Friday, September 29, 2006

Librarians as reliable search tools

I have had three people email me this article today from CNet news: Most reliable search tool could be your librarian. As we constantly struggle between teaching students what they need and giving them what they want, I liked this quote within the article:
"For some people, if the answer isn't in the first few results it might as well not be there," said Gary Price, founder and editor of the ResourceShelf blog and director of online resources at "No matter how smart and helpful search engines get, they're never going to replace librarians." - Elinor Mills, CNet, 9/29/06

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Using your resume, reflections

Resumes are frustrating and maddening creations; when else in your life are you asked to compile a comprehensive history in two pages or less? They are a struggle of design decisions with options of functional verses chronological, a combination of both, or make the conscious choice to begin developing curriculum vitae. We asks friends, advisors, colleagues, both in and out of the library profession, and professors to look at our efforts and learn a harsh lesson, everyone has a differing opinion on the final product. Ask ten people to look at your resume and you will get ten different reflections on thought, process, order, and design. A few months ago I was asked to look at a friend's resume. He was not happy with my input (if you are reading this you know you weren't!) but considered it along with several other opinions he was given. The important thing, as Rebecca mentioned in her post, is the only person who has to be pleased with any resume final outcome is the person writing the resume.

During a job search we rely heavily on resumes and cover letters to open doors, ably assisting in securing interviews that lead to job offers and career changes. Each application requires a resume and cover letter customized to reflect what we have to offer advertised openings. The end result is a job offer, acceptance, and the beginnings of a library career. However, resume importance and function do not end here. It’s critical to continually update your resume while employed, and not just for job searching. I spent a short time yesterday afternoon talking to my boss about this very idea. Below are several rationale to keep a resume current:

  • Performance reviews: As non-tenured faculty members, librarians at AU complete a yearly self evaluation. Within this document, we are invited to include our contribution to the library mission and vision, reflect on past goals set for the current year, and detail goals for the upcoming academic year. While we like to complain, often quite vocally, at the self reflection process, this type of review is really an opportunity. Pull out the dusty resume and compare it to what has been done during the year. Make needed updates, a resume should reflect where you are as well as where you have been.
  • Library web presence: I would hazard a guess almost everyone has heard the following, “Oh, you need a Master’s degree to be an academic librarian?” While we may bristle at the question, it’s often asked because people don’t know the scholarly background required of their librarians. Faculty members have their vitae on web pages, why don't librarians? Updating that resume and placing the information on your personal web page is beneficial to everyone.
  • Academic review: AU library is currently undergoing academic review, an internal evaluation, or “state of the academy” program review, whose purpose is to see where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. Each librarian was required to provide a current resume, or curriculum vitae, for this document. It is important we are able to show the academic community our qualifications, professional development, and instruction capabilities.
  • Speakers Bureau: Bill (the boss) reminded me yesterday that Ashland University has a Speakers Bureau & Experts List in place “to help local media and civic groups identify speakers from the University who are qualified to address a broad range of topics.” A current resume is beneficial to the public relations staff when they are asked for information.

A few minutes ago I perused my personal page on the AU server and noticed it would benefit from a bit of updating.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

ALAO: September Newsletter

The Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO) September newsletter, Vol. 24, No. 3, is currently available. Below are a few of highlights included within this issue:

Information regarding the ALAO News blog and instructions regarding creating an account to ALAO members interested in particiating in this endeavor will be forthcoming from the ALAO webmasters or ALAO membership chair.

Last Friday, September 22nd, was the first board meeting of the fall was held at Ohionet. One of the agenda items was the ALAO News Blog. We were given a short tutorial by one of the ALAO Co-Webmasters and workings of the wysiwyg editor explained. In one of those "it's a small world" moments, it was a bit disconcerting to see a Library Cloud link detailed by ALAO's blogging software as a recent incoming link.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Getting a job, Part 1: The dreaded resume and cover letter

So I mentioned last Saturday that I would write a post soon about getting a job including interviews, resumes, cover letters, etc. I did that so that I would force myself to actually write it and not put it off. I'm partially chickening out. I'm only going to cover resumes & cover letters this time. I'll talk about interviews, electronic application, and the waiting game in later editions. Breaking it up should make it easier. This isn't specific to libraries, but it's still professionally important so I think it should be addressed here.

Nobody particularly likes writing about and marketing themselves. It goes against everything our mothers ever taught us about not bragging and being modest; and you don't want to sound too full of yourself either. But it is a necessary skill that must be acquired. So...

Learn to write a good resume. You will be writing one and updating it a lot. Resumes are not just for the job hunt but for other things you'll apply for such as grants and professional opportunities. I was never able to attend the few workshops offered during undergrad or grad school and I paid for it. I had no one to ask for advice (literally, no one seemed to know) so I broke down and bought a book.

