Category Archives: Librarianship

SLA 2014: ‘I Am Not a Brand!': Building Your Personal and Professional Profile

by Mary Ellen Bates

You’re a Brand

  • it’s how you show up
  • it’s not what you intended to do, it’s what people see what they interact with them
  • it’s what you’re known for
  • it’s what Google shows about you, you need to show up, because they expect you to be there

Your Message

  • an empty result is a message too
  • email signature file
  • cover memo
  • internal website bio
  • pictures and descriptions
  • recent projects, successes
  • even attendance of conferences
  • where you volunteer, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you and how they perceive you
  • social media

Why Get Social

  • it’s like looking in a phone book, people expect you to show up where they expect you to
  • need to be as findable as possible
  • 40-80% companies used social media to research job candidates

What Matters?

  • 57% professional image
  • 50% good personality
  • 50% wide range of interests
  • 49% background & qualifications
  • 46% creativity – if also have the ability to do the future job

Be Smart

  • keep updates public, but remember that it’s public
  • no political rants (or pick your battles) – be willing to live with consequences if you post
  • easy on the family & vacation photos – okay, but be moderate
  • “about me” updated with professional photo
  • post regularly
  • be authentic
  • create and lead a group if you really want to establish yourself as an expert
  • link with all clients and colleagues
  • give recommendations – shows support, care about the profession
  • post comments, retweet – forward what other people are saying

Ideas on What to Say

  • insights from a conference
  • read others’ blogs, tweets
  • learn (take a class, volunteer)
  • ask questions, conduct a survey
  • share everything – gets more out there even if it’s copied

What to Say

  • what are you passions? what gets you excited?
  • what do you want your next employer to know about you?

For Organizations

  • people tune out fast
  • need to talk about why, not what and in readable ways e.g. “We search premium databases”, no!, change it to “We expand your horizons beyond Google” / “We have a wide range of databases” to “We provide global insights with unfiltered results unlike Google” / “I’m a librarian” to “I enable the discovery of new knowledge”
  • talk about results
  • figure out your value proposition
  • see how others do it (especially vendors who have invested in it, make use of it)
  • it’s not all about you – benefits to users, not features; results, not activity

Reflection: Questioning What We’re Saying

The last week or so, I don’t think any one involved in libraries and connected to social media (especially Twitter) will have missed what happened at CLA and the subsequent blow out from that. I mostly declined to comment on the incident (and I’ll explain why below), but it got me thinking. Continue reading

We Can Shape “The Great Age of Librarians”

Thanks to @fsayre, I was recently readingĀ Breaking the barriers of time and space: the dawning of the great age of librarians by T. Scott Plutchak. It’s an interesting look back on the past, how the printed book changed libraries, and how we can be entering “the great age of librarians” with the shift to digital. I thought I would reflect on this a little more. I’m not sure I will come to any better conclusion, but perhaps how this might apply to myself and others. It’s a smattering of thoughts, so I may have to rewrite this later, but I hope this will get some people thinking and discussing. Continue reading

Thank You: On Awards and Being Recognized in Library Land

Just yesterday, Valerie (@vforrestal) posted an article on the culture in library land of achievements and recognition. To summarize, my takeaway from it is that our focus as librarians should not be winning awards and getting into the “in” crowd, but to do our work well and that we should strive for recognition from colleagues recognizing our everyday contributions as our achievements. Being a fairly new librarian, reading the article was a great reminder that getting awards and proposals accepted is not as important as we might make it out to be. Continue reading

Looking Beyond the Library

Stuck in a Bubble?

