Posts Tagged ‘personal history’

#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.

 

#cpd23 Thing 19: Cut but not bleeding

September 26, 2011

One last Thing and I’m temporarily caught up. How far behind can I get when there are only three Things to go? Yeah, right, I shouldn’t ask the question if I don’t want to know the answer.

So, what have I learned from the past 18 (chai, life: it’s a good number) Things? Confidence and Community.

I always thought, as the go-to person at work for anything computer/internet related, that I had to know everything and know it well. Have a question about Microsoft Office? I can answer it. Want to know how to use LinkedIn? I’m your woman. Need a presentation built? I can do your infographics. Need a new business card and don’t have the budget to pay an artist? Send your ideas to me.

But in CPD23 the new tools came so fast and furious that I only had time to try them, evaluate their usefulness to me, bookmark them, make a few notes, and move on. Some I adopted, like screencasting. Some I rejected, like Pushnote. Some I had already used, but started to use more, like Google Calendar. Some I had already used but started to use less, like Google Docs. But most are now a set of bullet points and a link on Diigo, waiting for the day I might need them. I know my way around them but am not expert — and that will have to be enough for now.

The biggest thing that held me up when it came to staying on track with the Things was the week we did Mendeley. I had my issues with them, but I’m not one who likes to make waves, so I held off and held off until I realized that if I put off writing until the situation was resolved through private channels, I’d never finish the CPD23 program. So I posted. And because it was part of the CPD23 program, instead of me running after them to get answers, Mendeley came to me. The situation had not been resolved in over a month, but 24 after posting my Thing all was settled. That’s the power of community.

To get from the community you have to give. While I’m not yet at the stage where I’ll be presenting at conferences, I am trying now to give back, which is why I livetweeted today’s IFISH meeting for those who could not join us.

So:

  • Stop being such a perfectionist
  • give to others
  • let others give to me

Not back takeaways, are they?

#CPD23 & Mendeley: Success Story

September 12, 2011

I recently wrote about CPD23 Things 14, and feel it’s only fair I post an update.

Immediately after my post was Tweeted I started getting messages from Mendeley people, and within a day my town, a Jewish settlement in Samaria, was added to the site’s database, as part of Israel. Now I can recommend the service without feeling that I’m spreading unreciprocated love.

Kudos to the CPD23 organizers. As prompt as Mendeley was to respond, I’m sure the high visibility of the CPD23 program helped speed things along.

 

 

#cpd23 Thing 14: Mendeley & politics

September 7, 2011

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a long time. It should be a slam dunk for me, since I use all three citation resources in this Thing, but there’s more involved here than academics, and I have some instinctive horror of mixing academia and politics, so I kept worrying at this post. Best to just type it up, put it out there, get on with my life, and nip that incipient ulcer in the bud.

The site that’s keeping me from sleep is the citation resource site I would like to use most, Mendeley. And the reason is purely politics.

Let’s start at the beginning of my quest for citation management. At first I stored references in Diigo, but once I decided I wanted to see what other people were citing, I knew it wasn’t enough, so I moved over to CiteULike.  And that was fine for the social bookmarking aspects, but I had to add a heavy reliance on Dropbox and Son of Citation Machine to share articles and organize citations for papers.

Then I found Zotero, which at least solved the problem of organizing citations. I like their Word addon, didn’t like that it was browser dependent (which is less of an issue since they published their standalone application). At school we only have Internet Explorer, so I kept looking, and stumbled across Mendeley.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but I did find the site more useful than the alternatives, so I put the references for my end-of-term paper on literacy in a Mendeley library. Then I got an e-mail from Mendeley, inviting me to become a Mendeley Advisor — a sort of goodwill ambassador for the site. I’m not sure why they sent someone who’d just signed up such an invitation (because there are few Israelis who use it?), but I did like what I’d seen of it so far and they offered me a T-shirt (which I still haven’t received) so I joined the Advisor  group.

And that’s where the trouble started. I started to fill out my profile and was happy to see that books and articles I’d worked on over the past 20 years were all there. Then I went to put in the school were I study — no such city is listed in Israel. I shot off an email to Mendeley support and they quickly added the school’s city. Now what about the town where I live?

