It was wonderful to meet so many cool baby librarians and adulting librarians at the Annual LISGSA Conference.
As promised, here is my slide deck.
Feel free to message me here if you would like to know more!
It was wonderful to meet so many cool baby librarians and adulting librarians at the Annual LISGSA Conference.
As promised, here is my slide deck.
Feel free to message me here if you would like to know more!
Lots has been happening in my library world so I’m finally getting back to blogging again. I am working on a conference proposal with my librarian bud for life, Abi. If it gets accepted, I will make sure to post on here about the topic. Here is a hint: it involves going down the rabbit hole of librarians wearing multiple hats. During this time of working together, I have found time and time again the importance of having a hive.
A hive is a group of librarians that help you brainstorm. It is a group that helps keep each other accountable, relevant, and helps kick library butt. I never truly understood the importance of having a hive until I was a solo librarian. Thank you to Google Hangouts we are able to stay connected virtually.
With this intriguing rhythm of team productivity, I have become interested of why teams structures work, what it takes for them to work, and why do they add meaning to the work that we do. Recently, I have been reading a TON of articles on The Muse.
The one article that struck me in particular was one written by Jo Eismont about 4 factors that make a team work together well. Time and time again you heard me say, “YES!” One of the factors that struck me the post was climate. Building a positive climate is key when working with others. Then, it builds up this expectation that if a fellow team member brings criticism to your idea you know they are doing it to make you better. The hidden agenda or negative thoughts are lessened because you understand your culture. You can read the full article here. I am very lucky that I have this atmosphere with my hive. If I have achieved any success, it is because of my strong hive.
Here comes my pitch:
From my experience in working in different areas and with different team structure, I want to build a community of librarians who are making their way on their own. We thrive in community. We just do. So my goal is to build a community of baby librarians. Abi and I hope that our presentation will be the first step into launching a virtual community or hive. I can’t wait. I know to be true that working together towards a common goal leads to success even when you work as a solo librarian.
Reflection is part of my practice in librarianship. I evaluate, adjust, and act. However, I learned that sometimes its important to show yourself grace and be grateful for the progress you made. At times as librarians, we are active change agents. We do all we can to change to make things better for our patrons, which is great! That is the why behind what we do! But, it is important to pause and appreciate the progress you made. Take a moment to look back at the journey and have gratitude. Gratitude will help you avoid burnout.
I talked about Trello in this post and I will go back to it again! I run 2 library branches with Trello. I use it beyond just as a project management app. I use it to keep track of staff, invoicing management, licensing safe keeping, instruction scheduling, research coaching appointments scheduling, and as a knowledge base. Most amazing fact of all, I am using it to build the library’s 5 year strategic plan. Yes! Why? Simply because I speak Trello so it helps me build a visual than trying to make sense of it all in a document. I will get to the document portion but right now I just want to build the ideas and rough timeline to give myself direction. It is time we stop trying to keep only paper documentation or worse not a have system of keeping documentation.
Don’t be shy about asking to go to professional development opportunities. Professional development will help you develop your mission and guide you through your job responsibilities.
Always plan and create documentation about what you do every day! Not because you plan on leaving your job but because it really is a best practice. If you get hit by a bus, someone can carry on your responsibilities so patrons are less affected. Or if you are like me, you break your pinky playing dodgeball and you need surgery so that means you will be out for a couple days. Plan it! If you have difficulty making time to do it, book meetings with yourself or go to a coffee shop to work. Plus, use the Pure Pomodoro Timer (a Google Chrome app) to help you get through it.
My fellow baby librarian friend Abi and I are working on a presentation to help you manage your library better and do it with a sense of humor! I can’t wait! Stay tuned!
It has been awhile since I have written in the blog. Happy New Year! There has been so many happenings at my library. As I mentioned before, I work as a sole librarian at a small college with 2 library branches. During my time there, I have implemented change from including more library instruction, new ILS, monitoring usage, and standardizing workflows. Among creating and changing, I have been thinking and reflecting on the importance of assessment. As a former educator, I have familiar with assessment of student learning, however, assessing services is a new dimension for me.
Our library doesn’t have the budget to spend to assessment tools or collection tools so I had to make our own methods with free tools. Google Drive applications have been a lifesaver. Not only do I use Google Docs to write the documentation for the library, but Google Sheets has come in handy in collecting usage statistics. Using data validation, I started a transaction log that helps me see what kind of questions are we being asked and the time. I am looking for patterns and numbers. Data!
Next, I am using Trello to keep organized tasks that need to be taken into account for our monthly report. Then, I can see how many instructions sessions I am doing each term and what times of year. Using Trello as a knowledge base has become a tool that I can’t live without! It is so important that we don’t commit items such as these to memory. It is best to store them in a cloud-based system that is searchable.
With our new ILS system, I will be able to collect collection usage data, which in my previous ILS, I could not do with ease.
