LIS Job Searching for the Newly (And Not So Newly) Initiated

So you have your MLS/MLIS and you’re ready to look for that perfect job. With stars in your eyes and a skip in your step, you’re off to find where you belong. The only problem is, where do you look?

Recently, INALJ (I Need a Library Job) announced that it would be downsizing, stepping off social media, and really checking out of the information science/library game. For many this may have seemed like it was coming out of left-field, but the site itself had undergone massive changes and lost a large chunk of its volunteer base. On top of that, the creator of the site had moved on to “bigger and better things.” So while the…rebranding? of INALJ definitely left a hole in the library job search market, it wasn’t the only space devoted to helping new (and seasoned) librarians find the illustrious library job.

There are several places you can turn to in order to find information about library positions: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, State websites, local and regional government websites, and the direct website of libraries you are interested in.

Twitter is a great resource, especially if you’re trying to stealthily search for jobs while your soul is slowly being devoured at your current job. Some of the top Twitter accounts to follow (mostly US only):

There are also several hashtags and non-job search accounts you can follow on Twitter, that make it easy to stay up-to-date on LIS job postings, Twitter chats, and LIS resources:

If you’re looking at staying in a certain area, you should follow the Twitter accounts of libraries in your area of interest. By connecting with the libraries you are interested in directly, you can see the types of activities they are currently involved in, and you have the possibility of being notified about a position before it hits the job search sites.

When searching for jobs on job search sites like Indeed or Glassdoor, you should keep the following keywords in mind, and be open to working outside the MLS/MLIS box (taken directly from INALJ.com)

I linked a few of the keywords to specific job descriptions, so you can better see what you may be applying for before you hit the submit button.

 

For many, the job search may be a long one, especially if you lack the library experience that is often a qualification for a library position. And while I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I will offer advice to LIS job seekers.

  1. Do not be disheartened by the lack of response from a library you have dreamed of working at for years, or from the special collection library that seems too good to be true. It’s never out of reach, you just may need to work on becoming their dream candidate.
  2. Ask for feedback from recruiters when you aren’t offered a position. Not every job will give you the feedback you request, but it never hurts to ask.
  3. Look over cover letters of LIS professionals who were hired.
  4. Continue to evolve professionally. This means taking courses, getting certifications, participating in scholarly activity, and putting yourself out there.
  5. Make sure that you stay active within the community.
  6. Beef up your CV/resume with volunteer activities and organizations.

Best of luck!

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Libraries and User Experience

The gap between the number of people who think the library is important and the number of people who have actually used the library is huge. Comparing a Pew Research study conducted in 2013 and an American Library Association survey done in 2012 showed that, while 95% of people think libraries are important to society, only 52% have actually used their library in the past six months (Roskill, 2014). So why does this divide exist? Poor user experience and the ever increasing digital divide.

Libraries do many things well, but providing easy access to digital resources is not one of them. As the use of mobile devices continues to skyrocket, libraries will fall behind if they cannot create user experiences similar to “big box” brands like Amazon. As librarians, we are constantly promoting the eServices available through our respective libraries, but these services are severely lagging behind in the usability department. For example, take blogger Peter Rukavina’s (2013) experience when he tried to check out an eBook from his local public library (Figure 1).

Adapted from Peter Rukavina's blog post

(Figure 1) Adapted from Peter Rukavina’s blog post

In his post, Rukavina talks about “download[ing] an XML wrapper file for the audiobook, [which] in the end was simply three non-DRMed MP3 files.” Now imagine you are a 93-year old grandparent who has been given a Kindle for your birthday. You don’t have wireless in your home and you can barely send an email, even with the help of you grandchildren. You bring your Kindle into your local public library, where the librarian walks you through the “simple” twelve step process for checking out an eBook. How many times do you think you would use the library to access eBooks if this was the process each time? Amazon, on the other hand, is preloaded on the device. It stores all of your information and you can purchase a book for less than $2.99 in a single click. Amazon 2.99, libraries zero.

Libraries have been curating information for ages, yet we ourselves are not bridging the digital divide as efficiently as we should. To expect our digitally illiterate patrons to utilize our resources, we must simplify their user experience by providing easy access to the resources we promote to them. Libraries—especially public libraries—must step into the roles of content creator, provider, and curator. They must also understand that even with the majority of public libraries providing public internet access (IPAC, 2013) digital literacy cannot occur without access to digital resources and proper training. By creating user experiences that allow patrons to expand their digital literacy skills, librarians can begin to train the members of their community to become productive members of an increasingly technologically advanced society.

