Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

I’m back!  I had a wonderful time presenting our poster at the Social Sciences section.  I was a little over ambitious, I came with 100 handouts and could have gotten by with 50 but I met many wonderful people and even ran into a librarian from Rutgers, so nice to see someone connected to my program.  My sister went with me to Chicago and we had a great time sight seeing before the conference began.  If you’re interested feel free to look through some photos of the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum (natural history), Adler Planetarium, and the Art Institute.   It was my first visit to Chicago and while the humidity was killing me, we were in a very walk-able part of the city.  The walk from the hotel to the convention center was about 2 miles, which is nice in the morning but in midday it could be problematic.  I also caught a terrible cold that would not go away!  I thought I was nearly immune to everything, but apparently that’s only for California bugs, Illinois bugs see me as fair game.  Add to that, when I came back to work our catalog and entire system were down and the ILL system was running slowly because of the file migration.  So I need to travel more to become immune to everything but I can’t travel because work will fall apart without me. 😀  I have finished typing up my notes and finally distributed them to my co-workers, which is how I have time to (finally) post this afternoon).

After going to both ALA and SLA, I’m not sure which one I prefer, they are very different.  I liked the size of SLA it felt much more intimate, there weren’t as many vendors and it was a little more formal.  I participated in the Twitter feeds more (look for the #SLAChicago  tweets for an idea of the conversation) which were either more lively or felt so to me because I’m still getting the hang of Twitter.  ALA has ARCs which are nice (review should be up for another book next week) and a greater variety of panels to attend.  However, I preferred the round table discussions at SLA to the ones at ALA.   Although both ALA and SLA have librarians coming from a highly diverse background I think many of the SLA attendees are in similar situations to each other – eg. many special libraries tend to be smaller so the librarian has to wear more hats and be highly specialized at the same time.   ALA was a little more difficult for me to navigate and network despite the fact that I had a mentor, but I think part of that may be that it was my first national professional conference.

Now that I’m getting a feel for professional development beyond coursework, I look forward to attending both conferences again next year.  I’m applying for the ALA’s Emerging Leader’s program, so please send good thoughts my way and cross your fingers.  SLA is going to be in San Diego.  I should be able to keep up with multiple conferences a year if they keep hosting things in California, but I suppose that wouldn’t be fair.  I am also writing up a presentation proposal for a small seminar in the fall.  I have signed up for a Coursea class on Internet Technology (I was going to take SiFi and Fantasy Lit and Listening to World music as well but I think I may just audit those since my MLIS classes start up again at the start of September and I want to enjoy my last month).  I’ve heard from the Generation Why Librarian that she will be submitting a poster proposal for ASIST and I’ll be helping with that since we’re happy with how our SLA poster turned out.  I spoke with several people about perhaps publishing an article at the poster session so I’ll start on abstracts for that as well.

Thanks for reading and waiting for me to recover.  Next week posts should resume as usual.  I have some great online tools from ALA to cover for you and a book review from one of the advanced readers.  I’ve also recently started chain listening to the History Chicks podcasts so I may have to do another quick picks review on podcasts as well.


