“Going Old School” Part 1: Taking a Cataloging and Classification Course

01/04/2014 § 10 Comments

Cataloging Post

B/W Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

We all hear it nowadays. The LIS profession is becoming more and more tech-centric, therefore, curricula and resources have become more devoted to the evolving digital information age. Courses are being offered in networking administration, web design, and digital libraries and even mobile application development. Library students are conquering digital technology and harnessing some amazing skills, like learning to code. They’re also having to consider whether to jump wholeheartedly on the digital band wagon or be left behind in the prehistoric age of card catalogs and dusty book jackets.

But wait! Hold steady for just a moment before taking the dive. Think twice before completely avoiding library courses that have been fundamental to the library profession.

In Part 1 of the series, “Going Old School”, we invite you to take a moment and weigh the benefits of signing up for one of two well-known library courses: Cataloging and Classification*. Part 2 of this series will discuss the considerations of signing up for an Indexing and Abstracting class (available later this month).

For some of us these courses are still mandatory, for others, they are electives in the LIS curriculum. If it’s not a requirement and you’re debating whether or not to invest the time and money to take this course, consider the following before overlooking that Cataloging and Classification class being offered next semester…

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Becoming a Solo Librarian: Challenges and Opportunities

27/03/2014 § 13 Comments

My mentor recently forwarded me a thrilling job ad for a solo librarian at the Charles Darwin Research Station, located in Ecuador’s beautiful  Galápagos Islands. As the only professional librarian present, the successful candidate would get to do digital curation, cataloging, collection development, reference, budget planning, staff management, and ILS and building maintenance. You would be the librarian! This job ad got me thinking about solo librarianship: both the challenges and the amazing opportunities this work presents.

Where would I work?

Solo librarians work in diverse settings, but always alone or with a few student or paraprofessional assistants. In academia, solo librarians may work in small private colleges, satellite campuses, community colleges, or special libraries that get little foot traffic or receive Lilliputian budgets. For many of these institutions of higher education (particularly private for-profit colleges), the library may exist primarily for accreditation purposes, so administration’s low expectations can afford the librarian a lot of flexibility and time for research and professional development. In public libraries, a solo librarian generally manages either a library branch or the only library in a small township or rural district, requiring a lot of responsibility and hard work but conferring an amazing degree of self-direction and autonomy. Volunteers notwithstanding, school media specialists commonly work solo too.

What would I do?

You would get to do everything! Solo librarians might check out and shelve materials, develop and weed the collection, catalog and digitize materials, provide reference and reader’s advisory services, teach information literacy classes, write budgets and grants, hire and supervise staff, negotiate with vendors and administrators, collaborate across departments and institutions, and lead their libraries into the future. The self-direction and flexibility you would enjoy, coupled with the well-rounded skill sets you would develop, could be so worth the hard work and steep learning curve often involved in solo librarianship.

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Professional Book Review

26/03/2014 § 8 Comments

Editor’s Note: In need of inspiration? You are in luck! Hack Library School plans to bring back reviews to the blog – on books, technology, and other resources in the LIS field - and will even consider guest reviews! You can check out previous books reviews on the blog here.

By now you’ve probably noticed that here at Hack Library School we are really big on a little thing called professional involvement. Just recently, we’ve covered professional organizations, conferences, committee work, and more. It’s an excellent way to develop important skills, learn about issues and conversations in the field, meet people, and demonstrate to prospective employers that you’re proactive and engaged. Book reviews are one important (and fun) avenue of professional involvement that many students aren’t aware of. HLS alumna Annie Pho first suggested book reviewing to me, and I’m so glad she did. Now that I have a few reviews under my belt, I’m here to pass it on!

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Cheap Skate or Pioneering Information Professional?

21/03/2014 § 1 Comment

I’m not going to say that my graduate student budget forced me into the world of open source software, but it certainly didn’t hurt.  There was a time when “open source” was synonymous with “free of charge”, but with the proliferation of mobile technologies and free apps, the lines between for-profit and not-for-profit software are now blurred.  Therefore the distinction must be made that open source software contains a license, which allows the user to modify the code and to freely distribute the software to anyone, for any purpose.  As a result, this software is often community developed, and widely distributed.

So why should you invest your precious time in learning how to use these free alternatives?  Let me consult a recognizable mantra.  Some of the triumphs of open source software come right out of ALA’s mission statement: “Equitable Access to Information, Intellectual Freedom, Education and Lifelong Learning”.  There can be obstacles to early adoption, primarily the learning curve, but grad school is the ideal time to conquer these technological challenges.  Here are some open source software examples I have adopted in my pursuit of information literacy.

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Hack your Enthusiasm: Boosting Motivation When Torpor Hits

20/03/2014 § 4 Comments

Library school is great.  After a standard Bachelor of Arts and a few years in the workforce I’m finally making progress towards my career goals, and it’s refreshing to be in classes that I chose myself and will impact my career in real and direct ways.  On most days I approach my classwork are enthusiasm, interest, and excitement.

But there are days that this is not the case. I absolutely want to be a librarian; but sometimes being a student all over again saps my will, and even the best classes have units that are critical and practical but not inspiring or engaging.  There are days when a Netflix marathon and a craft beer or two are far more enticing than 50 pages of theory-heavy reading in 10-point font. I’m sure many of you have days just like this. Lethargy: it happens. But unless you want to give up your librarian (or archivist) dreams you’ve got to figure out a way to overcome this torpor and get your positive momentum back.

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