50 Ways To Improve FIMS

I was one of eight students randomly selected for the FIMS exit focus group interview that was held last week. I guess that proves they are random as I’m  one of the more opinionated, critical people about various aspects of this program.  So if Administration wanted to only get friendly responses, they probably wouldn’t select me.  😉 

With that said, there are a lot of students who feel that the process isn’t random and probably think I was handpicked because I am so vocal about things.  One person who didn’t get invited actually said to me: “you’re their token outspoken person” and who knows, maybe I was?  Anyhow, I have more to say on the subject of how exit focus groups are conducted below…

I’ve been contemplating doing a list like this since week one when I got frustrated when I found out that our computer passwords had to be an eight character combination of upper and lower case letters, numerals and symbols.  I never did write it, at least partly out of fear of this being just a bit too outspoken, a bit too critical.  I also wanted to wait until the year was over so that I was giving my opinion about issues I saw, from my first day to literally my last. 

And honestly, my intention is not to burn bridges or offend anyone.  I simply am trying to raise some of the issues – major and minor – I’ve seen with the program during my year here and I’ve heard while talking widely with students (both MLIS and PhD), alumni, staff and faculty.  (I told someone about my idea for this post and they said “It sounds
like you’re not trying to accuse anyone.  But Administration might take
your criticism as an accusation…which is part of the problem right
there.”  Someone else observed that I was like the
Martin Luther of FIMS.  I wouldn’t go that far but I’m sure the people who think I do this blog as a massive ego stroke will be aghast that someone would even make the comparison! )

So anyhow, with all kinds of disclaimers and justifications out of the way, here is the granddaddy of all library school lists – 50 ways that FIMS could be improved.  Some are incredibly simple, small changes; some are pretty significant and maybe even unrealistic (or would require a lot of work and bureaucratic maneuvering which makes them unlikely to happen, even if they are possible.)

I know that if you asked ten people, you’d get ten different answers on what FIMS should be, what’s good and not so good about it.  So keep in mind that everything below is only my opinion (although I won’t even get into the conversation I had with someone employed at FIMS who told me that they didn’t think “opinions” were a very good thing for students to express in public forums!) 


  1. Give Better Information In Advance
    Give students more information before they arrive in London about the program and how it works.  For example, my cohort didn’t even know that our first class would be held the evening of our orientation day until halfway through that day!  (The flip side of this is that orientation is actually very disorienting so it might be worth coming up ways to reduce the information overload on that day somehow – perhaps by stretching orientation over two days or something?)
  • Offer First Week Workshops in “Soft” Skills
    This came up in another blog post but quickly, I think it would be great if FIMS organized a series of lunch hour workshops during the first week on the following subjects which are all core skills we need but which many of us might not have:

