Favorite Tech Tools – GradHacker Reports

12/10/2011 § 4 Comments

Alex Galarza

Zotero has become my favorite tech tool for three
reasons. I have had great success organizing my personal citations,
collaborating with my peers in coursework, and building group a group
library for my field. I use Zotero as a giant net to catch all of the
citations relevant to my courses and research. Every course has its
own folder with subfolders for the syllabus, seminar discussion, and
research paper citations. I have also used Zotero to organize my
dissertation research, which at this point consists mostly of archival

With a few fellow Zotero-using grads, I have also benefitted from
setting up a Zotero group library for directed readings. Without the
weekly presence of an instructor, the Zotero library has been a great
way to maintain some structure in sharing notes and reflections while
also allowing us to share readings in a digital format. Finally, I
have set up a group library for the Football Scholars Forum, an
organization I co-founded to discuss recent works in soccer
scholarship. Three semesters into the project, the Zotero library has
become an invaluable resource for sharing citations, syllabi, and
ideas for future sessions.

Andrea Zellner

I have a good long list of tech tools that make my
life better as a graduate student. But my most favorite are the ones
that make collaborating with others a breeze. For this there is no
easier to access that Google’s tools: Google Docs, Spreadsheets,
Forms, and Presentations. With these now integrating with Google+
Hangouts, collaboration is made much, much easier.

On Google Docs, I can now share with a few people via email or via a link. I can restrict access to view only, comment only, or full-edit. It is even easier with the sharing via a link feature for others to edit: they don’t even need an account with Google to open up the document and experience the full-functionality or editing or commenting. With the Google+Hangouts with Extras, up to ten people can be synchronously interacting in a multi-party video chat, and in the middle will be the Google document. All members can see the editing in real-time andd iscuss it. Finding common time to collaborate has never been easier.If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at Google’s suite of collaboration tools, it is worth a look again.
Katy Meyers

Like Andrea, I also have a long list of tech tools that
help me out on a daily basis, especially Google tools and Twitter. But
if I narrow it down to the tool which has helped me out the most in my
professional life it would be WordPress. WordPress is a open source
publishing tool, and is specifically tailored to blogging. It comes in
two forms, the dot org version, which is downloaded to a server and is
more flexible, and there is the dot com version which is hosted by
Wordpress and allows for more basic blogging. Both are easy to use for
basic posting, although much more can be done with it if you work with
the plug-ins and know HTML or CSS.

I work with WordPress every single day. I use it in my job, for one ofmy classes and for non-academic blogging. Most importantly, I use it as a personal website. One of the most important things in my discipline, archaeology, is staying on top of current news and journal articles. I began the blog as a way to force myself to stay up to date with journal articles by writing short posts summarizing them. Now that I’m doing an independent study in mortuary archaeology, putting them on my blog not only keeps me on task but means that I have to do good work. My WordPress is more than a blog, its also where I put my CV, contact information, and professional work. More than anything else, my blog and website has been a major boon to my professional development.

The Advisor/Advisee Relationship – GradHacker Edition

11/10/2011 § Leave a comment

This post is written by GradHacker writers and is part of our crossover week, check out Hack Library School’s advice about advisor/advisee relations on their blog here: GradHacker.

In graduate school, creating the perfect advisor/advisee relationship can be a daunting if not impossible task. Trent, Cory and Katy give their advice on navigating this relationship: find someone who you can work with, be proactive, and be explicit about what you want out of grad school.

Trent: The most important advice I could ever give anyone about advisors regards compatibility: If your relationship with your advisor is rocky, or you don’t feel you’re compatible, then you need to change advisors. You shouldn’t worry about ramifications if you change. If they are professional, then they’ll understand and encourage you to do so. A good advisor will have something academically in common with you, urge you to seek out classes you’re interested in, that pertain to you thesis or dissertation, and that will get you closer to graduating.

