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Posts Tagged ‘library & information studies’

Sorry for the long hiatus.  I completed my Master’s Degree in Library & Information Studies in May 2010.  Between my last two classes and completing and defending my professional portfolio, the spring semester was extremely busy!  But I passed my portfolio defense and graduated with a 4.0 GPA–Huzzah!  Here’s a link to my professional portfolio.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying a little vacation and frantically applying for jobs.  The job market is tough, but I’m hopeful.  I’m primarily looking for work in a public or academic library in Northeastern Oklahoma or central Arkansas.  If anyone has any insider tips, I would greatly appreciate a heads-up!  🙂

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At long last, I am about to begin my last semester in the OU School of Library & Information Studies!  I’m heavily entrenched in putting my professional portfolio together, so my postings have become somewhat sparse.  In a few weeks I will post a link to my portfolio website so any interested parties can see what I’ve been doing with the last two-and-a-half years of my life.  If all goes as planned, I’ll defend my portfolio in late March and graduate in May. 

Ahh, I’m so close!  Just a little further to go…

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On our tour through the library collections and facilities, Mr. Escobar drew my attention to features such as designated safe areas for wheelchair-bound customers in the event of a fire, and the location of safe areas in the event of a tornado.  On the second floor, stepstools are provided to help customers to reach books on top shelves, and we took time to move these stools to locations where customers were less likely to trip over them.  As students learn in LIS 5023, attention to these aspects of the physical library facility facilitates customer comfort and accessibility.

One particularly ingenious resource location feature involved the use of inflatables in the children’s nonfiction collection.  By suspending an inflatable dinosaur from the ceiling above the dinosaur books, a rocketship over the space books, etc., children’s reference staff can help children locate books on popular subjects even when they are swamped and cannot leave the desk.  The librarian can simply point to the appropriate inflatable and tell the child that the books they want are located under it.  Of course, when few customers are present, the librarian can walk the child to the appropriate shelf, but as the Hardesty Library is one of the busiest libraries, and the children’s department is especially swamped in the summer, this feature is very helpful for staff and customers.

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Mr. Escobar also illustrated the challenge of catering to the needs and desires of various interested parties, including customers, donors, staff, volunteers, administrators and board members.  The literary criticism collection had been located directly behind the reference desk on the second floor, but has since been relocated.  A Tulsa City-County Library executive said that the placement of these bookshelves spoiled the view of the large arched window which faces northwest.  Moving these shelves was not particularly detrimental to customer access, thus in the interest of aesthetics and accomodating the powers that be, this collection was relocated.

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In the intercession between spring semester and my summer internship, I’ve been delving further into the realm of podcasts, looking for resources to enhance my Library & Information Studies education.  I’ve located and subscribed to a number of library and book related podcasts, which I believe will help me to expand my awareness of current events as well as popular, award-winning and recently published books that library customers may want.  These podcasts allow me to make better use of my time—hours spent driving, exercising or washing dishes now become opportunities to cram more useful information into my head.

To expand my knowledge and awareness of noteworthy current literature, I am listening to the following podcasts:

New York Times Book Review
NPR Book Tour Podcast
NPR Books Podcast
BBC World Book Club

To increase my knowledge of classic literature, I am following the Classic Tales Podcast.

To follow current events, hot topics and developing issues in the library and information service arena, I have subscribed to these podcasts:

Book Lust with Nancy Pearl
The Library 2.0 Gang
Library Geeks
Library Luminary Lectures
LISNews Netcast Network
Longshots: Library-Related Commentary and Interviews
Uncontrolled Vocabulary

All of these podcasts can be located and subscribed to through iTunes.

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Whew!  This semester has been like being tied by the ankle to a runaway llama so far…  Which is why I’m so woefully behind on updating this blog.  So here’s an essay I wrote about my aspirations for the profession:

My long-term career goal is to serve as a public librarian, specifically in the areas of reference, readers’ services and children’s librarianship.  As the field of library and information services continues to expand at an exponential rate, it is clear that serving as a librarian means being a perpetual student.  Through my career, I aspire to be knowledgable of the unique and changing needs of child library users and to sythesize theories of child and adolescent learning as I develop library services for this population.  I will strive to stay informed about current practices, trends, and standards in the field by reading journals, attending professional meetings and conferences, and discussing current issues with colleagues.  Following listservs and the blogs of colleagues will also assist to expand my awareness of new developments in the field.  My duty as a public librarian is to be aware of new resources available in all formats so that I can quickly guide customers to the information and resources most likely to meet their needs.