    Monday – interviewing tips & tricks, questions to expect

    Tuesday – public speaking
    Wednesday – professional writing
    Thursday – assertiveness training
    Friday – diversity training
  • Improve the public FIMS Web Site
    Related to my first point, why make more information available on the public FIMS web site rather than keeping it on the intranet?  Does the Grad Student handbook really need to be hidden away behind a firewall?  Do the timetables?  It’s not like these are state secrets or anything (at least I don’t think so!)
  • Don’t Be So Secretive
    I don’t know if this is intentional or not but sometimes it seems all but impossible, even for students who are here and enrolled (and have access to the intranet), to find the most basic information about FIMS.  This ranges from students not knowing that end-of-term evaluation marks are available in a binder the GRC to the results of the end-of-term exit interview report not being available anywhere (I questioned someone who said they thought the reports were on the Intranet but if they are, they’re buried somewhere about three clicks deep.)  FIMS lists about half a dozen scholarships on their web site but because of privacy laws, won’t post the names of winners anywhere, not even within the school on say, a bulletin board or on the intranet where presumably a stalker would have a lot more trouble finding someone than if they were posted on the public FIMS web site.  In my view, you have to tell people they won so how much harder is it to ask permission to post their names?  Even if you inform via letter as I believe they do, have a little note at the bottom asking them to e-mail their permission.
  • Don’t Play A Shell Game With The One Year Option
    came up at the exit interviews but was something I’d heard from others
    and had even considered myself.  Some people feel that FIMS really
    pushes the “earn your degree is a single year” option to recruit
    students then, during the frenzy and overwhelmingness of orientation,
    almost scares students into dropping down to four courses by repeatedly
    saying how difficult the program is for anyone taking a full load.
    This has a side benefit of increasing the revenue from each student as
    we pay the same amount of tuition in a term whether we’re taking three,
    four or five classes.  (I was almost convinced to drop down to four
    classes myself on day one until I heard that!)  So anybody who drops to
    four classes pays the same as somebody taking five classes but for at
    least one extra semester.  The impression that this program is a bit of
    a fast food-like cash cow for the University, pulling in cash and
    pumping out grads, is reinforced. 
  • Do A Class Photo At Orientation
    This was something I organized for my cohort in first term having been told by an upper level student that you’ll be closer to the people you start with than the people you end with.  I suggested to the orientation organizers that they do something like this but I don’t think it was implemented.
  • Have more tenured faculty
    FIMS is very short-staffed right now but the fact that some students will graduate never having been taught by a tenured faculty member is unbelievable but true.  Students have some responsibility for this but if given the choice between a sessional instructor teaching a course you really want and a class with tenured faculty you’re not as interested in makes for a hard decision.  This can have long-term repercussions for those students who may apply to other grad schools or for bursaries who need letters from tenured faculty (or think they will carry more weight even if not required.)
  • Change Add/Drop Deadline Back To The Second Week of the Term
    Students used to have until the second Friday to drop a class and add another one but this was changed this year.  Unfortunately, by pushing the deadline back to the end of the first week, you end up in a situation where students may not even have had a class to decide due to stat holidays, compressed courses, or late start dates for joint classes with other library schools.  (This term, I didn’t have two classes in my first week for these reasons.)
  • Have more flexibility around when students can take 506 – Management. 
    Our cohort had a few  students who wanted to take an elective that was at the same time as 506, a required course scheduled for your second semester.  To take the elective, they wanted to put off 506 until their third semester.  Even though this elective was only offered once per year and was in an area they were interested in, they were told this simply wasn’t possible.  This is currently happening again this term although at least there are two fall cohorts so the 3-4 students in the one cohort that has a conflict with an elective they want to take have been told they can try to arrange a “swap” with someone taking the other 506 course.  (Actually someone pointed out to me at the exit interviews that this is a moot point since 506 will likely move to first-term if the new plan for 505 comes through.  Never mind…)
  • Be Aware of Potential Issues With First-Time Instructors
    The common link with all three of my worst classes during my year here is that they were taught by first-time instructors to the program (although not necessarily first-time instructors at the graduate level.)  I’ve raised this concern with high-level admin people in the Department who said they can’t monitor instructors due to the union agreement.  But there must be some way to check that first-time instructors are progressing well without contravening the agreement.  A related problem is that the process for dealing with problems – approach the professor (which can be an impediment in itself when the problems are bigger than “I don’t agree with my mark” or “Your powerpoints are confusing”) then get majority of class to agree there’s a problem then approach the Dean – is extremely time consuming in what are very short semesters to begin with.  There should be some sort of “quick action” option when it’s obvious there are major, serious problems within a class that are shared by the majority of the class.
  • Work With Students To Make The Program and the Department Better
    I did a lot of work this term trying to revise the mid-term evaluations feedback sessions which were widely seen as ineffective by many students and faculty.  The new process is a good start towards something better although honestly, it leaves a lot to be desired as well.  But the roadblocks I got from a couple faculty members while trying to improve things for students (and by extension, for faculty – or so I thought) blew me away.  The Student Council’s Open Q&A with the Associate Dean the last two semesters is a good opportunity for opening up discussion/answering questions/quelling rumours as well.