Information Policy and Access Center. (2012). Public libraries & digital literacy. [report]. Retrieved from http://plinternetsurvey.org/sites/default/files/publications/DigLitBrief2011.pdf

Roskill, A. (2014, May 14). Get a read on this — libraries bridging the digital divide: Andrew Roskill at TEDxCharleston. (2014). Charleston, S.C.Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J198u5HK0pY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Rukavina, P. (2013, February 5). Welcome to crazytown: public libraries confront digital objects. Ruk blog. [Personal Blog]. Retrieved from http://ruk.ca/content/welcome-crazytown-public-libraries-confront-digital-objects

Operation: Collection Development, Medical Library Edition

This semester I am taking LI855XS: Collection Development and Management. I love this course so far, and the teacher has been particularly amazing. For our second to last assignment, we were randomly assigned a library (law library, public library, academic library, etc…) and, as my luck would have it, I was assigned a medical library!

The point of the assignment was to create a poster that highlighted the “general activities that were in involved in collection development within this particular library.” My partner had never done any research on medical libraries, so of course I was ready to assist! We threw ourselves into the assignment and began to develop some ideas for the poster. I must have been feeling especially uninspired, since it took quite awhile for the idea to form.

After I had gone through multiple drafts, we finally came up with Operation Collection Development, Medical Library Edition. I must say, I could not be anymore more proud of the final poster if I tried! In order to give our fellow students a take-away from the presentation, I created “handouts” in the form of RX pill bottles. I modeled the labels off of the CVS pharmacy label.

Here are some pictures from the presentation:

Poster session display

Our setup for the presentation. My iPad displayed the page I created for the QR code.

Close up picture of the poster.

A photo showing some of the detail in the poster.

Close up of the pill bottles.

A photo showing off the RX handouts I created. We filled them with Skittles*.

We placed in the top three and were given a tassel, certificate, and some other fun prizes. It was a lot of fun to present our poster to a group of our peers! I wish I would have taken more pictures of the session as a whole, but I was glued to my poster for the majority of the walk-around!

The poster’s new home is in the Public Services area of the A. R. Dykes Health Sciences Library. I’ve had a few comments about it so far, so I think it is being put to good use.

Poster hanging in the medical library.

The poster is now on display at the Dykes Library at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

 

 

 

*Since when did they replace the green Skittles with green apple?! What happened to lime????

World Book Night US: April 23, 2014

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.

-Phillip Pullman

 

Applications to participate in World Book Night are now open! This is very exciting, as I have participated in WBN for the last two years and loved it. The first year, though I wasn’t an official giver, I helped a friend hand out The Kite Runner at homeless shelters around the Kansas City Area. This last year, I handed out Good Omens to library patrons, homeless patrons and hospital patients. I made little notes on the books…

Hey, I just met you. And this crazy! But take me home and read me, maybe?

 

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m kind of a great read…

 

You should spend the weekend curled up with me.

 

…and I also printed off a little blurb about what World Book Night is, how they can get involved and where they can mail a review of the book! I was able to hand out all but two of the books. The last two I stuck on our “Free Book Shelf” in the library. The shelf is utilized by members of the community, as well as the patients of the hospital. 

The books chosen for 2014 are all fantastic! I’m super excited that Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is on the list, since I LOVED that book. They even have Spanish language, large print and juvenile/YA books to choose from. My top three picks were:

  1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  2. Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim
  3. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Any of those would be fabulous books to hand out, and if I had a choice I would have taken a bunch of different titles to hand out! 

So think of this post as a reminder if you have participated in WBN, an introduction to WBN if you have never heard of it, or a plea to donate if you can’t hand out books. 

Supplementing Your Library School Education

If you aren’t overwhelmed by your library school classes, you may consider supplementing your education via a variety of alternate channels.

1. MOOCs

What is a MOOC? If you’re a gamer, you may be thinking of certain MMORPG’s right now, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong in doing so. A MOOC, or massive open online course, is an “online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web…[usually through the use of] interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors.” Finding out about different MOOCs for MLS/MLIS students can be difficult if you don’t know where to look, but fortunately there are a few MOOC providers that make it easier. The first of which is Coursera, an education company that partners with universities and other educational organizations to bring free courses to the masses. Another MOOC provider is edX. Though edX has some really interesting courses, many are not aligned with what you will be learning in library school. If you are planning on working in a specialized library, however, taking some of the courses available through edX could help prepare you for types of instructional literacy you may be required to understand. One of the very last MOOC providers is Udacity, whose catalog is currently very limited. Most of what they have to offer is more aligned with the hard sciences, but it can provide a welcome break from reading about information retrieval systems.

Another excellent way to find out about MOOCs is through your university. There are lots of top universities offering free, open access courses. Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, Duke, Harvard, UCLA and Yale all over some form of MOOC content. There is even a University based in the UK called The Open University, that offers all of its courses through distance education.

File:MOOC poster mathplourde.jpg

2. Free-to-View Webinars

Librarians love webinars and library school students are no different. If there is a way to make a presentation a webinar, librarians will find it. One of the best sites for finding free webinars is Webjunction. Webjunction maintains a list of current webinars and has links to archived sessions as well. Another site that you can find information technology webinars on is Cisco’s Webex. Webex contains webinars that you can even view on your iPad, so if you’re not at a University or don’t have access to a computer capable of running a web session, you can go mobile!

