January 12, 2011

Undefined Librarian Receives Honorable Mention and Accolades from Mom

It looks like once you have a full-time position you don't have as much time to dedicate to personal blogging. This is not to say that I haven't been blogging; to the contrary. I have been blogging most days for my work blog. So, I haven't totally abandoned making contributions to the Internet. I'm just doing it on behalf of my company. It has definitely been really interesting for me, and it's nice to have a clearer focus when writing.

Aside from my job, there has been an important development in the research I completed during my MLIS. My co-researcher and I decided to submit our research for an award at the ALISE conference this year. Although we did not come away with the award, the research did receive an honorable mention in the category:
Jury Chair Allison G. Kaplan (Wisconsin) noted the paper "deserved special recognition for (its) ground breaking study." This paper arose from a Guided Research project completed by Natasha as part of her MLIS program.
This is the first time that the association has ever given an honorable mention, so that's definitely something. Well, one thing's for sure, my mom is really proud of me.

In any case, I'm considering doing more research in this area, although it will probably be in the distant future. My husband and I have just begun an enormous renovation project, and needless to say, the timing is all wrong right now.

June 9, 2010

This just in! Undefined Librarian defined.

It's official: This week I began my first professional position as Assistant Librarian at the Foundation Center. I have finally been defined in my profession.

To any job seekers that might be reading this blog, I couldn't have done it without the following:

1) Networking
2) Perseverance and Positivity
3) Timing
4) Support

As suspected, networking was the number one thing that helped me find this job. As a result of my networking, I was familiar with the company when I applied for the job and they had already heard about me. This helped me get to the interview process, which ultimately aided in my getting hired. In short: Don't just sit on the couch/computer waiting for someone to find you. Get out there and get noticed.

Of course a lot of perseverance and positivity is necessary when seeking a job; especially in this economy. "This too shall pass", but while waiting for it to pass, stay positive. Nothing is permanent and a degree of tenacity is necessary to survive job seeking in this economy.

Although timing is unreliable and unpredictable it is everything. I should also make a note to mention that I was just about to give up completely when this opportunity came along. Of course I wasted no time when applying for the job as that was the only element of timing I had any control over.

Finally, I had an amazing support system. Great references, support from my friends and family, and an interim position outside of my field to keep me going. I can not thank my support system enough.

So, there you have it. Over a year outside of school and I finally found a job. Never give up! Hopefully I will have more time to dedicate to this blog once I've found my footing in the new position. For now, I'm learning a lot and dedicating most of my free time to learning about the company and making sure I can contribute positively. My work is not done; it's only just begun.

May 3, 2010

Here's My Card...

Where was I during April? I just logged in and realized that my last post is from March 25th. Seeing as that was well over a month ago I guess it's high time I published something new. You know, for my loyal following...

I was busy in April. I have a job, it's just not a library job, but it still manages to keep me very busy. I've also been applying for that elusive first position. I think I've sent out hundreds (literally hundreds) of resumes since I began my job search. At least 30 or so during the month of April. I'm still volunteering at the health library. I also hosted my book club meeting in April. Many things have been occupying my time. It seems I was very busy last month. All the while a very important anniversary passed. Perhaps the anniversary has more to do with the lack of blogging than all of the other things combined. I didn't really want to acknowledge the date, but I might as well since I'm here. On April 17th, 2010, I "celebrated" the anniversary of my first year post MLIS. Yes, a whole year and I still don't have a professional position. See, this is why I didn't want to acknowledge it. I sound like I'm having a pity party or something. I'm really not. It just sounds like that... wait, this isn't really the reason I came here to blog today. So, Happy Anniversary to me. Sorry for the lack of posts. I was busy. Let's move on.

No, the reason I'm blogging today has more to do with networking than anything else. Throughout April I attended a couple networking functions. The functions were all basically the same. Many librarians gather to discuss libraries, current opportunities, and new ideas. There might even be food, and possibly libations of one type or another. Generally, I have a great time at these events and I love meeting new people. That being said, I think I've been making a huge mistake whenever I attend a function. I keep forgetting to bring business cards with me. No, that's not true. I don't even have business cards. I end up writing my information down on whatever is available when I meet a new person. A napkin; another person's card; a handout. Anything I can find. As a result, I probably end up look super disorganized and possibly idiotic. Most of my peers understand that the reason I don't have cards has more to do with me not being affiliated with an organization than with me; however, after the last function I made up some snazzy little cards with my name, e-mail address, and phone number as soon as I got home. I could probably add my LinkedIn profile and blog as well. Note to self.

Regardless of the fact that I didn't have cards, I managed to collect a number of cards from other people. It was a fun exercise. Each time I attended an event, I seemed to come home with more cards than I did after the last event; however, what am I to do with these cards? I searched the Internet to find out what the "authorities" say regarding what to do with business cards once you get them, but to no avail. Most sites informed me that I should never leave home without my business cards, especially because I'm searching for a job. This reaffirmed what I already knew of course.