  • Allow All Graduating Students To Participate in An Exit Interview
    Give or take, there are 30-40 students graduating from the program each semester.  If they can randomly select eight people to give feedback, how much harder would it be to run 2-3 extra sessions and give everybody who wants it, the chance to have their say?  We pay a lot of money to be here for a year and I think we all deserve this opportunity.  (They do give everybody a written survey but that’s not even close to the same thing.  It’s a series of eleven areas you rank your education on a scale of 1-5 and then a blank sheet for writing general comments.  I questioned one of the people running the focus group about this who replied that all the researchers in the department thought it was fine as a survey instrument.  I know I only took 504 to learn about surveys but I really don’t see how that could be true.)
  • Use An Outside Facilitator For The Feedback Sessions
    The sessions this term are being conducted by the Associate Dean and the Manager of Graduate Student Services.  Although I would never accuse them of outright bias, I have heard former students complain that internal biases may subconsciously creep into the process.  For example, if a student raises a concern, a facilitator may tell tell them “Well, we don’t really do that” rather than just recording the information.  An outside facilitator would presumably be better positioned to give a neutral summary that captures themes that run through all the comments.  Another concern is if someone has legitimate criticism about either the Associate Dean or Manager of Grad Student Services – they likely won’t feel comfortable saying it in this setting.
  • Have Current Student At Exit Interviews
    Preserving continuity and institutional memory is a huge problem in this program.  Having a student (the incoming Student Council Academic Rep makes sense) sit in on the exit focus groups and perhaps prepare a report for Council would help keep a more formal record of issues that have been raised in the past and whether they get addressed or just keep coming up over and again.
  • It’s Library School – Share Information!
    This sort of ties into my point about the secrecy that seems to exist around a lot of information that probably should be available to students.  I know the Department wants to protect their reputation but I’d be much more impressed with a school that not only shares things like their ALA accreditation report with students but also with the general public including possible incoming students.  Let’s be honest and up front about the challenges of the program as well as its strengths.  There are numerous other cases I’ve seen where information is either withheld or you are made to work to obtain it.
  • Have An Alumni Association for LIS Grads
    There apparently used to be
    one but it was lost after the merge that brought the different departments that comprise FIMS together.  A couple people are interested in starting it up again so hopefully something comes about from that.Co-op
  • Have more co-op positions in London and surrounding area
    Many students come to FIMS from across Canada and/or have partners who also aren’t in a position to leave London.  So their options for leaving London to go to another city (Ottawa or wherever) for a co-op four or eight months after starting the program are a bit more restricted.  FIMS’s co-op program is one of its strengths so let’s make it even stronger by taking advantage of what’s available right in the community.
  • Have more co-ops in public libraries
    We’re told that it’s because of unions budget constraints that public libraries don’t have co-ops positions but the fact that at least one public library (Kingston) has a co-op proves this isn’t completely true.  If it is the union argument (which has been given as a reason in co-op information sessions than quickly recanted), how come academic libraries, which also tend to be be unionized, have so many co-op jobs?
  • Allow Students To Finish The Program While on Co-op
    You have to technically be a student to go on co-op but they also need you to have at least one credit to come back to as well.  I’m sure there’s a reason but, since one of the advantages of co-op that’s promoted is that students often end up being hired by their co-op employers, it might be better if someone could take their final class while on co-op (by distance or whatever) and then graduate at the end of that same term.  The co-op placements don’t always fill up but I bet they would if students had the option to take 5 classes, 5 classes, 4 classes then finish their degree by taking one last class while on a co-op.
  • Exchanges
    This isn’t really related to co-op but it’s similar so I thought I’d put it here.  It would be great if the department could arrange exchanges with other library schools in Canada (or
    beyond?) where students who wanted to could visit a different library
    school for a semester, giving them exposure to different courses, professors and students.  When I went to England on exchange in undergrad, the process was that I paid all my fees at my home university and a student paid all their fees there and then we just swapped places – reducing paperwork, extra fees and so on.Courses
  • Post Class Averages For All Assignments
    We raised this in our first term and were told that in grad school, we should worry about competing with ourselves, not with each other.  This does make sense but misses the point that you are also being graded against your colleagues so it’s nice to know how everybody else did to tell you how you did.  If you’re in a class with a hard marker and you got 80% when the class average was 75%, you know you did well.  But if you’re in a class with an easy marker and you got 80% but the class average is 85%, you know you did poorly.   I’ve seen both ends of this – I was in a class where the average was in the mid-70’s and one where the final class average was somewhere around 95% – neither of which serves the students very well.  Maybe a different solution was to find ways that profs can be more consistent in their grading (although there are grading guidelines but this still doesn’t help.)  Maybe requiring profs to give more detail about their own personal critieria then?  Nah, I like the “post class averages” option myself!   (A related issue is that assignments often have two different markers in classes with TA’s so there should be some accountability for one set of marks in a certain handwriting being vastly different than another set obviously done by a different person.)
  • Change 505 – Technology
