2 years later: a reflection

March 16, 2011

I started blogging 2 years ago. to.the.date… This is my first blog post.

In that first post, I wrote about how I pretty much LIVED in the library and had decided to attend graduate school to get my MLIS. Today, I’m 2 years older and officially done with my MLIS coursework! Look at that! DREAMS DO COME TRUE!

So, here’s the reflecting part — the fact that I live in the library is still fact, but I am not physically IN a library for 8+ hours a day. Instead, I’ve learned that the library is the PEOPLE – the COMMUNITY. Read the rest of this entry »


The Search for a Job

February 16, 2011

Several of my posts have been career or job related lately, so I’m sure you can tell I’m feeling ready to be done being a “formal” student. The next logical step (for me) is starting my career in a library! (and I am oh so so so excited about that!!!) Here are five job-related thoughts floating about in my over-caffeinated brain tonight:

Read the rest of this entry »

How would YOU hack library school?

February 14, 2011

I’m honored to give a little plug for a new collaborative project I’ve been involved with for the past couple of weeks. HACK LIBRARY SCHOOL A space written by, for and about LIS students. So, check it out!

Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Quarter 2010 Review

January 11, 2011

At the end of each quarter I attempt to review the classes I took and give some final thoughts. I’m aware that I’m already into my second week of the next quarter, but here are my thoughts nonetheless. (Oh, and if you’re a potential MLIS student or just starting your studies, please let me know if you have questions about classes to take!)

LIS 522 — Collection Development 
* This class taught me the importance of policy, awareness, and preparation in libraries. I mean it ONLY makes sense to have a Collection (development, deselection, management, etc) Policy if you want to protect the library and its users and inform the staff and the users of the library’s role in the community.
* This class also taught me that guest speakers from the field (vendors, librarians, selectors) are valuable.
LIS 531 — Cataloging, Catalogs, CATA-WHAT?! (that wasn’t the real name)
* Everyone says “you have to take cataloging if you’re going to be a librarian” and while I want to agree, I don’t. There will always be original cataloging, but it is becoming less and less original and more and more automated. Libraries are sharing records and I think this is a GOOD thing — it makes the library more consistent, efficient and user-friendly.
* However, this class was a great way for me to exercise and grow my skills and knowledge of different library catalogs (searching, evaluating, etc). I don’t regret taking it, but I don’t think it is absolutely necessary. What is necessary is knowing about the theory and strategies of organizing information — most cataloging classes teach a couple strategies, but an overview class if perfectly fine if you never intend to do original cataloging. 
LIS 560 — Instruction Strategies for Info Professionals
* This class taught me that sometimes learning the theory behind strategy and practicality is essential. We were kind of thrown into teaching without much guidance (some but not ‘enough’ as some people would say). It was interesting and invigorating to see different people’s teaching strategies, but I also feel like I’m lacking in the theory behind instruction in information professions. I mean… How do I write a teaching statement?
* Nonetheless, I saw so many (honestly amazing!) practical presentations of relevant topics in instruction of information in this class, I left the class feeling more confident and inspired. Hey! Maybe I can teach a group of small business owners how to use Facebook to market their companies!
LIS 598 — Genre Fiction for Adults — with Nancy Pearl, Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year 2011
* I gushed about this class in a few other posts, so I’ll keep this short.
* If you ever get the opportunity to go to a training, class, webinar, book talk presentation, etc. with Nancy, go! It will be worth your time. Her love for libraries, students, readers and books will inspire you. You’ll be flying out of the room with a long list of books to read and sprinting to the nearest library. I’m not joking!

This was one of the most rewarding quarters of my MLIS experience. If you have any questions or comments, let me know!

Winter Quarter 2011 Preview & the FUTURE!

January 8, 2011

I just began my final quarter of my library school experience! I’m amazed that this has gone so quickly and I will be heartbroken to leave my friends and classmates when I graduate; however, I have a lot to look forward to.

Before I preview my final classes, here’s why I’m graduating early and I hope to do after school.
(this is your warning to skip to the end if you don’t care)
I’m finishing my degree ahead of schedule because I took more credits than are recommended (to “get my money’s worth” since I am paying out-of-state tuition) and I took a class during the summer. I could stay another quarter, but I have decided to graduate because I feel ready and prepared to enter the profession as a librarian, and I do not want to take out more student loans for credits I don’t really need.

I plan on moving back to the region of the country I love to call home — the Upper Midwest. I would like to find a position at a small or rural library in a smaller community. I grew up in a small town and while I’ve loved my time in Seattle, I think my career path and my lifestyle are leading me back to the rural areas. My interests lie in community collaboration, outreach and partnerships and I think I will get a great understanding of this as I start out in a smaller area.

