How to Spend Your Winter Vacation

13/12/2011 § 16 Comments

Did everyone hear that?  That was the sound of one giant sigh of relief.  If your school runs on semesters, you are very likely finished or close to finished with your semester.  Congratulations!  Now is the time we should all relax and spend time with our neglected friends and family.  Right?  If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time winding down after a long semester.  I find it hard to sleep without  deadlines and to-do lists to lull me.  I spend my days wandering around my apartment annoying my dog because I just don’t know what to do with myself.  So, let me help you!  Here is a list of some ideas for how to spend your winter vacation.  Go on, you deserve it.

  • Pick up those hobbies you’ve been putting off.  Sewing, gardening, roller derby skating, whatever.  The world is your oyster! (Until January, at least.)
  • Start on your reading/movie/crafting/video game list.  As a way to procrastinate during the semester, I create a long and detailed list of books to read and movies to watch and projects to complete.  Come the new semester, that list will be down to zero.
  • Take a vacation.  Seriously!  It doesn’t have to be far away or very long, but visit some out of town relatives, see some nearby sights, spend a night in a bed and breakfast.  It’ll feel absolutely luxurious.
  • Do something nice for yourself and loved ones.  I love cooking and hosting dinner parties.  Now that time is on my side, I hope to indulge myself a bit.  Plus, I’m lucky enough to have a partner who picks up a lot of the household slack  during the semester and I’m happy to pay it forward when I can.
  • Volunteer.  It might feel like work, but isn’t! I have wanted to volunteer at my local Humane Society since I moved to Austin, but haven’t been able to fit it in.  What better time to start a good habit?
  • Job search.  You didn’t think I’d be able to get through a whole list of fun things to do without throwing something work-related in, did you?  I know its a bummer, but now is a low-pressure time to get started on a high-stress activity.  Just one application a day will save me a big headache next semester.

What are your favorite ways to celebrate your hard work?

Call for Writers

12/12/2011 § 6 Comments

Hello!

Here at Hack Library School, we pride ourselves on providing engaging, thoughtful, and useful resources for Library and Information Science students.  The best part of this experience, in my opinion, is the community the writers have with each other and our readers.  Unfortunately, because we’re a blog by and for students, eventually we have to move on to bigger and better things (like full-time professional gigs).  The good news for all of you is that we’re looking for a new group of dedicated students who would like to be regular contributors here.

We’re looking for people who are enthusiastic, skilled writers who have backgrounds and specialties that we’re currently lacking at HLS.  We’re looking for a diverse group of writers: diversity of experience, professional interests, and opinions.  We strive to critically engage with topics and we’re not afraid of “stirring the pot,” and we hope you aren’t either!

The commitment is relatively low.  We try to post 3 times a week.  As the schedule sits now, each writer contributes about a post a month on the topic of their choosing.

New writers will get paired up with a mentor (an “original” Hack Library School writer) to help with your first few posts and generally ease your nerves.

If you’re interested in regularly contributing to the blog, please send Rose (roselovechou at gmail dot com) or Rebecca (rebeccakatharine at gmail dot com) an email with the following “application materials:”

  • A brief bio about yourself.
  • Your school and anticipated graduation date.
  • Your professional interests and a few ideas for posts.  In other words, what types of things would you like to write about?
  • A writing sample, if possible.  This does not need to be formal.  Feel free to link us to a personal blog, a paragraph of a paper, etc. We just like to get a feel for your writing style.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Preparing to job-search: Some considerations

28/11/2011 § 6 Comments

For those of us preparing to graduate in the next several months, it’s time.  Time to get ready to job search.  Or, as I’m known to do, it’s time to prepare to get ready to job search because, hey, you can’t be overly prepared, right?  This piece isn’t about applying for jobs themselves–for that, turn to Heidi’s post from earlier this year– but the few weeks or months of preparation before you start: the “holy crap where do I even begin to look or know what I’m looking for?” stage, if you will.

I am by no means a job-seeking expert, but I do have a running joke with my family that I collect part-time jobs, so I’ve been friendly with my resume and cover letters for a while.  Spending time tweaking and polishing your official application materials is important but I’ve found that the job search preparation process is just as important.  What am I talking about? Here’s a few tips to make your search a little more organized.

1)    Face the facts

For the last semester, I’ve subscribed to just abaout every relevant job-seeking listserv out there.  Among my favorites are I Need a Library Job because you can sort by state, Lib Gig Jobs because I don’t have to sort through dozens of non-relevent job openings, ALA Job List because even though they have a lot of intermediate and upper-level jobs I get a sense of where my career could be headed, and ILI-L, ALA’s Information Literacy and Instruction listserv because that’s the type of job I’m looking for.