    I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school to say that the MLIS Program Committee is looking at ways to revise 505.  I’ve said that since I first got here that 505 was a bad course.  My idea was to split it into two streams – one for people with low to average computer skills and one for people with average to advanced computer skills.  There’s an even better proposal on the table.  The tentative suggestion is that 505 be scrapped completely, a series of optional workshops be offered each term where students can attend only the ones they need – Excel but not Powerpoint, XML but not HTML, etc.)  Instead of 505, the required computer class would be one of five or six advanced computer classes that are currently offered as electives.  You would take 506 in your first term and one of the required computer courses in your second.  There are still details to be worked out but that’s the quick overview.  Great idea, long overdue if you ask me.  (Did I just use a <blink> tag?  Oh my god…I’m sorry about that.  I guess I didn’t learn how inappropriate they are in my 505 class! )
  • Allow students greater flexibility in choosing their assignments
    Some people think that coming up with your own topic for an assignment is worse than death but personally, I would’ve been happy to pick my own topic for every single assignment I did this year as I’m here to learn about the things that are interest to me, not the things that the professor knows about and therefore limits the topic selection to.  My Collection Development in Academic Libraries prof was very good about allowing me to some latitude to explore issues relating to public library collection development even though the course was specifically about Academic Libraries.  But in another class, when I asked if I could modify the topic slightly so I could look at the impact of book pricing on public libraries instead of the impact on academic libraries that  I’d been assigned, I was told flat-out “no”.  I had a very strong sense that the only reason the professor refused was because they knew the answer they wanted for the assigned question but not the slightly modified one I was proposing which doesn’t seem appropriate for a grad level program.
  • Focus on Practical Library-based Learning
    I understand that this is a Masters program and so the learning is sometime more theory-based or academic in tone.  But there should always be a way to bring it back to how the information may be practically applied in a library setting.  Which is the second part of my point – all classes should keep in mind that they are being taught to future librarians enrolled in a library school.  I had a pretty serious disagreement with my management professor who claimed that “management is management is management”.  Well, arguably true on the highest level of understanding, on a practical level, there is no way that you manage a public institution like a library the same way you manage a corporation the same way to manage, say, a small business.
  • Make Collection Development A Required Course
    I’ve blogged semi-seriously elsewhere about adding a variety of courses to the required rather than elective list.  But if there is one course that everybody in this program should have mandatory exposure to, I would argue that it should be Collections Development, a topic that is at least as important as cataloguing and reference in my opinion..
  • Volunteer Option
    This would never fly but it would be interesting if students
    could get course credit (say 1 credit hour per term adding up to the
    equivalent of one full course over three terms) by doing volunteer work (which would have to be approved by the department) for an hour or two each week of each term.  And don’t limit it to book/library-related volunteerism – encourage students to do any type of volunteering.  (And yes, I know this sort of reward means it’s not volunteer anymore!)
  • Be Less Ontario-Centric
    This is tough to do when you’re mainly drawing on a pool of instructors who are from London (or Ontario) but we tend to get a very Ontario-centric education even though probably 50% or more of the students here are from elsewhere in Canada.  It was a great relief to open up the weekly module for my Advocacy distance course last week and find that the guest speaker was Punch Jackson from Alberta Community Development.  But maybe it’s not a surprise as the instructor of that class is former CLA President, Wendy Newman, who is going to have a very national perspective on a lot of issues.  (And speaking of, isn’t “Punch” the best name for a government official in charge of libraries?)
  • Allow Students To Take More Than One Distance Class Per Term
    Even if only in semesters where there are a high number of distance courses being offered such as the case this term when there were seven I believe.  Maybe make the rule if there are less than five offered, you can only take one but if there are five or more, you can take two.Student Council
  • Implement A Student Council Fee
    I think the biggest thing Council needs to do (and am sorry I didn’t make much progress on this besides suggesting it early in term) is work towards implementing a $5/person per term student council fee so Council has a nice, guaranteed nest egg each semester that will allow them to lessen their focus on fundraising tens of dollars (literally) each term and give them hundreds, even thousands of dollars to do some real programming. (160 students per year x 3 semesters x $5 = $2400 and now we’re talking!)  If it was part of the fee bills, I don’t think any student would object to paying $2705 instead of $2700 at the crunch time each term.
  • Public Web Site
    The process is underway to make the current student council site public instead of hidden on the Intranet but even better would be to have our own web domain, web server and all the flexibility and freedom this would bring.  (This is why Council needs to have a better budget.  They simply can’t afford to do this right now.) 
  • New Awards
    I’ve talked about this before but I think Council could easily add another 4-5 awards to make an even half dozen without adding too much work or spreading themselves too thin. I always think in terms of the Book Awards I was involved in during my previous life.  Their purpose isn’t just about art, it’s also about selling books.
    Similarly, these awards aren’t just about “spirit”, they’re also about helping
    students sell themselves to employers. What awards would I like to see added?Newcomer (go into first term classroom and make everybody vote secretly for a classmate.  Would also serve dual purpose of encouraging first-term students to be involved, come out to Destressor, mingle with upper level students.)
    Highest Average (Full-time)