The book I bought is called Same Day Resume : write an effective resume in an hour which is part of the "Help in a Hurry" series from JIST Publishing (a new edition is coming out in November). I liked it because it had a lot of examples of resumes, cover letters, and straight-talk instead of flowery inspiration. It taught me how your resume needs to look good not just sound good. It also has a good worksheet to help you figure out what to write if you're new to this. My favorite quote, and best bit of advice is from page 9, "This will be your resume, so you can do whatever makes sense to you. There are few resume rules that can't be broken if you have a good reason." No matter which book you go for, I would buy instead of borrow so that you can highlight and make notes.

I, personally, wrote a resume that was an amalgam of chronolgical and functional. Since I hadn't been out of school I needed to emphasize my library related jobs a bit more so I classified the ones that had library skills under "Library Related Experience" and then the other jobs under "Other Experience." I then listed more job duties/skills under the library related experience than under the "other." I also utilized years only for the duration rather than Month and year since some of the jobs were not very long and I didn't want to emphasize that.

As for Curriculum Vitaes (CVs), I have no idea. I've never had to write one and would rather not if I can avoid it. Their meant for faculty library positions and from what I can tell they're like resumes only a lot longer and in-depth.

Learn to write a phenomenal cover letter. For each position I applied for I spent an hour or more on each cover letter. That may sound like overkill, but in some ways your cover letter is more important than your resume. Spend time with it, rewrite it, and make it so that it truly reflects everything you want to say about yourself, what you can do for them, and why you want the job. Honing your letter writing skills now will also serve you a lot in your professional career. Many people are horrible letter writers these days due to the speed at which they write. My biggest tip for writing a good letter: Read it aloud like you were delivering it as a speech. This will often catch things that don't flow well or just feel awkward. You slow down more if you're reading a loud for an audience to reflect meaning and intonation. Remember your potential employer is reading this for the first time and you want to be polished so take your time and prepare.

Hope this advice helps someone out there. Have a good weekend.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

C & RL News: ACRL Program Summary

Sometimes, after reading a new acquisition, do you ever revisit the review that prompted you to make the purchase and wonder if you and the reviewer read the same book? This happened to me somewhat recently with several juvenile ARC’s I picked up at ALA in New Orleans. In most instances, my opinion of the books in question closely mirrored the professional reviews. When I retrieved the most recent edition of C & RL News from my mailbox a few days ago I was pleased to see a ACRL session Publish Don’t Perish: Helpful Hints for Authors. The following summary is by Jan Kemp, Lamar University:

"The program “Publish, Don’t Perish: Helpful Hints for Authors” was cosponsored by the ACRL New Publications Advisory Board and the ACRL College Library Section Research Committee. The speakers included Tony (Charles A.) Schwartz (Florida International University), Marie L. Radford (Rutgers University), and Patricia Glass Schuman (Neal-Schuman Publishers).

Schwartz described some of the ways librarians can identify and refine a worthy topic for research, for example, a subject thought to be complex is actually simple or a subject previously thought to be simple is actually complex; and something that is generally considered to be good is bad or vice versa. He noted that when faced with the requirement to publish to meet tenure requirements, a librarian would be well advised to select a subject area they know well and to focus on a research question for which they already know the outcome and the conclusions. He suggested that only after meeting the requirement for publication should a librarian embark upon research in an unfamiliar area.

Radford’s presentation included tips on how to increase “writing productivity and enjoyment,” including write in short, regular sessions; solicit and welcome suggestions from others; work to your interests; and develop the habit of using a writing notebook to save ideas. She also emphasized the importance of time management, using Stephen Covey’s time management matrix to illustrate the need to spend time in planning and writing to lessen time spent “writing on deadline” in a crisis mode.

Speaking from the perspective of the book publisher, Schuman recommended that writers begin by determining the purpose the book will serve, the audience for the book, and why the book is needed. Schuman offered a list of “important topics for today’s library publishers,” including “acquisitions, management, marketing and public relations, and digital/virtual reference,” among others. "–C & RL News, September 2006

I particularly enjoyed Dr. Radford, she was an engaging speaker who didn't pull any punches. Beyond her handouts detailing her "Radford Rules for Increasing Writing Productivity and Enjoyment," she addressed time management and barriers keeping potential authors from writing. What resonated with me was her assurance each person in attendance was already involved in an interesting project at work that would be suitable for an article. A published author, renowned presenter, and blogger (Library Garden), Dr. Radford stressed the importance of writing every day.

