Final Reflections on the LIS profession

This past semester has definitely been a learning experience for me and has got me to thinking more about my future as an LIS professional. I came into the MLIS program with a narrow view of what LIS professionals do and what their options were for employment. Since my track is archival administration, my only knowledge prior to joining the program was what archivists do and the types of companies or organizations that they could work for. However, taking LIS 6010 really broadened my view of the entire LIS profession as well as how important libraries are to society and how they function. The first discussion question in the class was to reflect on my experience with libraries and to define exactly what a library is. At the time, I just gave a broad definition of what a library is from my perspective. But, throughout the class and from the assignments I have done, I have learned that libraries are more than just a place to check out books. They serve as a vital resource for diverse group of patrons and they do their best to provide a variety of activities and educational sources for their core demographic.

A sentence I read in chapter one of “The Portable MLIS” really stood out to me and it really sums up the role of libraries in our lives.

“Libraries are not important: they are essential. Libraries are about what we think and do. They are about who we were, who we are, and who we want to be” (Rubin, 2008).

I did not think about the influence libraries have had on my life until taking this course and while my goal is to become an archivist, I would be honored to work in a library setting and strive to give back just a fraction of what library staff have given to me. Actually, one of the archival collections I would love to work for is located in the Detroit Public Library. The E. Azalia Hackley Collection is one of five special collections at the Detroit Public Library that is composed of materials from African American artists in various professions such as art, music and dance. For my class project on LIS Agencies, I chose to investigate the Hackley Collection and in the process I was able to interview the head curator for the collection and learn a lot more about the materials as well as the daily responsibilities of the curator. This assignment was definitely a learning experience and it helped me to get a better idea of what it is that archivists and curators do on a daily basis. I am looking forward to interning at the Hackley Collection soon and the project I did on the collection will really help me as an intern. I’ll already come into the internship knowing more about the collection and the type of work that I will be doing with the curator.

Now that I have taken some of the introductory classes in the MLIS program, I am excited about starting my core classes in the fall, one of which will be the Archival Administration course. This course will teach me the foundations of being an archivist and the type of work that I will be doing once I start my career. By now, everyone who has read this blog knows that I am working towards a degree in MLIS with a concentration on Archival Administration. My ultimate goal is to work as a music archivist at a museum or information agency that specializes in music. Although my track my be different than many of my colleagues, some of whom I know will be working as librarians in various settings, this class has shown me that although every MLIS graduate’s ultimate work setting may be different, we all have similar goals in our profession and that is to serve the public with the highest level of service possible.

SOURCE

Rubin, R. (2008). Stepping Back and Looking Forward: Reflections on the foundations of libraries and librarianship. In Portable MLIS. Libraries Unlimited.

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Assumptions/Assertions about the LIS profession

It seems that I have come a long way from my introductory post, which was published on January 25. Coming into the MLIS program, I had no idea what to expect from my classes other than there would be a lot of work, judging from the syllabus’ I received. However, in these last three months, I have learned a lot more about the LIS profession and how this field plays such an important role in the lives of everyone, not just LIS professionals. I have also gained a better understanding of how libraries function and what their role is in society.

The primary role of libraries and librarians is to serve the public and provide educational, entertaining and informative information and activities. Libraries are also responsible for maintaining and preserving materials of the past for present and future generations. Although libraries serve the public, they are also a reflection of the society in which they are located. From the reading “What Libraries Are Worth” I found it interesting as to how the success of a library really depends on the success of the local community and the city. It is easy to downplay the significance of your local librarian or checking out books from the library, but this institution really shapes the core of what a person will become. As society continues to change and move more into the digital age, there may be less of a need for physical books, but there will always be a need for libraries.

In addition to my educational progression of LIS, I also changed some of my previous assumptions about the field. In my introductory post, I made the assumption that when people think about the field of Library and Information Science, they automatically assume that a person is a librarian. And to some extent that is still true. I still run into people who think I want to work in a library just because my degree encompasses library education. However, I have learned more about how broad the LIS field is and how essential an MLIS degree can be to many professions. It’s not just about being a librarian or working in a library setting.