So often working in a library, I feel like we’re stuck in the bubble that is the “library world”. While there are many aspects that are “special” to libraries or information/collection based organizations, so many aspects of librarianship are not: customer service, teaching, marketing/communications, space usage/design, web and IT services, etc. Yet for whatever reason, I find so many that are reluctant or never think to look outside the little bubble that we live in. Working in academic libraries, at least many people will think to expand into the higher ed world sometimes, but then stop there. Continue reading

Getting Thrown into the Deep End

So I started at CILS 3 weeks ago, and oh boy does it feel longer. My first week was a lot of getting settled in sort of thing (which means orientation and a lot of paperwork), and being given the simplest of stuff. After the first week, I was thrown into the deep end. Continue reading

Technology Requirements for MLIS Students

Recently on Hack Library School, Amy Frazier posted about her idea of the ideal library school with higher-level technology classes and require more tech skills for librarians-to-be.

Librarian By Name, Geek By Nature.

The post generated quite a lot of comments including my own. It’s definitely an issue that I have seen discussed more often in the last year or two. When I was in school, a number of students (including myself) expressed the desire for more technology courses in our program.

Including More Technology Courses

One side of the discussion is getting MLIS programs to offer more tech courses. While personally, I could have used more tech courses, I don’t necessarily think that it’s viable for a lot of schools. It’s difficult enough for schools that librarianship is very broad, add to that that many MLIS type jobs are not in libraries, and you get the basic problem of “how do you offer courses to cover all topics of interest in a single library school?”

Basically, you can’t. It’s impossible. At my school, there is a PhD program, so at the Master’s level, it even needs to cover all the research side of things.

Option 1: Partner with the CS department

One way is to possibly have the faculty partner with the CS department to allow students to take lower level programming classes or recommend CS classes that aren’t programming heavy. Unfortunately, like at my school, universities will normally not allow credit to be given for lower level courses when in a master’s program.

Option 2: Partner with other LIS schools

There is always the option of partnering with other schools to offer classes (this includes non-technology related courses). This already happens in many schools, but due to different schedules and the difficulty of getting through other schools’ admissions for classes and such, it is traditionally not particularly convenient. Improving the shared courses system would definitely help though.

Option 3: Offer 2-3 introductory courses

I would say that, at the least, LIS schools should at least have introductory courses (again possibly in partnership). At my school, they offered a 1-credit class as an introductory course (a regular class is 3 credits). I think for its first time, it did quite well and a lot of students had signed up. What I would like to see is for additional 1-credit classes to be offered to introduce the basics of other languages or a 3-credit course, which can almost be a survey type course where you’re introduced to the basics of a couple of languages and taught the process in making decisions on which to use when. An existing class covers technology management and what we dubbed “systems 101″. Schools might consider partnering with professional associations to offer these sorts of classes.

But if you want tech…

In the end though, if students want a library program that is very tech heavy, then perhaps they should do more research into which schools already offer that sort of program before applying. Much like at the undergraduate level, different schools emphasize different things, so it’s up to a student to do the research and do their best to get in.

Requiring More Technology Skills

The other big idea that came up in the discussion is requiring the completion of a course which involves a higher level of technology skills. While I think library students need to graduate with at least a basic amount of technology skills, I think what’s more important is knowing how and when to integrate technology into library services to best support users.

Solution?: Technology Integration

Some of the commenters also proposed this idea, at least to a degree (I admit that I have not read every single answer though).

The biggest issue I had with my required technology class (other than the fact that we couldn’t be exempted even if you had a CS background) was that much of what we learnt was not put into a practical context.

If you want students to learn how to make a PowerPoint presentation, don’t make them do something that involves lots of different animations (no one does this, or at least should do this in a real presentation), but instead, tell them to make a presentation that pitches an idea or teaches a skill for example.

In an instructional class, have students make a video a la research minute for example. Get them to work with a real library and upload it to their YouTube channel when done.

My favourite classes were ones where we got a practical project that involved learning a new technology. For example, I took a class on digital collections, so we read all the usual papers, sat through all the lectures, and we learned how to use DBTextWorks and ContentDM. That means that I now can (with a bit of wrangling) build a digital collection should I see the need (or become responsible for that sort of thing).

More than anything, I think students need to learn the situations where it would be beneficial for them and patrons to integrate technology, and if they need help, then to go ask their systems team.