10/02/2014 § 8 Comments
I recently traveled to Barcelona, Spain for BOBCATSSS, a library conference organized by European library science students. Upon returning I realized that many of my peers were unaware of the variety of international library conference opportunities that students can take advantage of. As LIS students, we are frequently encouraged to attend conferences, create posters, and present papers. So why not do so in another country? It may seem scary, but attending an international conference can be a great way to open yourself up to new things, make new connections, and meet new people!
Here are some observations, gleaned from my BOBCATSSS experiences, on why you should consider international conferencing:
- Language doesn’t have to be an issue.
If you’re like me you studied a foreign language in high school, maybe some in college, but you don’t necessarily feel comfortable going to an academic conference and presenting in another language. This is fine! Many international library conference are in English and others offer translation services for the larger sessions and programs. This is, of course, something to look into before submitting a proposal; but it is rarely a true barrier to your conference attendance. International conferences want people from a variety of countries to attend, so they find ways to bridge language gaps.
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05/02/2014 § 10 Comments
I recently began the process of applying for jobs. When I found out I was invited for my first phone interview, I was given a lot of fantastic Facebook-solicited advice: shut your (distracting) pet out of the room, ask “Did that answer your question?” after answering a question, dress like you’re going to an actual interview so you’re in the right mindset. I practiced a mock interview beforehand. I felt reasonably well-prepared. I had eager cheerleaders telling me I could do it.
But after my first interview concluded, I felt ashamed. Like a failure. I recognized that I had had good answers to relevant questions about the specifics of what the job entailed, but I had rambled an incoherent mess of words in response to a simple question about a problem within a team and how I dealt with it. Oh, how I replayed those words over and over in my head after the brief interview had concluded. Someone I respected was on the search committee, a fact which further embarrassed me. It was a few weeks of near-constant cringing as I recovered.
Since that first phone interview, I have had additional phone interviews. I’ve learned something new from each one. Be reassured that it does get easier! Here are some of my tips for doing well in a phone interview.
Prepare. No, really prepare.
Before my first phone interview, I scheduled a mock phone interview with my career services office, which is staffed by students. When I got there, the person working (who I already knew) asked if we could just do a face-to-face interview because of the complicated logistics of setting up a mock phone interview. I said sure, thinking it was no big deal. We did the interview and it was fine. It wasn’t particularly nervewracking.
In retrospect, I should have had a mock phone interview that was a) With someone I didn’t know already – definitely not a fellow student, and b) It should absolutely have been over the phone. When I had my actual phone interview, I was way more nervous than I anticipated and felt totally unprepared. If doing a mock interview isn’t possible, you can at least check out the Hiring Librarians interview questions repository – don’t forget to sort by phone interview questions!
Anticipate and accept the awkwardness.
Phone interviews are notoriously awkward for all involved. You can’t read the search committee members’ body language, so you and someone from the search committee will likely interrupt each other. It’s okay. One thing that has been conveyed to me over and over again is that the search committee wants you to do well; they’re rooting for you. The best thing you can do when awkward things happen is just to have a positive attitude.
Have stories ready.
I don’t consider myself a very good storyteller. Speaking off the cuff is not my strong suit; I prefer time to think and analyze. But with interviews, reflection is key. You need to have stories focusing on a few predictable themes ready to go: a time when you dealt with a conflict, a time when you worked with a team, a time when you faced a conflict in a team setting. And of course, you have to be ready to answer questions about how your knowledge/experiences tie in with the job responsibilities.
Phone interviews made me recognize that I have been really busy over the past few years working in libraries, but I haven’t necessarily taken the time to reflect upon my experiences. It’s worth taking the time to really think about these broad themes and write them down. You won’t necessarily remember your stories off the cuff if you’re super nervous.
Try not to speculate too much about the interview.
As a job hunter, there’s a lot you may not know: who you’re up against, the salary, and often, when the institution expects the successful candidate to start the position. I’ve felt a level of vulnerability I didn’t expect when faced with all these unknowns. Adding a phone interview into the mix can be just another confusing aspect of the process, leading to all sorts of fixation and speculation about what it will lead to, if anything.
As much as you may want the position, don’t over-congratulate yourself or berate yourself about the phone interview after it’s over. Try to be objective: what did you do well, and what could you improve upon? The intelligent questions I couldn’t answer in phone interviews gave me clues as to what I need to learn to be competitive. Now that I’m past the embarrassment of not having a good answer, I can recognize how to be better next time.
Know you’ll get better with experience.
Once you know how phone interviews go, it will get easier. You’ll be less nervous. And in-person interviews are even better than phone interviews because you can make a real connection with the search committee.
Be nice to yourself.
Everything about applying for jobs is a humbling experience. If you’re on the job hunt, your emotions are probably all over the place: nervous, excited, depressed. You’re probably a bit crazy, right? It’s easy to feel that familiar sinking gut feeling: I will never learn everything I possibly need to know to be successful. How will I ever get a job? Be nice to yourself. Forgive yourself for making whatever mistake is hanging over your head convincing you that you’re 12 years old and nowhere near a hirable professional! (Hopefully I’m not the only one out there who feels like this from time to time.)
What have your phone interview experiences been like? What did you learn from them?
03/02/2014 § 7 Comments
I have never met a conference I did not like. In the last four years, I have attended twelve academic conferences ranging in size from under 150 to over 5,000 participants. I have presented papers, sat on panels, moderated debate, lead workshops, and worked logistics.
In my experience, all conferences share some common challenges: the pace is frenetic, restroom lines are long, snacks are mediocre, and at least two sessions you really want to attend will be happening at the same time. The rooms are almost always too cold or too hot. You may not know anyone.
