Reflections on the Semester

This first semester of my MLIS studies has been transformative. I was, admittedly, unsure about my opportunities and potential to succeed in this profession. Now, after exploring job opportunities, researching issues, discussing trends and debating solutions with classmates, and learning to use new technologies, I’m feeling more at home in this field than I ever felt in my other pursuits. The deep interest I have in contributing to the field of LIS has imbued my decisions and actions with a sense of direction so much stronger than any I’ve felt before – it’s almost confounding to think about. But it’s a good, good thing!

I think that, aside from all the practical stuff my classmates and I have learned, one of the biggest things I’m taking away from the semester is motivation to learn, learn, learn. Not just because that’s what I’m supposed to do in graduate school, and not just because continuing education is important for librarians. Rather, the readings, discussions, debates, sharing of ideas, etc. have all been interconnected in intricate ways – within the LIS discipline, but also inseparably intertwined with society, politics, government… you get the idea. The stuff I’ve been learning in classes is so relevant to the driving forces of society that it’s impossible not to be motivated to learn and do more.

The resources I’ve discovered over the semester have also helped shape my thoughts on the profession. Journals, associations, conferences, classes, presentations – so much support and research speaks to the seriousness and importance of LIS in society. Not only are these resources educational, many of them offer professional guidance or career building opportunities as well as recognition of excellence.

All of this contributes to a sense of enthusiasm on my part that only continues to grow. Maybe I’m a little too elated for my own good. But my experiences over the course of the last fifteen weeks have confirmed, if nothing else, that the decision to pursue this career was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Revisiting the Beginning

Looking back on that first blog post I created, I’m noticing a feeling of satisfaction. Despite the fact that I’ve learned a lot about the LIS profession that I didn’t know at the time of writing that post, basically everything I thought then still holds true for me now.

Through discussions with my advisor, interviews with art librarians, and personal research into the field of art librarianship, I now know that in order to pursue a specialization in that area I would need a significant amount of additional graduate education, foreign languages, and coursework that is beyond my means at the moment. This insight has given me direction in deciding where I want to go with my MLIS. I am still thinking about academic libraries as a possible specialization (and technically that’s what’s on my plan of work, although those tend to change over time).

I’ve also been thrilled to discover a kaleidoscope of skills and knowledge sets that make librarians the amazing, multifaceted, super-smart, forward-thinking professionals that they are. And this makes me happier than ever that I’m on my way towards joining such a wonderful community.

Still, those main ideas that I asserted in my first post remain unchanged in my mind…

  • Librarians are, indeed, a group of extraordinary and diverse people
  • LIS is comprised of so many different types of interesting jobs that librarians have a rich pool of  career paths from which to choose
  • Librarians are ethical champions and leaders in recognizing professional responsibilities
  • Librarians are passionate about what they do, who they serve, and doing a good job – librarians love their work!


Blogging about Blogs

Blogs are cool…

So are all the new social media, technology, service models, etc., gaining popularity these days. It’s a challenge keeping up with everything in a fast-paced tech explosion of a world. Blogs offer not just a way to stay in touch, but a way to share, learn, and engage in ideas and news. Libraries and librarians know this. So choosing two blogs to summarize here is tough. Since I’ve decided that technology is poised at center stage (and will be for the foreseeable future) in the library community, I decided to share some info about The Digital Shift even though it’s more a column of LJ articles than a blog. I will also talk about Roy Tennant’s blog, Digital Libraries, which has interesting posts about technology, digital issues, etc. Blogs that are varied and encyclopedic in subject serve another purpose – broader perspective on news, ideas, and events encompassing the whole spectrum of librarianship. Library Juice has a range of topics in its repertoire, so I’ll speak to that content as well.

The Digital ShiftPicture 5

This column is run by Library Journal, with contributing librarians and information professionals from around the country offering cutting-edge tech stuff for the rest of us to gobble up (or puzzle over and feel like we don’t know anything about technology after all). Articles generally deal with some sort of technology driven issue or aspect of librarianship and are compiled in the column for browsing and searching. Examples of some recent articles I’ve enjoyed are:

Roy Tennant: Digital Libraries

Tennant works for OCLC Research, owns a couple of electronic discussions and manages a newsletter. His blog, found within The Digital Shift site, discusses topics ranging from current news related to digital publishing, to new technologies, to career issues in the library IT profession. The combined posts (usually short so easy to read even with a busy schedule!) demonstrate how different aspects of technology impact our profession in inter-related ways. And because Tennant’s posts frequently talk about the potential for technologies and ideas to impact libraries (not just things that already are impacting libraries), it’s been a good learning experience about finding connections between trends, topics, and possible solutions to challenges in the field. Some posts that caught my eye are:

Library Juice          Library Juice

This blog has tons of content to explore. The topics covered are wide-ranging, which is why I find it a good source for a variety of info. With no single particular focus, I can bet that I’ll find something interesting that wouldn’t necessarily have appeared in a blog just on library technology or academic libraries or collection development, etc. I enjoyed a recent post, “You would not say ‘Astronomers: The Original Telescope,'” that discussed the implications of the phrase “librarian: the original search engine.” It’s disgruntled in tone (though I’m prone to think it’s understandable), but it offers deeper insight into what’s actually wrong with the phrase – what it means for us librarians if people really harbor a belief that we’re just search engines (which also implies we’re replaceable…not true!). Another interesting post came from a guest blogger invited by Rory Litwin (resident blogger) to add her take on some issues in librarianship. Her post, “Beyond Access,” is a thoughtful look the changing role of librarian as information provider. This issue is one that I’ve found extremely relevant to current debates in library science.

Overall, following library blogs has been very helpful in getting myself acquainted with the types of issues librarians are talking about, exciting new technologies and trends, and an array of philosophies and approaches to librarianship. Lastly, because the blogs are written by librarians (rather than on behalf of libraries or institutions) there is also a lot of information about the daily activities of different types of professional librarians – something worthy of noting as I decide in which areas I’m interested in specializing.