Staying Current on Library World News

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_the_paper_retrieverWinston retrieved the Tulsa World every morning. Photo by S. Carter, 2004.

I’d love to hear from readers about two things:

  1. 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.)?
  2. 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.

ALA Student to Staff Program

24/06/2013 § 1 Comment

This weekend I’ll be travelling to Chicago and attending ALA Annual as part of the Student to Staff (S2S) program. S2S is an opportunity provided by ALA wherein individual student representatives from 40 of the ALA-accredited library schools are selected by their institutions and then sent to ALA Annual. S2S provides conference registration, hotel accommodations, and per diem for food and in exchange the student representatives work 4 hours a day (for a total of 16 hours over the conference) assisting an ALA sub-group. It’s a really great opportunity for students to go to ALA pretty cheaply, network within a library group, and participate in the largest library conference of the year!

You have to first apply at your school, through your student ALA chapter; then applications are forwarded to the ALA offices and the first 40 suitable candidates are chosen as participants. Here is a list of the 40 participants going this summer: S2S 2013.

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This is my first-ever library conference! Hopefully it won’t be too overwhelming… (Image source: ALA)

Here’s a brief look at parts of my schedule, to give you a taste of what ALA S2S entails:

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Start reading job ads now

24/05/2013 § 7 Comments

One piece of advice that multiple people gave me around the time I started library school is: it is never too early to start reading library job ads (especially if you’ve already started library school). Of course the library hiring process is not so lengthy that you need to start actually seeking jobs if you aren’t within a few months of graduation. Rather, looking at job ads is a great way to discover a lot of things about yourself, your library school, your career goals, the job market, and the field that you have entered. While it can sometimes be disheartening (because you’re still far away from graduation) or strangely inspiring (because of the totally amazing opportunities and positions that are waiting for you) or even confusing (why would I need to know how to do that), reading library job ads will almost always prove to be an enlightening and worthwhile use of your time.

Now's the time!

Now’s the time to start looking! Image Source

Here are some of the key reasons you should be reading library job ads now and how you can use them to shape your path:

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Questionable Promotion/Advocacy

24/04/2013 § 8 Comments

I recently received an ALA Store catalog in the mail and was happily flipping through the pages, considering whether or not I should order my own supply of Love My Library buttons, when I stumbled across this t-shirt:

Sold by ALA Store, design by Andy Woodworth (Image source: ALA Store)

Sold by ALA Store, design by Andy Woodworth (Image source: ALA Store)

It has pictures of endangered animals (a giant panda, a mountain gorilla, a black rhino) and then the library symbol, the point being that libraries are endangered. I’m sorry to say it but something about this t-shirt does not sit well with me. It rings a little alarmist and reminds me of the Huffington Post “Libraries in Crisis” page which Turner Masland covered in an excellent Hack Library School post called HuffPo: Helping or Hurting?.

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Presenting Your Best Self

20/03/2013 § 6 Comments

Library school is full of presentations. Whether it’s a short, informal talk or a long, detailed speech, I’ve had to give some kind of presentation for almost every library school class I’ve taken. Partly just a given in academia, frequent presentations will also be a reality for many of us in our future careers. LIS professionals are often expected to speak eloquently and concisely to everyone from peers to administrators to the general public.

Over the last few semesters, I feel as though I’ve learned so much more about presenting and presentation styles from my LIS peers and professors than I ever did in undergrad. Thus, I thought I’d share a little of their collective wisdom; some of these things seem fairly obvious, but many have changed the way I present myself and my information to others.

Must it always be a PowerPoint?
When planning a presentation, you always have to decide what, if any, visual aids you will use. “Presentation” has almost become synonymous with “PowerPoint,” but it doesn’t have to be! PowerPoint is a very useful tool, and it can be great for a lot of situations, but it shouldn’t be the only weapon in your arsenal. When you find yourself slipping into the same old PowerPoint layout, consider mixing it up with something more dynamic like Prezi.

Cut the amount of text in half; better yet, throw it out altogether
Crazy, right? Except it’s not. I recently had to help craft a group presentation for a marketing course. I was ready to plug away with some standard Title/Picture/3-5 Bullet Point slides. But one of my group members (who, it comes as no surprise, is already working in a management position at an academic library) insisted on minimal text. And when I say minimal, I mean very lean. We ended up only using images, a wee bit o’ text, and a lot of Smart Art (PowerPoint’s infographics):
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