Collaboration and the Library World

06/05/2013 § 2 Comments

I recently went to my first conference for librarians, the Minnesota Library Association’s annual ARLD Day, and I greatly enjoyed hearing from librarians and interacting with some of my library school peers in that environment. In the keynote presentation, Jenica Rogers provided a wonderful reminder that librarians should stop accepting what people offer as the terms of foundational work relationships (with vendors, legislators, what have you). More importantly, she encouraged librarians to stop thinking of ourselves as helpless against the people we collaborate with in making libraries work. I look forward to attending many more conferences, unconferences, and other gatherings of librarians to learn and partake of the energy that circulates in such spaces and the validation of our shared values.

This conference reminded me of something that I think is crucial to a solid LIS education. As much as we worry over the specific content of an LIS education, librarians-in-training must constantly remember to reach out to people in other fields, whether they are faculty in academic disciplines (for academic librarians), vendors of information materials, information technology specialists in their institution, social services agencies in the community (for public librarians), or teachers in schools (for both school media specialists and public librarians). We must learn how to work with others with different skills and training, and we must learn how to think about our work not just as supplementary to other people’s work but as complementary and mutually beneficial.

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[Series] So What Do You Do? Transportation Research Center Library Internship

22/01/2013 § 4 Comments

Road surfacing

Bergkamp M1 micro surfacing paver and mobile support unit

This post is part of a new series called “So What Do You Do?” in which LIS students talk about their experiences as interns. We want to showcase the wide range of things people are doing in the world of library and information science.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Paul Lai, and I am a second-year library science student with interests in scholarly communications and academic libraries. I applied for this internship at a transportation research center because I am interested in working as a librarian in a university research center or as an embedded librarian in another academic context. I have also previously interned at a small academic library doing general reference and circulation work as well as at a large public library’s preservation department helping research availability of older books and creating polyester sleeves for early twentieth-century American sheet music.

So what do you do?

I am the library intern at the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) at the University of Minnesota. CTS is an active research center that manages faculty and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) research projects. CTS publishes technical reports for this research along with other transportation-related materials for both the research and practitioner communities. I work primarily with the publications team to make materials available and findable online as well as with ready reference questions and more in-depth literature search help. The center does not have a physical library space (aside from a couple of bookcases at the end of a hallway), but it does have an extensive list of resources on its Library Services page.
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Rethinking Leadership in Librarianship

03/12/2012 § 10 Comments

Last fall, the Occupy Wall Street movement captured the attention of people across the nation, and amongst librarians, one particular image made the rounds, inciting chuckles as well as knowing nods. (See also two HLS posts from last fall: HackLibSchool on Occupy Wall St: How Do Libraries Fit In? and HackLibSchool on Occupy Wall St: Part II.)

marching librarian sign

Photo credit: Marion Siegel


You know things are messed up when librarians start marching.

The sign is humorous but also somewhat misleading because it suggests that librarians are generally complacent and lacking in activist or leadership qualities. The sign gets at the perennial issue of combatting stereotypes about librarians, but for this post, I want to go in a different direction…

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Tech Tools for LIS Students {Starter Kit}

27/09/2012 § 13 Comments

My MLIS program has a strong commitment to encouraging students to use various online and computer-based presentation/communication tools in class projects. We use a number of different programs in addition to the course management system on campus (Desire2Learn, which is like Blackboard and Moodle). This immersion in the wide range of tech tools allows us to build our toolkits for future use and to familiarize us with the constant learning necessary for keeping up-to-date on technology. While sometimes suggest particular programs to use, a lot of the time, students share with each other the various tools they’ve found. As a result, I’ve been fortunate to hear about a lot of free, online programs to use for various reasons. I’d like to share these tools and encourage others to post in the comments about other cool tools they’ve used or heard about! I’d also love to hear how you’ve used more familiar tools in interesting ways for class projects or library-related tasks.

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Happy Labor Day!

03/09/2012 § Leave a comment

Because the master’s degree puts “professional librarians” in a different classification than paraprofessional librarians, those of us in library school may not give much thought to unions or to how unions might shape the workplaces we hope to enter.

McNet Libraries marches in Labor Day 2004 parade

McNet Libraries participated in the 2004 Labor Day Parade in Paducah, KY. McNet is a consortium of libraries organzied to provide the residents of McCracken County equal access to the highest quality of information possible.

Not all libraries are unionized, but a number of public libraries work with AFSCME, the public sector workers union, and individual libraries have unions affiliated with a range of other unions. The American Libraries Association has an allied organization that deals with issues of library workers’ rights and workplace equity: ALA-Allied Professional Association.

Whether you are spending this unofficial last day of summer at work, hanging out with family and friends over a picnic, squeezing in a last vacation for the season, or celebrating the American worker at a parade, I hope everyone can take a moment to remember the history of the Labor Day holiday and appreciate what we are celebrating.

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