Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Final Reflections

                I have learned so much throughout this first semester that it seems unfair to try and sum it up in one blog post. The biggest takeaway that I have from this semester is how vast our field really is. It goes beyond the Public/Academic/School/Special Library categories, both in a broader and specialized sense. Within each library there are specialties within them. Public Service Librarians, Teen Service Librarians, Local History Librarians, Technology Librarians… I’ve even run across the title of Wine Librarian. On the other hand, LIS opens up a vast array of job titles other than librarian.  Many of those specialties within the library lead to those external job titles, like Metadata Analyst or Freelance Researcher. LIS is a very flexible field, and specializing in an area of it will open up a lot of possibilities.

                The next takeaway that I have is that even with such instability and hardship currently, libraries are evolving and will have a place in the future. Libraries that are embracing technology and becoming a “third place” are leading the charge, making it possible for other libraries to follow suit and stay relevant. Digitization projects are making collections physically smaller, while at the same time offering more content. Linking these online resources with other institutions is providing a greater resource for researchers and a greater community among specific topics.

                The last takeaway that I have from this semester is that if we don’t have a career plan in place now, you need to have one quick. Thankfully I knew from the start where I wanted to go with my career, but I am concerned for my classmates who do not know what they want to do yet. The e-Portfolio assignment will be a good wake up call, filling out the Plan of Work made me realize how short of a time we have here at Wayne State. We had better be ready to hit the ground running when we get to the job market.

                My views of my place within the LIS field have not changed very much, even though my view of LIS as a whole has. I really look forward to when I can bring my knowledge and expertise to a position within a library. My previous experience in libraries and history coupled with my MLIS will allow me to obtain a position that I will truly be happy with, even though it may not be the same job title that I set out to obtain at first. While I already feel ready to jump right into the job market, I do look forward to the additional “polishing” I will receive academically. This is just the beginning of a long career path, and the time will go by very quickly.

Revisiting LIS assumptions

                Back at the beginning of the semester, I wrote a blog post about assumptions I had about the field of library and information science. Now it is that time to revisit them and see how my views have changed.

1)      You’ll never get rich being a librarian

This statement needs a bit of refining. Much like any other profession, the amount of training you have will dictate your salary. It is correct to say that a librarian with just a MLIS will not make an exorbitant salary; they will have a good salary to go along with a good job. On the other hand, a librarian who has a dual masters or PhD will be more specialized, and therefore require a higher salary. Therefore, it is possible to become rich as a librarian.

2)      Librarians have good job satisfaction

This has been confirmed time and time again. The librarians I met with during my visits to other libraries this semester have all shared the same enthusiasm and dedication to their jobs. While there is movement among the ranks, most of it is lateral or promotions, sprinkled with a few retirements. I have yet to meet a librarian dissatisfied with their career.

3)      There are more libraries out there than the general public knows about

I still agree with this wholeheartedly, but I would expand it to reflect how flexible our profession is. We are not limited to libraries and archives. This semester has opened my eyes to other career titles including Chief Information Officer, Metadata Analyst, Technology Coordinator, and Web Project Manager… The list goes on and on. Information is our occupation; libraries are just the biggest proportion of our field.

4)      It is not our job to censor information

This has been reaffirmed in spades. It was very enlightening to look at the different Codes of Ethics from the different professional organizations and learn the ins and outs of the system. In my research for the ethics paper, I was pleased to see that this was a universal belief among the organizations, at a State, National, and International level. We will run into patrons or trustees who strongly feel that certain materials do not belong, but we do not discriminate or censor any information and promise equitable access.

Personally, I felt that I had a pretty good perspective on what the LIS field was like. This semester confirmed the bulk of my assertions, and refined the others. For lack of a better comparison, it was like getting a new pair of glasses. I could see fine before, but now everything is much clearer.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blogging about Professional Blogs

                The “Beerbrarian” is Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services in an unnamed academic library in the Washington D.C. area. Like many other librarians’ blogs, the Beerbrarian’s blog covers a bevy of topics around libraries ranging from the “New Librarianship” movement to how students view their library satisfaction. There is no common theme among the blog post topics, just a blistering and brutally honest tone that conveys his opinions on the subjects of his posts.

