Field Trip!

That’s right, I went on a field trip! We (my class and I) visited the Beaver County Times to see a bonafide newspaper in action. It’s been 20 years since I went on a field trip ( I believe my last one was to some colonial era village in PA), so I really didn’t know what to expect. I have to say though, field trips as an adult rock!

I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect from a modern newsroom. Part of me knew that it would most likely have the same look and feel of any other modern corporate office I have ever visited. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just that I carry this romanticized vision of 20’s era fast talking reporters yelling and screaming at one another while billows of cigarette smoke careen between the walls. That’s the newspaper I wanted to see. Of course, my first description is more accurate, but still, the men and women that run the paper are dedicated to their craft and certainly are passionate about what they do.

The Chief Editor gave us the tour and was more than accommodating to any of our request. She split us up into groups and we traveled around to all the separate stations that make a newspaper possible. We met with the sports guy, the lifestyle and entertainment girls, and just about every other person involved with getting all the separate sections put together for print. Most of the journalist were either out or not in yet (the real action, I’m told, happens later on in the evening when they are approaching their midnight deadline), which was fine because it was my editing class that was there, not a journalism class.

Featured imageOne part of the tour I found absolutely fascinating was the “old” printing press they used to have on-site. The machinery was long gone, as were the jobs running the press, but I still got a feel for just how immense this operation once was.

There is a loading dock on the bottom right hand side where workers used to wheel in huge drums of paper that came straight of the train line behind the building. When the cargo containers were spent, they just wheeled them back to the track and the next train that came along would pick them up. What a setup!

Looking at it now, though, you really wouldn’t know about all that – or even what the space was used for. It just felt eerie, like I was viewing into America’s cultural past from the modern day. Something in me longed to see all those freshly minted papers running up the belts, with the acrid and fresh smell of hydraulic oil and hot ink permeating the air. I guess I wanted to feel the nitty-gritty of it. Perhaps that’s just me looking for something familiar in an unfamiliar environment, but the newspaper of today is just that: modern.

There really isn’t that much else to say about it. The modern newspaper is ran just like a modern business, because that is exactly what is. And even though I didn’t get to see the newsroom of old, it was still a fantastic trip! I felt like a kid again. A sense of wonder sparked within me, and that, for any adult, is priceless. Thank you again to the men and women of the Beaver County Times, you have just made me a life-long subscriber. Keep up the excellent work!

An Offspring of Library Learning

As an adult student and veteran, I have a particular aversion to groups, crowds, and anywhere many “peoples” congregate together. You might be thinking, “I get the veteran part, but why would an adult student hate crowds?” The answer is this: crowds promote immaturity. This is especially noticeable on  college or university campuses, but can you really blame your classmates?

No, absolutely not. Youth, after all, is the time to be immature. So where oh where  can a grumbling, almost middle-aged man like myself go when the maturity police start to rant inside my head?  Why, the glorious and resplendent confines of the campus library of course!

For any adult learner or veteran going back to school, I urge you to become adamantly familiar with your institution’s library. I’m not talking about becoming familiar with the content the library stocks on it shelves (you will undoubtedly learn this as time goes on), what I really want you to do is explore the physical spaces inside the building. Find the most comfortable, most encouraging, and most serene places for you to work

Do you like to look out the window when you study, or do you need to recoil in a  basement hovel to focus? What about open rows of chairs and desks, or do you prefer a tight, well-lit study corral? Chances are, you know what environment best suites your needs. I recommend choosing several different spots because, inevitably, at some point your “spot” will be taken and you will need to find an alternate. This may sound silly, but I’ve left campus because of this! I know, I know – it sounds a bit eccentric, but it proves just how much the right environment can make or break your studies.

The library represents sanctuary: a glorious repast from the turbo-charged schedule of an adult student’s life. Enjoy the silence you find there.  You don’t get it that often, do you? My strongest essays, reports, and test results were all offspring of library learning. At school, my only job is to be a student. At home, though, I’m dad, hubby, professional dish-scrubber and dog-bather, etc… the list just never ends. Sure, I can get work done at home when need be, but the quality of that work suffers. My test scores go down, my reports become jumbled, and my essays tend to ramble (really, I’m filling space until the word count is full). There are just too many distractions at home, period.

If you really want to make a go of your adult college experience, I urge you to find that peaceful spot in the library. A bit of silence will improve your concentration, your production, and most likely your mood. You deserve to feel good while working on your degree, and the library just might be the environ you need to make that happen.