03/02/2014 § 1 Comment
I used to love the first day of school! One of the things I remember about those “first days” was going over the class rules. As my classmates and I got older, and then headed off the college, the wording of the rules changed, but the message stayed pretty much the same: respect others, come to class, do the work (and make sure it’s your own work!).
Now we have guidelines on how to interact at ALA conferences and meetings. A few weeks before last month’s ALA Midwinter Meeting ‘14 in Philadelphia, the American Library Association presented a Statement of Appropriate Conduct at ALA Conferences. This Statement, from the ALA website, is below:
The American Library Association holds professional conferences and meetings to enable its members to receive continuing education, build professional networks, and discover new products and services for professional use. To provide all participants – members and other attendees, speakers, exhibitors, staff and volunteers – the opportunity to benefit from the event, the American Library Association is committed to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, physical appearance, ethnicity, religion or other group identity.
As an association, ALA is strongly committed to diversity, equity and the free expression of ideas. These values have been repeatedly delineated in ALA policy (for instance: Policy A.1.4 – Core Organizational Values; Policy B.1.1 – Core Values of Librarianship; Policy B.1.2 – Code of Professional Ethics). Taken cumulatively, the values and beliefs delineated within ALA policy describe conduct based on a firm belief in the value of civil discourse and the free exploration of competing ideas and concepts – with a fundamental respect for the rights, dignity and value of all persons.
Within the context of ALA policy and the professional practices of librarianship, critical examination of beliefs and viewpoints does not, by itself, constitute hostile conduct or harassment. Similarly, use of sexual imagery or language in the context of a professional discussion might not constitute hostile conduct or harassment.
ALA seeks to provide a conference environment in which diverse participants may learn, network and enjoy the company of colleagues in an environment of mutual human respect. We recognize a shared
responsibility to create and hold that environment for the benefit of all. Some behaviors are, therefore, specifically prohibited:
- Harassment or intimidation based on race, religion, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, appearance, or other group status.
- Sexual harassment or intimidation, including unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual), or unsolicited physical contact.
- Yelling at or threatening speakers (verbally or physically).
Speakers are asked to frame discussions as openly and inclusively as possible and to be aware of how language or images may be perceived by others. Participants may – and do – exercise their option to leave a session or a conversation. Exhibitors must follow all ALA Exhibits rules and regulations and ALA policies.
All participants are expected to observe these rules and behaviors in all conference venues, including online venues, and conference social events. Participants asked to stop a hostile or harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Conference participants seek to learn, network and have fun. Please do so responsibly and with respect for the right of others to do likewise.
Please contact Conference Services staff in the ALA Office at conference if you believe you have been harassed or that a harassment problem exists. All such reports will be directed immediately to the Director of Conference Services, who will determine and carry out the appropriate course of action, and who may consult with and engage other ALA staff, leaders and legal counsel as appropriate. Event security and/or local law enforcement may be involved, as appropriate based on the specific circumstances. A follow-up report will be made to individuals who report being harassed.
My first introduction to the Statement of Appropriate Conduct was through Andromeda Yelton’s post, “Why ALA Needs a Code of Conduct,” on Library Journal’s website. My first thought when I read the title was, “Hmmm, we still need rules?” I read on, though, and was surprised, sad, and embarrassed to learn that although I hadn’t been a victim, or knew of anyone who had been the recipient of unsavory behavior at ALA conferences, it had happened to others.
Not everyone has embraced the Code of Conduct with open arms, though. Dissenters have brought up issues like freedom of speech, intellectual freedom, and Big Brother. To learn more about the discussion, check out Lisa Rabey’s “roundup of responses to ALA’s code of conduct.” A sampling of blog posts on her list is below. To catch the active discussion on Twitter, search “ALA Code of Conduct,” or the hashtag #ALACoC.
So, what do you think? Is the ALA Code of Conduct a necessary thing, or is it unneeded or flawed?
18/06/2013 § 11 Comments
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Matthew Gunby.
Recently an editorial was published in Library Journal titled “Can We Talk About the MLS?” As a recent graduate from Syracuse University, I wanted to reflect upon my education in an honest manner. On one hand, I have had some of the greatest experiences of my life while at Syracuse, but on the other hand I have been searching unsuccessfully for a job for over five months. I think the mistake of this article is that it assumes a zero sum game, as do many who have responded to it: either an MLIS is valuable or it is not.
If these are the options then I absolutely believe it has value, but at what cost? I recognize that the costs of a degree vary extensively from institution to institution, and while I know Syracuse ranks fairly high in its cost, it is sufficient to say that its cost is generally on the same per credit cost scale as degrees that generally lead to jobs that pay far more. It may ultimately also cost the same as a humanities focused degree that may lead to far less. The point is not that our degree is uniquely overpriced, but instead that it is a relevant question to ask if we should be paying so much.
19/10/2012 § 14 Comments
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Katie Clausen.In one of my courses we are analyzing ALA’s “Core Values of Librarianship.” We take on one core value every week, reading articles and discussing how these values define us as librarians. It is important to understand the policy that makes the foundation of our profession, even though it can be….well, boring. But if we take the principles and apply them to our everyday lives and jobs, it is easy to see why we need these standards. They are, as the ALA states, “the foundation of modern librarianship.”
