My poor neglected blog

The 23 things program is officially wrapping up this week, and I am disappointed to say that I didn’t officially complete any Thing past Thing 13. My last post was in late August, just after I accepted the position where I am now working. In the last 8 weeks I’ve moved to a new state, started my first official librarian position, and attended my first professional conference. It has certainly been a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t have been as successful if I hadn’t been working on the 23 Things before this crazy time in my life started!

I’m going to attempt to briefly address the last 10 Things in this post, and my goal is to transition from using this blog as a vehicle for 23 Things to it being a record of the beginnings of my career as a librarian. I actually just had to pause this post to help several students, and then had a chat with my boss about keeping a record of my professional development activities throughout the year, so now I have even more incentive to keep my blog active!

Thing 14 Zotero / Mendeley / citeulike

I don’t currently use any of these tools and I never had. I took a stab at using a similar service, RefWorks, when I was getting my MLIS but I wasn’t thrilled with its functionality and I’m super organized with my research so I didn’t bother to use the service. I’ve spent some time exploring these three options, and I think Mendeley looks like the one I will go with in the future when I hopefully start collaborating on research. I’m finding that I’m starting to look at tools through the lens of our users’ needs, and most community college students (and faculty!) aren’t likely to make use of citation services. That being said, I’m working on new courses that we can offer faculty and if my Web 2.0 Tools class happens I intend to include information on citation tools.

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events

As I mentioned in my intro, I just attended my first conference last week! It was for the North Carolina Library Association and I found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience from start to finish. I met a lot of other librarians who are doing amazing things, learned about some new tools, and started to build my confidence as a legitimate librarian. I was out this past weekend and met some new people, and it felt so exhilarating to introduce myself as a librarian to someone outside of the college for the first time! When I originally read the 23 Things post for this topic the idea of presenting at a conference/seminar was daunting. Now that I’ve been teaching classes and have attended conference sessions I have decided this is something I’d like to pursue. I’ve written before about my struggle to reconcile the differences between being in a career vs. just a job, and sometimes seeing how involved other librarians are is overwhelming. At the same time, I get energized by meeting new people and sharing experiences so I’d like to push myself to become an active librarian!

Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published.

I didn’t quite realize how important advocacy was until I started working as a librarian. I’m finding that my first point of focus is the faculty and staff on our campus. I don’t think our services and skills are being utilized the way they could be, and one of my first goals in my position is to do outreach with our faculty, staff, and students. I know this will be a challenge so I’d love feedback on how other people have done this.

As far as getting published, the community college setting doesn’t require me to do so, but it is something I’d like to pursue for myself. I met some really fantastic people at the NCLA conference and I’m working up the courage to see if any of them would partner with me on research endeavors. I also need to spend a little more time deciding what avenues of research I’d like to pursue.

Thing 17: Prezi / data visualisation / slideshare

I was familiar with all of these tools/topics prior to reading the CPD23 post. I actually used a Prezi to get my job here, and I’d like to make a series of Information Literacy based Prezi’s that I’ll record using Camtasia to make videos for our library site. Data visualization is a topic that I first took notice of during my graduate studies and I find it fascinating but daunting. There are certainly some amazing free web tools to create visualizations, and this is something I’m exploring to make our library website more engaging and appealing. I’ve seen quite a few presentations on Slideshare and I like the idea of using it, but I haven’t yet created a presentation that I feel is worthy of uploading to test it out! Slideshare does serve a useful purpose, but I feel as though we should all be moving away from static Powerpoint style presentations to make use of more dynamic tools like Prezi and screen capture services.

Thing 18: Jing / screen capture / podcasts (making and following them)

Man, that turned out to be a nice segue! I hadn’t really used Jing or other screen capture services before I started my job, however, I am very proficient in the CTRL+PrtScn function in Microsoft! I like Jing because it’s fast and can be used for quick tutorials and help guides. Our campus has subscriptions to SnagIt and Camtasia so I am more likely to use those tools since they are already on my desktop.

Podcasts have been around for quite some time but I’ve never taken the time to get into using them. I don’t know why this is, and I’ve tried several times to get more into it but I just can’t. I’m not a huge talk radio or audio book type person, and I guess I’d rather read/see something than hear it. I suppose that makes me a visual learner! That being said, one of the things I’ve learned here at the community college is how important it is to present information in multiple formats so that all users can access it in a way that makes sense and is comfortable for them. Once things settle down in my job (ha ha) I will revisit podcasting and how I might be able to apply it here.