In a study conducted by the Australian Academic & Research Libraries journal, they found that core LIS competencies (i.e. a user-centred approach to eliciting information needs, an understanding of contextual factors in individual and collective sense-making, and knowledge of information behaviours) can be leveraged towards effective information content and delivery in a variety of traditional and non-traditional information contexts.  A strong market was found for these skills within traditional and non-traditional employers, suggesting opportunities for library and information professionals with potential employers including those who seek skills in content management, information architecture, user experience design and user requirements analysis in information systems contexts (Wise, Henninger, & Kennan, 2013).

Therefore, many people would be surprised to know that professionals that they deal with on an everyday basis may even have MLIS degrees. This study just further proves how comprehensive the LIS profession is and the amount of opportunities that are available for LIS graduates.

Exploring the various career options that will be available to me once I graduate was definitely a learning experience in this class and hearing about some of the types of professions that my colleagues want to pursue after graduating just further confirmed my decision to enroll in the MLIS program.

Sources

Wise, S., Henninger, M., & Kennan, M. (2013). Changing Trends In LIS Job. Australian Academic & Research, 268-295.

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Job Analysis for Archival positions

As a first year MLIS student at Wayne State, my main focus as of now has been adjusting to the program and tackling the large amount of assignments from my classes.

However, I know that it is never too late to start looking for potential jobs that I would like to obtain after graduation. I follow job lists such as Indeed and Careerbuilder on a regular basis for jobs relating to the Communications field, which is what I received my Bachelors degree in. But in the MLIS field, I found a few other job related sources that provide job postings for a number of various LIS professions.

My particular concentration for MLIS is archival administration so I have been following job sources that include jobs relating to the archival field. I found a great job listserv called Archives Gig, which posts at least five job opportunities per day. They also post opportunities for archival internships as well, which is mainly what I’m looking to obtain within the next year.

I have been following this listserv since January and have reviewed at least 20 jobs that I would be interested in applying for once I graduate.There is one position I found that I completely fell in love with and it is the ideal job I would like to have once I graduate and have worked in entry level positions for a few years. The position is for an archivist in the music division at the Library of Congress. My ultimate goal as an archivist has always been to work at a museum or an educational institution that specializes in music collections, so this position would be perfect for me. The purpose of this position is to process and describe multi-format collections relating to the areas of music and dance. In addition to processing collections, the archivist assists in providing reference services associated with the collections; participates in the development and implementation of preservation and digitization policies and procedures relevant to the collections; implements and prescribes up-to-date archival practices; assists in collections development; and performs other duties in support of the Music Division and Library Services, as assigned (Library of Congress, 2015).

Library of Congress

The qualifications for the position include the following:

Knowledge of Dance and/or Music Subject Areas of the Archival Collections.**
Ability to Analyze and Organize Archival Materials.**
Knowledge of the Principles, Concepts, and Techniques of Professional Library and/or Archival Work.
Knowledge of a Variety of Automated Tools and Technologies such as Integrated Library Systems and Web Applications used to Support Archival Functions.
Ability to Communicate in Writing.
Ability to Provide Consultation and/or Liaison Duties.
Ability to Communicate Orally. (Library of Congress, 2015).

Getting there

I already have extensive experience in music history and received a minor in music from UM-Dearborn, so I know I would already have at least one of the qualifications for the position. I’ve also had music research published in a journal and am a part of multiple music organizations including the Detroit Sound Conservancy and the E. Azalia Hackley Board. I also have a background in Communications and advanced writing skills having received a bachelors degree in Communications, so I already possess another skill-set needed for the position.