Librarians are called to serve not only as stewards, but also as advocates.  I intend to advocate for customers’ right to read and access materials and to provide for diverse information needs through ethical collection development.  It is vitally important to foster a welcoming and comfortable library environment by ensuring that collection organization and arrangement facilitates access for all potential customers, including those with special needs.  I will make every effort to connect children with the resources they need by encouraging browsing and questions, and enabling them to use the library effectively.  Perhaps one of the best ways to engage children in the library is to consider the children’s opinions and requests in the development and evaluation of library services.  I will promote library resources by providing bibliographies, book talks, displays, electronic documents, and other tools.  I will promote children’s services through storytelling, book discussions, puppet shows and a variety of other programming.  By networking with other local agencies, I will provide outreach to underserved populations to promote literacy and reduce the digital divide.

I have some experience working in library settings as well as experience with research and records management through my work as grants coordinator for The Salvation Army.  My grant experience taught me how to locate funding opportunities for varied services and manage multiple deadlines.  Working as a shelver and circulation clerk for the Tulsa City-County Library between 1998 and 2003 allowed me to become familiar with the library OPAC and the Dewey Decimal System of organizing resources.  The majority of my time was spent ordering and shelving returned library resources, checking library resources in and out for customers, creating and updating customer records, issuing library cards, processing fines for late items, and placing hold requests for customers.  Yet these activities taught me the importance of customer service in every role in order to cultivate a welcoming and accessible library environment.

Libraries are forums for information and ideas provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people.  It is the mission of the library to challenge censorship and provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.  Libraries should promote free expression and free access to ideas in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.  I feel strongly protective of our first amendment rights and the freedom to share information.  In my opinion, education and the stewardship of information are among the noblest of professions.  Through my career as a public librarian, I will endeavor to perpetuate knowledge and education by promoting the accessibility of information for all people and encouraging and assisting others in their information quests.

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In a discussion about Robert S. Taylor’s article “Question-Negotiation and Information Seeking in Libraries,” there was some uncertainty as to whether Taylor is describing information behavior or information seeking.  I think at the beginning of the article, when Taylor talks about the various actions a user may engage in before ever coming to the library (talking to colleagues, consulting personal files), I think that may embody information behavior.  But when the user comes to the library and engages in the reference interview, I think that’s information seeking.  Perhaps visceral and conscious information need are vague and undirected enough to consider actions related to them information behavior, but I think compromised information need is definitely information seeking.   

 

The key concepts of Taylor’s model include the four levels of information need and the five filters, but I found it interesting that when customers come to librarians with a compromised need, the librarians must work backwards toward the customer’s conscious need in order to get to the heart of the need and formulate the best search strategy. 

 

This model is unique in that it is modeled on information service interactions in the specific context of Special Libraries, in which the time frame is limited, but not as limited as it would be in a public library, or other venue.  This model emphasizes the importance of feedback, whereas some models, such as the Johnson Model, does not.  Taylor mentions that users may consult their personal files when seeking information, instead of or in addition to seeking information at the library.  James Krikelas’s model also notes that users may consult internal resources (such as memory and personal files) or external resources (such as people and recorded literature).

 

Now, applying Taylor’s model to an information service:

 

Information service designers must realize that users are likely to ask friends and acquaintances and consult their personal files before asking the info service staff for assistance directly.  To disseminate information about services, the info service staff may want to send out Public Service Announcements via the mass media (i.e.: TV, radio, newspapers).  Thus, even if a user doesn’t see or hear the advertisements, if they ask a friend who has seen them, that friend may be able to direct them to a useful information service.

 

Also, users are likely to go to the information service website and try searching for the information they want themselves before asking for help.  Thus the information service designers should make every effort to make their website as user friendly as possible: provide clear links to the most popular resources, anticipate user questions and provide an FAQ page.  And list contact information somewhere on every page, a hotline or email address, so that users don’t have to look too hard to find help.

 

If the information service staff can get the users to contact them with questions, then they can engage in the question-negotiation process to get to the root of what the user wants.  In actual practice, however, I fear that many information service providers must try to answer so many questions from so many people, they probably simply answer compromised (4th level) questions, rather than trying to get to the root of the need.  They probably just want to get people off the phone as quickly as possible, which is not likely to ensure the user’s satisfaction with the information source.