Ah, that’s more complicated, they said. You see, I live in a Jewish town on the West Bank, and adding any towns on the West Bank is politically sensitive. At first I was inclined to accept that, but then I did some digging, and found that there were several West Bank Arab towns listed — but no Jewish/Israeli towns. I wrote support again, pointing out that fair’s fair — if they’re worried about being politically sensitive, they should either list several Israeli West Bank towns as they do several Arab ones, or no Arab West Bank towns as they do no Israeli ones.

A nice tech support person named Charlotte, who’d been helping me all along, said she’d have to take it up with her manager. Two weeks later I reminded her I was waiting and she said the manager said it had to be kicked up to the board of directors. Two weeks later I sent another e-mail, asking what had happened, and two weeks after that another — neither of which was answered.

I’m inclined to write this off to the known British academic bias in favor of Arab claims to the area and against the Israeli, but they could have been honest enough to say so from the start. I’m in the process of writing a small blurb for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, in the hopes that some of their 40,000 members will also write Mendeley for explanations. They might ignore one user, but there’s power in numbers. I don’t want to change the site’s policy — I’d just like them to admit to it in writing.

In the meanwhile, I’ve cancelled the program I had scheduled at school to extoll the virtues of Mendeley; a silent bias does not strike me as a worthwhile academic stand to support.

 

 

 

#CPD23 Thing 12: Battle of the Network Stars

August 16, 2011

K.C.: Seven different people spammed me the same link.
KC’s Friend: What is it?
K.C.: I don’t know, but I’m really hoping it’s cats that look like Hitler, because I can never get enough of that.

–The Social Network (2010)

I’ve written about my love for social networking before, and despite some recent signs of fatigue (not surprising, as I’m an early adopter). Face it. I’m a middle-aged widow-woman living in the back of beyond, telecommuting to a solo  librarian job. Where else am I going to meet like-minded people?

But the problem with being so isolated and using social networks to compensate is finding people from whom I want to learn. I’m not worried about the age/experience disparity as some are. I fully accept that I’m likely to be older than any other librarian in my social groups. (The stereotype of the technologically clueless middle-aged librarian seems to be truer than I would have thought based on my own experience.) I fully accept that I will know more than most in my own field of LIS and much less than most in the things I’m just starting to learn. I fully accept that listening to people who know more than I do, whether they are younger or older, more or less experienced, will be to my benefit.

But how to find them? I’m starting to think about the courses I hope to take next year and what electives I will want, and I’d love to get more knowledge about instructional design, cataloging, and non-textual literacies. I’ve found a cataloger or two to follow on Twitter, but beyond that? I don’t see any listings for the fields I’m interested in on the CPD 23 delicious list, but those fields may be hiding behind other names.

Anybody in the know willing to hook a sister up?

#CPD23 Thing 11: If wishes were horses

August 8, 2011

Photo Creative Commons by skedonk

Oh, yes, I know what you’re thinking: There she goes again, whining about the state of Israeli librarianship. So why doesn’t she do something about it?

I would if I could, but I’m not even sure where to start. My program doesn’t seem to offer any guidance on mentorships. We will need to do an apprenticeship in Year 3, but they haven’t told us (approaching Year 2) anything about the process–do they match us up? Do we need to find our own opportunities? At the open house before I joined the program I did get a hint that the coordinator tries to place students in jobs near their homes, so perhaps she does take charge of the whole task. Do I get a say in what kind of library I apprentice at? If so, how do I know what I want? At this point, the only kind of librarianship I know of is solo corporate librarianship, and I wouldn’t want to apprentice at that (if it were possible; apprenticing as a solo librarian is sort of a contradiction in terms, isn’t it?). I have been putting time in at a public library, but only as a volunteer, and never in work with patrons. How would I know if I might like that? And I’ve never done anything in an academic library, a realm which I think might suit me. Would committing myself to 120 hours of work there be my dream job or a nightmare?