This ACRL session is one of the reasons I wanted to investigate blogging with a partner. I agree that every librarian is involved in interesting projects, but it is often hard to take the time and practice the craft of writing daily. A blog partnership is beneficial, taking away some of the stress of having to 'carry the load' alone. Plus, it is a nice collaborative project.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ERIC Web Updates

The Education Resources Information Center, or ERIC, announced a recent update to their web site. In my opinion, the most interesting changes are those made to search options, especially search term highlighting. Admittedly I use OhioLINK and EbscoHOST databases when searching ERIC, but the web site itself remains free. Additional search feature updates include:

  • Results sorting options. The default sort is based on relevance. Relevance is determined by the number of search terms found in the record and uniqueness of the term in the database. Preference is given to newer materials and to the presence of either full text in ERIC or of a link to the publisher. Users may also sort results by author, publication date, and journal or institutional source.
  • Search term highlighting. Search terms will appear in yellow in the titles and abstracts returned as results. This feature enables searchers to see at a glance how the results relate to the search.
  • Streamlined records display. Citation information is compactly arrayed, and more records are visible at a glance.

ERIC News - ERIC Web Site Gets a New Look
September 17, 2006

For additional updates, subscribe to the ERIC User Exchange Blog provided by the ERIC Users Group, part of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section (EBSS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).

Completely off topic and just for fun ....

Do you know what day today is? Aaargh, matey it is Talk Like a Pirate Day! It seems this international holiday started with a Dave Barry article in the Miami Herald (2002); Miami Herald - Arrrr! Talk Like a Pirate or Prepare to be Boarded. Naturally I found, but did not add to the sidebar, a widget from Blogthings called What's Your Pirate Name. As noted below, I am Evil Wicked Wilma.

Your Pirate Name Is...

Evil Wicked Wilma
Later that afternoon ...
One of my student workers has junior block field experience this term; her assignment, a second grade classroom. She arrived at work in the midst of the Talk Like a Pirate Day conversation and remarked, "That's why all my students were talking like that today."

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Back again to answer questions

As readers may be able to tell I haven't written in about 2 weeks. I've learned a lot over this first year of my career; some of which I hope to share through this blog. The latest lesson is this: If you've had a cold for a month, go to the doctor no matter how busy you are. The cold may mutate into something much less pleasant. I hope others may learn from my idiocy. That's my PSA for the day, now on to other matters....

Diane sent me a couple of questions that she had been asked by a current MLIS student, and since I'm still a newbie in a different library & position than her, I might have a different take. So here's a couple of them below, I'll answer more in the future and if any followups appear in the comments.

Question 1: If you're a department liaison for a specific subject are you responsible for the bibliographic instruction as well as the collection development for that dept.?
Answer: Yes and no. I hate to be vague, but from what I've seen it depends. In my situation, I'm in a small library in a graduate school of social work. I'm assigned specific concentrations and I'm responsible for the collection development for them. I've also done one special program geared toward that concentration as well as other general programs. We have an instruction librarian who is responsible for scheduling and developing BI, but all of four of the librarians on staff teach the sessions. I may be more inclined to teach one of them in my concentration, but not necessarily. I think this is likely to be different at a main university library because each responsibility area is much larger and the liaison duties occupy more of the librarians' time.

Question 2: Is the librarian position tenured at your library?
Answer: No. Librarians can be considered either staff or faculty. Generally the librarians at each university are considered one or the other although occasionally you'll find a mix. Then, if they are considered faculty, there are tenure-track positions and non-tenure positions just like for other faculty. There are pros and cons to each. At Case, the librarians are considered staff, although it is my understanding that when there was a library school here they were faculty.
You'll find many librarians all over the U.S. who are very passionate about this issue and feel that we would garnish more respect and publish more as faculty. My opinion is that it depends on the culture and power balance at the library and its university as to which works best. Having staff status works pretty well for us, but it may not work at another university. The only drawback that I foresee is that librarians can't assign grades which may be useful (or at least desired) in some situations.

There were a lot of other questions concerning interviews, resumes, and the whole horrible job-hunting thing. I'll write another post soon that will lump all of those questions together and I'll answer them as best as I can.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

OhioLINK Marketing Workshop

If you are planning to attend the ALAO conference on November 3rd, consider going a day early and attending Marketing Research for Libraries 101, sponsored by OhioLINK. This pre-conference workshop is scheduled for Thursday, November 2nd, from 2 to 4 pm at the Crowne Plaza Quaker Square in Akron. The workshop is free of charge, advance registration required.

"Join Diane Cellentani - president of Marketing Backup and marketing research consultant to OCLC - for an introduction to the marketing research process. This two-hour workshop will introduce you to the market research techniques that will help you gather reliable information for the library service planning, service/resource development, and marketing and communication efforts." - Workshop flyer, 9/13/06

Thomson Gale is sponsoring an ALAO Welcome Reception in Crowne Plaza boardroom after the workshop from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Come early to the conference and stay overnight at the Crowne Plaze Quaker Square; to get the ALAO rate hotel reservations must be made by October 3.

