Tag Archives: library science

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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Exploring professional LIS Blogs: ArchivesNext and Mr. Library Dude

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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.

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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.

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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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MLIS Analysis and Reflection

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My first semester as an MLIS student has been quite eventful and busy, might I add. Even though I’m only approaching my third month in the program, I have already learned a lot about the library science profession and how diverse this occupation is in terms of job selection, ethical standards, and the overall institutions that employ LIS graduates.

In my first couple posts, I briefly discussed the importance of library professionals and how they are gatekeepers of the past and are responsible for children and adults learning more about various subjects. I have always known that library professionals are important to society, but I was not aware of why librarians and libraries are so essential to communities and academic institutions.

In watching the “The Hollywood Librarian” I got a visual lesson on the history of librarians and how their role evolved from serving politicians to serving their communities by providing educational, informative, and entertaining resources. The documentary also discussed how undervalued many libraries are from a government perspective and, due to continuous budget cuts, how many public library administrators struggle to raise funds just to keep libraries open and fully functioning.

Analyzing that documentary was one of the most enlightening experiences thus far in my blog and it really opened my eyes to the evolution of libraries and how much society relies on library resources in their everyday lives. Through similar assignments in my LIS classes, I have also tackled the subject of the library’s role in a community and what role this institution has people’s lives. Blogging about the importance of libraries and LIS professionals is a topic that I definitely plan on revisiting in future posting.

Moving forward, I also plan to dig deeper into the role that archives play in information institutions. In my first few posts, I thoroughly outlined my goals as a MLIS student and what I hope to accomplish once I graduate. I am specializing in archival administration and intend on pursuing a career as an archivist. Therefore, I plan to use this platform to discuss some of the issues that archivists tackle in their profession and how archives fit into the overall function of libraries. In my post on LIS organizations, I gave an overview of the Society of American Archivists, which is one of the premier and most popular archival organizations in the country. Writing this post really helped me get a better idea of the mission and goals of SAA, and the kinds of opportunities they offer for MLIS students and professionals.

As I continue to journey through MLIS classes and compose blog posts, my hope is to get a better understanding of the program and to learn more about just why LIS professionals are so cool!

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Analyzing The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians through Film

Filmmaker Ann Seidl’s documentary The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film gives a detailed look into the lives of library professionals and the issues that they face in trying to maintain the well-being of libraries as well as the patrons they serve. The overall history of how libraries were established and how they have evolved throughout the last 100 plus years was also was shown via interviews with librarians and through films clips featuring actors portraying librarians, which is where the “hollywood” part of the film comes from.

Informative, entertaining, and melancholy is how I would personally describe my reactions to the film. This film really gave a vivid look at the significant role that libraries and librarians have always played in society, and in particular the lives of children and adults. The film showcased how during ancient times the librarians were the tutors to the heads of states and served as advisers to politicians.

As the library evolved from its original missions of specifically serving religious leaders, scholars and wealthy patrons to focusing on serving the common person, this institution continued to function as a place where education was the primary concern (Rubin, 2008, pg. 7). While it is obvious to note that  librarians also play an important role in communities, I was not aware of just how important their contributions are to the people they serve until viewing this film. What librarian Eugenie Prime said in the film really stood out to me and put their role into perspective. “We like to think of the library and disassociate librarians from the library, and it’s the librarians who make the library what it is… Librarians are keepers of the flame, whether its the flame of freedom of democracy” (Seidl, 2009).

The tasks and responsibilities of librarians go way beyond cataloging physical and digital records and serving customers. Not only do they serve the public, but they play a major role in helping to keep libraries available in various communities. Seidl used the Sanilas Public Library branches in California as an example of how the lack of government funding for libraries could impact an entire community. Residents and even San Quentin inmates put on fundraisers to help keep the library doors open because they understood how important the library is to the community and to a child’s future. I found it really painstaking that the government provided more funding for prisons than it did for libraries. However, it was also encouraging to see how the community banded together to help the very institution that they utilized and how they did whatever they could to help keep it from completely closing.