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Went to the OU Tulsa Student Association (OUTSA) meeting tonight.  Cynthia Patterson with the Knowledge Management Society was there–I think she said she was standing in for George.  I need to double check with George, but so far, no one seems to know if the OU School of Library & Information Studies has a student representative.  If there isn’t one, I may give it a shot.  I want to make sure SLIS and OLISSA are properly registered and represented in case we need to solicit funds from OUTSA for activities.

Items of interest (for LIS/KM students) at the meeting included the announcement that OUTSA officers and Student Affairs will be selling 2-gig flash drives for $14, which is supposed to be a pretty good deal.  As a representative from the IT Dept. was present, I asked if it was possible to capture the AV feed from meetings conducted between Norman and Tulsa, such as OLISSA meetings.  This would make it possible to post recordings of meeting proceedings or guest lectures online.  Apparently it is possible, and I got the name of the person I need to contact to set it up.  However, it was suggested that we consult the legal dept. regarding posting such recordings on the Internet for general access due to privacy concerns.  I will make contact regarding capturing the AV feed tomorrow, collect information, and then report my findings to OLISSA at the meeting Wednesday night.  The next OUTSA meeting will be Sept. 25th, 2008, at noon.

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Well, since my classmate Bracken boldly posted his Informational Career paper on his blog, I guess I will too.  Mine feels kind of dumb next to his–he’s got core competencies under his belt that I’ve never even heard of–but then, I’m in graduate school to learn.  If I already knew everything, I wouldn’t be here.  It’s always been hard for me to admit what I don’t know, so I think it must be good for me to stick a pin in my inflated ego and admit I don’t know squat.

My Informational Career: The View From Here 

Currently, my long-term career goal is to serve as a public librarian, specifically in the areas of reference, readers’ services and children’s librarianship.  As the field of library and information studies continues to expand at an exponential rate, it is clear that being a librarian means being a perpetual student.  Lucky for me, I have been gifted with an insatiable curiosity and a deep love of learning.  Yet, while these qualities prove useful for fueling professional enthusiasm, many other skill sets are required to support a successful library career.  I have some experience working in library settings as well as experience with research and records management through my employment as a grants coordinator for The Salvation Army.  More than a lifetime is required to become familiar with all the useful reference resources, but I am prepared to dedicate the rest of my years to the challenge.  Additional skills such as presentation, readers’ services, cataloging, collection development, and many others will require the same diligent attention.  Though the journey is long, I believe the rewards are great.

I have some library service experience from my work as a shelver and circulation clerk for the Tulsa City-County Library (TCCL).  This experience allowed me to become familiar with the TCCL online catalogue and the Dewey decimal system of organizing nonfiction resources.  Of course, the majority of my time was spent ordering and shelving returned library resources, checking library resources in and out for customers, creating new customer records, issuing new library cards, updating customer contact information, processing fines for late items, and placing hold requests for customers.

My experience with library reference resources is very limited.  I have used Academic Search Elite and the EBSCO Databases to locate resources for college papers.  In addition, I have utilized the Foundation Directory at the Central Library to research grant opportunities since I have been working in the grant writing field.  Yet there is a vast array of resources available online and through the public library of which I am not even aware.  As my professors and classmates recommend various online resources, I bookmark the websites and explore them as quickly as possible in a frantic attempt to absorb and retain knowledge of useful resources for library customers.  Of course, I realize that the task of collecting online resources is endless, as hundreds more become available everyday.  However, my duty as a public librarian is to stay abreast of the reference resources available as best I can, so that I can quickly guide customers to the information and resources most likely to meet their needs.  One of the core competencies of public librarianship is “keeping up-to-date with new practices, trends, and standards in the field by reading journals, attending professional meetings and conferences, and discussing current issues with experts” (www.librarysupportstaff.com).  I think attending to listservs and the blogs of colleagues will also be useful in expanding my awareness of new developments in the field.

As I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature, it cannot be a great shock to those who know me that I am hopelessly addicted to fiction.  From the classics to comic books, I rapidly absorb every piece of fiction that comes my way.  I love giving and receiving book recommendations, analyzing novels for allusion and symbolism, and I can think of no more enjoyable form of employment than providing readers’ services.  Thanks to the recommendations of classmates, friends and professors, I am currently exploring readers’ advisory websites such as LibraryThing, GoodReads and NoveList to learn the pros and cons of each resource.  I believe this field of library service is one at which I can truly excel.