If we had an efficient local network I could try that as a way of finding official or informal mentors, but we don’t. I do try, when we take a tour of a library or when I go to a conference I chat up anyone who seem willing. I often do make friendship, but whenever I think I might be finding a mentor I’m brought up short by reality. Fact is, no matter what I’ve called what I do, I’ve been an information professional for well over a decade. Most of the people I talk to either do not have as much experience as I do or are more interested in what I do (as I am more interested in what they do).

When I have my Year 2 planning meeting in October I’ll approach my department head for advice or a name she can recommend to me. I would love to have someone more experienced and more knowledgeable to help guide me, and I think I have enough experience and variety in my professional life to give something back, as well.

If wishes were horses, all librarians would ride. I think it might be time I try to locate my local stable.

#CPD23 Thing 10: To know where you’re going…

August 2, 2011

I think some people are born to their professions.

Take my aunt (please!)

(Thank you, I’m here all week. Try the lasagna, and don’t forget to tip your waitress.)

She’s a born social worker. Family legend has it she was giving the delivery room nurses advice, and at 4 she sat the postman down for a long, deep conversation about what was wrong in his life.

I’ve always been the information finder and sharer. You know, the annoying kid in class who was always correcting the teacher. Who always waved her hand frantically, wanting nothing more in life than to answer the question.

That’s right. I was the kid you all hated. But really, you should have pitied me. It wasn’t that I was a show-off, it’s that I was addicted to information. Walking into school was like pushing the plunger on the syringe, getting that sweet, sweet fix.

In high school I decided journalism was the way to get my daily information high, and that lasted me up until I moved to Israel at age 25. There were few English language outlets back then, and I knew that I’d never be as good as I wanted to be in Hebrew journalism, so I skidded off into editing and translating. From there it was a short hop into researching and organizing information as a corporate Information Officer.

When I was widowed I realized that I needed a reason to get out of my home office and get out into a crowd, so I decided to go learn something. Since I never had any formal training in librarianship or information science, I decided to check out programs and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the average age of post-graduate LIS students in Israel is mid-40s.

I enrolled in the Beit Berl post-grad program, about which I wrote on Hack Library School. Because of the program I’ve started to volunteer in a public library, but that’s a story for Thing 11.

#libday7: What is it you do?

August 1, 2011

For years, the rumor in the town where I live was that I work for the local spy agency. When my kids were asked “what does your mom do?” they answered: “Forget it, it’s too complicated to explain.” All anyone seems to know is that I mainly work from home, I work long crazy hours, and I’m able to support a family.

So what is it I do?

The easier thing to explain is what I do as a volunteer: music cataloging at a local library, the Karnei Shomron Public Library.I’ve done about 200 out of the 700+ discs that need cataloging; when I finish those I plan to move on to getting the English language books into the computerized catalog. That means searching out information that’s not on the disc or the accompanying materials and deciding what access points, given my very limited time, are worth putting in to the catalog.

The harder thing to explain is my day job as corporate information officer. Technically I work for a small boutique investment firm, which seconds me out to companies currently under its sheltering wing. That means one year I may be working on information about widgets, the next about aardvark technology. Well, no, not really, but since we mainly invest in high-tech stealth start-ups, I can’t really talk about my fields of practice unless I get you to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Yes, it makes for fun times on first dates when I can’t talk about what I do.

I usually work out of a home office. At around 7 am I wake, make coffee, and read the tech blogs. Anything that would be of interest to one of my companies gets put on the relevant corporate blog. After that I scan the marketing blogs and newspapers and add any relevant information to marketing plans.

The afternoons vary, depending on which client company need attention the most. I might compile a list of publishers or work with a marketing professional to create brochures. I might search for suppliers, chase down NDAs from potential partners, put together grant applications, get information on the availability of WiFi in Bora Bora, or debunk the latest hoax going around the industry. I read my LinkedIn groups and then start making and returning calls from Europe and the US. Sometimes I’ll go out for meetings with investors; one day last week I got to go to see a competitor’s product demonstrated.

In short, my job is to know why our corporate product is better than our competitors’ and be able to back up that claim with scientific studies and marketing history.

Except, of course, on days like today, when I spent 14 hours writing a 26 page paper, with a 3 page bibliography, on antelope prevention.

Library Day in the Life Round 7