Writing your ALA Emerging Leaders Application

This past year, I participated in the ALA Emerging Leaders Program. I was on Team C(at) with my super awesome teammates Daniel Ransom, Kyle Denlinger, and Mari Martinez. We worked on a social media project for ALCTS, and wrote a white paper of best practices for their social media. It was a wonderful experience, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. We went through the IRB process together, designed a survey, and took the most epic cat photo ever.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Emerging Leader’s Program is geared towards LIS professionals and students who have less than 5 years of experience in the field. It’s meant to jumpstart involvement in ALA and give people the chance to work on a project for various divisions. It also gives you the chance to meet other ambitious, early career librarians. If this sounds like something you’d want to do, I highly recommend it! I’ve been getting quite a few emails and questions about the application process so I thought I would take a moment to just say what I thought worked for my application. I can’t say that there is a one-size fits all recipe for a successful application; I really don’t know what the selection committee is looking for except that you need to be in the first 5 years of your career. These tips are just what I thought worked for me, and also what I learned from asking other past Emerged Leaders.

Be succinct in your responses but eloquent. This is so hard to do, but if you can get to the point but also effectively illustrate your point, that’s probably the best route. I’m assuming the selection committee doesn’t want to read through a bunch of text just to get an answer that could be one paragraph. Just to give you an idea, I responded to some of the essay questions with just one paragraph; the longest answer I gave was 3 paragraphs.

Don’t just tell them, show them. Do you have a project at work where you demonstrated leadership? Did you work on a volunteer project that was led by you? If you can refer to a tangible project or effort that you have done either in school, in a volunteer position, or at work, that helps show people what you’re capable of. Sort of the same principle for cover letters. I tried to also make my answers personal and have a narrative too, so my responses wouldn’t be cookie-cutter or incredibly dry.

Reflect on your lifetime experiences. For questions about your own leadership philosophy, you might want to think about what inspires you to be a leader. I have very limited leadership experience in the workplace. I’ve never been a manager or a supervisor, so I had to really reflect on my past experiences to craft my own philosophy of leadership. Prompts that helped me were: what did I think was inspiring in my favorite bosses? what did they do that I would want to emulate in my own leadership? what inspires me to work harder for someone? If you’re not sure of what your philosophy is, reflect on what you think a good leader is and hopefully that’ll get you on the right track on crafting your own philosophy.

Ask good people to be your references. I would not skimp on who you ask to be your reference. I asked someone who has worked with me at my workplace on many projects to be a reference. I also asked a librarian who was a chair of a NMRT committee that I was on, who also was a past Emerging Leader to write me a letter. Both of them are people that I also look up to, so it meant a lot to me that they were willing to recommend me for the program. Consider asking people who can really speak to your leadership potential.

Highlight unique skills. Are you a programmer? Are you a kick-ass project manager? Are you really good at throwing parties? Whatever your unique skills may be, you should absolutely highlight them. This program is about group work (whether you like it or not), so if you can make a point of what great things you can bring to the table, you should!

Get a cheerleader! Bryce wrote a really great blog post on writing an Emerging Leader application and one of her tips was get someone to cheer you on throughout the process. Bryce was my cheerleader! She emailed me a lot of GIFs when the announcements came out. Related to this, reaching out to others who have done the EL program is a good way to figure out if this is something you want to do, and get advice.

For those who are applying to the EL Program, I wish you all the best application writing. You can consider me your cheerleader.

Additional articles/interviews that might yield more information and advice:


Gamification and Digital Badges

ALA Annual is almost here. I’m happy to report that I will be presenting on a panel titled What you need to know about gamifying your library with a lot of talented people. I will also be co-moderating a session on digital badges called Achievement unlocked: Motivating and assessing user learning with digital badges with Nicole Pagowsky and Young Lee. As a big fan of playing video games and having fun, I’m really happy to see so much interest in the idea of game-based learning in the library world, and also in the world of education.

Many people have been throwing the word “gamification” around which basically is defined as using game design elements or game based mechanics in a non-game context. The term itself elicits a variety of responses in people, from excitement and curiosity to confusion or eye-rolling at “just another fad”–you get the point. Additionally, some game developers have ambivalence towards this term. It’s not enough to just assign badges or points to some mindless activity, you must make your engagement with the user meaningful for gamification to be effective. Also, some people make games for a living and find the term gamification to be a sleazy, shallow marketing term to sell products that aren’t necessarily well designed.  For further reading, check out Gabe Zichermann’s article, Gamification has issues, but they aren’t the ones everyone focuses on, for a thoughtful break down of the arguments against gamification.

The reason why I’m even mentioning all this is because a few of the panelists on the gamification panel will also be talking about digital badges. Mozilla sums up badges as “an online representation of a skill you’ve earned.” People can earn badges by completing tasks online or in person, and display them in a social space so others can see what they’ve earned. Digital badges tend to get thrown into the mix of gamifying stuff, but that can be misleading because it doesn’t automatically turn your activities into a game. It’s just a small piece of the larger part of the engagement process that you are undertaking with your target audience. For example, Mozilla recently rolled out their Open Badges project, with plans to incorporate them into a web literacy standard which aims to teach people how to create web content. People can earn badges as they complete projects that teach them html and css. Pretty neat right?

If you are interested in the nitty gritty details of how libraries are using digital badges, the instructional design, how to get the tech set up, or have a project you want to share, you should come to the digital badge session on Sunday, June 30, 2013 – 9:15am to 10:00am in Room S102d. We’re looking forward to hearing from others who are working on digital badge systems or just want to learn more about it.

As a proponent of active learning, I highly suggest you check out the Open Badges tutorial on Earning Your First Badge, and set up an account on the Mozilla Backpack which serves as the display board for all the digital badges you will end up earning. Hint: you could earn a badge at the session, come and find out how! If you can’t make it to ALA or to the digital badge session, you can follow the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ALABadge.

Want to learn more about libraries and games? Check out:

Eating Gluten Free in Indy


It’s the Hoosier state! What’s a Hoosier? No one knows.

I went to grad school and lived in Indianapolis for a couple of years. I’m actually excited to be going back next week for ACRL 2013. I’ve made many friends in the area, and of course I am looking forward to seeing many of my librarian colleagues from around the country. There’s no shortage of guides of things to do or see in Indy. For a quick peek check out Meagan’s guide to Circle City Eats, Willie and Rhonda’s guide to shops, and John’s guide to walking and bike trails.

I’m going to put myself in the shoes of a conference attendee who probably won’t have access to a car, needs to find places to eat near the conference center, and wants gluten free options. Just so you know, there are a lot of chain restaurants in downtown Indy. For more unique and local fare, you’d probably have to leave the downtown area. However, if you’re starving and without a car, you can’t be picky. You just eat where you can that’s close enough and has options for your needs. I feel you, and I’m here to help. I also highly recommend following the Indy Food Truck Twitter, especially their list of all the food trucks in Indy. You can see who’s going to be downtown and where. It’s a great resource. On to the list:


India Garden – Meagan mentions this place in her guide. I just called them to ask about their gluten free options and they said that they did have them, then promptly hung up on me. Lots of vegetarian options too! It’s a buffet, the service is okay, and I’m totally going to eat there at least once. In general, I just avoid naan and deep fried stuff there. They do list ingredients on the dishes which is helpful.

Yat’s – If you are up for a little walk, this place has quick, good food. The gluten free options are the white chili chicken, and some bean and sausage dish. You can always ask, and make sure to tell them to leave the bread off your plate.

Scotty’s Brewpub – It’s a local chain, with burgers, beers, and a gluten free menu. Pretty good, I would recommend this place to anyone who is thirsty and wants something filling to eat. They’re really accommodating with the gf stuff.

Ram Brewery – They also have a gluten-free menu. The HackLibSchool meet-up is here on Friday April 12 from 7pm-? The food is okay, but it’s a big place that can hold large groups. Good for group dinners and meet ups.

PF Changs – Chinese-ish food that has gluten free options.

Chick-fil-a (in the Circle Center Mall) – Okay, I know, controversial; but they have gluten free choices. Generally speaking, the mall food court has a lot of fast food options. Not saying I recommend that everyone eat at the mall, or at a corporation that supports hate groups, but it is an option. Do what you will, I’m not judging.

Weber Grill – I’ve never eaten here, but here’s a gluten free menu.

Duo’s Food Truck – Vegan and gluten free options! The cafeteria is not so close to the convention center (it’s a short drive away), but they have a food truck that does come downtown. Follow their twitter feed to see where they’ll be.

ImageCaveman Food Truck – For you paleo and gluten free folks, I present this meat truck. From their site, “Caveman Truck  is one of the first paleo / primal food truck concepts in the nation.” Ron Swanson approved (probably). Follow them on twitter too!


How about a drink with egg whites?

You guys don’t need help with where to drink, but I’m also going to give a shout out to The Libertine. Good, strong drinks. The cure for what ails you. Plus, all the bartenders look like the cast of Newsies, minus Christian Bale. Not bad right?

Visiting Indiana is not about being hungry. I hope this helps those who are gluten free, or just want to know what’s available to them. If anyone is going to be at ACRL next Tuesday (4/9) and is going to be at the convention center, I’ll be at the info desk, ready to provide tips on places to go. Stop by and say hi!



Avery and Noby

A picture which isn’t related to the topic of this post AT ALL.

It’s almost the end of January. Most good bloggers would have made several reflective posts by now, right? One around Thanksgiving about what they are thankful for (I meant to do that), one around the end of the year to reflect on all the things that have happened (many things happened last year), and probably one at the beginning of this month to set up some new goals (like update my blog more often). The truth is, I am not at the point in my life where I can really commit to updating this blog as much as I did when I first started out. I teeter between wanting to delete the whole thing, and then wishing I had more of a posting schedule. I still think this online space has value and writing is good for you. So I’m not giving up just yet!

Anyway, on to the important things. For those who are going to ALA Midwinter, I want to invite you to the HackLibSchool Meet Up this Friday, January 25 at Whisky Bar. It’ll be fun! I’m a sucker for anything with the word whiskey/whisky in it. Also, the beverage known as whiskey. It should be a fun time and a chance to meet good people.

I will also be participating in a discussion on Sunday, January 27, 2013 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am about public speaking and hopefully will facilitate some interesting conversation about that. The presentation that I will be part of is called Speak Up: Developing Effective Public Speaking Skills. I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous but only a robot wouldn’t get nervous. Last year, I made it a goal to do things that scared me. This presentation is an extension of that goal.

I hope to see some folks around this weekend!

ALA Annual 2012 Announcements

I’m gearing up and getting ready for #ALA12! This past week, we’ve had a bunch of posts over at HackLibSchool dedicated to prepping for Annual in case you missed it. Lots of fun events and chances to meet new people. I have a couple of fun announcements too in regards to this year’s conference.

First, I will be moderating the HackLibSchool Conversation Starter. This is the first year that ALA’s done this series so let’s see how that goes. I do hope that library school students, n00brarians, and veteran professionals can come together and do what librarians do best: share information! Also, this is the first library conference presentation that I’ve ever moderate/participated in. I hope it goes ok! Generally, conference presentations make me nervous but it always turns out fine in the end.

Second announcement: I have been asked by the ALA Basecamp group to help report out events and going-ons at the conference. I’ll be blogging about what I’ve seen, and give ALA the low down on all the cool stuff that’s happening. I’ve been asked to take pictures and interview folks too, so if I see you, don’t be surprised if I ask to talk to you for a brief moment.

Third: I volunteered to be a greeter for the NMRT Resume Review Service. I’ll be at the Placement Center from 11am-1pm. They’re also having an Open House from 10:30am-12:00pm, so you can come on down, have someone look at your resume and talk to potential employers.

In addition to all that – I will also be a photographer for Librarian Wardrobe! Please don’t be shy about me taking a picture of you and your awesome outfit. While I don’t proclaim to have awesome style, I do have a good eye for folks who know how to wear their threads and wear them well. With that, I leave you with this Felix da Housecat dance song, “Ready 2 Wear”: 

I’m really excited about going to Annual this year! If you are going and see me, please don’t run away from my camera. Say hi!

Post ALA Reflection

I thought I had done a good job researching what to expect and do for a huge conference like ALA, but it did not prepare me for the reality. I had a wonderful time, meeting people and learning a few things at some of the sessions. I found that I did not make it all the sessions I had planned so carefully. One day, I only went to one because I was so exhausted, I didn’t have the brain power. Next time, I know that I need to schedule breaks in between to eat and rest; otherwise I would spend the day starving. Conference food is way overpriced and I am a broke grad student so I’m glad I at least brought snack bars with me.

I also realized that it was hard to tell what sessions would be crowded and what ones wouldn’t be. The session I wanted to attend the most was so packed, people were sitting out in the hallway and there was no way I would get in to hear what was going on. That made me realize I needed to be flexible in my plans. I also felt like I wasn’t very successful in actually going to the sessions I wanted to, because either I couldn’t get there on time, or it wasn’t what I thought it would be. My biggest success at the conference though, was meeting people. The first day I was feeling intimidated, but by the afternoon, I had found some people I follow on Twitter and hung out with them. What’s great is that I felt comfortable talking to my Twitter friends because we have already built a rapport online, so it was easy to get along in person. Additionally, they introduced me to other people that they knew, so it makes networking so much easier! Yay for the internet!

The highlights of the conference though was meeting my HackLibSchool colleagues in person and witness Daniel Ransom be entered and CHOSEN as the wild card, participant in Battle Decks 2011. The conference was a great time and I am very happy I went. I am definitely saving up for next year.

My First ALA

I am currently sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to my very first library conference! Thanks to many great conference veterans, I’ve gotten plenty of good tips to prepare myself. Yep, I brought comfortable shoes, snacks, and a reusable water bottle, plus all the chargers I need. However, there are some goals that I want to set for myself. I have a tendency to be very shy, and sometimes being quiet and shy comes off the wrong way. It can actually come off as aloof or mean. I don’t want people to get that impression of me at all!

Here are some of my goals:

  • Stop being afraid of strangers. This means going outside of my comfort zone and approaching people. I also have a bunch of cards that I want to get rid off.
  • Meet some internet friends! This is my first opportunity to meet my HLS co-editors and other cool people I have corresponded with on twitter. Yay!
  • Learn a few things. I just finished a metadata class and the session that I am really looking forward to is this Linked Data session.
  • Have fun! I tried to schedule things so that I would have a break in between stuff to take a breather. I don’t want to be too wiped out to enjoy myself.

I hope to also find some time to write updates about what happened. While I’m sitting here I keep hearing bits of people’s conversations and the keyword “library” keeps popping up. I think I’m in good company and looking forward to meeting awesome people.

It’s Been Awhile

Blogging can be a lonely endeavor, you just type out all your thoughts into this huge void and there it just sits. However, I really enjoy putting my thoughts down somewhere because it helps me work out ideas and issues that I’m having. I had really tried to update my blog about once a week for awhile there, but I started taking a summer class and my poor blog has been neglected. I hope this will change soon.

My life lately has been a weird mix of feeling absolutely burnt out on library school, and yet still being very immersed in it. I’ve really tried to devote most of my time to my class, but I still have other library-related things to work on. For example, the ALA Convention  is next week! Holy cow! There were so many things I wanted to do to prepare myself. Some things, I had slowly worked on, like making cards, trying to update my Linked In, re-doing my resume, etc. but there wasn’t enough time to get it all where I wanted it to be. That is life!

If anyone is reading this and is going, I would like to meet you at some point. I’m a first timer, so I’m sure it will be an eye opening experience. Time for me to stop being afraid of strangers and welcome them into my life for a few days! I’ve gotten some really good advice from other bloggers on what to do at conferences, not to mention the awesome ALA HackLibSchool themed week. Check out conference advice from  The Library Adventure of Kiyomi and Archiving Desk to Desk for additional tips.

Hey, that reminds me, if you ARE going, please come to the HackLibSchool Meet Up (this is the facebook event page)! Hope to see some people there!

Joint Research Conference Recap

I recently attended a joint research conference with the university library and the school of library information science here at IUPUI. The conference mascot was the titmouse, a bird that was known for being able to survive because of it’s information sharing nature. It was really great to hear what library faculty and SLIS (School of Library Information Science) students were doing their research on, as well as their methodology. In our program, taking a research class is a core requirement, which is really good because as library and information professionals, we all deal with research one way or another, whether it’s helping a patron or conducting your own.

There were so many great ideas that I took from this conference, and the keynote speaker, Steven Bell, had a very provocative presentation on “Putting the Science back in Library Science”. He talked about the difference in how other disciplines approach research and how the librarians could try to incorporate those techniques into their own research. Here are some highlights from his presentation:

  • Doing research is good for the profession and should be good for the end user, the patrons. Don’t do research just to have something to put on your c.v., make sure it means something and can produce results for your library.
  • Get out from behind the desk and design studies that involve people. I know I have filled out my fair share of list-serv surveys and polls. Through reading academic articles, we’ve seen the bulk of library research is done is through this sort of passive means. Instead, we could look at how social science fields approach studies and experiments.
  • Library schools should incorporate design thinking into the curriculum. This point really stood out to me but I need to follow up on what he meant by this. He showed a brief clip of a interdisciplinary think tank who used creative techniques to solve problems. Perhaps, as LIS students, we need to learn how to think more creatively about our research approach and problem solving. A little more info this can be found here.
  • Reading from outside the LIS discipline helps us keep up with current trends. Then you can invigorate your own research by incorporating an interdisciplinary approach. It’s easy to stay within the same circle, but your information can get stale.

I was also very impressed with the students who went up to present their research. They all agreed that it wasn’t too difficult to get up and talk to all of us about what they have been working on. One presentation was a collaboration between a librarian and a SLIS student. It’s hard for students to take the initiative to do their own research because it might seem intimidating, so I thought it was wonderful that a librarian would be willing to find a student to work with, as opposed to another faculty member.

In general, I have found there to be a disconnect between the university librarians and the students in the program. I’d be interested to hear if other library school programs have a similar problem or if the university library and the library school program are more connected. Anyway, this research conference is an effort to bridge that gap. It was pretty awesome to see the SLIS professor who teaches an Intro to Research course ask one of the presenting librarians about her research methodology. Just from hearing their exchange, I saw the difference in academic culture, what the professor (who holds a PhD) thought about case studies and the librarian who is doing her first research project for publication. We’re all in the same building but it doesn’t mean we interact with each other on a regular basis, which was why this conference was so great.

After the conference, I thought about what a great opportunity this was for students to get the ball rolling on presenting. I had never been to a library conference before, so now I have an idea of what sort of things to expect . The professors are already encouraging students to think about doing our own research and presenting it next year. It would be a good way for students to develop their own professional interests, network and work with faculty members, and get experience talking in front of a lot of people.