In order to fully pursue my future career as an archivist, I plan to obtain a certificate in Archival Administration from Wayne State. This certificate will allow me to compete for specific archival positions in any industry and will give me the training needed to learn the specific techniques needed to perform other archival tasks. I also plan to get a certificate in Digital Content management. Specializing in digital content management will allow me the opportunity to learn more about creating digital collections for various institutions such as schools, museums and libraries.

After looking back at my previous goals as an MLIS graduate, I believe I am right on target for the kind of training I will need to obtain a job as a music archivist down the line. I do plan to intern at more establishments than music collections so that I can acquire broader skills in the archival field and know more about other collections than music. However, with the experience I’m getting now, I would be well qualified to work with a music collection once I graduate.

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Technology Sandbox: Social Media usage in libraries

Social media is definitely a driving force for many companies and that includes libraries. Tons of libraries use social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with and engage their patrons as well as market their events and new materials they have. According to Library Journal’s Survey on Public Library Marketing Methods and Best Practices, 86 percent of libraries said they were using social media. The top two social media platforms used by libraries were Facebook (99 percent) and Twitter (56 percent) (Dowd, 2013). Depending on the size and/or audience of the library, social media can either be a good thing or a hindrance.

Many larger libraries may be able to utilize social media to their benefit because they already have a large audience, so it may be easier for them to engage with their patrons. Also, larger libraries who have bigger budgets may be able to hire marketing managers who can handle their accounts, and they can use their social media skills to help the library increase its engagement with patrons. However, using social media can also be a hindrance and not needed for some libraries. For instance, if libraries tend to have an older audience who don’t use social media, then of course it will be harder for them to gain a following.

Facebook is one social media source that libraries tend to use the most and that makes sense as it is considered the most popular social media site, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. The original intended audience for Facebook used to be college students 18-25, but since its inception, the audience has grown to include high school students and adults past the age of 35. Libraries and other information agencies can use Facebook for a number of things such as:

  • Advertising events in order to showcase their library
  • Sending out event invitations
  • Reporting news
  • Highlighting their services and resources
  • Keeping in touch with their customers
  • Reaching new customers, performing outreach
  • Speaking the language of their customers
  • Educating users
  • Promoting and assessing library functions, through surveys and focus groups
  • Repackaging information (Facebook and social networking)

This social media tool helps libraries to build bigger audiences and gain more support for the library as well as stay in touch with patrons. However, there are some negative aspects to using the networking tool. Libraries have to be careful about what they post to their account and be sure not to post any libelous comments. Also, Facebook is often under fire for not sufficiently protecting the privacy of their users. In addition anything posted on Facebook, subsequently belongs to them and they can re-use it any way they wish (Facebook and social networking). 

Instagram is another social media tool that libraries can use to their advantage. The intended audience for Instagram is ages 16-35, and in libraries this tool is used to engage with library patrons, connect with other libraries and organizations, and advertise/market events in library from a visual perspective. Some of the advantages of Instagram is that it gives the library patrons more of a visual perspective of the library’s marketing of stories and events and it can attract people easier than if they are just reading a status or post. On the downside, since Instagram is still fairly new, it has not attracted a wider range of age groups and is mainly used by younger people, so it may not help libraries to put all their work into building an Instagram following when their demographic may be older.

Overall, Facebook seems to be the winner when it comes to gaining a larger following, so I believe this is a core resource libraries should be using to connect with their audience. It doesn’t take long to post at least a few messages everyday to a library’s account, and this could be done by staff members who have a better understanding of how to engage with the community. Also, maintaining an up-to-date user friendly website is another important tool that all libraries should be using to stay connected with their patrons and update them on the latest information about the library. Websites are looked at by people all over the world, so if the library has a great, mobile friendly, and interesting site, then they can easily gain more followers and essentially build connections with other libraries and organizations.

Based off the information I have learned about social media in libraries, I would encourage my local library to hold classes about social media for older patrons who may not be familiar with it. That way, they could possibly attract more people to their social media accounts and engage more of their patrons who may not necessarily utilize Facebook or Twitter to their advantage. I would even volunteer to teach the class at the library to help increase their social media engagement.