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Sunday morning, as a friend and I started into the convention center for another day of discovery and professional enrichment, I mentioned that my first choice for the morning was Diving in and learning to swim as a new distance education librarian. Her immediate and, to my ears, strong, response was “but you’re not a distance librarian, are you? Is that what you want to do?”
Her response surprised me in part because I love coming to conferences and attending webinars to be exposed to new things and to get an idea of what others in my field are trying to do. In addition to learning about others’ roles for it’s own sake, I’ve come to be a strong believer in cross training. In school we learn a little about many different aspects of librarianship. While I do not think I would be happy as a full time cataloger, I can appreciate the MARC and RDA rules and guidelines that go into formatting a record. Knowing how a record is compiled makes it easier for me to help patrons at the desk and to find information to fill ILL requests. I can also appreciate some of the limitations it may place on some half baked ideas I may be tempted to suggest in updating the catalog. It’s very easy to section ourselves off into different departments and forget that to our patrons the library is often one entity and they don’t care about a tech services – access services feud.
That said, I would be very interested in being a distance librarian. If anecdotal evidence is to be believed most students will have at least a few online classes by the end of their programs. Also, as a distance student, it is interesting to hear what the librarians think they are providing against my experience of the class. I also did not fail to note that many people seem to fall into their roles based on being the only volunteer or breaking a new path because if a previously side interest.
I have some great ideas from the distance librarianship panel. Unloved the feeling that distance students’ needs should be at the beginning
with the on campus students’, not an afterthought. Some of the ways they adapted existing programs was informative and inspiring (again, I’ll post full notes after the conference is over).
After the morning session, I went to see the posters downstairs and I was amazed at the variety of subjects covered. I felt that all of the subjects I stopped to look at we’re engaging. I was particularly impressed by a partnership in Washington between the public and academic libraries in one county. My coworker and I are constantly trying to encourage our patrons to go to the public library for the high demand ILLs we could not get for them. I liked the idea that the items were sent to the library as a basic hold. I think Orange County may be too big for this to work, but one can dream.
I spent so long looking at posters that I was late to the next session, so instead of going to copyright initiatives on campus (which looked full when I glanced in, so if someone wants to share their notes…) I went to revitalizing the research process. The talk was given by a school librarian and a high school English teacher. While I won’t have to teach research writing anytime soon, they had some great recommendations for free web display and graphic tools that I can’t wait to play with.
My last session was one that I enjoyed, but I wish it was a multi-meeting course than a brief panel. Discovery systems promise and reality was interesting as a survey of different linked databases and catalogs but I felt like there were too many panelists in the room to get a good feel for how each school implemented them. I loved the ideas about making better links for ILL or DDS or find it at x library items, allowing patrons to truly navigate from one interface.
I ended the day meeting up with some people from Rutgers at an alumni function. I loved getting to see fellow students and having faces to put to professors I’d only seen via email or a webcast. I am now the proud owner of some new pens (my orientation pens have been exhausted), an alumni pin for my badge and a magnet for my fridge. All on all a good haul on school swag and it weighs less than my books from the exhibitor floor.
Come back tomorrow for the last day of ALA recap, and please excuse any strange autocorrects in the text. I am posting this from my iPhone and the phone has some strange ideas about what I should be saying. Maybe I can make it a list of library abbreviations do it will stop making ILL into I’LL.

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Day 2 of ALA had some great presentations.  I was only able to attend two morning sessions before I had to leave for a wedding but I was happy with both sessions I sat through.

I attended the Grown ups just want to have fun! panel on play programming for college students.  I was surprised at some of the suggestions.  I feel particularly drawn to the idea of a scavenger hunt to highlight important parts of the library or to do the History Mystery game (I will link to the slides after the conference).  I downloaded the SCVNGR ap to do the ALA play scavenger hunt and I do not have strong feelings for it yet since there was only one clue up yesterday that I could find.  Perhaps there’s going to be one clue or task a day?  I think I’d have to have a couple on a given day to keep interested.  Does this ap do anything if a hunt is not planned?  It seems to have a check in and a few other options but nothing that is getting me too excited yet, maybe after I play with it for a little while.

My first choice for the second session was crowded and I was not getting inspired by the discussion so I left and I’m so glad I found my way into Addressing Global Diversity: meeting the needs of international students in Academic Libraries.  I thought all of the speakers had great things to say about tailoring their existing programming to meet the needs of international students.  I particularly liked the recommendation to get some idea of how these students would view the library in their home country so you can highlight the differences in ways that will help them understand how to navigate libraries in the US.  I also liked the reminder to not use jargon in encounters with international students (though I think that adding in some jargon with explanations gradually will help them in the long run, but that’s a stance I have on any encounters with patrons).  I appreciated the tip on asking the students where they would think to look for library program offerings, since it may not match up with where the staff think students would look for help.

