Volunteering at KCLS!

March 21, 2011

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to volunteer for an event for the same organization where I completed my Directed Fieldwork this past quarter.

The event was the King County Library System’s Library Foundation Literary Lions Gala. Essentially, they pretty-up the Bellevue Regional Library, bring in caterers and bartenders, a keynote speaker and 10-15 local authors and copies of their books and have a fancy party right there in the library! It was an exciting opportunity to get dressed up and rub elbows with people in evening gowns and tuxedos, but the best part?

All of these people LOVE the library.

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Real Life – Library – Experience

February 28, 2011

I’ve written a couple of posts about how important it is to gather experience working with libraries and organizations while also attending school. One of the things I don’t think I’ve highlighted enough is the fact that YOU can go out and approach people with your ideas (based on your interests and strengths).

Here’s an example:

If you LOVE creating/designing/redesigning web sites, why not approach a library that needs a web site facelift?

 

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Return to Theory vs Practicality

January 31, 2011

Here I return to discussing Theory and Practicality in LIS graduate programs. Here’s my first post about it. Again, I can’t really speak for anyone else’s classroom experiences, but from what I’ve heard, other people are feeling similarly. Theory — an essential aspect to learning the core foundations of a well-established field (such as librarianship) — is being taught poorly. And here’s why it needs to change:

  1. When you’re working at a library, you don’t have time to ponder which theory best fits the person’s information needs. You need to make a quick decision for a way to help them.
  2. Memorizing theories and models is useful when you have time to spend reading the actual case studies behind them. But we (students) don’t have time. These case studies usually focus on the people who were studied. But when we’re thrown theory after model after theory after model, there’s really no way to digest everything. We spend too much time thinking about what to do instead of putting it into action. (There must be an information behavior model for that… right?)
  3. Which leads me to this final reason for changing the use of theory in LIS classes: Focusing on so many models, we’re sure to start leaning toward one that seems comfortable for us — UNTIL! — we read criticism about it. Then, we either find ourselves pondering ways to defend the theory we’ve come to know and love OR we drop it and head in another direction. We should be encouraged to know what other people in the LIS have done in similar situations, but we also need to learn when it is time to leave the theories behind and find another solution.

So, I’m clearly still stuck in this middle ground I talked about in the previous post. We need the theory to give us a foundation, but putting it all into practice seems to be the most rewarding experience I’ve had this far in my LIS schooling.

Here’s my plan: keep current with LIS and keep being an innovator. I think one of the most crucial ways for me to do this is to keep talking to my colleagues. One way I’ll do that is through Hack Library School. We’re redefining LIS through conversation, questions and collaboration! (Look for another post about that soon, but in the meantime, check it out!)


#HackLibSchool and You

October 22, 2010

This post is a Shared Item I plan to post on a discussion board for my class — LIS 560 — Instructional and Training Strategies for Information Professionals. I figured I’d post it up here, too.
———————————————————————
We’ve talked about Information Literacy and now we’ve seen some spectacular examples of tools and live lessons. I would like to supplement all of this with a collaborative tool designed by and for MLIS and MLS students. This tool — in essence — is attempting to assist us with our information needs!

This tool is called #HackLibSchool. If you’ve heard of Hacking The Academy (a crowdsourced digital book created in May 2010), this is something similar, but for US — MLIS students!

Here’s the long and short of it all —
It was an idea developed by Micah Vandegrift — here’s his web site — he’s a current MLIS student, too.
The objective is to fill the information gap that MLIS and MLS students find between their classes and “real life libraries”.

— So, now for the “extra info” —
Take a look at this blog post explaining #HackLibSchool. It’s an informative, stimulating post — not too long, either. Also, here is the link to the Google Document that is open for anyone and everyone to edit and add to. This past week, a wiki was created to begin organization on the doc. You can go to the wiki, but not all of the information is transferred there, yet. I encourage you to take a look at the blog post before diving into the Google Doc.

So, now that you’ve taken a look at this new collaborative tool, share your thoughts. What do you think about this as a way to provide resources for MLIS students? What kind of information that is already provided is valuable to you? What would you do different? What other resources or information would you like to see added? What did (or would) you add?

Want to see the tweets about this? Look at #libraryschool and #HackLibSchool on Twitter. There are conversations for everyone’s interests.

[please let me know if any of these links break]


Theory vs Practice

October 18, 2010
What happens when you combine 8-12 future librarians with a patio full of pumpkins? You get a conversation about theory and practice in library school curriculum. And this.

The discussion my colleagues and fellow-pumpkin-gutters had yesterday helped me realize one more thing about my MLIS experience. Our curriculum is ‘supposedly’ theoretical-based. It’s what we’re known for. But, we don’t know if that’s the right way to go anymore. Heavy on the theory — with a dash of practice if you have time. 