Among all American adults ages 18+, the percent who use the following social media sites

Sources:

Dowd, N. (2013, May 7). Social Media: Libraries are Posting, but is anyone listening. Retrieved from Library Journal: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/05/marketing/social-media-libraries-are-posting-but-is-anyone-listening/

Facebook and social networking. (2015). Retrieved from 23thingsuk: https://23thingsuk.wordpress.com/thing-3-facebook-and-social-networking/

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Organization of Information

Many times we take organizing information for granted. We don’t realize that if information is not organized in some form or fashion, then it is almost impossible to find. For instance, dictionaries, telephone books, directories, encyclopedias, and all other tools that people use to find information has to first be formed into a coherent unity so that people can utilize the tools to their benefit. According to Arlene Taylor, organization of information also allows us to keep usable records of human endeavors for posterity, and this process has been utilized by libraries, museums, archives and other types of information institutions (Taylor, 2008, pg 99).

For libraries, organizing information is very important because it makes it easy for patrons to find and access materials on various subjects. One way in which materials in a library are organized for retrieval is through a process called controlled vocabulary. The purposes of using controlled vocabulary is to provide subject access to information resources in a catalog, to provide suggested synonyms to aid a user in subject searching and to save the user time (Taylor, pg 104). Some examples of controlled vocabulary are Library of Congress Subject Headings,  MeSH – Medical Subject Headings, and Sears List of Subject Headings, which is used by small and medium sized libraries.

In order to give a specific example of a controlled vocabulary, I pretended that was working for a library and was given the task of creating a controlled
vocabulary and description for a variety of objects to be included in the information retrieval  system for my employer. I choose three items, created a “title” for each object, wrote a brief description of each selected object, and created a thesaurus that encompassed my selected objects that could be used to retrieve the items from an information system. Listed below are the terms I selected along with the description and thesaurus.

Title: Mr. Potato Head

Description: classic American toy composed of a plastic potato that is decorated like a pirate. Ideal for ages 3-6 years old.

Thesaurus: doll, toy, plaything

Title: Classic Card Games

Description: cards designed for games and other entertainment purposes that include a number of people.

Thesaurus: entertainment, pastime, hobby

Title: Slinky

Description: flexible plastic wires that is made for playing with and performing tricks.

Thesaurus: plaything, tricks, hobby

I have to admit it was difficult trying to come up with short, but specific descriptions of each item. It’s easy to verbally explain what a slinky is, or a card game or a toy is but to write down the description in a way that makes it easy for the user to find it was not as easy. I ended up having to reference the actual dictionary term of each item in order to find a short, succinct way of describing it. Finding similar terms for the items was also difficult because they were physical items and not adjectives, which would have made it easier to find synonyms for.

Once records have been created, they are then encoded in order to allow for data transmission and encoding is accomplished by assigning tags,numbers, letters or words to discrete pieces of information in a metadata record (Taylor, pg 106). An example of an encoding scheme would be MARC, which stands for Machine Readable Cataloging. MARC records include: a description of the item, main entry and added entries, subject headings and the classification or call number (Smith). In order for the items I selected to be encoded through MARC, I would need to know the classification number for each item along with added entries that pertain to the main entry.

If I wanted to create a usable system of retrieval for the items in the collection, the items would definitely have to contain specific information that would make it easy for users to access them. From having a specific description down to the call number for the item, I would have to be as detailed as possible so that regardless of the kind of collection the items would go in, the user would be able to find them without difficulty.