The benefit of subscribing to listservs is 2-fold: first, you can get a sense of what’s out there now.  Do you really want to move back home to Ohio but in 4 days you only ever see 1 job opening?  You might want to consider another location, at least temporarily.  Do you have your heart set on cataloging in a special library? In a few days, you’ll see how many positions are out there.  It’s a good reality check.  And don’t forget: ain’t nothing wrong with part-time (for now)!  Second, you can see where your skill sets are useful and what needs to be improved on.  For me, after reading dozens and dozens of job descriptions, I have a pretty clear understanding where my shortcomings are and because I still have several months until I graduate, I can start working on them now.

Be warned: subscribe to the digest version if you can!  Because the last thing I want to do is get distracted by potential jobs during finals, I have a list-serv folder in Gmail, subdivided into the specific list-serv, and I have all the emails directly routed to the folder.  That way I can look at them when I’m ready.  Check out Lauren’s post on special libraries and Annie’s post about art libraries for resources.

2)    Get the word out

If you’re going to ask people to be your professional references, which, by the way, you should always ask, give them plenty of notice.  Some people want to be notified of every job you’re applying to so they can be prepared to be specific, others just want a sense of the types of positions you’re looking for, and others still might want to write you a stock letter of recommendation.  The point is, now’s the time to figure out who will be your references for what kinds of positions and to give those people a heads up.  Many academic positions want letters from your references and the more time you can give them to write it, the better the letter will be and the more your reference will like you (no one wants a 1 week deadline).  It’ll also open the conversation for your professional mentors to talk to you about their job search, what skill sets they see in you, and any tips they might have.

3)    Organize

I have a Google Calendar to keep track of deadlines, required application materials, and an estimation of how long the whole application will take me to put together (overkill? That’s my middle name).  Point is, figure out what works for you to keep up with deadlines and whatnot.  Now’s the time to nail down an organizational structure.  For example, I have a “job search” folder on my hard drive, and within that folder, I have folders for every position I apply for that includes the job description, any research I might have done on the organization, my resume, cover letter, references, and any supplemental materials they require.  I like to group them by type: academic, public, instruction, outreach, etc., but that’s just me.  Again: what works for you?

What strategies do you use for the job-search preparation process?

Banned Books Week: A Discussion on Intellectual Freedom for Kids

28/09/2011 § 9 Comments

Can of Worms. 'No Matter' Project Photo Stream on Flickr.

In honor of Banned and Challenged Books Week, Britt and Rebecca want to discuss the assumptions, implications, and consequences of challenging and banning books in public and school libraries, particularly for youth.  We think that library school is the best time to explore these topics so you can develop intellectual and ethical positions before you start your career; even as they shift and change in practice, having a theoretical foundation and a chance to exchange ideas with peers is a way to build your own position.  Please add your voice to the discussion!
Rebecca: Off the bat, I am totally pro-intellectual freedom, even for youth.  I think it’s necessary to expose children to all sorts of ideas and to encourage them to critically reflect on their reading to help them become better learners and citizens.  Similarly, it is the job of the parent to determine what is or isn’t appropriate for an individual child, and not the job of a library or school.  When a school removes a book, they aren’t just saying the book is inappropriate for some, or even most, children; they’re saying the book is inappropriate for all children.  That doesn’t seem right.

Britt: Of course, public and school librarians operate in different spheres of responsibility for a child’s access.  Many teacher librarians may act in loco parentis (in place of a parent) depending on their state or district; public librarians have no such mandate.  It is the common practice of public librarians (and the suggestion of ALA), particularly when processing a challenge, to place the responsibility for access on the parent, which relieves the librarian of that role.  This leaves us free to collect for a broader audience, but also, I feel, limits our ability to be advocates for intellectual freedom for youth.  Should youth librarians take a more active role when promoting access for children?  Should we advocate for the right of the child over that of the parent?

« Read the rest of this entry »

Making the most of mentorships

08/09/2011 § 2 Comments

Earlier this week, Ashley discussed some of the ways to hack your advisor–but what if you get stuck with someone you don’t like? Or doesn’t know much about your field of study?  Or just plain stinks?  Lucky for you there is an oft-neglected source of sage wisdom and comforting words: the mentor.

While I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic academic advisor, I’m even luckier to have found a mentor to give me more practical advice.  Mentors are a kind of unofficial advisor, a professional who works in the field with whom you can have a close and open connection with.  Where your academic advisor can guide your classroom choices, mentors offer insight into the information profession.  Often, your mentor can be a family friend, a work supervisor, or even a seasoned colleague.  Whatever your association with your current or prospective mentor, here are some things I’ve learned about mentorships. « Read the rest of this entry »

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