My other tool of choice is Google Calendar. We currently use Google Calendar to keep track of the library’s open hours. But working with a colleague, I had sudden Eureka! moment. The library has 2 computer labs that faculty, staff, or student can book for classes or study groups. Currently, the library hangs up signs at one branch or uses a binder for instructors to write down the times they need the lab at our other branch. Paper..paper..paper
In the effort of going paperless, I am using the Google appointments calendar version to have instructors not only look to see if the classroom is available, but they can book the labs themselves. One less thing for me to physically manage!
Now going back to my earlier point about assessment, I have been wanting to send out surveys to analyze what others think of the library and get user feedback. Since, I run on a small budget I am turning to Google Forms. I like Google Forms over SurveyMonkey because people can go back and change their answers and Google Forms makes the form more customizable than SurveyMonkey. Also, I like that I can put different content into the Google Forms like a video or a special confirmation response.
Yes, I know there are tools like Springshare’s LibCal (my favorite) and other great applications. But as a sole librarian institution, sometimes you have to get creative with free tools. So for the librarian reading this blog that wants to go paperless or use more online tools to manage their library. I am here to tell you that it is possible. It takes time and thinking outside the box, however totally achievable.
What free tools are you using at your library?
Electronic Resources and their workflow has been the emphasis of my new job. I am so glad I dabbled in classes focused on technical services because otherwise I would be lost. Most people I talk to casually about librarianship always seem amazed at how technical my job is in the library. I have new appreciation for these skills I am learning and understanding the behind the scenes work that makes a library the information hub. From HTML coding to MARC, technical services is what makes the library as organism work. I think of technical services as the mitochondria of the cell ( to add to my organism analogy).
After being in my job for 4 months, I have learned and seen what happens when that side of librarianship is not kept up. It has been a toll trying to get the mechanism running. It is not that previous librarians did a poor job. I think that side of librarianship is so specialized and classes in that subject matter can be rare.. basically there can be many different factors that affect the library.
One of the biggest lessons, I learned is I highly encourage other librarians to learn even superficially the technical aspects of a library. Whether that is signing up for an online webinar or class through ALA or just picking up a book about managing electronic resources. Why? It makes us better reference librarians. We understand the electronic resources cycle, workflow, and the technical services staff better.
I am so glad I chose to diversify my degree. At first, I only did it based on what sounded interesting. But now, I see the value. I am able to build up this library because of those classes and asking technical services librarians to show me the ropes. With that said, if you are still far from graduating with your MLS, I highly encourage you to take classes on cataloging, electronic resources management, collection management, metadata and so on! It has served me well in my new job and it also opens up career possibilities in the future.
After much researching, trialing, and making a proposal to the higher ups! I have new ILS coming! Woohoo! I am so excited to be able to have count use features, report features, and much much more.
With this new power comes so much responsibility, I will be in the process of creating new documentation and designing new workflows to get this library running even more smoothly. I can’t wait! I know it will be so much work, but incredibly worth it!
One of my secret loves is great documentation! It makes our organizations run better and it helps everyone understand their job. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of documenting your workflows clearly and be specific!
I am looking forward to blogging about the transition phase of this project.
It is exciting to transition our collection for better management,make our resources more accessible, and visible.
It was the spring of 2016. I decided to present at my first conference. I presented this at the annual MU Library and Information Science Graduate Association Conference. This presentation is the result from an independent study I completed my first semester of graduate school in 2015.
With the age of Google and the internet, there is an assumption made that librarians are relics of the past. Libraries are outdated institutions that have been replaced by the internet. But with the recent news , it shows us (librarians) and the public that we are needed now more than ever. In the time of the information age, we find our patrons needing help navigating their way through a maze of sources. Before, I became a librarian I had no idea what information literacy was or that even existed. A year ago, I landed my first job as graduate assistant for two information literacy librarians. I remember when I first started learning what information literacy truly is and how undergraduates learn (with a librarian) the how and the why. My first reaction was shock. What? I wish someone taught me this sooner! Information literacy is not just about using the databases. But, it is understanding how information is created, the purpose, and dissecting the source. This approach means getting down and dirty with information. It means taking a source a part and analyzing it. Just because they are in print and out there doesn’t make them good.
But, this isn’t a skill that is natural. This is a skill that has to be taught. In my humble opinion, it shows the need of librarians. Clearly, we were not replaced by Google. Fake news sites just increased our value.
In this time in history, I see that we as a society need to move information literacy as core subject along with math, language arts, etc. Or as a required general education class. Why? Because, this problem will not solve itself. If we want our students to be fully prepared to be a contributing member of society, we must teach our students how to research and process information sources.
I can’t tell enough stories of students looking at me with shock and anger when I teach them strategies to use when searching the internet. They are angry that they went this long without knowing these skills and they think of numerous times certain situations would have been better if they had this knowledge. Students want this knowledge once they get passed the initial skepticism. I see some of my students after my classes and they tell me ways they have used the CRAAP test or another strategy to find information.
There are countless of research articles that discuss the impact on student learning, GPA, higher retention rates,and overall success. We know that as educators we should always set up students to succeed. So why are we depriving them of instruction that will help level the playing field? Library instruction is vital and worth the investment. More information literate people means fake news sites would be put out of business. As a librarian, I continue to reach out to instructors to let me at least due a one-shot instruction session.