    Highest Average (Part-time)
    (I ran this idea by Rosanne once and she saw no reason they couldn’t release the name of the student with the highest average if they had enough time to get approval from the student.)



    Spirit of Librarianship as the “Book of the Year” award that covers a bit of everything.

    Council really only has to organize the last four and they
    could easily be combined with the SoL nomination process – the call for
    nominations is a bit longer, the call for votes is a bit longer (maybe
    just do names, not blurbs for the other awards?)  Who knows – maybe even
    having more awards increases the number of names and therefore the
    likelihood that people will take the time to vote.
    Or go to a web voting scheme to simplify the process.  As I pointed out on this blog when I raised the idea earlier, you wouldn’t have to even fund the new awards (the SoL would still get the $50 CLA gift certificate which is generously sponsored by alum, Cabot Yu) as the nomination/award win is the important thing.

  • Outreach To Other Orgs
    There should be a council of student groups that meets on a monthly basis to compare notes, work on joint events, make sure there’s no overlap in what’s being planned.  CLA, LWB, SLA plus PhD Students Association on the LIS side of things and even involve other departments – include the MIT, Journalism and Media Studies councils.
  • E-Newsletter
    FIMS produces a bi-weekly electronic newsletter of news and events about happenings within the faculty.  Student Council should check if they (and other student organizations) could have a section of this to give updates on their events or maybe even start an e-newsletter of their own.
  • Student Writing Repository
    Have a web site where students can submit their best or favourite essays and assignments so that future students can learn from or get inspiration for their own assignments.  Free software is available that could easily make this happen.
  • Library Tours
    The CLA Student Chapter organized tours of a couple local libraries this semester which was an awesome idea.  I’d love to see a student group take the idea even further and arrange tours of some of the libraries right on campus early in each term.  In fact, why not have the Student Groups organize a “Libraries 101” day, maybe during the first Saturday of classes.  Many students come to FIMS without any library background so getting some exposure to the jargon and issues they’ll be confronted with during the year will reduce the learning curve greatly.  Arrange to have a real demo of what a library OPAC looks like from the “inside” (I still haven’t been exposed to that after a year here though I have a sneaking suspicion I should’ve been in 505.)  We get a lot of training about library management but have a local librarian explain the relationship and roles of other staff members in the library – what exactly do circulation staff do (beyond sliding books over those infrared gizmos)?  And so on.Graduate Resource Centre
  • Allow Overnight Loans
    I understand why they don’t allow loans since the collection is very limited.  But I still don’t understand why they can’t allow overnight loans.  If the student doesn’t have the borrowed item(s) back by half an hour after opening the following day, implement heavy ($2/day, even $5/day) fines.  Perhaps a wealthy student will pay the fine to have access to a popular resource.  Okay, then have a mini-jail cell or something…  (If we absolutely can’t have real loans, the GRC shouldn’t be so strict about allowing books out to even the computer labs as they sometimes do.)
  • Allow Overnight Access
    Another suggestion that would never fly but it would be great if students had 24/7 access to the GRC for those who are pulling all-nighters on an assignment due to the next day or just for those of us who tend to be night owls in general.
  • Have a Designated Quiet Area/Study Lounge
    I know space is at a premium but the GRC is often loud with people chatting (I’m one of the worst offenders, I admit) or even just clacking away on keyboards or banging books.  Having an area set aside that was a designated quiet area would be very useful (the couches behind the magazine racks are close to this but still have frequent interruptions by people going by.)
  • Accept Returns From The Wider UWO Library System
    I’ve always wondered why you can search GRC holdings in the UWO catalogue but can’t return materials borrowed from Weldon and other libraries at the GRC.Computing
  • Generic E-mail Addresses (for entire program, for council, etc.)
    I’ve asked but I don’t think anything can be done about this as its a UWO policy that they don’t issue generic e-mail addresses.  Still, it’s too bad we can’t have studentcouncil@uwo.ca instead of mlisstudentcouncil@gmail.com which is the e-mail address I set-up this term for some council communications.
