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Students as library partners

16 May

Last week I received the latest issue of College and Research Libraries News in the mail, and I noticed an interesting theme arising from the articles. There are several articles discussing libraries working with students on campus on projects ranging from the evaluation of library service to marketing and outreach.

  1. In “Students research the library” , Gina Hunter and Dane Ward of Illinois State University explain how student-led ethnographic research on student use of the library can provide valuable information to help libraries evolve to meet student needs. With the guidance of faculty and librarians, students can leverage their “native expertise” and ability to build rapport with their subjects to gather data about student behavior in the library.
  2. In “Imagine: a student centered library” , Gretchen Gfeller, Desiree Butterfield-Nagy, and Hansie Grignon at the University of Maine describe their library marketing campaign for the Fogler Library, developed by a Marketing team that included student members. One of their projects that was created by this student member was a poster campaign picturing various student groups and their answer to the question, “what did we find at Fogler?” Another initiative invited student comments and feedback on their favorite place in the library in order to gather suggestions to use in redesigning spaces and services to make the library a more student-centered place.
  3. Secrets to successful mystery shopping” by Candice Benjes-Small at Radford University and Elizabeth Kocevar-Weidinger at Longwood University shares their experience applying the “mystery shopping” concept often used to evaluate retail customer service to the evaluation of service at the library. In collaboration with faculty, they used students in business classes as “shoppers” who participated in the research project for extra credit or participation points for their classes. Using students instead of professional mystery shoppers had the benefit of the participants being familiar with the academic environment and the service expectations of academic library users.

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Who gets to call themselves a librarian?

5 Feb

I was noticing the other day that I have this annoying habit of telling people I’m a librarian when they ask me what I do, even though I’m not currently working as one. And then I have to launch into a long-winded explanation (Well, I recently got my library degree, but I haven’t found a professional job yet…). This made me think: I have my MLIS, but am I a librarian? What determines librarian-hood? The degree, or the job?

With the job market how it is right now, there are many of us MLIS-holders who are still looking for employment, are employed in part-time and/or on-call or support staff positions in libraries, or employed outside of the library profession. Do we get to call ourselves librarians, or is that right reserved for those with the job title?

It may be self-serving, but I really feel that being a librarian is more than just a vocation. It is a way of looking at the world and information that does not turn off just because you may be doing something else for a living (or still looking for work). Maybe it’s because during my period of unemployment after graduation, I worked so hard to stay involved in the profession in whatever way I could, that it became part of my identity and I started really thinking of myself as A Librarian. I’m not ready to give up my dream just yet, even though I haven’t found that first professional position.

What do you think? Is a librarian something you are, or something you do? Those of you who aren’t currently working as professional librarians – do you call yourselves librarians?

Library podcasts

23 Oct

I love podcasts.

It took me a while to realize this, because I didn’t understand at first why anyone would be interested in a podcast at first. Then I started listening to podcasts of NPR shows on road trips – This American Life, RadioLab – and I was hooked. It didn’t take me long to hear about a relatively new library-related podcast called Adventures in Library Instruction, and I realized that podcasts can be a great way to squeeze in a little professional development on my commute. Continue reading

Thoughts on eBooks

29 Sep

There are so many conversations going on right now about ebooks that it is hard to keep up. I’ve been thinking about ebooks and ereaders a lot over the past week or so, since attending the Pacific Library Partnership’s Future of Libraries 6.0 conference at the San Francisco Public Library last week. I’m not going to rehash everything that was said at the conference here. If you are interested, the Librarian in Black has a great recap of all the sessions. Continue reading

Libraries are about more than books, but so are librarians

17 Sep

UPDATE: A member of the Trinity community has clarified the situation there in the comments. It seems the library staff members who are being asked to leave are not librarians. The article itself was unclear, so I do appreciate being set straight!

I just read a troubling news story from the San Antonio News-Express, via ALA JobList on Facebook. Called “New chapter for libraries”, the article identifies a trend in academic libraries toward downsizing staff (at least in the San Antonio area). Apparently Trinity University is offering buyout packages to several of its library employees to leave, and several other area institutions are letting positions go unfilled when staff leave or retire. Trinity’s president, Dennis Ahlburg, links the reduction in staff to a reduced need for librarians with the increase in availability of digitized resources.

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Freshman Class Librarians

10 Sep

I recently stumbled across a program on the Emory University Library’s website that I thought was an excellent idea for academic libraries: the Freshman Class Librarian. The idea behind it is that since many freshmen have yet to declare a major, they don’t have a subject librarian to turn to when they need help. With one librarian for the entire freshman class, they have a familiar face to help them navigate the complex world of the university library. In addition to outreach at orientation, classes, clubs, and dorm meetings, the freshman class librarian at Emory, Liz Cooper, also has a LibGuide specifically to help freshmen learn what the library can offer during their time at Emory. Continue reading

“The information desk is over there.”

2 Sep

I have recently started volunteering at my local public library, to help pass the time while I look for a full-time librarian position. I’ve been helping out at the technology desk a couple of hours a week, helping patrons with basic computing tasks like saving and printing documents. I have noticed a couple of things during my short time there that I’ve been turning over in my head.

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First Page Panda

28 Aug

Attention YA, children’s, and school librarians! My friend Anna Staniszewski, an author of middle-grade books, and her colleague Alisa Libby are launching a new blog to promote new YA literature. It’s called First Page Panda and will give authors a platform to share the first page of new and upcoming books. According to their announcement:

At First Page Panda, our goal is to offer a free outlet for book promotion where readers can browse book blurbs and read first pages of a wide variety of YA and children’s novels—not just the top-selling mainstream titles that crowd the shelves of the average chain bookstore.

I think this is a great idea, and I love that they are helping to promote books by less well-known authors. This new website will be an excellent resource for school and YA librarians to keep track of upcoming new titles that they might want to add to their collections. The site is planned to launch in September. Bookmark it now!

Whither Net Neutrality?

11 Aug

Ever since the New York Times reported that Google and Verizon were in negotiation for an agreement regarding paying for prioritization of content over the internet, there has been a lot of web discourse predicting the end of net neutrality. Basically, net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should provide equal access to all web content, and not prioritize content providers who are able to pay to ensure speedier delivery. Obviously, the rumors about this Google-Verizon deal seemed to fly in the face of this ideal. Continue reading

Handheld Librarian 3 Wrap-up

4 Aug

As I mentioned last week, I attended the Handheld Librarian 3 online conference last Wednesday and Thursday. There were so many interesting and thought-provoking sessions that I am not going to do a full recap of my experiences, since that would be a very long post. Instead, I just want to talk about what I thought were some of the highlights of the conference. Continue reading