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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How to Stand Out in the Job Search Crowd

30/03/2012 § 51 Comments

Over the last couple of weeks, we have brought you a series of posts about preparing yourself for the job search. Ashley gave you general advice she gleaned from an interview with a hiring manager. Rose brought you advice on filling out your job application and creating a cover letter. Then Laura talked about tips for how to dress when you go to an interview or job fair. Today’s post talks about a tool you can add to your job search toolkit to help you stand out: the eportfolio.

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Data Sharing: Panacea or Can of Worms?

24/02/2012 § 16 Comments

Author’s note: My interests within the LIS field are data curation and e-science librarianship. This is a hot topic that is growing every day, and skilled e-science librarians are needed to fill the gap. If you’re interested in learning more about data curation librarianship as a future career, leave a comment here, and I’ll follow up with more information.

Back in the Fall, Micah wrote a post about Open Access Week. In it he discussed open journals, open data, and the ALA Code of Ethics. Open data is what today’s post is about. An important ongoing question in the world of data curation today is how to get scientists to share their data by placing it in a data repository. There are many scientists who are unaware of the fact that their data has value to anyone but them and their research team. On the other hand, there are scientists who are very possessive of their data and don’t want to release it for fear that they will lose control of it and not be credited for its creation. There are also those who want to suck every drop of publishing potential out of a data set before releasing it to anyone else.

Last November, there were two requests for information (here and here) put out by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. One asked if peer-reviewed journal articles resulting from federally funded research should be accessible to the public. The other asked if data from federally funded research should be accessible to the public. OSTP has released the comments from that RFI here. I have not read all the responses, but the ones I have read seem to indicate that the support of open-access is high among those not affiliated with a publisher and cautious, at best, from those affiliated with a publisher. The questions, concerns, and issues I see raised generally deal with how journals can remain profitable for the value they add and how researchers can receive due credit for their efforts.

But let’s set aside the questions of whether scientists and researchers should be required to share their data and articles or even if it’s a good idea that they do it.  I think an even larger issue here is whether or not our current crop of scientists and researchers has the data management skills necessary to make the research data usable to anyone but themselves and their immediate research group. Data management practices of researchers are not exactly stellar. Infrequent or nonexistent backups, inadequate metadata on variables and research background, and loose standards all contribute to a set of data that is basically useless to anyone not involved with the project from the beginning.

Do you think that the data generators know how to manage their data properly? What can be done to improve the situation? How can librarians help?

No, it’s pronounced “Fronkensteen.”

22/02/2012 § 11 Comments

I’m in my second term of library school. My experience so far is still mostly about foundations and required courses, learning the common language of the library, and coming to grips with core concepts and basic skills. I’ve had some theory, I’ve had some history, and I’m getting my first sense of current practices and conventions. These are all necessary and valuable things. These are crucial elements of my understanding of librarianship and my future role as a professional. This is what library school is for.

But sometimes, I just want more.

I mean, we’re library scientists, right? So where are our research facilities? Where are the experiments? Shouldn’t at least a few of us be library mad scientists? (I know some librarians who totally have the crazy eyebrows for it.) So who do I have to see to get my lab coat and my tesla coil?

This is the sort of eyebrow I mean.

The reality is that library school, as valuable as it is, is always going to be mostly about the past and the present, with at most wary/hopeful glances in the general direction of the future. That’s not criticism, it’s just the nature of the thing.  If we library students want to know more about what’s going on closer to the cutting edge, we’re just going to have to go look for it ourselves. And isn’t that what Hack Library School is all about?

Here are a few places to start:

Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory: 
This is the stuff, right here. This group of developers and librarians work under the auspices of the Harvard Law School as a sort of think tank for the avant garde of librarianship. And they’re doing incredibly cool stuff, from the very promising open-source ShelfLife collection navigator to their consistently great podcasts. This is where I go when I need a solid dose of experimental librarianship.

Harvard Library Lab:
Not to be confused with the above, this Library Lab is run by the Department of Scholarly Communication and is more concerned with supporting research projects in the library and information sciences. A few minutes spent poking around the current projects page always leaves me with new things to think about.

Library Test Kitchen:
Yep, these folks are at Harvard, too, this time a seminar being run out of the Graduate School of Design. The Test Kitchen looks at the future of the library from a perspective of space, use, and the experience of being in a library. Ethereal-sounding stuff, but it also has a lot to do with why many of us came to love the library in the first place.

I’m using InfoCamp as a representative for a whole array of similarly-structured (un)conferences around the country, because I just recently got to attend my first (which was, by the way, co-organized by Hack Library School’s own Turner Masland; Zack is pretty familiar with the concept as well.) InfoCamps are springing up all over the place, and that’s awesome, because they generate the sort of cross-pollination between information nerds that can ultimately lead to great things for all of us. At the one we just had here in Portland, I heard some talks that were exciting, some that were outside the normal library territory but really useful, and one I didn’t even begin to understand. But even getting a look into other ways of thinking about information was more enlightening and inspiring than I’d imagined it could be.

Library Boing Boing:
Hopefully most of us have heard about this one: the ALA is partnering with tech/culture uberblog BoingBoing to support, celebrate, and collaborate on all sorts of cool new library-type things. This one is still in the development phase, but isn’t that the best time to get involved?

The natural extension of hacking library school is to hack the library itself. Where do you go when you want something a little more futuristic than what your MLS program provides?

Why I Learned To Love the Command Line

20/02/2012 § 29 Comments

"Good Code," http://www.xkcd.com/844; if you get it, you're probably a programmer!

I’m sure you’ve all heard a million times by now that libraries are looking for young professionals with technology skills. And I’m sure you’ve all thought to yourself “But of course, I use technology all the time! I’m proficient in the Microsoft Office Suite, I conduct online research like a champ, I would medal in the social media Olympics!” And, of course, you’d be right. Libraries do need professionals that are intimate with and can teach software applications, are comfortable with online research both in databases and free web resources, and can smartly and strategically develop a social media plan. But I’m also increasingly sure that we need to up our game in order to stand out and better serve our patrons. I’m talking about the hard stuff, the stuff we were hoping we’d never have to think about because of our blessed IT departments, the stuff that puts us face-to-face with the command line: y’all, I’m talking about coding.

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