Thing 19: Some time to think about how you might integrate the Things so far into your workflow and routines.

For the purposes of completeness, I will add a sentence here to say how glad I am for this program. Things 1-12 helped me find my job, feel comfortable doing it, and be more able to reflect on my experiences to make positive changes.

Thing 20: Library Day in the Life and Library Routes/Roots

Library Day in the Life is something I learned about during the height of my job search, and thus I didn’t participate. I did pay close attention to the concept, and spent some time reading blogs to get a better idea of what I might be doing once I found a job. I look forward to being involved with the project in the future!

My Library Roots go pretty deep! My Mother was the librarian at my high school (she retired in 2006) and my Aunt is currently a part time librarian for the Army and for a community college. I grew up in the library. I loved helping my Mom check out books to patrons and fondly remember her sitting on the couch reading library journals and booklists while I did my homework or read a book. She has been my strongest support throughout my life, and she was surprised when I chose to become a librarian. I got my undergraduate degree in Psychology in 2007 and planned to take some time off from school before rushing into a graduate program. I didn’t start working in the field of Psychology until 2009, and I quickly realized I didn’t want to be a therapist. I also realized that my favorite part of my undergraduate work was research. Not necessarily writing the paper, and not necessarily just in Psychology, but I discovered that I loved to learn new things. The more I thought about it the more I realized that working in an academic library would allow me to marry my love of learning/research with my love of technology/the Internet, and I quickly applied for Library School.

My Library Routes pick up from here. I chose Drexel University for a few reasons. The first was because I could apply and enroll within a few short months. Secondly, I could complete the degree online which would help me to be able to work and support myself at the same time. Third, they have an excellent reputation. Fourth, I could complete the degree in 15 months. I had a good experience at Drexel. Most of my professors were brilliant and engaging, my classmates were smart and well-spoken, and I was able to take classes that matched my interests. My biggest challenge was that I’d never learned about libraries before, so I spent more time reading than I thought I would. I knew I wanted to work in an academic library and I began applying for jobs about 4 months before I graduated. I began to get frustrated with my search about a month after graduating and realized I needed more real-life experience (I had none). I was able to begin volunteering at a local University working with metadata, but I only did this for about 3 weeks before I was offered my current position. I have now been working as the Instruction/Reference Librarian for about 6 weeks and I love my job so far. I get to do reference, teach classes, build websites, and pretty much tackle any project I can think up. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish in my first year!

Thing 21: How to identify your strengths, how to capitalise on your interests, how to write something eyecatching that meets job specs.

Identifying my strengths was a huge part of actually getting a job in the field. I had to market my skills from being a customer service rep, bookseller, and crisis counselor into library terms. I think it’s important for me to continue identifying my strengths and weaknesses in my new position to make sure that I continue to grow as a librarian. The job application process was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. I feel incredibly blessed to have found a job that I love in such a short period of time. I know that one of the things that “sealed the deal” was my interview, as I’ve heard feedback from all of my current co-workers who were on my interview panel about how I did. I actually did my interview on Skype, and I spent about 4 hours researching interview questions & how to ace a Skype interview. I found a fantastic blog about library interviews, and I literally wrote out my answers to most of the questions and practiced them with my partner. Everyone who was on the panel told me that I was the only candidate who didn’t take long pauses to come up with an answer, and that my answers felt very natural. I would highly recommend a good practice session to anyone who is going to be interviewing in the future. Another recommendation is to research the organization, and to use that research in your interview. I made sure they knew that I was excited to be working with them and that I wanted to be a part of their community.

Thing 22: Volunteering to get experience

I mentioned this in my Routes section, and although I think the volunteering had little to do with me getting my current job, I know that if I’d had to continue my search my experience volunteering would have been invaluable. The volunteer experience exposed me to the workings of an academic library, and got me to start meeting other librarians. I wish I could have spent more time there!

Thing 23: What have you learnt and where do you want to go from here?

In summary, I’ve learned that professional development is a lifelong process that will give as much back to you as you put into it. It takes a lot of effort to keep up with the many active librarians on Twitter, read blogs, explore new resources, meet new people, reflect on your experiences, and incorporate the new knowledge you gain into your professional and personal life. The 23 Things exposed me to a flurry of online library activity, and to the skills of reflective practice and networking that will be essential to me as I continue in my career. I look forward to continuing my professional development and to using this blog as a tool to build my career.

 

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