Sources:
Smith, Stephanie. Organization of Information  [PDF document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web Site: https://blackboard.wayne.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4926595-dt-content-rid-5392322_2/courses/LIS_6010_1501_001.002_COMB/Organization%20of%20Information%281%29.pdf
Taylor, A. (2008). Organization and Representation of Information/Knowledge. In K. Haycock, & B. Sheldon, The Portable MLIS (pp. 98-111). Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

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Following professional LIS Listservs

Listservs serve as very popular and informative emails for a diverse group of people, especially for professionals and students in a given field. They provide updates about various events, seminars, job postings and more. From an LIS student perspective, they can be very important for finding out about internships, scholarships, and jobs in the field of library science. I subscribed to the LIS listserv as soon as I began taking classes at Wayne State, and even though the emails may tend to flood my inbox, each email is full of great information that is beneficial to my future career.

Another listserv that I recently encountered is through  ACQWEB, the sister publication of ACQNET, and the gathering place for librarians and other professionals interested in acquisitions and collection development (ACQWEB). Their listserv contains job postings for various librarian jobs pertaining to collection management, webinar information, conferences being held, meeting reminders, web courses and more. The emails are often sent by LIS staff around the country.

A majority of the postings are composed of job announcements and web courses for librarians. One of the job postings listed recently was for a collection management librarian in Maryland, and some of the qualifications included being an MLIS graduate with five years of librarian experience, project management experience, and skilled in web-based acquisitions tools. Since this listserv deals primary with acquisition related information, it is obvious that most of the job postings require some degree of experience with acquisitions. What I did find interesting about the job posting is that one of the desired qualifications was to have a broad reading background. Although it would seem that having a love for reading would be a given for a person who wants to work in a library, its rare that I see that qualification listed on job postings. I’m curious to know how the interviewer would test the candidate’s broad interest in reading, or if there are a list of books they would recommend that the candidate have already read.

Another example of emails from the listserv was for for web courses on collection development, preservation and cataloging. The web course on the fundamentals of preservation was designed to inform all staff, across divisions and departments and at all levels of responsibility as well as provides tools to begin extending the useful life of library collections (ACQflash: ALCTS Web Course). This course would be helpful for many LIS staff who may not be as skilled in the area of preservation and who wanted to learn more about the field.

One item I noticed that was not posted a lot was information for students. There was one e-forum event listed for students completing internships, but a majority of the postings were mainly geared toward LIS professionals. This is a listserv that I will start following more heavily once I am nearing graduation from Wayne State. While there isn’t a ton of information that would be useful for me now as a student, there is definitely a lot of great information that I could absorb once I’m close to joining the LIS workforce.

SOURCES

ACQflash: ALCTS Web Course: Fundamentals of Preservation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from http://serials.infomotions.com/acqnet/archive/2015/201501/0015.html

(n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from http://www.acqweb.org/index

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Exploring professional LIS Blogs: ArchivesNext and Mr. Library Dude

blog

Blogging has become one of the best, most efficient ways for people to express their personal opinions about various topics. This tactic especially comes in handy for professionals in a given field who want to share their views about the industry with their colleagues and enlighten the public about what makes their industry so special. In the LIS profession, for instance, there are tons of blogs dedicated to specific areas of interest, and many libraries and well as companies host blogs on their websites to further engage their audience.

Two blogs that I have chosen to explore are ArchivesNext and Mr. Library Dude. I chose these blogs particularly for their vast exploration and candidness about two LIS areas, one of which deals with libraries and the other with archives.

ArchivesNext is written by Kate Theimer, a very experienced archivist, teacher, editor and writer who worked at the National Archives and Records Administration for six years. Her blog discusses issues facing archives, including technology, evolving business models, professional identity, professional organizations, and news and issues from other related professions.

ScreenHunter_305 Mar. 18 16.13

Since the beginning of the year, the main topic of discussion has been this new project that Theimer is planning to launch this year in which she will be sharing her experience and knowledge of archives with the general public. In reading the blog posts, it seems that Theimer is really trying to break archival administration out of this secret box that it seems to be in and explain the basics of the profession and what it is that archivists actually do on a daily basis. For instance, in her post on “the role of “the professional discipline” in archives and digital archives,” she explained exactly what an “archive” and “digital archive” is because in various professions the meaning of the words can be different from how professional archivists classify them.

