What is there to argue about in library science? Well, how about everything…

18/03/2011 § 34 Comments

Jeremy Bold is currently a full-time graduate student pursuing degrees in European Studies at New York University and Library and Information Science at Long Island University and residing in Brooklyn, NY.  After graduating in May, he expects to be at least a part time-employed librarian and a full time-obsessed writer living somewhere in the United States.  He is an avid (albeit unpaid) reader, writer, photographer and, if it really means anything, philosopher as well. You can find him writing at The Socratic Librarian (an experiment in applying philosophical examination to the life of librarians, librarianship and a bit of the information professions more generally) and The Blank Rectangle (A blog about the most forgotten/ignored state in the US — North Dakota — where Jeremy is originally from). « Read the rest of this entry »

Popular Misconceptions

17/03/2011 § 17 Comments

Welcome Geoff Johnson to the HackLibSchool blog. Geoff (on Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn) is a proto-librarian interested in academic librarianship and special libraries – especially news libraries* – attending the Simmons College GSLIS and living in Boston. He’ll finish up his coursework in May.

*But really, more than anything, he’s interested in being flexible, versatile, and employed.

When I was headed home this last December, waiting for a flight at a Logan airport bar, the awkward waiting-at-an-airport-bar conversation with a fellow traveller turned to careers. He said he was chipping away at an MBA at a small Boston-area school. When I told him I was going to library school, he said, “So I guess you really love books.” When it came to bear that my partner came to Boston to be a painter, he added that our apartment must be really quiet all the time: “You’re always readin’ and she’s always paintin’!” he said.

I thought about lecturing (“You know, in the 21st century, librarianship is about a lot more than books…” or “While I do love books, they only represent a small portion of what my job will be. In fact…”). But I didn’t. I smiled and nodded. “Yep, it is pretty quiet,” I said. I paid for my amber ale and went to the gate. It got me thinking, though. My brain filed this encounter in with a few other situations, including one in which my friend’s father asked, “So, what, do you learn to check out books to people [in library school]?” and an ongoing joke with my dad that I’m spending two years and $40,000 learning the Dewey Decimal System.

The fact that the guy at the bar and my friend’s dad assume, through their jokes, that I love books because I’m becoming a librarian is not a problem in and of itself. I do love books. That was one way I rationalized library school myself (“Well, I do love books…”). Here’s the thing, though: I can’t speak to the experiences other people have at other libraries, but I spend much less than half my time working at the reference desk at the Simmons library and at my internship at the Monitor dealing with actual books. So if a love of books was my only reason for remaining in the field, then I wouldn’t be all that satisfied — but I am.

So the problem, actually, is that people don’t know that librarianship extends beyond books.

What I’ve heard, from my first semester on, is that it’s up to librarians to demonstrate their value within their organization. People forget or they just don’t know. Whether it’s my boss reminding her boss each hear all the things the news library does for the website and magazine, or a public library reminding its community about return on investment during times of high unemployment. Discussion of misconceptions usually occurs in class or at a conference (the common element between these two being that it’s a room full of librarians or future librarians discussing it), and it starts with a joke about stereotypes (it’s usually about shooshing people, and it’s usually pretty funny), and it ends with agreement that “Hey, we all know we’re much more dynamic than the stereotypes…” and everyone leaves feeling energized, but I’m not sure how often it involves discussion of action outside the company of other librarians.

I know I need to find a way that I’m comfortable with to have that conversation with people, and recently, I’ve been asking librarians and proto-librarians alike how they have that kind of conversation with people, and I’d be very interested to hear about how hacklibschool people and readers do this.

The Perils/Possibilities of attending Library School Online

08/03/2011 § 21 Comments

Justin de la Cruz is in his first trimester of library studies at Florida State University. His professional interests include academic libraries, digital libraries, and emerging technologies. His personal interests include music (listening, writing, performing, recording), internet culture (trends, memes, single-serving sites), and comedy. You can read more on his website. 

There’s an old adage that you only get as much out of something as you put into it. But what happens when you end up in a class that you really don’t need? Or one that doesn’t hold your attention? Despite my undergraduate experience in a psychology research lab, this semester I chose to take a basic research methods course designed to teach those without a social science background the fundamentals of researching in the field of library studies.

When I found myself in my first few class sessions being introduced to terms like “independent variable” and “causality” — subjects I’d been exposed to a number of times before — I at first let my mind wander, and then eventually took advantage of the online course format by opening up some internet browser tabs. I started checking social media for links to interesting websites, articles, or news bits. I surfed the net, listened to music, played some guitar, and checked into class from time to time to add a brief comment — to pretend like I was there. Only later did I realize that I could be better utilizing my time.

If you should ever find yourself ahead of the curve in one of your classes, try to reign in your goofing off and block out your class time for something that will help with your professional development. Consider:

  • Schoolwork — Check out your upcoming reading or writing assignments for your class and see if there are any you can do while class is being conducted. You’ll have the added benefit of having your instructor and classmates there if you have any questions.
  • Local Networking — If you’re ahead of the curve, chances are that some of your classmates are too. It might be hard to figure out who, but try reaching out to your classmates outside of class to see if you can form a discussion group that can serve as a supplement to the class. You might be able to get into more complex issues that will hold your attention, and you’ll gain some peers in the profession.
  • Global Networking — If you’re going to mess around on the internet, at least make it relevant. Library studies programs exist to lay out the foundations of the field — self-study and internships are how students begin to develop into professionals with specialities. So read an interesting library science-type blog like ProfHacker; write your own library-related blog post; find and learn how to use an interesting computer tool like Plixr’s Editor or Dropbox; or search out new professional contacts on Twitter or Facebook.

You may feel that since you know the material you’ve earned the time off from class. It’s certainly okay to take a break when you feel that you need it, but remember that when you signed up for this class, you mentally blocked out certain times to devote to studying. Don’t lose all that time that you pledged to yourself.

Volunteering in LIS – not what you expect

03/03/2011 § 29 Comments

Please welcome another guest, Katie Westlake!

Katie is a first-year MLIS candidate in the University of Washington’s online degree program. Her future interests currently lie in library administration and/or international librarianship, but she’s staying open to the possibility of being seduced by other areas of study. She writes about everything from library science to dinosaurs in her blog, and has just rejoined the Twitterverse @katie_westlake.

Here’s her take on volunteering in LIS — Why it won’t be what you expect, and why you should do it anyway. « Read the rest of this entry »

Language in the Stacks

24/02/2011 § 8 Comments

Welcome and thank you to another guest blogger, Zachary Frazier.

Zachary Frazier is in his second term with the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information. His focus is Academic Libraries. He’s originally from Seattle and now lives in Columbia, SC. Don’t tell the King County Library System where he is. He still owes them some money for a Ted Nugent CD he checked out as a teenager. He’s on Twitter as @wildbookchase and blogs here.

This is a response to Heidi’s earlier post, The Name Game. As always, we welcome your perspective in the comments and in future post ideas! « Read the rest of this entry »

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