I asked (who else?) a librarian friend of mine what she does with cards. Are you supposed to e-mail or call immediately? Do you wait 2 days to be "money"? What's the protocol? She said that she keeps them on file to refer to later. There might be an opportunity that you can mine the connection for advice about. They also might connect with you later depending on your specialties and resources. Of course! Building a network is just like building a reference section or other library. Duh! And what do you know, a job just became available at a library that one of my new connections works at. Okay, I have to go work on an application now. See you next month!

March 25, 2010

Needs Matter

A statistical breakdown of social networking sites and the supposed needs of each network's users. To summarize the findings:
... nearly half the traffic (47%) that Twitter generates falls into the news category. In fact, Twitter users’ interest in the news genre surpasses that of Facebook users by nearly 20%, which would appear to make it the number-one social network for newsies.

Another interesting tidbit is that MySpace users have no interest in news whatsoever. Instead that corner of the web splits its interests between video games (28%) and celebrity and entertainment content (23%).
No surprises here; however, I wonder what the "Other" category indicates. Most of the charts' Other categories are substantial. 26% in the case of Digg. I'm wondering if "Other" covers the topic of stalking. My point here is that other could stand for any number of variable uses that I don't see represented in the rest of the categories. For example, one apparent omission of the research is the fact that the Facebook chart has no segment for "Video Games" or "Gaming". I find it hard to believe that the "Other" category of the Facebook chart covers this area. Anyone with Facebook friends who play Farmville or Cafe World knows that gaming is a large part of what Facebook is used for. It doesn't make sense that the category is unaccounted for in the chart.

Overall, this study is helpful. I think it is necessary for social network administrators to be aware of these differences. Anyone using Facebook over the past year will have a heightened awareness of all the changes made when Twitter became the new kid on the block. It didn't make sense to me why Facebook made the changes. I always thought there were different uses for each social networking site. Perhaps it was my innate librarian sense to categorize them in different areas. Therefore, Facebook experiences substantial backlash whenever they make changes to keep up with Twitter. The underlying lesson here is that, no matter the business be it library, social networking site, or otherwise, they always need to be aware of the user community and its needs.

March 2, 2010

Audio Books and Digital Formats

My Reader's Advisory class introduced me to many forms and formats of literature that I never considered before. I previously mentioned my new love of graphic novels as a result of my R.A. course. Audio books are another joy that I discovered in Reader's Advisory. I have recently rekindled my love of audio books through the eLibrary at SFPL.

Although I do not really consider audio books to be reading in the traditional sense, I do love listening to them because they allow me to multi-task (one of my favorite pastimes). I am able to listen to audio books while: working out, driving, walking, riding the bus, and showering. These are all areas where reading was difficult to do before. As a result, I am able to catch up on a lot of "reading".

I really enjoy the experience of using the eLibrary. Digital collections allow libraries to engage with a larger community outside the walls of the library. It is also very convenient to use the library without visiting it physically. I haven't been to a branch of SFPL for quite some time. The last time I went to the building was to do some outreach for Stanford Health Library and apply for a job with human resources. I would probably visit the library more often if there was a closer branch, but I live in a neighborhood where there isn't one. As a result I am anxious about checking out materials for fear that I will not be able to return them on time. The eLibrary is the perfect solution for me.

I am very technologically oriented. Electronic formats are convenient for me. I am easily able to download audio and eBooks to my phone and go on my way. I feel that this is the direction that libraries should move in. That is, expanding online presence, increasing digital collections, and constantly evaluating progress through user experience research. At the same time, libraries need to maintain their paper collections, but should work to promote digital resources. There, I said it. If I was to make a prediction as to the future of libraries' digital collections I would have to say they will become more valuable when they become even more convenient. For instance, they may consider following the model of iTunes and making digital formats more accessible by instant download to your phone. Smart phones are taking over at an alarming pace. I know that if it's not on my phone, I won't use it as often.

Don't get me wrong: I still LOVE books, but I also love convenience. We live in a world where time is very valuable. Digital collections usually save the time of the library user. There are a few times when they can be a time suck. I.e.: If you are using a digital format for the first time and you are having trouble doing it. Or if there is a system problem. These are a couple of the reasons why User Experience Research is crucial. Might I even suggest that this will be the focus for many new and future librarians? I know I would love to make this a facet of my career.

January 24, 2010

Is This Censorship?

A recent article in the New York Times discusses Avatar in the context of the Smoke-Free Movies campaign. The Smoke-Free Movies campaign is an initiative to reduce or eliminate depictions of smoking in movies. Avatar, although overwhelmingly popular among family audiences, contains a character, Grace, who is a chronic smoker. In fact, one scene depicts Grace exiting her avatar and immediately stating: "Where's my damn cigarette?" This has the Smoke-Free Movies campaign up in arms.

