Summer Doing List

05/08/2013 § Leave a comment

We all love our summer reading lists, full of fun beach reading and those other books we didn’t have time to read during the school year. But in addition to the extra reading, I thought it might be fun to think up a summer doing list with some library-related activities when we have a little more free time.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my suggestions. Please add your own in the comments!

  1. Tour a local library. Many public and academic libraries have guided tours with interesting tidbits about the history of the library and building. Some corporate libraries also have public tours of their facilities.
  2. Get to know other library students. Spend some time getting to know classmates in your program. Try to find library students in different programs, too, so that you can get a different perspective on what kind of experiences people are getting in their programs. The HLS summer meetups encourage this type of networking. If you are interested in seeing a summer meetup near you and are interested in helping organize a meetup, let us know. (Remember also that our readers’ map is a great way to see if there are other HLS readers near you.)
  3. Attend an event at your local library. Many public libraries run all sorts of programs like outdoor movie nights, stargazing events (of the astronomical sort), story walks (stories laid out on a nature walk, usually geared towards children, but lots of fun for all), and various types of literary and cultural arts lectures. Academic libraries often have more research-based presentations during the summer, and many archives have smaller workshop presentations by visiting scholars using their collections. If there is an archival collection you are interested in, definitely check out any presentations that scholars may be giving as part of their research fellowships. Going to events also helps you put faces and names to the programs, and you get to know who is running what types of programs.
  4. Build a Little Free Library. One of the great things about projects like Little Free Library is that it really is about fostering a sense of community–in the act of building a library with neighbors and through the circulation of books in the little libraries. (I had the chance to work with fellow students in the Progressive Librarian Guild at St. Catherine University on building LFLs for campus.)
  5. Train your dog to be a literacy dog for libraries. Most certifications require basic obedience training first. The R.E.A.D. program for therapy animal training is the main program guiding most certifications.

See also these earlier posts:

What are you doing this summer?

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.

[Hack ALA] What to Bring to ALA and What to Do

26/06/2013 § 2 Comments

Are you ready for ALA Annual? Check out last year’s post on preparing for the conference, “Hack ALA: Professional Preparations.”

ALA exhibit hall

Photo of ALA exhibit hall (Washington, DC, 2007) by Elizabeth Thomsen.

For some extra advice, I asked some of my friends who have gone to ALA what attendees should bring and what they should do while at the conference. Here are their suggestions:

What to Bring

  • Business cards. If you don’t have any yet, make some quick ones on a printer with card stock!
  • Bring clothes that you can layer. Not only is Chicago summer weather fickle, but you will have to deal with variable conference center and hotel air conditioning systems.
  • Granola bars or other portable snacks. You will be booked solid (if you are doing things right) and may forget a meal here or there.
  • An empty water bottle. Stay hydrated!
  • Professional looking pen. (“No bics, man,” says my friend.)
  • Camera (sound settings off if possible for less obtrusive picture-taking).
  • Chargers for your phone, camera, tablet, computer, and other gadgets.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Blister creme.

What to Do

  • Make sure to schedule time to network (at more formal events as well as more informally over meals and drinks). Meeting people is as important as attending sessions.
  • If you know that you need time for yourself, make sure to also schedule some downtime away from people, especially if you have roommates.
  • Be ready to pick up swag (free stuff! books! pens! bags! random thing!) at the exhibits.
  • If someone invites you to an event or meal, go! Make lots of friends.

Thanks to Roger, Sarah, Bryan, Julia, and Stephanie for these suggestions!

Mapping Hack Library School

14/06/2013 § 2 Comments

Dear Hack Library School Readers,

We would like to visualize where HLS readers are in the world. To that end, we’ve created an open Google Map for collaborative pinning. Please add yourself to the map so that we can see where people live! You will need to be logged in to a Google account in order to pin yourself to the map. If you would prefer not to use your account, please use the dummy account we have created for this map (username: mappinghls, password: hacklibschool).

This map may also help us choose some other locations for HLS meetups like our summer DC meetups (check out the June meetups if you are in the area!). We hope it will also be useful for connecting you all with other library school students nearby.

Click on the link below the map to edit it. Step-by-step instructions and a video that walks through the steps are also available below.


Continue on for instructions on how to pin yourself to the map!

Praxis and the Perennial Conflict between Theory and Practice in Library Education

05/06/2013 § 7 Comments

prax·is \ˈprak-səs\ n. 1. the actual work of a profession (as opposed to the practice of it in training situations) 2. in social work, the concept of reflexive, integrated theory and practice 3. in education, the processes of reflective experiential learning or, following Paulo Freire’s work, the combination of reflection and action in the world that leads to transformations of oppressive conditions


Photograph from Pages and Pictures.

Does a dog need to read a book about being a dog? Does a librarian need to read a book about being a librarian? These questions may seem similar, but I suspect that most people have different answers to them. And yet, much of the conversation about library and information science (LIS) education seems to suggest that librarians do their work best simply through practice rather than reading and learning about librarianship.
More on praxis, Shulamith Firestone, and dogs…


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