08/11/2013 § 7 Comments
Hello Hack Library School readers! I’m excited to introduce myself with a topic very near and dear to my heart: managing volunteers.
In 2011, after finishing my MA, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads and needed to do something different and interesting while I figured out what was next. So I started a year-long AmeriCorps placement with an arts education nonprofit, helping administer three volunteer programs. I did everything from the nitty-gritty of event RSVPs and answering questions about the application process to big-picture reevaluations of the entire volunteer recruitment and screening system. Although none of these skills are taught in my MLIS program, I can already tell that they’ll be among the most valuable skills in my professional toolkit.
Much of the recent debate about unpaid internships can also be applied to volunteering; it can provide valuable experience for volunteers and build capacity for organizations. Plus, it often just feels really good. But when volunteering becomes an expectation or prerequisite for moving ahead in a field, or when administrators use volunteers to replace professional staff, thorny ethical issues arise. Despite these concerns, though, volunteering remains an important part of our civic and cultural landscape, and my guess is that it’s here to stay.
So I’m not here to tell you that volunteering is inherently good or bad for the profession, or to tell you that you should or should not volunteer as an MLIS student. I am absolutely here to tell you that you will need to manage volunteers at some point in your career, and that your MLIS program most likely will not equip you to do so. Volunteers are a long-term investment for your organization, and without some forethought and infrastructure, neither you nor your volunteers will be satisfied. So here are some basics you’ll want to keep in mind as you get started:
10/07/2013 § 9 Comments
In part, what it means to be a library professional is staying current with developments in the field of librarianship at large and not just focusing on your specific job duties at your institution. While you are in library school, this task is often easier because your classes encourage you to read and research into contemporary issues in the field, but afterwards, many librarians note that their workloads keep them from being able to read news and research as much as they would like. Developing good, efficient practices for staying current on library world news while you have the time, then, especially important.
Winston retrieved the Tulsa World every morning. Photo by S. Carter, 2004.
I’d love to hear from readers about two things:
- What is one source of library news that you check regularly to stay on top of the news (listserv, blog, professional magazine, scholarly journal, podcast, etc.)?
- What is one current library news item that has caught your attention recently?
For myself, I have many library-related rss feeds set up in my Feedly account, and while I often just read the headlines of blog posts, at least I have a sense of what kinds of news items are current. I also recently started using my Twitter account more regularly to follow various librarians who post about library topics. I’ve found that Twitter often has more up-to-date links to news items than blog posts since it takes people a little longer to compose a blog entry with reflections on the news item. For example, ALA’s publication American Libraries has an active Twitter feed of news.
The news story that I am thinking about lately is the announcement last week at the ALA conference from President Barack Obama in which he charged public libraries to provide access to health care information once new laws about mandatory coverage take effect. (My co-conspirator at Information + Publics recently blogged the topic.) I first came across a mention of the story the weekend of the announcement via a Twitter post.
How do you get your news? Reflecting on your own practices in finding news information (or having it find you, in the parlance of Web 2.0) is helpful in clarifying for yourself how you engage with information.
05/06/2013 § 4 Comments
It’s that time again! Summer is here, and we know lots of Hack Library School fans are in the nation’s capitol for work, or internships, or school, or just for the heck of it. So we’ve got a series of meetups planned for everyone to get to know each other. It’s a great chance to network in a casual setting, and get to know parts of this excellent city that you might not see otherwise!
The first two meetups will be:
June 8th, 5:30
We the meet up @ We, the Pizza
305 Pennsylvania Ave SE Washington, DC
(Just up the street from the Library of Congress. Closest Metro is Capitol South, Blue/Orange lines)
June 15th, 7:00
Hack Vampire School (Buffy the vampire slayer Happy Hour) @ The Black Cat
1811 14th St NW, Washington, DC
(Closest Metro is U Street, Green/Yellow lines)
If you can’t make it to these two, there will be more to come, so stay tuned! See you around town!
05/06/2013 § 7 Comments
prax·is \ˈprak-səs\ n. 1. the actual work of a profession (as opposed to the practice of it in training situations) 2. in social work, the concept of reflexive, integrated theory and practice 3. in education, the processes of reflective experiential learning or, following Paulo Freire’s work, the combination of reflection and action in the world that leads to transformations of oppressive conditions
Photograph from Pages and Pictures.
Does a dog need to read a book about being a dog? Does a librarian need to read a book about being a librarian? These questions may seem similar, but I suspect that most people have different answers to them. And yet, much of the conversation about library and information science (LIS) education seems to suggest that librarians do their work best simply through practice rather than reading and learning about librarianship.
More on praxis, Shulamith Firestone, and dogs…