  • Have A Separate Opt-Out Chat Mailing List
    Dave Jackson and I actually had approval for this to be done earlier this year after a fist fight nearly broke out between an MLIS and journalism student when an “off-topic” message was posted on the main FIMS mailing list. But we never followed through as there was some debate about whether it was better to have it as e-mail or a message board or something else. (We also thought it would be a better project for the exiting student council rather than two individuals to guide.) Personally, I like the idea of everybody at FIMS – students, staff, faculty – being put on this second off-topic list automatically with the option to manually remove themselves if they don’t want to receive any extra e-mails.
  • Lose the ergonomic keyboards
    The main computer lab everybody uses has 70% ergonomic keyboards (those ones that are split in half and tilted) and 30% regular ones but in my experience, most people seem to head to the regular keyboards.
  • Sound Plug-ins
    This is pretty minor but the headphone jacks on pretty much all the computers in the main lab have a buzzing which prevents you from listening to net radio stations or whatever when you do your homework.Miscellaneous
  • Culture of the Office
    I have no idea if its because of office politics or clashing personalities or people being stretched too thin or something else but many students comment on the lack of friendliness that is often evident when you visit or contact the administration offices.
  • Compartmentalization
    Part of this is the fault of students but it would be nice to see more done by someone – administration or student council – to encourage more mixing between cohorts and even between MLIS and PhD students.  Council has done a couple things already – implementing the First Friday Q&A session, the CLA has the peer mentorship program (which may have a new twist where peers are invited to the first week pizza party so that new students meet their mentors as well as council members.) 
  • Collegiality
    Sort of similar to my last point but directed at faculty instead who should do more to mix with students beyond the classroom in my opinion.  When I organized a student reading for Freedom to Read Week in February, I was a bit surprised that only one faculty member came out (and only after being bugged by two different students and receiving multiple e-mails.)  This trend has continued throughout the year as faculty are a rare presence as at any non-official event (ie. they do show up at the department-organized FIMS mixer but don’t come out to something like the Council coffee house or the CLA guest speakers.)
  • Treat Students Like Adults
    Many students are surprised to find that a Masters program has so many rules and regulations.  An example is
    the 100% attendance policy.  Although I understand that the school’s accreditation is based on this, they also allow excused absenses for things like job interviews and conferences.  Yet, I (and others) have asked permission to miss class to attend a lecture elsewhere on campus and felt like we literally had to beg (or were refused outright.)
  • Encourage Disclosure of Student Health Issues
    This is an extremely sensitive topic and I can see both sides of this argument.  But there have been a few students in the program with a range of health issues of varying levels of severity which, often cross over from the right of that student to be an active participant in FIMS to imposing on the rights of other students who have to deal with students who may not be able to contribute equally in group situations or may be a distraction in a classroom setting for whatever reason.  I think that the vast majority of library school students have an above average level of empathy and understanding.  So encouraging students with health issues to disclose them to other students would prevent the rumour-mongering and outright avoidance that occurs instead when no one is sure what the problems are.
  • Career Advice/Counselling
    Although there is an opportunity to have your resume and cover letter reviewed and people who go through co-op get a lot of experience in inteviews and that process, many graduating students still leave feeling they haven’t been given enough guidance on what to do once they’re “out there.”  Student Council has agreed to take on a bit of the responsibility by this by bringing in a guest speaker each term who can speak on this topic from the “other side” – ie. an HR person or other manager involved in the hiring process from some of the various local libraries.
  • Bathrooms
    Use a better quality of toilet paper in the bathrooms.  Have paper towels instead of hand dryers in at least some of the washrooms.  (Did I really just write these things on the Internet?  Yep, it really is time for me to be done with this program!)

