Tuesday, November 17, 2015

So you are thinking about a job...

Many of you are starting to think about jobs in library and information science. Others are considering jobs in information science and associated fields. It's really important to build a network of colleagues and mentors who can help you find a position, write letters of recommendation, and introduce you to others.
  • Build a network. Think about your social media persona. Lock down your Facebook page and flesh out LinkedIn. Build a positive, work oriented social media presence on all social media sites. 
  • Look at job ads. What skills are prospective employers looking for? What skills can you emphasize? What do you need to learn?
  • Get some practical, hands-on experience at a cultural institution. Build a positive working relationship with your colleagues and supervisors. Think about this position as an entry into the profession. 
  • Brush up your writing skills. Write reviews, memos, letters, articles. Polish your spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and writing skills. 
  • Read widely. Read the newspaper or news feeds. Read reviews of current fiction, non-fiction, literature, current events. Read a few books. Haunt the bookstores looking at flyleaves and blurbs.
See what types of jobs are available through LAC Group https://lac-group.com/ and sign up for their blog.
​Follow HLS (Hack Library School) http://www.hacklibraryschool.com to see what other students on the east coast are talking about in terms of jobs and careers.

Attend local meetings for Georgia archivists, librarians, paraprofessionals, special librarians. See if there's a local or regional ASIS&T or SLA group. Attend their meetings. Talk about your job, your career, and ask them about jobs and career advice.
Schedule some informational interviews asking other professionals for their advice.

Librarianship is all about networking. Talk to people and see what's out there. Don't be afraid to look outside traditional librarianship for jobs.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Blogs for LIS students and professionals

As I start to think about the Fall semester (2015), I wonder how to introduce my Foundations of LIS students to the profession. What words of wisdom can I share and how will they learn about the amazing world of Libraries, Archives, Museums, Historical Societies and more? 

I've come to realize that not only is it impossible for me to stay current, but that what I understand and know is radically different from what my students need to know. To that end, I've started following some amazing blogs that provide insight into what LIS students are learning and struggling with, or what they need to know when they graduate. 

My favorite blog, hands down, is Hack Library School HLS http://hacklibraryschool.com/.
This blog is written by a cadre of students in various LIS / IS programs. They describe what they are learning in the classroom, online, in practicum and internship programs, and in real life. As a professor and a long-time librarian, a very analog librarian, I learn a lot from the students who take the time to write something every day. Today, I was reminded that LIS students need a combination of theory and practice. http://hacklibraryschool.com/2015/08/10/theory-matters-constructing-a-personal-philosophy-of-librarianship/ It should be balance. Not all one or the other. As a practicing librarian, researcher, and historian, I know that LIS students have to know how to do research, answer questions at a reference desk, parse questions, and search the web. They also need to know how catalogs and databases work. Do we all have to know how the bits and bytes move from place to place? No, but a basic idea is good. Do we all need to know every MARC tag or how the catalogs communicate with one another using Z39 standards? Again, No! but we do need to have a basic idea about connectivity, interoperability, and, yes, discoverability. The rest, the really techy stuff, I'll leave to my students.

The other blog I read regularly is the LAC Group Blog http://lac-group.com/ A recent posting included advice for Job Seekers. http://lac-group.com/blog/2015/05/14/lac-group-publishes-advice-for-job-seekers/
If you are looking for a job, what skills do you need? This head-hunting group will fill you in.

There are other blogs of interest? You bet. I'll find some more and post them here. In the meantime, explore these blogs and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Librarians Know a little about everything

NPR's article "Before The Internet, Librarians Would 'Answer Everything' — And Still Do" (Dec 28, 2014):  http://www.npr.org/2014/12/28/373268931/before-the-internet-librarians-would-answer-everything-and-still-do  is definitely true. As librarians, you need to stay intellectually active, learn new things all the time, and be open to new experiences.

After listening to NPR's interview, do you think that the mantra is true?
What did you learn today?

Monday, September 22, 2014

In Praise of Slow Reading

In our efforts to absorb information as quickly as it comes at us, we tend to skim, skip, glance, and peruse articles and books rather than sit and read them. All our gadgets, facebook pages, news feeds and twitter feeds do is provide snippets of information, tantalizing bits of news and current events. In the end, we know a little bit about everything. "Wait" you say, "that's what librarians do, they know a little about everything. What's so bad about all the skimming and quick reads?" Well, I must confess I too dip and skim, but that's not reading, it's not absorbing information, facts, and provides no time for wrestling with the essence of an article. You must slow down and read deeply.

There are two terms used somewhat interchangeably "Slow Reading" and "Deep Reading". They refer to the concept of taking your time, reading and thinking about what is in front of you. Slow and deep reading provides time to absorb and analyze the information, to hear the words within your head and contemplate upon their meanings. Slow reading means ruminating, fixating, and often re-reading again and again until you 'get it' and actually learn what you are studying. Here's a nice definition of the deep reading http://grammar.about.com/od/d/g/Deep-Reading.htm Scroll below the definition for some quotes in context.