Of course, it isn’t always easy to communicate value. For that, I turn to the experts. With more information literacy in school, academic, and public libraries we will see more people willing to be in the driver seat as they navigate the information superhighway.
A research interest of mine is understanding student learning. I was a first grade teacher before I made my way to librarianship. I was always fascinated (still am) by capturing those Aha! moments and reflecting on how we got there. As a teacher, I was always assessing, reflecting, and adjusting. By assessing, I don’t just mean exams or formal summative assessments. I mean taking the “temperature” of the room ( as one of my favorite professors taught me), observing, and listening. Or just talking with a student and asking them what is going well and what is just plain confusing! First graders gave the best answers! Ha! This practice serves me well in librarianship. Every information literacy lesson is me assessing student learning and adjusting instruction as I teach.
But as reflective practioner, there was always that question of who succeeds and why?
How do I get everyone from point A to point B?
Then I ran into this TED talk by Angela Duckworth titled:
If you talk to anyone who knows me, they know I LOVE this TED talk. It explains much of my story as a student.
Now, I am reading the book based on her research and I am eating it up. Not only is it well written, but it explains student achievement so clearly. I can say as an educator that grit makes the difference for so many. Countless of examples come to mind as I read and it is changing the way I see student learning. Student success depends on so many factors and even unconventional factors. As a teaching librarian, I can say this has made a big difference in my practice when I teach and how I view student success.
I think this book is a must read for any educator, librarian , or administrator. Honestly, I think everyone should read this book. I will give my final thoughts on the book when I finish it, which shouldn’t take long. I can’t put it down!
On a complete different note, I realized how much I have been reading research articles and not enough books. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to read research articles as a librarian. However, I get lost in articles and not enough books. This week has been a great reminder that professional literature comes in different mediums and its okay to take a break from one from time to time.
I’d love to know what you are reading these days. Comment in the box on the left hand side.
After working in a big university, I confess I took all of our wonderful technical services departments for granted. Now that I am a team of one, I have a new appreciation of all technical services librarians and staff. You are the reasons we function as a library literally. So this is my thank you to all you catalogers, computer software specialists, graphic designers, and user design teams.
I took an introductory organization of information course my first year of graduate school, which was incredibly helpful. But, I never took a full cataloging course outside of online webinars. So I had to learn on the job! Ahh! Thankfully, I am surrounded by friends who are catalogers that took me under their wing as their young padawan. I never lacked in resources for sure. Although I never could call myself a cataloger, I had to learn as much as I could to make our resources more discoverable. I am so glad I did. The importance of cataloging materials correctly is imperative. Otherwise,what is the purpose of having it if you can’t find it? I agree with John Overholt (2014) who said in a tweet, “Good cataloging is the foundation stone of librarianship. If you have an item and can’t find it, you don’t really have it.” That is why investment needs to be made in this area.
Over these last 3 months, I started documenting new cataloging workflows and constantly referring back to the literature for guidance. During this period, I had analyze our current ILS (integrated library system) and realized that it was just not meeting the mark. Items disappear in the system and there is no way for me to see accurate record holdings. The kicker is this tool stopped updating in 2009! The cataloging component had to meet with the ILS component for all of the pieces to sing together as one.
My next step was to create a criteria for ILS and set up a comparison Google Sheet that could help me find one that came at a great price, but most importantly it had to be a quality tool. Some of the criteria includes support level, cataloging skill level, cloud based, and a multiple branch feature. Of course, a tool that would make items discoverable, user friendly, and allow for actual management is my focus.
If you are interested in my comparison tool, let me know and I would be happy to share! I will stop here as I am still in the thick of the process, but will update you once I make a decision. May the force be with me!
If you are loving your ILS and are from a small library, please comment below. I’d love to hear your experience!
This past week I have been reflecting on library anxiety and importance of success. As librarians, we know library anxiety is a real thing. So what do we do with that knowledge? For me, I think of starting students with success. Recently, a student asked me where she could find the best fresh ground coffee in St. Louis. I instantly jumped on that question and hit up Google! I will find you your Luke’s! (Gilmore Girls reference) I quickly found a couple of places that were rated best places to get coffee in the area. Not only was this my favorite research question of the day, but it made me realize that a student had a question and she came to me (the librarian) for the answer! Start with success! That student met success with that first encounter and I hope that encourages her to come back to the library. Or in my previous library students would chat a librarian with citation questions. Of course, many would say that is not what we do at the reference desk, but if students do not meet success in that first encounter then library anxiety will rear its ugly head and we lose a student right there. Of course, I know that there are limits to this, because there are some departments who specialize in their question. However, I think it is important that we show genuine interest and help that student in any way possible. From my years as a student and not meeting success at the reference desk does leave a negative impact. Being kind is the first step and showing the student that we are invested in their question is second. Allowing students to start with success at the desk ensures the likelihood that they will stop by again.