I’ve had a bit of help with this list and I usually make sure to give credit.  But in this case, I think I’ll take all responsibility for the contents myself and send a silent thank-you to those who helped – either directly in the last few days or just by talking with me over the past year. 

Oh, and if you’ve made it this far, I should also mention that I promise to do a “50 Great Things About FIMS” post in the next few weeks as well.  (That’s 100 – not far from a “95 Theses” I mentioned at the start of this post after all! )

Comments 12

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Although it may not seem like it, I should probably also mention that I *really* liked this program, learned a lot, made a lot of few friends and acquaintances and had a great time!

    Posted 10 Dec 2006 at 11:09 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Uh… wasn't it 95 Theses?
    (I know, I know – of all the things to comment on!).
    Great post. A lot of truth in there. (Too much, perhaps?) Here's hoping it results in a Reformation, as opposed to, say, a Great Schism. Or an Apocalypse.
    A lot seems to boil down to accountability. That, and sanitation. (More paper towels!)

    Posted 11 Dec 2006 at 4:53 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Oops, must've had Wayne Gretzky on the brain. (I'd even linked to the 95 Theses article on Wikipedia! But maybe somebody changed its “Wikiality” to 99 temporarily?)
    Accountability might be the common issue but another even broader link I see for many of these items is a lack of openness – with how information is shared, with how all groups (students, staff, faculty) interact (or don't), with procedures and penalties.
    This might even cover your point about accountability – for all we know the department has procedures to make say, bad professors, accountable. But without that openness, students don't know what they are.
    I think why I find this lack of openness especially troubling is that we're a *library* program and we should be all about sharing information. (I know we're a library program in an academic institution and that fact often trumps any grandious notions of sharing and equality but there you go…)

    Posted 11 Dec 2006 at 5:26 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh, Jason. 50 Ways to Improve FIMS reads like 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover — that would have made a great coffee house spoof.
    Like Barb, I did find myself nodding and even saying YES! out loud. I just hope that all those admin & faculty READ the blog. Or you could type it up on a giant roll of paper towels and set it in a centrally used location.
    Soap the most important bits on the bathroom mirrors.
    No, because I think I became as close to custodial staff, as I did to any faculty. Closer, even…? They smile. They chat. You ask how their kids are, and they ask you about yours. And we bitch about full cups of coffee in the garbage cans — and how at home noone wants to empty the under-the-sink garbage or refill the milk bag…
    I'm looking forward to the 50 GLowing Glories of FIMS post.

    Posted 11 Dec 2006 at 2:42 pm
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks Jason. This covers a lot of what I've complained about the program before as well as some things that I hadn't thought of (but which are true none the less). I was really interested in hearing about how the exit interview “focus group” went, and this blog is certainly easier to find than wherever they'll post their summary of the interview.
    I'd like to add one more suggestion to the list about the previously mentioned advanced computer courses that are offered as electives. In the past two semesters at least, the few of these that have been offered tend to conflict with each other. As someone trying to focus on the more technical side of the program I found this to be extremely frustrating. You would think that this kind of conflict could be minimized.
    And Linda, how true. The custodial staff are definitely friendlier and more approachable than some other FIMS staff.

