriously. In my discombobulated state, I continuously broke the rules of airport behavior, rankling the somewhat uptight security guard. Once I got through the first guard, I had to deal with a man who decided my laptop required a special security procedure. By this point, the plan had been loaded, the four other passengers boarded and they were just waiting for me. The plane also sat about 30 feet from the security area, the pilot observing my progress with interest. The security guard determined that my laptop passed the tests and I was free to walk the thirty feet across the tarmac and board the plane.

Because Augusta, Maine is not the most popular of destinations, only smaller propeller planes fly in and out of this airport. This plane was a sixteen-seater with one seat on either side of the aisle. The pilot asks us to spread evenly throughout the cabin to balance the aircraft. Without hesitation, the five nervous passengers obey the pilot--the awe and fear palpable. After a warning that the weather may cause turbulence, we taxi. Watching the pilots do their thing was fascination, but I have to say, I now know why there is normally a barrier between passenger and pilot. The view out of the windshield is absolutely terrifying! Blank horizon or whirling earth loomed large through the small glass windows--neither image brought peace of mind. I slept--my usual reaction to any anxiety producing situation.

With the announcement to prepare for landing,awokeoke the whirling earth in front of me. Greens, browns and blues swirled in front of me, causing my stomach to mimic the motion. My natural reaction was to swear, loudly, ascribing God-like qualities to excrement. The four men balancing out the front of the plane concurred. Any desire I had to pilot planes evaporated as I witnessed the sheer terror of landing a plane. Though my somewhat hysterical laughter drew odd looks from my felltravelersers, I feexhilaratedted by the miracle of flying and the skill to land despite the whirling earth. I moved from one phenomenon to another.

Standing at the bus stop at Logan Airport is truly entertaining. Still marveling at the miracle of flight, I exited the terminal to the din of car horns, shouts and sirens. My reverie broken, I entered a world where anarchy ruled and the little guys lose. Cars, buses, and shuttles moved about with abandon. No longer did the rules of the road or directional lines apply. Somehow, some way, these vehicles cycled in and out of the lanes without colliding. It wasn't pretty, but it was marvelononethelessess.

As I write this, I sit aboard the Bonanza bus that will bring me to my sweetie after a long couple of days away. For the next hour, I can reflect on my spring travel, listen to the guy in front of me hock lugies and marvel at this odd thing that is my life.