The faculty and instructors are realizing this, too. Shift happens — during required, core classes. One instructor teaches using strong theory while another provides no readings and puts us in workshops and presentations without any strategy. When we’re in the theory-based class, we complain because we want something more practical. We want to know what life is going to be like in the “real world” of library management or how to actually DO research. But, when we’re in the practice-based classes, we’re told to prepare a workshop to teach small business-owners how to use the library’s resources and we’re perplexed because we have no strategy or theory to act as a foundation for our planning.
So this leads us to a somewhat disappointing conclusion — we’re halfway through our program and we are right in the middle of a shift. We’re going to miss out on important LIS theory and practice, but we have the responsibility to be leaders in this new LIS field. We might not be satisfied with any of our classes, but we should take what we can get. It’s our right and responsibility to ask questions and debate the answers so we’re prepared to lead LIS into the future. 
At least we have each other. And Superman.

[Experiencing] in Library School

October 6, 2010

The residential program at the iSchool has a couple of different tracks, but most people are on a 2-year completion track. I am one of those people. This means that during the first year, I’m a beginner and during the second year, I’m an “expert.” So… here’s my [somewhat] unsolicited advice about library experience in a MLIS or MLS program.

Since school started last week, I’ve attended several events to talk to first-year students. I’ve attempted to answer their questions as clearly and honestly as possible. One question I’ve heard over and over is, “Should I work at a library while I’m in the MLIS program?” My answer is, “Do something! Work, volunteer, get involved.”

Zack, a current library science student at the University of South Carolina, (here’s his blog. Read his reflection on starting his MLIS) and I had a little conversation about getting “real” experience one evening on Twitter (by the way, his username is @wildbookchase). The conversation I had with him was just the first of several similar conversations I’ve had in the past few days. Here’s a taste:

I want to get experience working in a library, but none of the student jobs pay enough to live on.
You’re right. They don’t pay a lot, but the skills you learn and the people you work with could potentially be the ticket to finding a job after school is done. If you’re in school right now, you’re probably living primarily on loans. Take advantage of being a student and work the student jobs with the attitude that you’re going in looking for experience and being paid is a bonus.

I don’t know what I want to do, so I don’t know which jobs to apply for.
Apply for anything and everything. If you are invited to interview, you’ll learn more about the position and then you’ll get to ask questions. 

The places I want to work don’t have job openings.
Volunteer! If you want experience somewhere, the best way to get into it is to volunteer your time. There’s no better time to work without pay than when you’re getting money from loans as a student. (Yes. I know some people don’t take out loans. I don’t know what to tell you. Sorry.)

I think I’ll just focus on classes right now. I don’t want to get too overwhelmed.
That works well for some people. But, please remember that some of your instructors haven’t worked in libraries for many years. They are instructors first, librarians second. Some of them have not worked in libraries. They might not be able to explain “real librarianship” to you anymore… libraries are changing so quickly! If you’re working or volunteering, you will be working with librarians and staff who experience the library every day and YOU will get first-hand experience, too.

Other ways to get involved (and meet connections) include —
volunteering to work at conferences, internships, and summer fieldwork.

Get the full experience in library school. Go to class, do (some) of the readings, ask questions, work, volunteer, attend webinars and conferences (while you get a student discount!) and learn as much as you can. We are the future of the world’s libraries! That’s a lot of pressure — and a wonderful challenge!


Banned/Challenged Books Panel [Part 1: Planning]

October 4, 2010

The iSchool has a student chapter of ALA. We call it SALA. This year, I am the secretary of the organization. It is an honor and a pleasure to be a part of a dedicated and professional organization. We work at disseminating information given to us by ALA as well as planning professional and social events throughout the year.

I volunteered to lead the organization of the Banned/Challenged Books panel this fall. We didn’t schedule it during the official Banned Books Week because that was the first week of classes. The panel is on Wednesday, October 6 in Mary Gates Hall 420 from 5:15pm-7:00pm. Here’s our schedule:
5:15pm-6:00pm — Free pizza, socialize, share our favorite banned/challenged books
6:00pm-7:00pm — Panel with the following panelists:
             * Susan Hildreth — City Librarian, Seattle, Washington (Seattle Public Library)            
             * Terri Kuechle — Middle School Librarian, Beaverton, Oregon
             * Lynn Miller — Teen Librarian at Ballard branch, Seattle, Washington (Seattle Public Library)
             * Elsa Steele — Managing Librarian in Kirkland, Washington (King County Library System)

Our panel will be available to distance MLIS students who attend UW, too. We are going to set up an online meeting room where people will be able to listen to the panel and participate by leaving comments and questions online. I am excited to add this dynamic to our panel.

These next couple of days, I will be creating a list of questions to use to facilitate the panel, but I hope the audience brings its own questions because I look forward to this being a stimulating discussion about libraries, intellectual freedom and the rights of readers.

You can find updates about SALA on our website, Facebook and Twitter.
Look for another post reflecting and evaluating the panel after the event. And hopefully I’ll have some photos!


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