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10 Rules for New Librarians July 1, 2006

Posted by jennimi in Academic Librarianship, Image of Librarians.
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Michael Stephens at Tame the Web posted an excellent top 10 list for new librarians yesterday. In the midst of current local tensions here in Buffalo with our University and our LIS program (well documented earlier in this blog) I found this inspiring and useful, and honestly, quite apropos. Following I quote my 2 personal favorites but you can read more here. What are your favorites and why do they resonate with you? Not JUST for newbies… I feel this advice rings true for all of us:

“Work and Play nice with each other at your jobs, at conferences and in those places where information professionals gather.This isn’t a competition or a contest. It’s not all about you, new grad (sorry, but it’s not). It’s about the user. And creating services. And being the best librarian you can be.”

Now that I think about it, this could be extended to any field. Any customer service oriented profession you can think of wouldn’t exist without the users/customers/students/clients it serves. Users come first. Without them, there’s no us. Next time I hear someone criticize their patrons’ lack of boolean savvy I’ll kindly ask them to read this list… it takes far less time to explain and/or/not to someone than to complain about how they don’t know how to use a database.

“Listen to the seasoned librarians you encounter. They know things. Good things. Listen and they may inform your future decisions and planning. Learn from every conversation, meeting or water cooler chat. (And seasoned folk, listen to your new hires! You do the same: listen, learn and share… break down the generational divide present in some organizations…you’ll be happy you did!)”

One of my academic interests has been looking at demographic trends of generations. In academic librarianship, at least, “millenials” has been one of the big buzzwords, and many have looked at generational differences in terms of both users and librarians. Generation X has different information technology wants and needs than Generation Y than Baby Boomer than Gen Z and so on. But providing good service has always stemmed from the same core values: approachability, needs assessment, working within a budget, empowering users to find, evaluate and use information… developing high quality accessible collections (what others?).

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library humor May 11, 2006

Posted by jennimi in About me, About this Blog, Image of Librarians, Library Humor.
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Why do I have but one lonely site only three sites in my “library humor” category? Clearly, I need help. No seriously… help me. I need more!

Back on the 2.0 Block – Philosophy and application are inseparable May 7, 2006

Posted by jennimi in About me, Blogging, Image of Librarians, Web 2.0.
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I am a relative newbie to WordPress and have been frustrated all week by outages. Finally had time today to research the problem and lo, all I had to do was fill out a feedback form from my Dashboard and the problem was fixed a mere few hours later. So I must retract my frustrations a bit. Certainly outages are annoying, and it was a BIT difficult to pinpoint a solution (needed to visit a forum to find a thread which explained what to do) but having my problem resolved by what I am at this moment convinced was a real person in a short amount of time has put WP back in my good graces.

Now… just a couple of thoughts since I am not going to post all the stuff I originally wanted to:

I liked this post by Michael Stephens at ALA TechSource. I first heard of Stephens in this Library Journal article last October, “Talkin’ Blogs–LJ Round Table”. Well he’s still promoting blogging, but he’s also discussing the importance of hands-on experience in things 2.0, particularly for LIS students. I agree. It wasn’t until I took the plunge and started blogging that I began to see its potential role for information professionals. My own experience could probably make for a good article at this point but for now I also want to agree with commenter ChiLibrarian who wrote:

I think the important thing is not for students to learn to use Flickr or to start a blog. The important thing is to think about how libraries can use technology in a meaningful and useful way. I think my library school education more than a decade ago more than prepared me to deal with blogs, social tagging, RSS feeds, etc. Not because it taught me to be proficient in any particular programming or search technique, but because I had one class in particular that emphasized thinking about how technology effects users and library staff. It wasn’t about learning to use the shiny new thing, it was learning about being open to how the shiny new thing might be useful – or not.”

Blogging is something I have done on my own and managed to merge successfully with some coursework. But the tenets of librarianship I have internalized through coursework – and applied on the job through practicums – are what have prepared me to embrace “web 2.0” (or whatever we want to call it) in the first place.

As ChiLibrarian explains, it’s a mindset of openness which allows us to ponder how new technologies may be used to bring our patrons/users/friends/community to information. And I might add it’s useful to remember even though the world of information continues to evolve and morph beyond the wildest imaginations of our ancestors, what we do remains essentially the same: empower people to find information. (See my Philosophy of Librarianship here.)

Now, in my experience, we seem also to be playing a role in helping people to find each other. Tagging is an idea that is – if not invented by then certainly – embraced by librarians. Sites like Flickr and MySpace (my experience as a lover of indie music has been extremely positive on MySpace) are bringing people together in large part due to social tagging and user-defined metadata. I don’t think I would have had as rich an experience and understanding of this as I do had I not combined philosophy with application. It’s like the old nature/nurture debate in one way: it’s not one or the other, it’s both. Just some late night thoughts on future librarian 2.0. Now as I drift off to sleep I am pondering information literacy…

Attire for entry-level librarian interviews April 27, 2006

Posted by jennimi in About me, Image of Librarians, Library School, marketing yourself.
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Great cross-post by burlapwax over at Washtublibrarian, (quoting from an AUTOCAT survey on heidihoerman.com) about interview attire. Having interviewed for many professional positions, and served on interview committees, I think the advice is sound and generally applies to anyone. When in doubt wear a suit! I was recently stressing about how to afford one and a coworker suggested JCPenney for good sales – they were right. (And Penney’s has petites, and various inseam options! Yay!). Thrift and consignment shops can also be great options for tight budgets. Always present the best YOU you can at an interview. University at Buffalo students can access Career Services for help preparing for interviews and writing resumes.

Personal story: About ten years ago a case management supervisor of mine called me into her office to talk with me about wearing a sweatshirt and jeans to work. I was young, and was assigned to conduct a home visit at a very unhygienic home that day (bugs, food decay, other unmentionables). I didn’t mean to offend, just thought I would dress for the job that day. I felt pretty embarrassed about the reprimand from my supervisor but she said something that has stuck with me for years and has always served me well (and, I promise, will be relevant to the original topic):

“Don’t necessarily dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want“.

Of course there are many complexities and issues with this statement, but overall it is a very good mantra. While we’re students, our employers and practicum supervisors tend to be really understanding about our financial situations and the fact that we may be wearing the same thing for 14 hours (class, lab, practicum, then job, all in the same day sometimes!). But when we get to the interview point and beyond it’s possible expectations will change. Whether or not a particular library/library department will require a dress code once hired, it’s just good practice to dress for success for the interview. Just my two cents on a very dear topic. Others’ insights and experiences on this are more than welcome.