This example shows how deeply connected power structures are to the well-being of libraries. In “What Libraries Are Worth?” Eleanor Jo Rodger explains how libraries fall under the umbrella of host systems such as corporations, institutions and political structures and how they rely on these systems to fully function.

“These larger host systems created the libraries, and they sustain them. Libraries rise and fall as their host systems rise and fall. We can be very good within the host systems, but we can almost never rise above their levels of success and excellence, regardless of our sense of value. Every library employee should know three crucial things about the library’s host system: its missions,its structure, and its history” (Rodger, 2007, pg. 59).

Libraries provide a lot for communities, but what many people, including myself tend to forget is the fact that libraries are businesses and they have to pay for the services they provide to patrons, which is mainly free of charge. I originally just thought of that the role of librarians was to serve the public and provide educational, entertaining and informative information and activities. Yet, the librarians interviewed in the documentary emphasized the business factor of libraries and how maintaining the business aspect of the institution, i.e. fundraising, is a crucial part of of their job.

Another aspect of the film that I found surprising was that children were not always allowed in libraries. A majority of the documentary dealt with how adolescents cling to libraries for knowledge and to engage in educational activities, but to think there was a time when libraries were only intended for teenagers and adults was mind-boggling. Kids are the main benefactors of libraries and their usage of this institution can have a major impact of their academic and professional future. It is really good to know that people like Andrew Carnegie realized how important libraries are to everyone, not just adults.

For library patrons who tend to overlook the significance of libraries and the employees that work there, this documentary will definitely change their outlook and make them want to do more to contribute to the very institution that they love.

                                                                                                                                                                      

Sources

Rodger, E. (2007). What’s a Library Worth? American Libraries, 38(8), 58-60. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27771303

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

Seidl, A., Erickson, L., & Harris, A. (2009).The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film [Motion picture]. Media Education foundation.

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Personal Introduction: Working my way through MLIS

The title of this blog “My Journey Through MLIS” may seem pretty self-explanatory or even simple, but deciding to pursue a career in the library profession definitely took a lot of thought and consideration. From the time I was 10 up until around the age of 21, my main goal was to become a print journalist and to work for The Detroit Free Press or New York Times. I completely immersed myself in the field of journalism and took on multiple editorial positions in high school and college. 

My ambitions of becoming an archivist and obtaining a masters degree in the field of library science developed later on when I was nearing the end of my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I took a job as a student circulation assistant and some of my responsibilities included checking out books for patrons, and helping students, faculty and staff find library materials. I also worked with the school archivist.

At the time, I didn’t know much about the field of archival administration, only that archivists were responsible for preserving historical items. In working with the school archivist, I learned more about the technical aspects of the field and the important role archivists play in keeping history alive and allowing the world to learn about the roots of a particular subject.

After graduating college, however, I still had every intention to follow my original goal of becoming a journalist and working in the Communications field, which I am currently doing. However, the archival itch I developed in college never seemed to stop. After working for two years in the professional world, and seriously contemplating the idea of pursuing a career as an archivist, I decided to return to school.

This is just a bit of background about my professional career transition, and there will be much more information to come as I learn more about LIS and explore various topics in my blog. Some of the topics I’ll be discussing include an overview of some LIS professional organizations that I plan on joining such as the Society of American Archivists. I’ll also be analyzing various LIS positions and will be discussing some professional journals that pertain to the LIS field.

My intent for this blog is to enhance my understanding of Library and Information Science and to gain more insight regarding the perceptions I have about the field. Although the LIS profession has been around for a long time, many people still have no idea what this subject area is about and how broad it is in terms of the career paths one can take when they have an MLIS degree. Many times when I tell people that I will be getting my degree in Library Science, they automatically assume that I want to become a librarian.

I also believe that the LIS profession will become a more sought after field since it has such a strong connection to technology. With everyone and everything moving more into the digital realm, there is more of a need for professionals to work with technology and have an understanding of how technology influences everyday life. I also believe that LIS professionals, particularly librarians and archivists are jobs that will always been needed and there will never be a replacement for their importance to society. Even as technology creeps into various job settings and it seems there is less of a need for human knowledge, librarians and archivists are gatekeepers of the past and are responsible for children and adults learning more about every subject possible.

 

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