Archive for October, 2011

#CPD23 Thing 23: The Librarian in the Mirror

October 17, 2011

So, on to the final Thing in CPD23, and time to reflect on what I’ve learned and look ahead to where I want to go.

What I’ve learned can be summed up in my 6 word story: new apps + cool colleagues = better librarian.

I was familiar with most of the apps we Thinged. (Yes, that is a word. Even if verbing weirds nouns.) A minority I didn’t know, but I knew and used equivalents. As in library school, the CIT portion was my secret super-power. But the colleagues I met while using the applications were, for me, the real benefit of the program. My RSS feed and Twitter lists are now bulging with good sources of information whose links I follow up on as a sort of every-day CPD mini-program, and that’s a habit I plan to maintain. (Thankfully, it’s easier to stick to than my post-holiday lose 3 kilo plan.)

My biggest change in the wake of CPD23 is that I realized that though my library school has no formal mentoring program I could create my own by getting my lecturers enthused about my career potential. Over the summer I did this and will soon be starting my internship a year early. My goals for the coming year (along with trying to keep up my GPA as well as I can) are to learn the Aleph catalog system and how to work with patrons and by the end of the year to have landed a part-time library job , preferably in an academic library.

And now, off to my two weeks of summer vacation!

#CPD Things 21 & 22: Giving to Get

October 10, 2011

The whole question of library jobs and library job interviews is one I’m seriously considering right now,because I’d like to transition from my information professional job into a mix of part-time library work and part time information work. After 14 years, I need a change, but library work doesn’t pay as well as information work, so it can only be a partial change at this point.

In considering the kind of work I would both be good a (and thus of value to my employers) and would enjoy, I’ve been gravitating toward academic libraries. I prefer working with slightly older people and I get along best with the 20-30 age group that is usually in those libraries. My knowledge of English would be a real asset as would my command of computer applications, social media, cataloging skills, and history of teaching college-age students, and my ability to think on my feet and learn quickly wouldn’t hurt.

The big thing I’m missing, which is a must in an academic library, is knowledge of the Aleph (Ex Libris) system.

Which is where volunteering comes in. This summer I volunteered to create and catalog a music collection in a public library, which gave me an opportunity to learn issues involved in cataloging special collections, music, keywords, quick searches for information to add to the records, and a very thorough intro to the proclivities of the Agron system. Lots of that can carry over to Aleph, but it’s not enough.

Last week I had my pre-semester meeting with my faculty. She was joking with me that I work too hard and ought to take time off, read a book. “I don’t read books, I catalog them,” I said, and when she laughed, I told her that I was serious, that I spent my summer vacation cataloging and that I wanted to apply for academic jobs but have neither the certificate (well, duh — that’s why I’m in school) nor that one crucial qualification.

Long story short, my schedule was rearranged so at the end of this school year I’ll be able to have my government certification as a librarian (and spend the last year getting the information certificate) and they are arranging for me to volunteer, with supervision, in an academic library, so that within a few months I can start applying for jobs and be able to say that I have the proper qualifications or as near enough as does not matter.

Volunteering works — it’s often the only way to get the experience needed to get a job, And tooting your own horn, in a  modest fashion, works wonders, too.

By this time next year I expect I’ll have at least a part time library job, mainly due to volunteering. And I’ll blog about it when I do.




#CPD23 Thing 20: Getting Here

October 5, 2011

The one commonality in the librarian stories I’ve read is that the authors did not plan to be librarians. Most seem to have stumbled into the field, and I’m certainly no exception. People who know me well have one of two reactions (or, paradoxically, both simultaneously) when they hear what I’m learning:

1: That makes so much sense. Why didn’t you think of this sooner?

2: Are you kidding? You never even set foot in a library for 20 years!

Yes, the later is true. I’m a librarian-in-training without a subscription to a library. But that means I understand why the public doesn’t flock to the public libraries in droves — I’m one of them and now I’m trying to find a way, through study and work, to make the library attractive to me and to others like me.

I’ve contributed my Library Route to the project (originally written for #CPD23 Thing 10) and I participated in this year’s Library Day in the Life. I have high hopes that by the time LibDay8 rolls around I’ll have even more to contribute, but that’s a story for Thing 22.