                Personally, I appreciate his honesty, even if others view it as rude or offensive. One blog article he wrote was his very blunt thoughts on 5 interviews he conducted in May.

I read this blog post for another class, but it caught my attention and I’ve been following his blog ever since.  Berg was criticized by some for using profanity and posting his unfavorable thoughts about these interviewees. ALA, however, saw the point Berg was trying to make, and posted a link to it on their job listings. The follow up blog post to this confronts both sides of the issues people took over his words.

Rather than viewing the post as rude or crass, a prospective job candidate should read this and take to heart the observations posted within. Job seekers get so swept up in their desire to get the job that they lose sight of what image they are presenting and how they come across to the other person sitting across the table from them.

                I will continue to follow the Beerbrarian’s blog. I really appreciate his honesty, because sometimes hearing the hard truth is the last thing we want to do. I applaud the fact that he is willing to say how things really are.


                The Annoyed Librarian is a blog hosted by Library Journal. The author is completely anonymous, with a tongue-in-cheek attitude about current events in the library profession. The topics covered in his/her blog posts range from the future of libraries to “hipster” librarians to busybody trustees. Unlike the Beerbrarian’s Blog, the Annoyed Librarian focuses more on how libraries are developing, how new graduates view themselves, and how libraries are staying relevant in the changing workplace.

                The Annoyed Librarians post about “Hipster Librarians” was a reaction to an article s/he read during the ALA conferences in Chicago this year. (

 I found this post both humorous and relevant, as it is addressing a current social trend, and how libraries fit in to that topic. I also really appreciated the post on “Busybodies @ Your Library”, as it really struck a familiar chord with me. We have that same type of person on our Friends board, and their “beliefs” often clash with the mission of the library.

                Overall, I like the Annoyed Librarian because I can relate to their point of view. S/he may be discussing heavy topics in an off-the-cuff sort of way, but s/he does it in such a way that you feel like you are shooting the breeze with an old colleague over coffee, complaining about work with another like-minded individual.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Comparison of Professional Journals

The two journals I selected to review for this entry were Library Journal and School Library Monthly. I chose Library Journal because it is the most popular journal in the industry, being produced by the American Library Association (ALA). I chose School Library Monthly because it is completely outside of what I intend to do as a professional. School Library Monthly is produced by Libraries Unlimited, a division of ABC-CLIO. It is worth mentioning that while I was able to look at a physical copy of Library Journal, I could only look at School Library Monthly Online. I reviewed Library Journal’s online site as well to make the best comparison between the two.

The intended audiences of the two journals are somewhat different. Library Journal has a broad spectrum of readership, and is generally aimed at anyone in the field of Library and Information Science. School Library Monthly, on the other hand, is directed at school librarians and media specialists working at a K-12 facility. School Library Monthly’s readers are a subset of Library Journal’s readership.

Since School Library Monthly is a specialized journal, it differs in content from Library Journal. School Library Monthly not only has articles relevant to its readers, it also has a blog and a podcast. Perhaps the strength of School Library Monthly is that it integrates curriculum into its format to assist school librarians in instructing information literacy at the K-12 level. By contrast, Library Journal is a massive one-stop-shop for professional information. Library Journal has articles relating to every aspect of librarianship, including special sections on management, technology, material reviews and employment. Library journal also has a job listing board to assist readers in their job search. Library Journal also hosts Webcasts as another form of interaction with its readers.

Regarding the articles published by both Journals, they are both peer-reviewed before publication. Having articles peer-reviewed is important because it allows someone with similar background and expertise to double check the author to ensure the accuracy of the information presented and that valid sources were used during research.

