Student Governance {Starter Kit}

23/08/2012 § 4 Comments

Another school year is upon us! Over the next few weeks, we will add some more tips and discussions to our Starter Kit Series as we welcome new library students to the blog. We’d like to encourage returning students to revisit the series along with us as well and especially to dive into the comments to share your own experiences and tips.

Voting station at Foster City Library.

For today, I’d like to bring up the idea of joining and serving in student governance as a useful part of a library student’s education and experience. Librarians foster civic participation by providing education and information for informed citizens in electoral campaigns. Librarians also face the challenge of being advocates for libraries to legislative funding bodies, corporate boards, and other governing organizations that hold the purse strings for libraries’ budgets. All of this work requires a solid understanding of on-the-ground politics and how to navigate bureaucracies and hierarchies. Please also take a look at a related and overlapping post by Britt last year, Student Organizations and LIS Education, which focuses on the many benefits (and difficulties) of being a part of student organizations on campus such as ALA student chapters, professional development clubs, and special interest groups. Make sure to read through the comments there, too, which offer an excellent conversation with many people sharing thoughts on their schools’ particular organizations.

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Libraries and Public Service

08/08/2012 § 21 Comments

In my introduction to library and information science class last fall, we came across mention of the San Francisco Public Library’s social services provisions and discussed the public service nature of librarianship as well as the question of whether library science students should have some training in social work. The local public radio station KALW recently did a story on the SF Public Library’s programs to help the homeless. (On a side note, I think a related topic of discussion in that class was the San Jose Public Library and San Jose State University Library’s shared building, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. This shared space redefines the boundaries of public and academic libraries and how librarians reach out to the varying types of patrons in those libraries.)

Leah is the only full-time social worker working in the San Francisco Public Library

Illustration by Wendy McNaughton

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I Moved Your Cheese: Other Life Orientations

16/07/2012 § 8 Comments

I recently read Deepak Malhotra’s I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze (2011), which I found as an ebook via my local public library. I would describe it in brief as Who Moved My Cheese? meets The Matrix.

Some of you may be familiar with Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (1998), a little book that tells the fable of mice in a maze who have differing approaches to dealing with the problem of their cheese being unceremoniously moved each day. The lesson of that book is that change is inevitable in life and in work situations (your job duties may change, you may be reassigned to a different project, you may end up with a different boss with vastly different expectations, and so on), and the best way to deal with change is not to question why things change or feel bad about change but instead to adapt and, in the words of a popular meme today, keep calm and carry on.

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28/05/2012 § 6 Comments

I had hoped to be able to write up a brief review of a professional development library webinar this semester, but my two attempts to join in on live webinars via ALA and OCLC proved unsuccessful due to technical difficulties on my end. For one webinar, the audio connection was full of static and too grating to listen to. For the other, the audio connection did not work at all, and I was only able to watch the slides advancing without any of the commentary. For both ALA and OCLC’s webinar interfaces, I had spent time before the webinar running the systems’ diagnostics to make sure that my connections and settings were all correct, too.

These technical difficulties aside, I thought I’d still offer a post about professional development webinars and their potential usefulness for library and information science students. I would love to hear from other students about webinars that you have successfully attended and what you learned from them, both content-wise and in terms of the form of instruction delivery.

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Information Context, Learning Context

23/04/2012 § 24 Comments

Ashley’s previous post on ethnography got me thinking about a topic that has been buzzing around in my mind–the importance of context for information and for learning. While Ashley focused on learning the tools of a different discipline, anthropology, for direct use in librarianship (i.e., librarian as ethnographer), I wonder how much can be expected of librarians in terms of knowledge about the communities and knowledge contexts in which they work. After all, information and learning carry little meaning out of context, and librarians certainly deal with information in very concrete situations with discrete users, questions, and fields of knowledge.

More narrowly and less abstractly, this post is in part about whether a second master’s degree or some courses in a particular discipline outside of LIS should be required for librarians. How important is domain-specific knowledge for practicing librarians?
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