Checking with your local university or library is a great place to start too. Many academic librarians offer webinars for new students, or as a resource to students unfamiliar with library resources.

You should even consider creating your own webinars via screencasting if you have learned something of interest in class. This will help you solidify the ideas and concepts you learned, as well as disseminate that information to others. The video below will show you some screencasting basics!


3. Podcasts

Podcasting has been around for awhile, but it’s still an excellent way to disseminate information. If you have a long commute or need something to listen to at the gym, a library science or information technology podcast may be right up your alley.

A list of podcasts you may find interesting:

4. Self-paced Learning Modules (eLearning)

If the speed of MOOCs are a little too intense, you should consider an online self-paced learning module. These learning modules offer interesting courses, which you can take at your own pace. This means that you can finish the course in a weeks’ time, or over several months as you have free time. One of the benefits of these self-paced courses is that you are not at the mercy of others!

The Library of Congress (because it is amazing) offers a few online modules and so does the National Library of Medicine. Another option that you can always look into are the resources available to you through your university. Some colleges and universities have created simple modules to assist students in finding resources, but they can also be helpful to library science students!

A great list of free library-related eLearning sites can be found at Library 2.0.

5. Professional Development Programs

If you are already working at a library, your professional development team should have a list of opportunities for you to check out. Local libraries can also be part of exchange programs, which would allow you access to libraries you may not know much about!

Check out a short list compiled from neflins23things professional development list:

  1. Start your own blog
  2. Learn about new technologies (Web 2.0)
  3. Start a library science RSS feed to keep current
  4. Explore social media sites and familiarize yourself with new media
  5. Experiment with photosharing and editing
  6. Understand how to utilize current web tools and communication tools
  7. Browse collaboration tools and consider starting your own Wiki
  8. Build your own search tool using Google Co-op
  9. View videos related to library issues, create your own
  10. Subscribe to a podcast, or two…or three!

Check out more of the list from Neflin23things

Your library doesn’t have a professional development team you say? Consider starting one! What better way to learn than through your own actions!

6. Subscribe to listserv’s and RSS feeds

If you’re short on time, consider subscribing to a library science listserv or curated RSS feed list. Creating a list of RSS feeds in The Old Reader is easy (similar to Google Reader), or even check out Feedly if you prefer a different view of your RSS feeds. Most of these RSS readers are available on a mobile device, so even if you’re on the go you can still be connected.

Email may be more your thing and if that’s the case, subscribing to listservs allows the information to be delivered “right to your front inbox.” The Library of Congress (did I tell you how awesome it was yet?) has a wonderful list of library related listservs for you to peruse, as well as some other LIS resources to get you started.

7. Leisure Reading

Last, but not least, read about what interests you! Check out the 50+ Articles Every Librarian Should Read and curate your own list of articles you think would benefit other MLS students.

LibSchool Texts

The shelf of a library school student

Finding the Unfindable

I have a new obsession. Yes, it is library-related. It happened a few weeks ago when I was reading a book at work. I noticed a citation for a conference poster and it got me thinking about the materials that aren’t readily available. I traced the poster back and then read up on searching for conference proceedings. It was then that my new love appeared.

Grey literature.

What is grey literature? According to the ICGL Luxembourg definition and Wiki:

Information produced on all levels of government, academia, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e., where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body. –ICGL

Gray literature…refers to informally published written material (such as reports) that may be difficult to trace via conventional channels such as published journals and monographs because it is not published commercially or is not widely accessible –Wiki

This includes materials such as reports, clinical trials, conference proceedings, posters/slide presentations, reviews, social network data and preprints. The list really does go on though…

Image

 

So why is grey/gray literature important? As an academic health science librarian, my patron base tends to be on the up-and-up when it comes to information literacy. Years of medical school, nursing school, and the hard sciences have honed their search abilities and the questions they come to me with are the questions they have already tried to answer. Simply searching Google or Pubmed doesn’t help, since they have already tried both (plus a few others) before coming to the library. Most of the researchers who visit the reference desk need to find a single piece of elusive data or a conference paper about a rare disease that was presented at a conference in India, in 1984.

This is where knowledge of the “grey areas” really helps. Knowing what databases are available to you can reduce the number of searches you perform, which will ultimately save you time.

The more I read about grey literature, the greater my obsession with it grew. Soon it was boiling over and I needed to create something that would allow me to organize all of the knowledge I had recently acquired. I decided to create a LibGuide about Grey Literature in the Health Sciences. It hasn’t been as popular as my other LibGuides, but it is in its infancy. I’m going to be adding more pages about searching for visual material (posters, images, videos, etc..), but I am learning about this as I go. I have even convinced my library school team to do a “review of methods” and literature review based on the question, “How has the Internet and open access publishing affect grey literature?”

So exciting!

GreyLine

The “spectrum” of research.