All of the information in these sessions will help me when I find my first librarian position.  I hope to contact some of the education and outreach librarians when I return to work on Tuesday to see if they’d like a copy of my notes for the gaming session and to offer myself up as free labor for implementing some of them.  I need to find a way to be in more than one place at once since I’m sorry I missed I can do it by myself, The e-book elephant in the room, and Linked data & next generation catalogs.  If anyone went to one of these sessions would you share your notes?  I would be happy to reciprocate if you want notes from either of the two sessions above.

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Yesterday was my first day at ALA and it was strange to go to a convention at the Anaheim convention center that wasn’t the REC.  I was reassured by fellow conference goers that Friday is a slower day for meetings and updates from vendors and that I would see the conference hall packed to the gills again for the remainder of the conference. 

For what is supposed to be one of the slower days at conference I still saw a lot, was re-introduced to some familiar faces I’d met at CARL and learned new things about programs I use every day.  I attended the OCLC updates and learned more about OCLC than I was exposed to just using it for work.  I loved talking to the other people at my table who use this program so differently than I am used to.  Some of the new RDA options for OCLC seem like they are useful but I do not catalog on a regular basis so I won’t be able to say for sure until I do, but for those of you waiting, better RDA defaults are coming!

From there I went to a NMRT Conference 101 session that provided some wonderful tips and lightning round type networking.  At the end of the session I had the chance to chat with the representative from EBSS who gave me some tips on improving my tutorials when I get back to work!  When that finished up early I was able to squeeze in a visit to the RUSA 101 and am very excited to get involved with them as well.  I love the publications coming out of ACRL but I am particularly excited to hear about STARS and to meet some ILL people from different institutions, as well as to make a connection to one of the ILL staff from UC Berkley.

I caught the tail end of the emerging leaders poster session and was very impressed with everything I saw there, though I’d missed a bit since I was in other meetings.  I was able to make my way to the exhibit hall and pick up some freebies.  I will make it a point to cover the ARCs I picked up in this blog so I did not take the publisher’s books for naught, though I have little opportunity for reading advisory currently but perhaps in the future this will be good practice.

I finished up the night at the NMRT mentoring social.  My mentor had some great tips about the conference and how to start working towards giving presentations.  I met some great people I hope to see again after this conference. For a slow day I got a lot done.  I will be back tomorrow to tell you of Saturday’s adventures!

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This post was originally going to be about my continuing indecision about the wonderful offerings at the ALA convention this weekend.  I spent some time with the scheduler and I have been able to narrow the entire program down to a few offerings in each time slot and I will decide the day of which I will ultimately attend.  I’m playing around with different options for this blog and thought I might try embedding a pdf instead of sending a link to the schedule or transfering it as text.

Et voila, I’ve managed to embed the pdf!

The reason I make mention of embedding this pdf is I had some difficulty in finding a way to do this in WordPress.com.  When you use Google to search for “embed pdf in WordPress” you are taken to a wonderful page full of plugins for WordPress.org.  If you open the link you will notice that both of the WordPress sites look remarkably alike, with the same branding and the same basic layout.  So I assumed that the plugins page was compatible with WordPress.com.

I downloaded an embedding plugin with high ratings and looked at the instructions on how to install my plugin.  The instructions seemed straight-forward until I came back to my blog dashboard and could not find a “plugins” directory.  So I went to search in some different tabs, with now luck.  I tried Google again, this time trying “how to install a plugin in WordPress and saw a few snarky answers about how everyone should know how to use a FTP transfer program.

About this time I decided to go look through WordPress.com tutorials to see if I could find anything.  The tutorials were very basic and not what I was looking for.  I tried searching the WordPress.com site and still did not pull up anything particularly useful.  Finally I went back to Google again and searched for (using good searching techniques instead of winging it) “embed a pdf in WordPress.com blog” and was taken to this site which directed me to Scribd.    Scribd is easy to use thus far and seems easy to navigate.  I’m sure there are more elegant ways to embed pdfs but I don’t want to switch to WordPress.org just yet, though it’s tempting to be able to tinker with the coding.