 I found both of these journals interesting for very different reasons. I was impressed by School Library Monthly’s drive to incorporate curriculum into their journal, and how they encouraged partnerships with teachers for instruction in the classroom, their common goal being to promote information literacy. There were many articles on current trends in both the teaching and library professions, and how they can assist one another with their goals. Library Journal, on the other hand, was very engaging because there was something for everyone. I first got sucked in by the Library Journal app for iPad that brings the journal to you electronically. After downloading that, I found myself reading article after article, ranging from future trends in digital preservation to a humorous column written by the AnnoyedLibrarian, discussing busybodies at the library who meddle where they shouldn’t be. I really appreciated the depth of engagement Library Journal had with its readers, and the multiple methods it used to accomplish that.

Overall, these two journals demonstrated to me again how diverse the field of LIS is. Even though there are millions of specialties underneath the LIS umbrella, each specialty can learn from another to further the goals of both.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mid-semester Reflections

This semester has been a busy one. To evaluate where I am based only on one class would be to show only half of the picture. I’m taking three classes this summer, and each has made an impact on me.

Looking back on my writing from the beginning of the semester to now, the bulk of them revolve around how I will fit into this professional community upon graduation. My chief concern going into the program has been and will continue to be finding meaningful employment after I receive my degree. My confidence about joining this profession has gone up. It is relieving to not only find jobs that I will qualify for, but jobs that I will enjoy doing as well.

My view of the professional community has changed from the beginning of the semester. While doing my visits for this class and observations for another, I was struck by how small the community actually is. Many of the librarians I encountered studied at Wayne State, and have instructors in common with me. They also know the library I work at, and many of the people I work with. This is extends beyond my geographical community, librarians from other towns were familiar with many of my coworkers.

I haven’t really run across any surprises in my work. I came into the semester with a clear goal and focus. I have been working toward that the entire time, and have not been deterred. I have, however been surprised by the social bonds that I have been forming with some of the other students. I’ve taken a fair amount of classes online during my undergrad, but I have never had the amount of interaction or camaraderie as I have had in my classes this semester.

Moving forward, I think it will be worthwhile to reflect back on this blog to stay focused on my original goals. The blog may show how my thoughts evolve over time, but it will also serve as a benchmark to measure my success against. Journaling in this format is better because you don’t always have to have it as polished and professional as a paper. It allows you to be more open and honest about your thoughts, while still retaining integrity.

I think the second half of the semester will be a bit easier than the first half. Mostly because one of my three classes is completed, and that will afford me more time to focus on the remaining two. It’s great to be back in the swing of classes, and to feel like you’ve found your stride for the work. It is not so much about being exposed to new ideas anymore as it is refining those concepts and applying them practically. I look forward to completing the semester on a strong note, and ready to tackle the upcoming fall semester.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Job Analysis, Pt. 2

Looking back at the Research Fellow Position at Trinity College, the required skills and education are:
  •  PhD in History, Library Science or Digital Humanities
  •  Fluency in a second European Language
  •  Experience with XML
  •  Knowledge of the First World War
  •  Experience in Archival/Historical curation, management and research
  •  Experience working on digital projects
  •  Excellent communication skills in English
  •  Organized and resourceful
  •  Self-directed and effective time management
  •  Flexibility to work as part of a multidisciplinary team

Currently, I am proficient with Spanish and have a working knowledge of French. I have a little experience with XML, but I could use some more experience. I have a vast knowledge of the First World War, my focus as an undergrad was European History. I have experience in archival curation and research from interning in an Archive for two years. I also have experience working on digital projects from interning at the Archives. As for the last four requirements, I feel that I meet those quite readily. If I were in an interview with a potential employer, I would point out my management experience, the awards I have received for my papers, and my diverse academic background.