Cory: The advisor/advisee relationship can stressful, nurturing, or non-existent.  I think it is easy as grad students to forget that our own attitudes can often shape this relationship.  For example, when I started my Master’s program, my advisor was a Shakespearean scholar (I was researching post-colonialism!) who retired halfway through my program and who I met with only once.  My bad attitude about the seemingly poor match up really meant that I lost out on a year of advising with someone who could’ve pointed me in the right direction, helped me find resources, or just be a mentor (albeit with different research interests).

The relationship with your advisor is definitely a two-way street, and while we are incredibly busy, we need to keep in mind that our professors are as well.  Now, I try to be more proactive about talking with my advisor.  For me, it was also important to build a friendly rapport on a personal level–I need to know that my advisor is human.  This help me foster understanding so that when I’m stressed out about something in my personal life, I can also cut them slack when they’re behind on something because of a stressor in their personal life.

Again, it is important to gauge what kind of advisor you have while figuring out how you work best.  Sometimes you really don’t have a choice about your advisor if your field of specialization dictates whom you work with–make sure you find an outlet for a professor who you do connect with on various levels.  There are plenty of people in your department who will be able to mentor you unofficially if that personality type is what you need to keep on track.

Katy: Having a good relationship with your advisor is key to success not only in your department, but also in your future. As Cory noted, this is a two way street. Your advisor is there to guide you through the process of getting your graduate degree, so you need to be proactive in using them as a resource. However, they are not the sole source of knowledge and advice on pursuing your degree. You need to be clear with your advisor about what you want to study and the type of career you want in the end. To get the advice that will be most helpful you need to be explicit about your goals so that your advisor can help you out.

It’s also important to realize that your advisor may not have all the answers. It is beneficial in some cases to have a number of different mentors in addition to your advisor. Not all professors have the same knowledge about what the job market is like today, or how research is proceeding in certain areas. By expanding beyond the advice of a single advisor you are able to make more informed decisions. Advisors are not infallible, so it’s better to get advice from a diversity of sources. In the end it is your decision to make whether it pleases your advisor or not. You need to be explicit about what you want, strategic in choosing which advice to take and follow the path that is going to fit with your ambitions.

[Series] Library School Starter Kit – The First Term

15/08/2011 § 28 Comments

Below is a timeline that roughly follows my own experience in library school and what I have noticed other successful library students doing. Most of the activities are simple non-time intensive ways to help create opportunities to improve the quality of your library education.
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Hack Your Program: University of Iowa SLIS

08/07/2011 § 4 Comments

Note: like other posts in the Hack Your Program series, opinions expressed here are mine alone. I have grown so much and enjoyed myself thoroughly at SLIS, so the few items I offer as ‘areas for improvement’ should be viewed as constructive criticism and also understood through the lens of LIS education or the U of I as a whole: most of the things I talk about it that section are not specific to SLIS. I absolutely loved by time at SLIS and felt like it allowed me to really come into my own as a researcher and a student–I’d love to hear the thoughts of other SLIS students and alumni too, and I’m happy to share more information with folks who are considering applying!

Quick Overview: SLIS is located in the University library in Iowa City. Our department has 8 faculty members (all of whom I adore, btw) and small class sizes. The largest classes I encountered were the Foundations courses (more on that later) where the entire incoming cohort (~30 people I think is average) takes the courses together. Most of my classes had between 12 and 20 people, although some have slightly more or less. The MLS is a two-year program, although some students (like me) take longer.

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[Series] LIS Blogs to Follow

06/04/2011 § 13 Comments

Editor’s note: This is not your ‘typical’ LIS Blogs to Follow post – this is a list of non-LIS blogs to keep your eye on from Ben Lainhart and the HackLibSchool editing team. -Heidi

Ben Lainhart is graduating this June from Drexel with his MLIS with a concentration in digital libraries. His main areas of interest are in social media and digital libraries in developing countries (more here). He writes here and is on Twitter and Facebook.

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