My trials in embedding my schedule into my blog helped to remind me part of why I’m so excited about ALA this weekend, I want to learn new things and, after finding difficulties in the existing search field help others navigate them by drawing on my own experiences.   I’m sure to veteran bloggers this seems like a laughably easy problem, but it still took nearly 20 minutes of searching to accomplish something simple.  I need to constantly remind myself of how much I know and how difficult things can be the first time.  I will be sure to remember this feeling when I’m helping users navigate the e-linker or the course reserves page next quarter.  See you in Anaheim!

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I recently attended a wonderful talk by Mary Ellen Bates on Speaking to be Heard.  I apologize for not having a direct link to the slides she used but I could not find them on her website yet, though there is a lot of very interesting information to look through if you have the time to take a look.

At the beginning of this semester I decided to start taking a look at professional development opportunities and to begin bringing my online presence and resume in line with some of what I was seeing in librarian position postings.  Part of this endeavor has been looking at a lot of job hunting articles and attending workshops at conferences aimed at moving up when I finish my degree next year.  I’ve been to several elevator pitch workshops and the concept of having a good sales pitch is useful, but it comes off as a sales pitch.

Rather than having a 3 minute pitch, you should be working on a compelling hook that encourages your listener to ask you more.  While you’ll have several scenarios planned for different environments the one I created for this workshop was “I help you get materials that University Library does not have.”  It sounds much flashier than “I work in inter-library loan,” huh?  And you’re less likely to slip into ILL.  It’s still a sales pitch but it is a sales pitch that makes what you are saying more interesting and palatable to the person you’re speaking to.  The other part of the pitch is to try to create a statement that makes you seem useful to the user.  The other person is more interested in what you can do for them than the details of how you get there.

Another portion of the presentation was on the ways to solicit feedback from users.  The biggest suggestion was to put feedback options where the user was most likely to feel frustrated.  The example given in the presentation was to put forms on the card catalog since that is something many users would have difficulty navigating.  Now you would put the forms by the computer or perhaps have a widget on the homepage for users to click on.  By asking for feedback at a point of frustration the user is likely to remember in great detail what the problem is and how it occurred.   If you are able to successfully fix or eliminate the problem now means that when the user returns they are fans of the library, not just because they can get what they want but because you responded to their frustration.

Last but not least, I heard the entirety of the Brand 1985 quote: “Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine – too cheap to meter.  It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient.”  Strange how it sounds less like a liberate information rallying cry and more like information has its own plans and strategies.

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I’m never quite sure how to present grad school work.  When I’m at work, my MLIS classes are considered professional development.  But when I become a fully fledged librarian I’ll no longer have the graduate classes to fall back on in terms of professional development.  I had webinars on my radar in the past, but mostly as an alternative to a conference I could not attend (my previous library provided support in the way of time and expertise but we did not have hard funds for professional development for staff) or as a way to catch up on a new piece of software.  It wasn’t until this year (note all years for me are school years so “this year” for the blog started in September) that I began to truly make use of the offerings of some of the professional organizations that offer student rates and discounts.  My favorite in this so far has been SLA – they offer a large variety of webinars on everything from new technology to copyright workshops.  The webinars are available in a synched format at a specific day and time and a good number of them are recorded and posted online for review later.  The live webinar experience is great because I can listen and interact at work while I’m on a break and when I cannot watch all of it I can watch it later.

I attended a great webinar this week on open source technology presented by ByWater Solutions, the slides can be found here.  This presentation was an excellent overview of what open source technology means (the code is shared so you can update it but it is not necessarily free technology) and what it means for libraries.  The presenter moved through the material at a good pace and allowed plenty of time for questions.  She is  giving another presentation of the open source presentation in April, refer to the link above for times and how to sign up.

Webinars and taped meetings are a big part of working in libraries today.  I go to class online, interact with student groups online and work with meetings similar to the webinar software for presentations.  If you have access to an ALA, SLA, CLA or other library association membership look for information on their websites on what they offer.  Some webinars are free, some are more expensive than others.  ACRL provides scholarship opportunities (which reminds me I need to use that before it expires!) throughout the year and other professional groups do as well.  The one thing I don’t know yet is what the rules are for having a small group “attend” one one projector (ie. one computer but three or four attendees) does that work like an individual rate or do you use a different form?

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