Obstacles aside, every conference experience has been invaluable to me. They have so much to offer an emerging professional: a chance to make new friends and meet professional contacts, exposure to new ideas and best practices in your field, and the possibility of new opportunities. At a conference, you can challenge your expectations and even meet your professional heroes.
Last August, I participated in the Society of American Archivists 2013 Annual Meeting, my first professional conference as a graduate student. Although I came equipped with a diverse kit of conference tools, the SAA Annual Meeting challenged me to adapt in new ways. Professional conferences are especially intense in terms of pace. There is so much to do and see that it is to feel overextended. If you are an introvert like me, it can feel overwhelming to interact with so many people, especially when you suddenly realize you’re talking with someone “famous” in the field.
But don’t feel intimidated! Here are some steps you can take to help make your first professional conference a success.
03/02/2014 § 1 Comment
I used to love the first day of school! One of the things I remember about those “first days” was going over the class rules. As my classmates and I got older, and then headed off the college, the wording of the rules changed, but the message stayed pretty much the same: respect others, come to class, do the work (and make sure it’s your own work!).
Now we have guidelines on how to interact at ALA conferences and meetings. A few weeks before last month’s ALA Midwinter Meeting ‘14 in Philadelphia, the American Library Association presented a Statement of Appropriate Conduct at ALA Conferences. This Statement, from the ALA website, is below:
The American Library Association holds professional conferences and meetings to enable its members to receive continuing education, build professional networks, and discover new products and services for professional use. To provide all participants – members and other attendees, speakers, exhibitors, staff and volunteers – the opportunity to benefit from the event, the American Library Association is committed to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, physical appearance, ethnicity, religion or other group identity.
As an association, ALA is strongly committed to diversity, equity and the free expression of ideas. These values have been repeatedly delineated in ALA policy (for instance: Policy A.1.4 – Core Organizational Values; Policy B.1.1 – Core Values of Librarianship; Policy B.1.2 – Code of Professional Ethics). Taken cumulatively, the values and beliefs delineated within ALA policy describe conduct based on a firm belief in the value of civil discourse and the free exploration of competing ideas and concepts – with a fundamental respect for the rights, dignity and value of all persons.
Within the context of ALA policy and the professional practices of librarianship, critical examination of beliefs and viewpoints does not, by itself, constitute hostile conduct or harassment. Similarly, use of sexual imagery or language in the context of a professional discussion might not constitute hostile conduct or harassment.
ALA seeks to provide a conference environment in which diverse participants may learn, network and enjoy the company of colleagues in an environment of mutual human respect. We recognize a shared
responsibility to create and hold that environment for the benefit of all. Some behaviors are, therefore, specifically prohibited:
- Harassment or intimidation based on race, religion, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, appearance, or other group status.
- Sexual harassment or intimidation, including unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual), or unsolicited physical contact.
- Yelling at or threatening speakers (verbally or physically).
Speakers are asked to frame discussions as openly and inclusively as possible and to be aware of how language or images may be perceived by others. Participants may – and do – exercise their option to leave a session or a conversation. Exhibitors must follow all ALA Exhibits rules and regulations and ALA policies.
All participants are expected to observe these rules and behaviors in all conference venues, including online venues, and conference social events. Participants asked to stop a hostile or harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Conference participants seek to learn, network and have fun. Please do so responsibly and with respect for the right of others to do likewise.
Please contact Conference Services staff in the ALA Office at conference if you believe you have been harassed or that a harassment problem exists. All such reports will be directed immediately to the Director of Conference Services, who will determine and carry out the appropriate course of action, and who may consult with and engage other ALA staff, leaders and legal counsel as appropriate. Event security and/or local law enforcement may be involved, as appropriate based on the specific circumstances. A follow-up report will be made to individuals who report being harassed.
My first introduction to the Statement of Appropriate Conduct was through Andromeda Yelton’s post, “Why ALA Needs a Code of Conduct,” on Library Journal’s website. My first thought when I read the title was, “Hmmm, we still need rules?” I read on, though, and was surprised, sad, and embarrassed to learn that although I hadn’t been a victim, or knew of anyone who had been the recipient of unsavory behavior at ALA conferences, it had happened to others.
Not everyone has embraced the Code of Conduct with open arms, though. Dissenters have brought up issues like freedom of speech, intellectual freedom, and Big Brother. To learn more about the discussion, check out Lisa Rabey’s “roundup of responses to ALA’s code of conduct.” A sampling of blog posts on her list is below. To catch the active discussion on Twitter, search “ALA Code of Conduct,” or the hashtag #ALACoC.
So, what do you think? Is the ALA Code of Conduct a necessary thing, or is it unneeded or flawed?
29/01/2014 § 7 Comments
Hello, hackers! Do you have a digital PLN?
If not, this post will explain the concept and share some tips for success. I discovered the concept of the digital PLN (a web-based personal or professional learning network) through an information literacy instruction class I took in Fall 2013. One of the major class projects was to select and curate digital resources to facilitate our lifelong learning as librarians, according to our career goals.
What is a PLN?
A traditional PLN consists of actual people with whom you have collaborated or shared ideas. A digital PLN is more open-ended. Digital PLNs are collections of web-based human, technological, and other resources selected judiciously, classified, and accessed using curation tools of your choice. Whereas e-portfolios showcase your own aptitudes, e-PLNs curate resources from other people that have helped you—or will help you—to enrich your LIS skills. You can organize resources into categories, create RSS feeds to monitor changing content, and demonstrate your professional engagement by sharing your PLN publically or collaborating with other librarians to build one. Teacher-librarians are likely to have PLNs because schools encourage them to do so, but anyone can create one.
Why should I have a PLN?