Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SLA2012: What's Changed Since Library School?

On the last day of the conference, Noel Kopriva moderated a session for the  Food Agriculture & Nutrition and Social Science Divisions Social Sciences Division entitled "What's Changed Since Library School?"  Thanks to ProQuest & Dialog for sponsoring this Spotlight Session.  Each of the panelists took a different point of view on the topic and the results were quite interesting.

Hope Jansen is now in her third professional position after graduating from University of Brighton (UK) with a degree in library science.  A U.S. citizen, Hope knew that her degree from Brighton was accredited by CILIP and recognized by ALA. Hope's degree focused on theory and was technology focused.  She felt, however, that it did prepare her for working in the profession.  Her first positions were in the UK and now she works for CABI in the U.S.

After giving an overview of her program of study, Hope spoke about how the program had prepared her for the work that she has done.  She emphasized that even though her courses focused on theory that they gave her the knowledge and flexibility that she had needed in her career.

Sara Tompson is the Head of Library Instruction & Orientation Services at University of Southern California (USC).  Sara has taught as an adjunct in several library and information science programs.  She has trained to be an external review panelists for ALA's Office of Accreditation.  Sara talked about how the profession has changed since she received her degree in 1987.  She learned about technology after receiving her MLS and acknowledged that library and information professionals must be willing to continue to learn in order to stay current. 

Sara also talked briefly about the ALA Accreditation process.  Most professional library positions are filled by people with an ALA Accredited Library and Information Science degree.  While this holds all of the programs to a set of standards, it does not mean that all of the programs are alike.  The accreditation does help to ensure that students learn the theory behind the practice.

I spoke last.  After a brief overview of my career and what I currently do, I talked about skills that hiring managers are looking for in LIS graduates.  This is a list I have compiled from a number of conversations and  methodical interviews.

First...it is important to recognize that hiring managers assume that someone with a MLIS degree has learned the requisite library skills.  What then differentiates job candidates are the other skills that managers want. Some of these are soft or business skills, while others are more focused or specialized library skills.

So here is the list that I presented of skills that hiring managers want and LIS students need to learn in class OR through out-of-class activities OR work experiences:
  • Leadership
  • Project management & project planning
  • Technical (technology) skills [Every library is using technology, so understanding technology and being able to adopt to new technologies are essential.]
  • Continuous learning
  • Assessment and outcome-based evaluation
  • Dealing with the community
  • Teaching – one-on-one and group/class [Every librarian is a teaching librarian.]
  • Finance…Budgeting, project costing, grant writing
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to see and understand the big picture
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Marketing and advocacy
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Ability to be outward facing
  • Understand how to transfer skills
  • Understand organizational politics [This cannot be taught, so a person must learn it through his/her work environments.]
  • See a problem and propose a solution
  • Conversant with databases
  • See concerns/problems from multiple points of view
  • Ability to see how non-library competitors (e.g., Amazon) are solving library problems
  • Metadata
  • How to collaborate and create partnerships
  • Time management
  • Foreign language [Every LIS professional is serving a multicultural, multilingual community. Therefore, being conversant in a modern foreign language - or even American Sign Language - can be quite helpful.  In addition, libraries are creating metadata for materials that are in a wide variety of languages, so being able to understand a foreign language can be quite helpful.]
This list above generated a number of questions and comments! One person noted (and I think it was Sara) that these skills above help a hiring manager differentiate candidates.  In addition, the more of these skills that a new employee brings with him/her, the less effort is needed to bring that person up to speed.

One question was about how these skills are being taught in an LIS program.  Honestly, everything that hiring managers want in a perfect MLIS graduate cannot be taught in a graduate program. There just isn't enough time.  Yes, some of these can be taught as part of a class or a student may be given an opportunity to practice a skill as part of class.  However, students need to be willing to learn some of these skills on their own outside of class, either through workshops, independent study, or other work/volunteer experience.  Someone who has taken time to perfect skills outside of the classroom is also presenting him/herself as someone who understands the need to engage in continuous learning, which is desired by hiring managers.