Jeanne Whalen's article "Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress: At Least 30 Minutes of Uninterrupted Reading With a Book or E-Book Helps." Wall Street Journal  (Sept 16, 2014): http://online.wsj.com/articles/read-slowly-to-benefit-your-brain-and-cut-stress-1410823086 promotes reading without distraction for long periods of time. There are some tests and quizzes to determine the speed at which you read and absorb information. Try them out. See how well you do. 

In terms of school, you need to read in uninterrupted chunks of time, in a non-distracting place. Not in front of the TV or computer screen, unless of course you are reading on that screen. Read without the distraction of facebook, e-mail, and phone. Take your time. Think about the concepts you are learning, test the ideas and techniques against what you already know, apply the techniques to the exercises and subjects you are studying. 

Slow and deep reading is important for absorbing what you read and for enhancing your long term memory. Try it and let me know what you think.


Here are some other articles that talk about deep or slow reading:

Coleman, John. "For Those Who Want to Lead, Read"
Harvard Business Review (Aug 15, 2012): http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/08/for-those-who-want-to-lead-rea/ 

"Defining "Deep Reading" and "Text-Dependent Questions" Turn On Your Brain blog (March 29, 2012): http://turnonyourbrain.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/defining-deep-reading-and-text-dependent-questions/ This article has a nice video about the subject.

Carr, Nicholas. "The Death of Deep Reading." BigThink  (April 20, 2013): http://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/the-death-of-deep-reading

"Why Johnny Can't "Deep" Read." NPR (April 21, 2010)  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129348373

Monday, September 8, 2014

Learn Something New Every Day

You all know my mantra for librarians is to learn something new every day, with every reference interaction, with every project. How do we do that? By keeping an open mind, by not tuning out when answering reference questions, particularly repetitive ones, by thinking "outside the box." I once asked a colleague how he could stand doing repetitive research, particularly after 40 years in the same field. He said, "There's always something new to learn from the encounter, from the research." I took that attitude to heart and starting looking beyond the repetitive projects to understand "why." I began to really understand how the records worked, how the information was really arranged. I went beyond practice to understand the theory, the rationale behind the ideas and routines. It's made me an expert in various types of records. So the next time, you think something is routine, (other than directions to the restroom or elevator) think about how or why the database works in a particular way, why the information is arranged just so, or why you always have to ask for the information twice.

The New York Times has a great blog / service that can help you learn something new every day and stay current. It's their Learning Network. While the website is geared for K-12 teachers, librarians can learn a thing or two from it. Here's the link to the NYT Learning Network "How to Use Our Blog" page http://nyti.ms/1q72sTI . I'm intrigued by the literacy skills. The piece is entitled "I Hate These Word Crimes" http://youtu.be/8Gv0H-vPoDc

 What have you learned today?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A few books, a few new facts

As the semester begins, we'll be learning a little bit about librarianship. You know that's what librarians and archivists know, a little bit about everything, or almost everything, and, more importantly, where to find what someone else is looking for. 

That notion brings me to my find of the day, Harlequin, yes Harlequin Books has a new publication Let’s Get Lost http://harlequinforlibraries.com/2014/08/introducing-the-ultimate-lets-get-lost-educator-librarian-and-book-club-guide/  At first I thought it was promoting the idea of 'getting lost in a good book', but it's actually a guide to a book about traveling and discovering new things along the way. While I'd prefer the first, I'll take the second because you can always learn something new along the way, on the journey to somewhere else.

So as you travel up and down the highway on your way to class, think about who you meet, the new things you are learning, and try not to get too lost along the way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Librarians as Knowledge Workers

It should not come as a surprise that Librarians are Knowledge Workers. We help individuals find the information they seek. We provide assistance as others seek to increase their knowledge of a subject, be it a period in history, the species or name for a flower, or the definition of a word. Part of what we do is work with others to navigate the all too complex databases designed by librarians or companies. We listen to questions and research problems and help our customers or patrons or users (whatever name you select) to work out a research strategy that will help them obtain the information and knowledge they seek. As the knowledge seeker develops skills for ferreting out information, so the librarian or knowledge worker must learn about new resources and techniques. 

Paula Krebs in her post "Why You Should Talk to the Librarians" https://chroniclevitae.com/news/673-why-you-should-talk-to-the-librarians?cid=VTEVPMSED1 notes that librarians know the most recent sources in a subject area, along with current research strategies and resources. The librarian will share his/her knowledge with researchers and students of all ages. All the researcher has to do is ask.

What's our job as librarians, archivists, and knowledge workers? To learn the new resources and reference tools, to be curious about subject areas we know little or nothing about, to discover new tools and learn how they work. Most of all, we need to follow one of our profession's matra, "to know a little bit about everything." After all, for knowledge workers, information scientists, librarians and archivists, it's less important that we KNOW something, than that we know WHERE to look for the information.

So go off and learn something new today. See where you quest for knowledge takes you. Enjoy the journey.