Last week, we tackled Professionalism, and it was quite the dialogue.
First of all, The American Library Association’s core value of professionalism states that the ALA “supports the provision of library services by professionally qualified personnel who have been educated in graduate programs within institutions of higher education. It is of vital importance that there be professional education available to meet the social needs and goals of library services.”
Let’s break it down. What does professionalism mean? Why do we need it?
27/03/2012 § 26 Comments
Photo credit: Lifehackery
A few weeks ago, I signed up to attend McGill’s School of Information Studies’ annual career fair, which was held last week. Over thirty employers were going to be present from all over Quebec and Ontario. As the fair approached, the organizers began to send e-mails about how the attendees could prepare. One e-mail included the following:
“Last year we did get complaints from employers about some students who were not dressed appropriately. We hope that this will not be the case this year. Please, no ripped jeans, graphic t-shirts, hoodies, etc.”
Perhaps my shocked reaction to reading this demonstrates my conservative side. I am still getting accustomed to being back in Canada again after four years of living in South Korea, a far more formal culture where ripped jeans are still only barely considered acceptable street wear, never mind career fair attire. Nonetheless, at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeonly old grandmother, I feel strongly that those who wore street clothing to the fair missed a crucial opportunity to make a strong first impression on potential employers.
As my previous boss used to say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
After many years of a student life and a student budget, the idea of dressing up for potential employers is a bit daunting. Business suits are expensive, and if you don’t wear them regularly they can make you feel awkward and fake, like you’re trying to be someone you’re not. But you’ve just spent one or two years in library school building up your professional experience and credentials. Don’t undermine all your hard work by wearing inappropriate clothing to an interview!
Unfortunately, I did exactly that. A few years ago, when I was about to graduate from my undergraduate degree, I applied for an administrative assistant position and was granted an interview. Figuring that because I was still a student I would not be expected to dress up, I went dressed in a casual summer skirt and sandals. When I got there, I was horrified to discover that every single other candidate there was dressed in a business suit. As you might expect, I did not get the job. I learned my lesson. The next time I had an interview, I wore a tailored suit and new shoes. It was an uncomfortable drain on my budget, but it got me my first professional job. Proper attire is an important investment in your employment future. Even though I have zero interest in working in a corporate environment (I hope to become a school librarian), I found that wearing suits helped me to develop my professional identity and gave me a sense of confidence when I was a first year teacher.
Dressing well in any situation where you might encounter potential employers not only conveys that you respect them, but also that you take yourself seriously as a professional. Additionally, it is a very easy way to give yourself an edge over others competing for the same job (just like writing thank you notes after a job interview, a professional courtesy that shows you to be polite and considerate).
So, whether you’re looking for your first professional job or a summer gig, dress as professionally as you can. Here are some tips:
1. Invest in a quality suit in a conservative colour that fits you properly. Get it dry-cleaned several days before your interview. If you choose to wear a skirt, look at yourself in the mirror while sitting down to make sure nobody gets an accidental glimpse of something they shouldn’t!
2. Wear clean, polished shoes. Ladies, go with flats or low heels, and make sure that you can walk comfortably in them. Also, pantyhose. I hate them too, but they’re an unfortunate necessity.
3. When you choose a shirt to wear under your suit, select a solid colour (no patterns) and make sure that it is pressed.
4. Go with a conservative hairstyle, jewellery, and makeup. Ensure that your hair is out of your face. (There is some debate about visible tattoos and facial piercings; personally I think that depends on the organizational culture of the workplace that’s interviewing you. If you’re not sure, call ahead and ask the administrative assistant what he or she would suggest.)
5. If you need a briefcase, take one. If you don’t, leave it. Also leave any bulky bags or purses at home. You want to convey an aura of organization and efficiency.
6. If you’d wear your outfit to a nightclub or a pub, it’s not job interview attire.
7. Be comfortable! When I went to the career fair last week, I saw that my classmates had all followed the advice of the e-mail and were professionally dressed. However, it was clear that some of them were extremely ill at ease in their formal attire. Employers will be able to pick up on your discomfort. So if you’re not used to business suits, wear one to class or the library or the coffee shop until you start to feel more comfortable. (I like to wear my suits while I write cover letters!) Sign up for a mock interview at your university’s career centre and wear it to the interview. Soon it won’t be so uncomfortable.
Once you actually start working, of course, take the organizational culture of your new workplace into account. After I wore a full business suit to a job interview for a part time student job at a local public library, my new employers laughingly told me that suits wouldn’t be necessary on the job. These days, I wear business casual clothing to work, but I’m still extremely glad that I wore a suit on the day of the interview!
I’d like to hear from you. What is your favourite professional attire? What professional attire do you hate? Do you have any stories about clothing that got you (or didn’t get you) the job you wanted most? I look forward to hearing your stories and comments!
26/03/2012 § 13 Comments
A few weeks ago, Rory Litwin posted a bit of a treatise on professionalism in librarianship on the Library Juice Press blog. He addresses several trends he notices in the deprofessionalization of librarianship, and though the blogosphere was only one point of many, that’s the issue that got the most attention. Because I just can’t let sleeping dogs lie, I, too, want to chime in on the role of blogs in creating a professional community.