If you attended this session or just find the topic of interest, I would be interested in your comments (especially if you disagree with something!).  This is an important topic for those of us who are educators and for those who are in an LIS program.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SLA2012: what SLA is making me think of today (podcast)

SLA2012: Quick overview of "Global Economic Outlook" session with Robin Bew (podcast)

SLA2012: Make the Most of a Difficult Situation

On Monday, I led a session on making the most of a difficult situation. More than 50 people attended and the discussion was poignant and important. The 1.5 hour session was followed by 45 minutes of talking with people individually about their situations and offering ideas about how to handle them. I should note that sometimes a situation does look different from someone else's point of view and people did appreciate hearing other perspectives.

I did not use slides for the session, so what is below are actually my notes (typos and all!).

SLA2012: The Future is Now!

Cloud Gate, SLA2012 As a member of the SLA Board of Directors, my conference started on Saturday with a full-day Board meeting, where we reviewed what is going on in the Association and discussed the future. The Annual Conference and the Leadership Summit are now the two times each year where the Board meets face-to-face. We also meet monthly via conference call and that allows us to address new business in a timely fashion.

Sunday was the open Board meeting where other members of the Association are able to attend, hear reports and ask questions. That was a three hour meeting and it was good to see the members that made time to attend and to ask questions.

My afternoon was spent in other meetings and then I attended the open session. The photos below are from that.

Brent Mai and Daniel Lee, SLA2012 New SLA Fellows, SLA2012 Guy Kawasaki, SLA2012
I'll have notes later about Guy Kawasaki's keynote speech. Did it relate to libraries, information centers, associations, etc.? Yes, very much so!

Today is already Tuesday and it will be another hot day in Chicago and a good day at the conference. If you are here, I hope that you'll stop me and say "hi!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The part of digital longevity that we can't control

As users of the Internet, we have become beholden to companies (like Google) that provide a variety of tools to use for free. We as individual users and as libraries, archives and museums have gotten used to these tools. We take them all for granted and forget that they are tools that someone is trying to make a profit from,even if using the tool is free. Over the last couple of weeks, I've had to update several web sites to remove the Meebo widget that I had gotten accustomed to using. There went a tool that had found favor in some communities for its usefulness. Since the tool was Internet-based, there was no way to just keep using it without having it supported by the company. They were turning it off. This is the problem with web apps and cloud computing. We can use them, but we can't own them. We have encouraged libraries to take advantage of the free tools at their disposal, but we didn't take into account the hassle when those tools disappear and the library is unble to own a copy of it. Now that organization needs to either search for a replacement or live without that functionality. I've decided to live without a Meebo replacement, although others may make a different decisions. Most of my conversations come through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn these days. (The fact that Facebook chat messages would display in Meebo was actually quite helpful!). I have no idea what others will do. I only know that this isn't the first or last time that they will be confronted with losing an Internet-based tool of value.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Unified Digital Format Registry (UDFR)

 The Unified Digital Format Registry (UDFR) is:
...a reliable, publicly accessible, and sustainable knowledge base of file format representation information for use by the digital preservation community.
A format is a set of semantic and syntactic rules governing the mapping between abstract information and its representation in digital form. While many worthwhile and necessary preservation activities can be performed on a digital asset without knowledge of its format, that is, merely as a sequence of bits, any higher-level preservation of the underlying information content must be performed in the context of the asset's format.
The UDFR seeks to "unify" the function and holdings of two existing registries, PRONOM and GDFR (the Global Digital Format Registry), in an open source, semantically enabled, and community supported platform.
The UDFR was developed by the University of California Curation Center (UC3) at the California Digital Library (CDL), funded by the Library of Congress as part of its National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program (NDIIPP). The service is implemented on top of the OntoWiki semantic wiki and Virtuoso triple store.
 According to an email from Stephen Abrams (Associate Director, UC Curation Center, California Digital Library), UDFR includes information about:
  • 846 file formats
  • 28 character encodings
  • 17 compression algorithms
  • 1,198 MIME types
  • 548 external signatures (file extensions)
  • 494 internal signatures (magic numbers)
  • 268 software packages
  • 156 agents
 If you are involved at all in digital preservation, this is a site worth bookmarking.