The Scariest Things We’ve Done In Library School

17/03/2014 § 5 Comments

When I was a freshly-declared English major, just beginning to flex my college reading and writing muscles, one of my professors told me something that has stuck with me ever since: “If you feel like you’re out on the tightrope and it’s swinging, that’s good. That’s where life is.”

As I recall, she meant that specifically in relation to making strong arguments and taking intellectual risks; if you feel like what you’re saying is risky, that’s good because it means you’re really making an argument. But I think we can jump easily from writing guidance to life advice (and my professor did so often). When you step out onto uncertain ground—take a risk, that is—you open to growth and new experiences. If it feels scary, good, you’re doing something important and it’s called living.

I’ve felt like I was “out on the tightrope” many times during library school and, as uncomfortable as it is, I’ve tried to embrace the feeling. Instead of letting fear cripple me, I try to use it as a motivator to find some extra courage within myself and continue on whatever nerve-wracking track I’m currently on.

Sharing the things that scare us, while adding some initial vulnerability, can be motivating and empowering. And so, some fellow hackers and I would like to share the scariest things we’ve done in library school and what we learned from the process.

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Top 8 Reasons to go to an International Library Conference

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!

Conferencing!

Conferencing!

Here are some observations, gleaned from my BOBCATSSS experiences, on why you should consider international conferencing: 

  1. 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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Hack Your First Professional Conference

03/02/2014 § 9 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.

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Poster Sessions – A Beginner’s Guide

02/12/2013 § 9 Comments

I tried to make my poster for the SAA 2013 meeting as unique as possible!

I tried to make my poster for the SAA 2013 meeting as unique as possible!

It’s hard to believe, but the end of the fall semester is a good time to start thinking about next summer’s professional conferences.  Though June, July and August might seem like ages away, many conferences use January as their deadline for submissions from students.  So today is as good a time as any to talk about a type of submission that can seem foreign to a lot of library students- the poster session. Let’s dive in!

What is a poster session?

At conferences, poster sessions are an opportunity for students and/or established professionals to present their work in an informal context.  It’s a great way to dip your toe into the conference presentation waters.  Unlike a traditional session, all of the posters are set up at once, and each presenter is expected to stand with their poster for the entirety of the session (typically an hour or two) to answer questions from passers-by.  The advantage of this format is that it can be a lot less intimidating to be a part of than a panel or paper presentation.  Also, at most conferences more posters are accepted than papers, especially from students.

Where do I start?

If you keep an eye on your listservs, or check the website of a particular organization you’re interested in, you will notice a lot of calls for posters.  Here are a couple of examples- one from ALA and the other from the Society of American Archivists.  The timing might vary- you could have six months or six weeks.  But you know how these things go- you’re most likely to find out about the deadline a week or so before it’s due. DON’T WORRY. One of the secrets of conference presenting is that you typically only need an abstract of around 250 words at this stage in the game. So now it’s time to set your idea down on paper.

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Your Very First Library Student Business Cards

26/07/2013 § 9 Comments

At the beginning of this summer I was faced with a pretty lengthy list of long-range-to-do’s, one of which was “business cards(?)” (yes, I put question marks on my to-do lists…). After seeing business cards encouraged in many Hack Library School posts, and after realizing I’d probably want some for ALA, I decided it was time. But then I was faced with a myriad of options, questions, and debates. What should I include? Should I put my phone number or just my email? Should I mention that I’m still a student or just put something dorky like “aspiring information professional?” Here are some of the many factors that I considered; hopefully they’ll give you all some things to think about as you craft your own business cards.

If you’re not afraid to get a little cutesy, might I suggest these lovely library-card-inspired business cards by Tower of Babel.

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