To prepare for this position, first I would complete my PhD in History. During that time, I would also study French or Latin. Many PhD programs require that a candidate speak three languages by graduation. That would place me in a perfect position to meet those requirements. I would also take a class in XML or advanced web development, most likely during the MLIS program. I would also like to receive a certificate in archival administration/management, but I would have to do that post-MLIS. Many archival programs require you to be on campus, and I cannot commute to Wayne State at this time to accomplish this, unless they change the program and offer the certificate online.

Once I have accomplished these, I would feel very confident applying for this position. I do not think I need to revise my goals or objectives stated earlier in the semester. I am still looking at integrating history and libraries, and pursuing something in the field of special collections. I do think I need to revise my plan for completing my MLIS to incorporate another web development/XML class for further experience.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Job Analysis, Pt. 1

                Looking at job listings was a bit intimidating. There are so many different positions, with so many requirements. It’s hard to believe that I will qualify for these positions soon. Looking ahead, I chose jobs based on where I would like to be professionally.

Research Fellow in Digital History & Collections

The first job posting that caught my curiosity was for a Research Fellow in Digital History and Collections at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Requirements for this position are: A PhD in History, Archival/Library Science or Digital Humanities, fluency in a second European language, experience with XML, and knowledge of the First World War.


Skills listed on the website:

• Be able to demonstrate evidence of experience in historical/archival curation, management and


• Demonstrate technical and domain fluency with digital history methods and experience in working

on digital projects (including collaboration and team working).

• Have excellent oral and written communication communications skills in English (native speaker

level), with the ability and confidence to engage with project partners clearly and professionally.

• Be organized, conscientious and resourceful

• Be able to operate as a self-directed, dynamic team member, set priorities and schedule time


• Be able to operate flexibly as a member of the multidisciplinary CENDARI project team


Obviously this is a higher level position with additional expertise required. Team work, communication, and self-motivation are all high priority skills in this position. The working environment would be within a team of multidisciplinary international scholars, working to digitize the College’s holdings and create a user-friendly research environment. Interpersonal skills will be a strong skill set, because of having to set up relationships with other institutions to share their collections and knowledge. The position reports to the CENDARI Project Coordinator.


Where this would take me on my career: This would be a HUGE resume point for future employment: Multinational cooperation on a major project in a foreign country. Unfortunately, the term of this position is only two years, and that would not necessarily lead to a job directly after. It would, however, put me in a position to lead similar projects at academic institutions in the future.


Exhibitions Collection Coordinator

The second job posting I looked at was for an Exhibitions Collection Coordinator for The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Requirements for the position are (from website):

· B.A. in Art History, Anthropology, Fine Art or related field required; M.A. preferred.

A minimum of 2-4 years experience with art/artifact handling, packing, and installation within a museum context is require; strong photography skills and/or experience with photo documentation of art/artifacts is strongly preferred
Familiarity with collections management databases (KE EMu experience is preferred, although not required)
A strong working knowledge of the principles of collections management is required
Ability to maintain consistent attention to detail; excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
Ability to work collaboratively with staff from multiple departments
Dexterity with standard hand tools
Experience with collections housing techniques and mount making are preferred
This is a physically active position and consistently requires frequent, sustained standing, crouching, and focused activity; manual dexterity; ability to routinely lift up to 30 lbs; experience utilizing a pallet jack, j-bar, and standard hand tools is necessary
Experience with basic rigging and ability to drive a forklift is a plus, although not required

This position is in a museum setting, rather than a library. While I don’t fit the undergrad Art History requirement, I don’t see where my undergrad in History (with a minor in Anthropology) and a MLIS would be an obstacle. Again, communication and teamwork skills are high on the list, along with management of collections. The position would report to the Collections Managers and liaise with the Cyrus Tang Hall of China.

Where this would take me on my career: This position would give me experience in artifact collections to augment my archival experience. This position is only for a one year term, which I find disappointing given the amount of expertise required for the position. I would assume that since the Field Museum is a major institution that permanent job opportunities would become available during the course of this assignment.