20/09/2012 § 11 Comments
Motivation is something I have been thinking a lot about recently, and not just because two of my friends have become unreasonably obsessed with the Kelly Rowland song by the same name, despite the fact that the song was released at least a year ago. (Just a warning for anyone who may be at work and happens to be interested, the song errs on the side of Fifty Shades of Grey.)
The real reason I have been thinking about it is because I just don’t have any right now. Like none at all. For the first time ever, I didn’t hand in an assignment, knowing full well when it was due and how I should have completed it. The assignment was a pretty basic response to assigned reading that I needed to post on my ePortfolio. In the long run, it’s not going to affect my grade that much and in fact I’ll probably be able to ameliorate the situation pretty easily because my professor doesn’t actually grade my ePortfolio until the end of the semester; she just noted that it wasn’t there. But that makes it even worse. With such a simple assignment, why haven’t I been able to just do it?
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25/11/2013 § 4 Comments
As programmer and tech journalist Ciara Byrne noted in her op-ed “No–You Don’t Need to Learn To Code”, learning to code is not always fun, easy, or even useful for every career path. Nonetheless, programming can develop several soft skills that translate across a broad range of professions. In addition to increasing your digital literacy, learning to code teaches you to solve problems, to seek out collaborative solutions when you are stuck, and (in my experience) to endure lots of frustration for the sake of future rewards.
The benefits of learning to code are especially tangible for information science students. Programming knowledge equips you to customize content management systems, create sophisticated reports in an integrated library system, develop mobile apps, manage databases, implement open source software, navigate user experience design, customize or create a web presence for your institution, and collaborate more effectively with IT professionals.
You may be thinking, “But Sam, I am not a programmer. It just doesn’t come naturally for me.” Well, join the club. My undergraduate degrees are in history and political science! Although I grew up in a very tech-friendly home, I never had any ambition to be a programmer. After I started working in libraries, however, I found that some kind of coding knowledge is necessary for many of the jobs I want to pursue. It hasn’t always been fun and it has rarely been easy, but I have made it a priority to learn these skills. Over time, I have actually learned to enjoy coding.
Here are some guidelines that have helped me endure the tough times:
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15/11/2013 § 8 Comments
When I applied for my MLS a few years ago, the realities of the working world had me dreaming of a retreat from the outside world in the arms of academia. I pictured days spent in stimulating classes and evenings immersed in my studies, totally plugged into the world of libraries and library science at all times. I would specialize in something fantastic, meet tons of like-minded people, and not have to report to a desk job every day. Student loan debt be damned, I wanted an escape.
Shortly after hitting “send,” life intervened. Between a 500+ mile move, a new job with just enough travel to make night classes impossible, and sheer economic reality, it quickly became apparent that escaping into classes and living off student loans for two years was just not going to happen. Two years and two deferments later, I find myself almost finished with my first semester in the University of Maryland College Park’s online MLS program.
I’m happy with my decision to switch to the online program, but I do sometimes feel that I’m missing out on the intangible benefits of face-to-face learning. My day job has NOTHING to do with libraries, so I don’t get the water cooler chitchat, the special programming posters in the hallway, the classroom tangents that have nothing to do with that day’s planned discussion but are oh-so-valuable. I get online class discussion boards, and nothing more. Not quite the immersive experience I had in mind when I sent in my application, and an easy recipe for low motivation. So to keep myself from feeling totally cut off, I’ve come up with a few strategies to get my library buzz.
16/10/2013 § 14 Comments
“Job search prep” has been on my To Do list since mid-summer. I’m an aspiring academic librarian graduating in May and I know that the job hunt can be a very long and involved process. I’ve been updating my resume and keeping track of job ads that interest me in an attempt to prepare ahead of time. But now as fall whips by, “prep” is looking more and more like actual searching. I have Rafiki’s words from The Lion King echoing in my head as motivation: “It is time!”
There are so many resources available for job-seekers and, as with most things on the web, the volume can be pretty overwhelming. My aim here is to round up some of the tools and resources I’m utilizing so far, and to open the floor for more tips and sharing.
1. An RSS Reader. I did not fully appreciated the power of an RSS reader until I began to look at job adds. Essentially, RSS (rich site summary) readers allow you to aggregate “feeds” of content from various websites. So, instead of obsessively checking every site that posts jobs, you can check your RSS reader for new content in one place. I’m currently using Digg, which a friend recommended to me, and I think it’s clean and easy to use. There are, of course, lots of other options out there.
This page has information on library job sites. Try your regional ALA chapter and library school sites as well. Unfortunately, not every job site offers their content as an RSS feed, but it’s a great place to start.
07/10/2013 § Leave a Comment
In August 2013 we released The HLS Guide to Library School, an open access ebook including both old and new posts written by current and alumni hackers (and a few guest writers, too). To learn more about our motivation for compiling an ebook, you can read the ebook introduction.
You can access the ebook here: