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!

Updates Updates Updates

How about a pretty picture for a change?

I have not been able to keep up here on the blog lately, but things have been really crazy! These past two months have been full of change and opportunity. This is one of those boring, this is what’s happening with me types of posts. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to blog in the next few weeks. Okay, first I want to mention that I will be moving to Chicago at the beginning of next month. I will be working at the UIC Library as a resident librarian in their IDEA Commons. I am really excited to be joining their team. In my interview, one of the search committee members did a shout out to the ALA Think Tank. He mentioned that he knew I was a member, and that is the type of thinking they want to see happen there. Hurray for new ideas!

Last month, I also presented at my first webinar! It was a great pleasure to speak with Dr. Lanke and Tamara Capper. You can access the archived webinar here. I was really nervous about it, but it’s kind of like presenting at a conference without the people. In some ways, it makes it a lot easier. I was just talking into a phone and clicking on the computer. My general advice to anyone who in interested in presenting at a webinar: make notes, but don’t read off a paper. Actually, that advice works pretty much anytime you do any public speaking. I make notes to myself to mentally prepare and have something to refer to if I need, but I try not to just read my notes like a script. It sounds more dynamic that way in my opinion.

Last week, I submitted my first book review for publication. The Chronicle had a really interesting article call The Endangered Scholarly Book Review a few months ago. One of the major takeaway points was that writing book reviews is a good way for new grads and faculty to practice scholarly writing. Hopefully, the review will be published in Library Quarterly sometime in the future. I like keeping an eye out for calls for proposals. For a future post, I’d like to compile links to places for people to check for writing opportunities. If you are interested in academic librarianship, book reviews might be a good start to beef up your publications. I’m glad that I had to write book reviews and abstracts for a few of my classes in grad school. I found that really helped me prepare for this type of writing. I’m so used to writing for blogs, so writing a book review was a nice switch.

I also stepped away from HackLibSchool last month, and I’m having withdrawals, but I am happy that the blog is in good hands. Alright, I think that’s enough updates for now. Hopefully, I will have more time to write. It’s like exercise, the more you write, the better you are at it.

Making Buttons

Marketing the library is so important, especially at the beginning of the year when students are coming onto campus for the first time. I say it’s good to recruit the newbies and convert them into library regulars. The latest buzz on the ILI-L is about beginning of the year activities like library open houses, scavenger hunts, and more. Someone asked about catchy slogans for buttons which got me thinking about the types of fun library marketing materials we can create for ourselves. I’ve been toying with the idea of making buttons but wasn’t sure how to go about figuring out what to put on them. The list generated some great catch phrases like:

  • Do it in the library (use this one at your own discretion)
  • human search engine
  • the original Google

Today I went ahead and played around with my own designs. I’m known at work as the “Keep Calm and _______” person so I had to throw in a Keep Calm button. My student group has a button maker so I have yet to test out creating them but here are my Library Marketing Buttons. I made them in Publisher and they are for a 1 ¼” button. When I get a chance to actually test them out I will update with some pictures. Char Booth has some awesome templates and a post on how to incorporate button making in the library, which I hope to try out some day. This is why I need a button maker!

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!

How do I sound less like a robot? Cover letters with impact.

Anyone else out there on the job market? If you have ever tried to find a full-time library job, you probably understand how difficult and emotional it can be. Sometimes I wonder how helpful it is when you’re obsessively trying to find a job to read all the career articles that talk about everything you’re doing wrong. So, this post isn’t going to focus on what NOT to do, there are plenty of those. Here’s a list of some useful/constructive ones:

I’m not sure what a very terrible cover letter looks like, but judging from what many people say, don’t do the copy and paste thing. Also tailor your cover letter! Yes, that’s all and good – I think most of us should know that by now. What I personally struggle with is addressing all the key points of the job ad, but NOT sounding like a robot. I’ve gotten good at saying “You want a,b, and c, here’s how I have a,b,and c.” but maybe that’s not good enough. It doesn’t necessarily show my actual excitement about the job, or any glimpse into my personality. I found that this example of a great cover letter highlights both her qualifications, and her personality. I have read this cover letter and gone back to re-read it many times. The writer is so smooth and confident! How can I be like her? Well, everyone’s personality is different so I’ve tried to find something that works for me.