The logic behind the campaign is that impressionable individuals, such as teenagers and children, are influenced to smoke because they see characters smoking in movies. In order to reduce the number of new smokers, the Smoke-Free Movies campaign wants to eliminate smoking in movies, or have moviegoers only see the negative side-effects of smoking when smoking is depicted in movies, or have movies that contain smoking take a higher rating. For instance, an R-rating as opposed to a PG-13 rating. Most can probably agree that this is a noble effort, but is it a subtle form of censorship? How's that for a rhetorical question?

I completed research about censorship during my MLIS. Throughout my research I ran a focus group with children and discussed censorship with them in order to collect their viewpoints. One of the most interesting findings was that the children appeared to know their own boundaries. It seemed like they understood their own boundaries and could choose for themselves what they were comfortable with and what was inappropriate. Isn't the same true for smoking?

I am an ex-smoker. I began smoking when I was old enough to know better, but have since quit. I didn't start smoking because I saw some character in a movie smoking. I started smoking because I wanted to. I also quit smoking because I wanted to and not because fewer characters in movies are smoking now. When I was a smoker and my non-smoking friends told me how disgusting it was and how I was killing myself, it only made me want to smoke more. Not because I wanted to die or be disgusting, but because I didn't need to hear it. Like I said, I already knew how bad it was for me and I still decided to smoke. Therefore, I predict that the Smoke-Free Movies Campaign will be a failure. Even though it is a nobel effort to stop people from making harmful judgments it will fail because you can't save people from themselves.

In my humble opinion, directors and writers should be free to make art without compriomising aspects of films in order to appease special interest groups. I know this happens anyway because of the many instances of product placement in films, but that's a different story. Can you imagine Mad Men without cigarettes? Here's the thing: The purpose of film is not to depict an idealized world in which everyone makes perfect decisions. If this was true there would be nothing challenging or conflicting in movies and then there would be no point. I'm just saying.

January 22, 2010

Webinar Wednesday

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend two Webinars in the comfort of my own home. Ah, how I love the future! I'm sure many of you have had the pleasure to use the Webex interface, but for me this was the first time. Let me just start by saying I really enjoyed it. In fact, it made me understand more clearly how effective online learning can be and I am no longer critical of Library Schools that operate 100% online.

The session was largely a PowerPoint presentation delivered through the interface while the presenter or host spoke and the participants listened using their home phone lines or computers. Webex streamlined the process of contributing to the session in that questions were answered at the presenter's discretion and pace. For instance, participants submitted questions before the session began, or during the session through a chat function. All of the participants were on mute, which made it very easy to focus as none of us we distracted by other participants. If a participant needed to vocalize an issue, the presenter or host un-muted them and they were able to ask the question directly. The whole experience was brilliant.

The first session I attended was a virtual open-house for Click-U's Certificate in Copyright Management. Although I would love the opportunity to complete the certificate, I'm lacking the necessary funds. It would probably be more ideal to study this while working for a company that supplements employees' professional development. Well, one can dream. In any case, I'll keep it on the back burner and continue boning up on my Copyright knowledge in the meantime.

The second session was entitled "It's 2010: 20 Technologies to Watch, and How to Cope". This Webinar was very interesting. It was presented by Stephen Abrams, librarian for over 30 years and library technology expert. I will be keeping a close eye on his contributions and developments in his career. I love the fact that he shares my attitude about perseverance. Abrams states on his blog: "the best way to cope is to remain positive and reframe our [librarians'] perception of the changes". Of course I agree. In a way, this coincides with my job struggles. I've decided that in order to stay relevant while I'm outside of the profession I will constantly develop and reinvent myself in the profession by increasing my knowledge through professional development and making new connections through networking. All the while repeating the mantra: 2010 is my year!

Abrams also focused on a number of technologies that I am interested in. He explained how it is crucial for librarians to stay current on technology trends so that we will be able to lead the way into the future. It was all very refreshing and exciting. I also appreciated that Abrams was able to introduce me to concepts in tech that I was unfamiliar with before. Great talk! I'm glad there are so many librarians willing to share their knowledge and perspectives so freely with others.

One of the nicest things about the Webinars, aside from all of the amazing knowledge I took away, was the fact that I was able to schedule them back-to-back with minutes separating them and still managed to get to the later one on time. There was no travel time. I merely logged off of one and onto another. Beautiful!

The Webinars were refreshing because I was able to attend them for free as a member of SLA. They didn't cost me a thing beyond my membership fees. I also see an opportunity to develop my own Webinars and hopefully become a presenter in the future. See, 2010 is looking up already.