    Posted 11 Dec 2006 at 7:15 pm
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    It sort of is “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” as it feels like more of the “full circle” closure stuff I've talked about on the blog a couple times.
    A few instructors have admitted to reading this blog and I can't imagine that more don't at least check it out every once in awhile (all the hits I'm getting can't be just students and strangers happening upon it!) Plus every department-wide e-mail I've sent through the year promoting Lunch Buckets and so on has had the blog address in the sig file at the bottom. So you'd think some would be curious to follow the link.
    That's a good point about the cleaning staff – very friendly, cheerful and happy to chat. Us “edjamakated” folks in the hallowed halls of learning (as students, not workers) could learn something.

    Posted 11 Dec 2006 at 9:30 pm
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    The exit interviews are pretty fresh in my mind having just gone through them so I probably gave them more attention than I would haveve otherwise (what, three points out of 50?) But I think there's a real sense that they're an empty exercise in that what students say isn't heard or acted upon. The length of time that 505 has been complained about is a prime example (although to be fair, it sounds like we're finally going to have a new option for technology courses which sounds very promising!)
    Scheduling issues were one of the things I didn't talk much about (other than my 506 point which turned out to be moot) but that sort of captures what I was getting at in general as well – there are a lot of issues with scheduling in terms of professor availability and classroom availability and so on. But they should really take a look at the schedule as a whole as well as just slotting in individual classes.

    Posted 12 Dec 2006 at 1:22 am
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    Great list, Jason. I think you covered everything *I've* muttered about over the year, so I haven't anything to add, except: hear, hear!
    On the password thing – while I would normally not share a password with anyone, I've been known to recite *that* one to people on occasion, just to see their eyes glaze over. (Somehow I don't think the intent of making it that complicated was to encourage us to tell it to people, heh.)
    And yay for the cleaning staff! 🙂

    Posted 12 Dec 2006 at 2:18 am
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    The password isn't a FIMS thing; it's a university-wide requirement: http://www.uwo.ca/its/doc/hdi/unix/a8-passwd.html#SECTION4

    Posted 12 Dec 2006 at 3:00 am
  10. Anonymous wrote:

    I know it's University-wide. Maybe I need to do a list of “500 Ways to Improve UWO”?
    Anyhow, I think the problem is that it seems a bit excessive, especially for student accounts. (On the page you linked to, they even admit passwords this complicated are often hard to remember.)
    As I understand it, we're pretty locked down as to what we can do, even when we log into our accounts, so what kind of damage could be caused if somebody's account did get hacked? The hacker could read the person's e-mail? Delete their files?
    Anyhow, it was less of an issue for me once I typed my password a couple times and it became a muscle memory thing – I honestly couldn't even tell you what my password is without thinking about it. But now I type it automagically!
    Thanks for the comment. Any thoughts on anything else I said?
    (Jason, who's about to type “69hwk” for this comment to be accepted by the blog software!

    Posted 12 Dec 2006 at 3:20 am
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    It is something of a muscle memory thing – I think the only reason I actually *do* know it in my head and not just in my fingers is that I have to be able to type it in two different keyboard layouts, the one I use at home and the one The Rest Of The World uses in their lamentable misguidedness. 😉
    Come to think, one of the things I really *like* about FIMS is that in their computer labs – not in the other uni labs, just the FIMS ones – you're allowed to change a lot more settings, including the keyboard layout. (You can even install software, for a wonder! There's something to add to your list of things to like…) So once I log in, it remembers to set me to dear old Dvorak. 🙂 I can't even do that with my computer at work, sadly (and don't want to bug tech support about it, since I'm not going to be here that long anyway).

    Posted 12 Dec 2006 at 2:50 pm
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    That's a good point – I liked how configurable their systems are (I spent one 503 lab doing just that – installing Firefox extensions, arranging bookmarks, etc.) There was the odd piece of software I liked to have handy that I would have to reinstall each time I needed it but overall, very useful.

    Posted 12 Dec 2006 at 9:44 pm
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