The Undercover Library Student

16/11/2012 § 20 Comments

Your task is to develop a persona, and make up a research question that persona might ask.  It can be anything you want.  Once you have a question, take it to a reference desk at a library/archive/historical society of your choosing. Then write a paper about the experience.

Sound familiar? No, it’s not a rejected subplot from Skyfall.  It’s an assignment I’ve encountered in two different classes this fall, which is my first semester of library school.  And from talking with other LIS students, it seems like this is a common assignment regardless of your school.  It’s the “secret shopper” theory of observation at work.  An anthropologist might call it “extreme participant observation.”  The theory says you’ll learn more about something if you immerse yourself in it, giving no impression that you’re REALLY doing research.  That the other participant doesn’t know they’re part of an experiment should make their actions more truthful than if they knew they were being observed.

Are you SURE you’re not a library science major?

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Pinning for the Patrons

30/07/2012 § 5 Comments

Photo by Jude Doyland

A few months ago a co-worker introduced me to Pinterest with the disclaimer that I would waste massive amounts of time on the platform once engaged. And they were right. I’ve spent a great deal of time collecting recipes I’ll never cook, outfits I’ll never buy and ideas to repurpose an old door that I don’t have. While some may see it as a waste of time, I enjoy the time I spend on Pinterest and it has prepared me for one of my new library job tasks: managing my library’s presence on the site. Admittedly, I’m still perfecting our approach, but I do have some tips that I’d like to share. (Check out this Pinterest 101 if you need help with some of the jargon below). « Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons in Ethnography

18/04/2012 § 14 Comments

Pete Steele and family, Hamilton, Ohio. From the LOC Lomax Collection

This semester at the University of North Texas I am taking SLIS 5445, History and Culture of Youth Services. A good portion of the class has focused on ethnography and its application in youth services. I won’t pretend to be an expert on this type of study and fieldwork. However, I want to share some things I’ve learned about ethnography, how I find it to be a helpful framework for needs assessment and how it’s helped me further define my personal approach to library service.
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Beginner Status

30/08/2011 § 4 Comments

Greetings from New York,

This is my first official post as a new contributing writer for Hack Library School and I’m psyched to share a bit of my experience from the past week (08/20/11 to 08/27/11) both as a new library school student at Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and as a transplant to New York City. « Read the rest of this entry »

Hack Library School: Fall 2011 Kickoff!

24/08/2011 § 4 Comments

Back to School. New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

I don’t know about you, but for me New Year’s is just one more night of food and fun in the season.  The real new year starts in the fall, when classes begin.

If you’re starting or continuing your library school journey this autumn, you’ve had many years to perfect the rituals of the new school year.  Be it ensuring you have the perfect pens and Post-it notes, setting up your study nook, researching professors, or mapping out your plan to keep it totally paperless this semester, welcome to the Fall semester!  Here at Hack Library School, we’re excited for the coming months. « Read the rest of this entry »

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