So, if you know of any small libraries in the Upper Midwest that are hiring, please let me know!

I’m also looking forward to living somewhere where I can have a garden, a cat and a front porch. 🙂

So, for my final quarter of my library school experience, I am taking the following courses:

LIS 521 — Principles of Information Services
— This is essentially a crash course in the resources and strategies and techniques used to answer questions at a reference desk (academic or public).
LIS 596 — Professional Portfolio
— This is a Culminating Experience option at the iSchool — as opposed to writing a thesis — essentially we will create a portfolio using artifacts and reflections from our coursework to market ourselves while looking for jobs. This blog may temporarily become my portfolio if I don’t learn how to use something else in a couple of weeks — you’ve been warned.
LIS 590 — Directed Fieldwork
— I’m doing an “internship” at the King County Library System — Bellevue Library in (where else) Bellevue, Washington. My role is researcher. I do this through observing, communication and collecting data about the adult services and programs. I’ll be collecting this data and writing a report that will be part of the User Needs Assessment that the library is doing over the next several months. If you want more details, please let me know.

Happy New Year!

January 3, 2011

When I was 7 or 8, a huge blizzard wrapped my family into our house in southern Minnesota for a couple of days over the New Year Holiday. We all huddled in the basement next to the stone fire place. It is even possible that we didn’t have electricity because of the storm (although I could be mistaken) and so we sat in that room and played quietly. My mom handed me a book to read. I could tell it was one of her old books from when she was a little girl. It had “a lot” of pages and smelled like a combination old newspaper and homemade bread. It was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods.

I sat next to the warm, glowing fire place in an old rocking chair and read that book for hours that day. I became lost in the Big Woods and in the Ingalls’ family’s story. That may be why I want to think that we didn’t have electricity. This is one of my richest and most comforting memories.

On New Year’s Day 2011, I found myself curled up on the couch with a nice warm blanket and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. I had electricity, the Internet, and dozens of DVDs to keep me occupied, but I ached for an afternoon of getting lost in a story. It was a wonderful way to start the new year — a year where I will be moving to a new part of the country, beginning my life with new (and old) friends, and hopefully finding my place in the world of librarianship. The afternoon lacked only one thing — I wished for the soft glow and crackle of my parents’ warm fire place to keep me company. Of course, if I’d have been in my parents’ house in front of the fire place, I would be reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods for the eighth time, but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that it is a new year and another chapter of my story is ready to unfold.
Happy New Year!

The Name Game

November 8, 2010

When I began my MLIS education, I took a class that had to do with Information Behavior. The behavior people use when interacting with information or the lackthereof. It could have been a fascinating class had we all not suffered from severe information overload and an instructor lacking skills to instruct. Ask if you want more details.

On the first day, we talked about what to call those people that go into the library. Are they patrons? Are they users? Are they customers? Are they students? What are they? We did not arrive at an answer that day. Now, a year later we were introduced to a new term: civilians. Are they civilians? I still don’t know…

Patrons — this word seems old-fashioned to me. It has good intentions — as patron is defined as someone who is supporting an institution, but that term just doesn’t sound right when it comes out of my mouth.
Users — this sounds like I’m describing someone who uses drugs, but it is the word I use most often because the people who walk into the library or log into the library web site** are indeed USING it.
Customers — well, we aren’t really selling anything at a library, so the word ‘customer’ (someone who buys goods and services) is kind of off-putting.
Students — yes, everyone is a student of life. However, overuse of the term may lead to confusion — and for libraries that have homework help for students (elementary, middle or high school), it could be even more complex.
Civilians — I associate this word with someone who is not in the military. When I looked it up, I found another definition: “anyone regarded by members of a profession, interest group, society, etc., as not belonging; nonprofessional; outsider” from Dictionary.com. I would hope that libraries do not consider the people who USE them to be not belonging or outsiders. That term just seems to describe the opposite of how libraries serve their communities.

**And, what about the people who access the library without going through the doors? They use the web site and download e-books or audio books and IM chat with the librarians. What are they called? I call them users. Should they be called something else?

So, I usually say user to describe someone who is using the library. It seems most appropriate, and if people give me an uncomfortable look (as in — the did you call someone a “user”?! look), I restate it by saying “library-user” to make my point clear. Because I do believe that anyone who enters the library (physically or virtually) is USING it. Some people spend more time actively searching and gathering the information they need. Others are more passive and pick up a book being held for them. It doesn’t matter — the libraries are being used by their communities. 

One more question to think about. I’ll write about this in another post soon. What do we call people who don’t come to the (physical or virtual) library? 

Other terms people mentioned when I asked on Twitter:
community member

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