Another set of skills I need to build involves developing and presenting educational programs and story time programs for library customers and their children.  Public speaking typically inspires me with fear rather than excitement, but reading stories and singing songs with children is less intimidating to me than speaking in front of adults.  Perhaps I am best suited to serve as a children’s librarian.  I need to continue to practice my public speaking skills as well as practice developing and presenting community education programs that might be needed in a public library, such as cultural events or computer applications classes. 

Core competencies for public librarians include the ability to present information efficiently in an understandable format and the ability to use “simple examples, illustrations and analogies to explain concepts” (www.librarysupportstaff.com).  I have sought to follow these guidelines through undergraduate presentations as well as speaking engagements involving my work for nonprofits.  Somehow I inherited the position of the United Way internal campaign coordinator for The Salvation Army, so every fall I exercise my public speaking skills by offering presentations about Salvation Army services provided in the Tulsa Area.  This task has been a valuable opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and stretch my information provision abilities.  As the child of an elementary school teacher, I have learned that different people have different learning styles.  When preparing community education programs, I must endeavor to cater to all learning styles with a variety of visual aids and audio resources, and well as hands-on learning activities, as appropriate.

Cataloging procedure and building library collections are two areas of which I am completely ignorant.  I am uncertain if reference and children’s librarians in public libraries do much cataloging, but I think it could only be beneficial to know how to catalog new library resources.  Certainly the size of the public library system dictates whether its reference and children’s librarians are involved in cataloging and collection building.  Nonetheless, knowledge of these activities can only enhance my employment opportunities.

An educational objective listed on the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studies website is the ability to “demonstrate professional attitudes regarding scholarship, professional ethics, intellectual freedom, and access to information in a democratic society.”  Admittedly I know little about the underlying theory and current issues involving intellectual freedom, but standing on the threshold of comprehension, my gut reaction is to feel strongly protective of our first amendment rights and the freedom to share information.  Open source and open access applications have caught my interest, and I want to learn more about their current and potential uses.  I did not know the meaning of open source software a month ago, but I am drawn to the democratic values embodied in open source, and curiosity is leading me to further investigation.  If all my other information organization skills are merely nascent at this time, at least my natural curiosity will serve me well.

Another valuable skill set is the ability to “design and implement information products and services that respond effectively to changes in an increasingly multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual, and global society” (OU School of Library and Information Studies).  I am very much a product of the white, middle-class culture in which I was raised, and therefore I must constantly struggle to look beyond the world view of my upbringing to other cultural perspectives.  One means of making this effort is to continue my study of Spanish and other languages.  I have taken a couple basic Spanish courses, but lack of regular usage has made retention difficult.  Nevertheless, I have always enjoyed studying languages, and my Latin studies make Romance languages particularly accessible to me.  Perhaps by seeking opportunities to serve in public libraries centered in largely Hispanic communities, such as the Martin Regional Library in East Tulsa, I can expand my Spanish vocabulary and improve my conversation skills.  The Hispanic population needs to have equal opportunities to access library resources, as do all minorities, and public libraries need additional support in serving these populations.

Education and the stewardship of information are among the noblest of professions, in my opinion.  The gift of education has the power to benefit the recipient long after the giver is gone.  Yet I tend to agree with Michael Buckland that knowledge cannot be shared, only “information-as-thing” (1991).  I can only provide others with representations of my information-as-knowledge, and those representations are information-as-thing (1991).  My audience bears the responsibility of processing and internalizing the information I provide, for I have no influence over their assimilation of information into knowledge.  The message I transmit may or may not be the same as the message my audience receives.  The only way I can perpetuate knowledge and education is to promote the organization and accessibility of information and to encourage and assist others in their information quests.

My educational and employment experience has provided many skills useful to a career in library and information studies, but much more information and experience is required.  I have an affinity for readers’ advisory work, and some experience presenting educational information, but my knowledge of reference resources hardly scratches the surface of the materials in existence.  My knowledge of cataloging, collection development and creation of metadata is negligible.  I have many skills to develop and many concepts to learn, but I look forward to the opportunity.  I want to promote community education, information stewardship and intellectual freedom, and the most viable means of doing this seems to be contributing to the field of library and information studies. 

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