I still struggle with adding who I am to the cover letter because I feel like there’s a lot at stake, and maybe they won’t like my sense of humor. On the other hand, you don’t get much of a chance to show employers who you are and why they should talk to you. By making it at least interesting for them, perhaps they will continue to read on.

I also wanted to share this list of Juicy, Proactive, Kick Ass CV keywords. I found it somewhere, but can’t find the original article. Feel free to use these!

Juicy, Proactive, Kick Ass CV keywords

Happy National Library Week!

This semester has been busy! It’s my last one before I finally graduate but I feel like I’m burning out fast. I can’t wait to just breathe for a little bit. Anyhow, this week was National Library Week! This year, I got to help plan some fun things for the students and faculty, just to make them more aware of this lovely event. I created some cool temporary tattoos to hand out at the desk. We have a Silhouette Machine and they sell temporary tattoo paper for it. Here are some of the designs I made. It was so much fun!

I also took photos of the staff, faculty, and students to make READ posters for them. That was a great way to get to know some of the students who come to the desk often, as well as engage with faculty.

National Library Week Display

My National Library Week Display

I like doing these things because they’re fun and get people to know the library in a different way. Plus, who doesn’t like a unicorn tattoo?

LibDay8 Day 2

Avery studies postmodernism.

I can haz reading?

Yesterday, I was an intern and a graduate student. Today, I’m a librarian and a graduate student. Okay, so I’m probably always a million things at once, but who’s counting anyway? Today was really out there, let’s see if I can recap all of the things I did. First off, when I woke up this morning I walked out to my cat reading a book! He’s so smart. If only he could recap. He’s reading Frederic Jameson’s Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, by the way.

8:00 am – Get to work and check email. Turns out my director would like me to help her with her presentation for an adjunct faculty conference next month. I had submitted my own proposal, but I never heard back. Now I’m helping my boss with hers, although I’m not sure what she has in mind. New motto for the year, “Roll with it!”

9:00 am – Look over the presentation for tomorrow’s Education library instruction session. They’re working on a scientific inquiry project and so they’re coming in to learn about how to search library databases. It’s a one-shot instruction session, which can be limiting – also, I don’t know anything about their topic. Like I said earlier, “roll with it!” and “fake it til you make it!”

10:00 am – Start my virtual chat reference shift. I spent about 20 mins with another student in Amherst, helping her find resources on medical assisting. Virtual reference is hit or miss in my experience. Sometimes, the student disconnects before we’ve even started the reference interview. Today was a success and she was able to find enough info to get started on her research project. Win!

11:00 am to 12:30 pm – Eat lunch and finish ordering some books from Amazon. I had a cart full of books that other librarians had requested so I needed to finally get that in. We don’t always buy from Amazon, it just so happens that some of these books are older so I can’t get them through our usual, and kind of unreliable (ahem) vendor.

12:30 to 3:00 pm –  Reference desk shift! These desk shifts vary from day to day. I helped several people with the scanner that is on the copy machine. Usually I don’t have to help as many people with that. Reference librarians have to do it all, help people print and answer research questions.

I helped one student who came in with a question that totally stumped me!
He came in wanting journal articles on the history of the $2. Turns out, I had a hard time getting the type of info that he wanted. Historical info exists on the web, but I had no luck finding anything in our databases. We also struck out on books in the collection. Finally, I had to get his email and ask if I could get back to him later that afternoon. Turns out, the public library down the street has several books on the history of U.S. currency so I gave him that info, as well as stuff from the U.S. Treasury page. Bonus points for people who can find some good info on the $2 that’s not a shady web page.

Another student came in asking for a particular fiction title. She’s been in almost every day asking for it. Who ever took out our one copy still hasn’t returned it. I finally asked her where she lived and found a public library very close to her house. They had 5 copies of the book she’s been looking for. She was really grateful for the info and was going to head there to get the book. I work at an academic library located near a large public library. We don’t really carry a lot of fiction, so it makes sense to advertise their collection to our students.

3:00pm to 4:30pm – Started talking with the other librarian about making displays for Black History Month. She already started gathering the books. Our campus just opened a brand new building, so we had a faculty member come and take many of our books related to Black History. This means the books that would be perfect for OUR display are gone. That’s ok though, we work with what we have. I also found a treasure trove for displays. Apparently, a former librarian at my work used to be in charge of displays and had a cabinet full of supplies but no one told me about it. Good to know!

