14/03/2012 § 8 Comments
Last semester I took an Academic Libraries class that required me to interview an academic librarian. I reached out to Courtney Young to help me complete this assignment. Ms. Young is Head Librarian & Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Penn State Greater Allegheny and serves on the ALA Executive Board.
The goal of the project was to get a real world perspective on some of the special academic library issues we had discussed throughout the semester. While I drafted interview questions to address this objective–I couldn’t help but see the interview as an opportunity. I was pretty confident that my interviewee had a hand in hiring at her library. Getting an interview can be tough, getting feedback from a hiring manager can be even more difficult. Knowing the struggle that many of my peers are facing in the job market, I thought it would be a good idea to ask her what she looks for in a job candidate. Courtney Young had some brilliant and unexpected advice that I hope you can put to use as you look towards the future and begin your job search. « Read the rest of this entry »
13/03/2012 § 6 Comments
This post was collaboratively written by Quasi-Con planners and School of Information Master’s candidates Kelly Davenport, Peter Timmons, Ilana Barnes (ALA chapter president), Kim Miller (vice president), Katy Mahraj (treasurer), Ryan Clement (webmaster), and Mariah Cherem (social media coordinator).
The DIY Library Conference: A Quasi-Guide
It was an experiment.
When Ilana Barnes pitched the idea of a student-led library conference at the University of Michigan School of Information (SI) during her tenure as ALA Chapter president, she chose the following theme: “The Future of Libraries?!”
Ultimately, we didn’t need the question mark. More than 70 students, professionals, and alumni gathered in January for the first Quasi-Con, a hybrid unconference and professional conference. We’re here to tell you how we organized it, and why we think you should plan your own Quasi-Con, in three easy steps.
10/02/2012 § 26 Comments
Here we are in the second month of the semester and if you are new to your LIS program, you’re probably just trying to get your feet under you (as I was a year ago). Old hands are re-acclimating to the familiar not-enough-hours-in-the-day feeling and we are all looking at due dates, reading lists and task lists with dread.
For the first time or the 10th, you might be drowning in a sea of acronyms and the thought of adding ALA, MLA, SLA, or AMIA seems like it will shortcircuit your brain. Believe me, though, the effort of finding a good conference and then attending is going to save you tons of time, energy and even money in the long run.
It is worth it to add this to-do to your plate in a place of priority. Hack Library has published some great resources for hacking a conference, particularly the Grandaddy of them all ALA (here, here, here and here). Even if you can’t make it to Anaheim this summer, you ought start planning to attend at least one LIS Conference in the next year. Let me explain through my experience.
20/12/2011 § 7 Comments
Today’s Guest post comes from Amy Frazier, who just finished her first term with Emporia State University’s School of Library and Information Management in Portland, Oregon. Before entering library school, Amy studied film in London and taught film making skills to community members here in Portland. You can read more of her writing on her blog: Sidelong Citation and be sure to follow her on twitter: SidelongCite.
I came to library school by way of film and video work. Prior to enrolling at Emporia State University SLIM-Oregon, the main thrust of my career was in documentary film making and education, teaching people how to make their own films and videos. It wasn’t the most obvious path to the stacks, even though to me the progression seemed natural. But it can be a challenge to find ways to make my existing skill set relevant to librarianship, so I spend a lot of time looking at the intersection between moving pictures and the library.
During my first term in library school, I got an opportunity to start digging into this a little bit by way of a class called “Theoretical Foundations of Service.” We got a group assignment to develop an information seeking behavior model related to a specific kind of library — visual libraries in the case of my group, which we narrowed down further to film and video archives and libraries. (There were two ex-film students in the group, which might explain the choice.)
A review of the literature didn’t provide a great deal of information – there were some good pieces about related fields like art libraries, but for moving pictures specifically there was very little. So as a next plan of attack, we decided to go straight to the authorities. We were very graciously granted interviews by two amazing librarians, Liz Coffey of the Harvard Film Archive and Mark Quigley of the UCLA Film and Television Archive . Based on those conversations, we gradually built up a picture of what an effective search would look like.
In a nutshell, it was… complicated. There were a number of factors that, while certainly not exclusive to film and video, represented unusually large obstacles. Collections tend to be quite isolated from each other and inaccessible from the world outside their home institutions; searches require pretty intensive mediation by a librarian who knows their collection well; and even under the best of circumstances, a search for motion picture items can be a long and uncertain endeavor. While the project gave me a new level of respect for the librarians and archivists doing this work, it was eye-opening to see how complex the process can be. Even with some idea of how to go about a search like this effectively, the prospect remains intimidating.