This post was in reference to a news story she saw about the failed BBC project and the article referenced digital archives, but it was not used in the correct context. She noted that “archives and digital archives—collections, organizations, and places—that are administered in a manner that adheres to the professional discipline of archives are different than those that do not.” While the word archive can be used in a broader sense, there does need to be more of a clarification of the context it is being used in as to not confuse people who think they may be referring to various collections. I found Theimer’s goal of bringing the archival profession to the masses to be very inspirational and is a similar goal that I share. Oftentimes I find myself having to go into specific detail about the archival profession and what it is that archivists actually do.

Many times, when people hear the word “archive,” they may think of dusty old materials with little or no relevance to today’s society. But, this term has varied meanings and is not just limited to old, unimportant materials. According to Adrian Cunningham, archives take different forms, pursue different strategies and different combinations of objectives (2009, pg 203). Additionally, records are made as a means of conducting and/or remembering activities. They are created for pragmatic or symbolic purposes—as enablers and evidence of experience and activity, as aids to memory and/or as artifacts.” (2009, pg 192). So, I think for people to have a more well-rounded perspective of an archives and archivists’ purpose, they need to be educated whether it be through blog posts, workshops, or seminars so that the profession can establish a better re-pore with its core audience.

ScreenHunter_304 Mar. 18 16.12

Mr. Library Dude is a bit similar to to ArchivesNext in its bluntness about the LIS profession, but this blog focuses solely on the librarian and LIS students studying to become librarians. The blog is written by Joe Hardenbrook, who is currently a reference and instruction librarian at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. What drew me to this blog is its very candid subject matters regarding the LIS profession and the great advice he gives to LIS student preparing to enter the workforce. His first post for 2015, for instance, dealt with interviewing for a library job. In what Hardenbrook calls “Library Interviewee’s Bill of Rights” he spells out some major issues library staff tend to have when interviewing candidates for jobs and the overall hiring process.

Having been a professional librarian for over ten years, Hardenbrook has had his fair share of library interviews, so he mentions some tips that staff should follow such as giving the candidate time to prepare for a presentation, sending over interview schedule ahead of time and reimburses the candidates for expenses they accrue when they have to travel out of town to come to the interview. I believe these tips are helpful for any profession and it’s good that he is relaying these facts for future librarians so they know what to expect. Hardenbrook also brought up an issue that seems to prevalent in the LIS profession, which is workforce planning as well as hiring issues that have yet to be fixed.

” Workforce planning has never been a strength of the American library profession in general, or higher education for librarianship in particular. The field has rarely secured a dependable assessment of supply and demand for professional positions.… As a result, national, professional, and institutional strategies have not been developed to guide the preparation, advancement, and replacement of librarians” (Mika and Matarazzo,2004, pg. 115 ).

Another issue Hardenbrook tackles in his blog is the American Library Association and his disappointment with the organization. While you would think that any librarian would be fully endorsing the major library organization, Hardenbrook points out how a librarian can still be engaged in professional service without being a part of ALA and that there are a benefits that one can receive from ALA without paying for a full membership. This was a two part post where he discussed just why he doesn’t intend on renewing his membership and why the membership cost is so expensive. He brings up an issue that seems to be the case with a lot of organizations and how they encourage you to join, but don’t specify what you will actually get out of the membership besides access to newsletters and publication, and maybe a discount on the annual conferences.

Both ArchivesNext and Mr. Library Dude are blogs that LIS professionals and LIS students should check out because they offer very interesting perspectives on the field.

SOURCES

James, M., & Joseph, M. (2004). Workforce planning for library and information science.Library & Information Science Research, 26(2), 115-120.

Cunningham, Adrian.(2009). Archives. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, (pp. 192-207). New York: Taylor and Francis.

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