4:30 pm to 6:00 pm – Drive to school, traffic is crazy because Super Bowl is in my city this year. Ahh! Yes, I’m really scared. Things are going to get crazy.

6:00 to 9:00 pm – I have my Education of Info Users class. We talked about active learning and critical thinking. Yay! All important things to bring into info lit sessions. I’m still working on my classroom pizazz. This class generated enough brain food for future posts, so I’m going to save it until then. I will say this now: if you’re in library school, I encourage you to go to different libraries, outside your interests. I work in an academic library, all my jobs have been academic, but I go to public libraries and I pay attention to what they’re doing. Pay attention, and you can learn a lot.

Well, this was a really long post! See how much my days can vary?

Day 1 of #libday8

I participated in #libday7 over the summer and am excited to do it again. Since then, I have gotten a new job with more responsibilities, and I’m interning at the lovely Indianapolis Museum of Art this semester. I’m in a strange, transitory place in my life where I am part information professional, part MLS student. Hopefully, as I blog my activities this week, the range of experiences I deal with on a day to day basis show through. Today wasn’t a very library heavy day in terms of work, but I did spend most of my day pondering library related things.

9:00 am – Get to the museum and discuss what projects need to be done today. The library director mentions that a volunteer who does copy-cataloging got a FT job and won’t be able to volunteer anymore. She wants to find someone who can do the cataloging. I ponder this for awhile.
10:00 am – Start re-classifying some art books from Dewey to Library of Congress. This is the main project for the day.
12:30 pm – IT guy comes and sets up my museum email. After I get logged in, I see that I have no emails at all, so the librarian sends me a nice link to the Kitten Covers.

1:00 pm – Head to the university to have lunch with the BF.

The rest of my afternoon, I worked on a job application and pondered about starting a library school support group. Job applications are a lot of work and there are times I wish I could talk to my peers about the process honestly and not be scrutinized. Many tweeps suggested NMRT as the place to go for support, and generally I do agree. However, there are times when I need more personal support, which is why I’m grateful for my friends. Time are tough.


The value of list-servs

Which is better? In the age of social media, many people groan at the idea of list-servs. Email mailing lists are so old-school/out of date and yet they’re so prevalent in library land. I was talking to my librarian friend about them and which ones we subscribe to, then realized what a librarian thing list-servs are. ILI-L, NMRT, RUSA, the list (ha, ha) goes on! You can pretty much find a list-serv that fits your interests. It’s always interesting to me to see the varying levels of netiquette and opinions, depending on which list you look at.

Why pay attention?

My first list-serv was ARLIS/NA (art libraries). Seeing the types of requests for articles and reference questions those librarian got gave me an idea of what their typical day might look like. It was an easy way to get a window into their world. It was also the lack of job postings on the list-serv that made me realize that I needed to widen my scope and gain more general skills. More recently, I added a few more to follow and I get so many interesting calls for papers, proposals, job posts, and general questions (followed by email conversations). These are opportunities that don’t necessarily circulate on twitter or other social media outlets. You can also get ideas for instruction or programming that you can apply at your own workplace. It’s a great way to pick people’s brains and see what’s being done at other places.

Personally, I feel more clued in to professional activities by spying on these list-servs. I do get a ton of information from social media too, but it’s not always the same stuff. This is a lot of information for one person to sift through! I filter my list-serv emails so that they skip my inbox and go straight into folders. That way I can check on them when I have time and not feel overwhelmed.

What not to do…

I did mention varying levels of nettiquette. I’ve been surprised to see some of the things people say on these lists.

  • Please don’t email the entire list for instructions on how to unsubscribe. There are instructions on the ALA Mailing List website. Also, as a librarian (or future librarian) we should all be able to follow instructions. Think of it as doing a reference transaction with yourself.
  • Don’t bad mouth the profession and potential places to work on the list. The library world is actually quite small and you don’t want a bad reputation. If you are employed and you’re bad mouthing another institution, that looks bad too. Honestly, I’ve seen these dramatic email chains circulate.
  • Don’t get caught up in the drama. It goes hand in hand with the previous point.

Will list-servs disappear in the near future? I have no clue, but it’s a great place to hear about some insider info.