So that was my first brush with film and video in the library. Outside of school I work as a circulation assistant in the library of a large medical school/research hospital, and was lucky enough to be given a role on an existing video project developed by our User Experience librarian. It’s a relatively simple piece, a profile of the staff at our library and their philosophies of service and librarianship, but it’s an opportunity to demonstrate what video can do in the library. Now I’m looking around and seeing potential projects everywhere — some of the article databases are so confusing, what if we put together a video tutorial to help guide patrons through a simple search? We have students and researchers using library resources 24 hours a day, wouldn’t it be great to have that sort of resource available even when there isn’t a reference librarian in the house? Could video make these resources more accessible to that group of patrons that’s reluctant to come in and ask for help? It’s not a replacement for real reference instruction, but I think it could be a great supplement.
14/10/2011 § 1 Comment
For graduate students, ‘practical experience’ can mean a lot of
different things. For some of us this means traveling to foreign
countries for digs and research, volunteering in labs, internships at
potential employers, or simply participation in conferences and
papers. Regardless, practical participation in our fields is extremely
important to our future success.
These days it seems like even “entry-level” jobs are asking for
candidates with experience. It’s a little tricky, but not impossible,
to round out your resume and skill set while you’re in school. This
semester, I have been working as an intern for a marketing/design
firm. I’m not paid, but was able to get some credits toward my
Master’s for my work while I’m there. The work I do for my internship
is invaluable and is giving me experience in lots of areas I’m
interested in pursuing for my career. Many places take interns, and
many more would probably be willing to make an internship if you ask.
It’s also definitely worth doing the legwork to find out how to get
school credit for the position! Although a little clichéd, volunteer
work is another way to get experience while in school — especially if
you can be involved with the organization for a longer term than just
a semester. Work your way into a position that can be applicable to
your career, and always look for opportunities to take leadership
positions. Finally, it is relatively quick, easy, and non-committal to
job shadow someone in your field. You can see what the day to day of
the job is like and hopefully learn a few tips or skills that will
help you in the future!
As a graduate student (or as my partner likes to call me, a “lifelong
learner”) I soon realized early in my career that in order to be
successful, I had to leave my classroom comfort zone. I had that part
down pat. But in order to gain professional experience, I needed to
learn how to write, present, and research outside the classroom.
Ultimately, this means presenting at conferences, submitting articles
to journals, and doing multi-disciplinary research.
A vital aspect that underlies all these out-of-classroom experiences
is collaboration. The professional experience that you will need to
accumulate derives from the ability to work and do research with your
peers, faculty, and advisors. Collaboration is essential to the
process of becoming a professional in your field, and it is vital to
the learning experience. By collaborating with someone on, lets say a
journal manuscript, it
not only gives you experience in research, writing, editing, and
ultimately getting your name in print, but also shows that you work
well with others. And this isn’t limited to multi-authored papers.
Read any acknowledgement section in a book, article, or dissertation
and you will see successful collaboration at work. For me, the road to
experience starts with collaboration.
Practical experience for my discipline is a little different than other peoples. As an archaeologist we are expected to do field work. This means an extended excavation, potentially in a foreign country. We need to show that we can plan an excavation, know the steps for gathering primary data, and use our theories in a practical sense. Doing field work is extremely rewarding in that we gain a wide range of experience, deeply connect with a range of individuals in the profession, and work from the ground up on data and interpretation. However, the requirement to be away in the field for months at a time can be very draining and stressful. It is difficult to balance having a life here and be away for a large amount of time. Once in the field we are faced with uncommon languages, foreign cultures, and in general faced with an unknown world (See Charlotte’s post on fieldwork for more information on what we face). Right now I’m faced with the problem of deciding whether to have a library based dissertation, or one that will take me out of the country for a couple months but will give me both primary data and practical experience. Getting this experience is not necessarily part of our program, so its up to us to be proactive and gain that experience. I’ve been involved in fieldwork where I’ve paid to attend, been a volunteer teaching assistant for, and also been paid to conduct. It is often this range of experience that gets noticed on my CV. In the end, our discipline is known for getting in the dirt and doing field work, so its essential for us to get this practical experience however we can and to get a wide variety of it.
Gaining experience in your discipline is one of the most critical parts of being in graduate school. For PhD students, the obvious training comes in research: the majority of our time is spent on learning how to conduct, structure, and write about research. However, this is really only part of the battle: getting an advanced degree is also about learning how to be a professional. Included in this is how to teach, how to present your research, how to engage with the public (who likely supports your research), begin active in your professional societies, and how to work effectively with your colleagues. No matter how good you are at your research, these other components of becoming a professional will be critical to your success. Most graduate programs don’t work these elements into their programs, although the training can be found elsewhere. In some cases it comes through your advisor or another faculty mentor, through programming offered by your graduate school, or through your involvement with professional organizations. If your discipline is like mine (I’m in anthropology and archaeology), there may also be opportunities to work professionally in your field, or to gain additional experience through teaching at a community college, assisting in a lab, or getting an internship of some sort. Regardless, it is important to remember that getting an advanced degree is more than just learning about how to be an effective researcher, it’s about learning to be a professional, and that includes a wide array of experiences and skills.