For more information, or to make your reservation, email Candi Clevenger ( with your contact information. Remember, there is no cost to attend this marketing workshop.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Sidebar: widgets, email, and searching

I am done adding sidebar widgets to the blog (honest). Rebecca set up our gmail account last week and now that we have an official Library Cloud email address, creating the widgets requiring email verification is complete. Widgets we chose to display by no means exhaust the wide variety of items available, but they do meet a few requirements we determined would be nice to have. Here is a quick list of the chosen few, and what we hope to gain from adding them to Library Cloud.
  • WorldCat Beta
    Just for fun! We are librarians after all and having a catalog search seemed right.
  • Technorati Search Box
    As a way to sort and tag the blog, something that using blogger beta will accomplish, adding Technorati tags to posts will allow users to find other blogs using the same tags we have selected. The search box is in addition to the Blogger "search this blog." After claiming the blog at Technorati, we will also be able to pull up statistics on other blogs linking here and our status in the blogosphere.
  • ZoomClouds
    My current favorite widget, ZoomCloud not only creates a word cloud for the blog, but also details statistics on our account. Clicking on a word in our cloud takes readers to other existing blog posts using that keyword/tag. The stats show number of clicks on a tag and from what country the click originated. Filters are available to remove words from the cloud (nice).
  • StatsCounter
    As the title suggests, we are able to use this for statistics. StatsCounter places a small icon on the blog to compliment the code attached. It will compile number of hits, returning visits, and page reloads. Additionally, it will detail visitor paths so we may see how people are arriving at the blog. The free version will log 100 visit stats before rewriting over the first visits. We are able to have weekly stats emailed, so the rollover should not affect things much. I was initially concerned it would continue to log our publish and posting statistics; this afternoon I found out a blocker cookie could be created for my computer negating my loads. Cool.
  • Google Calendar
    This widget was a whim, an add-on accompanying our email account. It's possible to place an events calendar on blogs and/or web pages. Right now ours has library related dates and conferences.
  • LibraryThing
    Discussed in a previous post, LibraryThing is a free online catalog. The first of two LT widgets on this blog will show covers of titles we have added to the Library Cloud collection, the second allows anyone interested to search the collection.

So, that is our widget collection to date. Feel free to offer suggestions for others, but at this point we are widgeted out!

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Question: Academic librarians & hours

Question: I know public librarians work evenings and weekends, but do academic librarians work these hours as well?

Yes. I have been waiting to answer this question at an appropriate time; today is Saturday and my first of two weekend shifts at the reference desk. At AU library, weekend hour are 10 am - 5 pm on Saturday and 1 pm to 11 pm on Sunday throughout the term, holiday hours and extended hours excluded. Librarians rotate at least two weekends and Tuesday evenings each semester.

Why are weekend hours offered? From a simple customer service angle, the library should be open when patrons have time to utilize the facility. It's the same reason library's offer extended hours preceding and during finals week. Patron availability is wide open at these times and, as with your favorite shopping destination, business is good when including those who are unable to visit during the week. Beyond that, the library also serves an important academic function and we are responsible for being able to assist patrons outside of the traditional class time.

Are weekends busy? Library traffic and use vary depending on the weekend in question and the institution. I can surmise today our weekend business will be light as it is the first non-holiday weekend this term. Saturdays are customarily slow and consist of non-traditional students beginning their research and others stopping in to check email and print (and use the restrooms). Sundays begin gradually with patron usage increasing as evening approaches. After six on a Sunday evening is peak time for reference instruction to take place, often focusing upon database usage and locating books. Technology help is pravelent on Sunday evenings as well, with students completing presentations and papers on library computers. Overall, weekends tend to be "library as a place" times, with study and group areas a focal point.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Question: MLIS course notes

Did you keep your class notes from grad school? This particular question was posed during a conversation today in the library and was asked previously from both a current and recent MLIS graduate student. My answer is both yes ... and no.

Yes. I packed up all of my class binders, notes, and paraphernalia when moving to Ohio after accepting my current job. Several were extremely useful, the ones pertaining to children's literature and web design especially so. Generally speaking, they were relevant to my situation as a new curriculum librarian and college of education liaison. During the first year I referred to them regularly.

No. The longer I have worked, the less often I refer back to that information. I find there are two distinct reasons for the change. First, I finished my grad work five years ago; due to the consistently evolving nature of the library profession much of it is outdated. And second, now that I have some library experience, I am able to do my own research and utilize peers for their experiences as well. One or two I have never looked at a second time (I won't name names!) and with the exception of searching for a specific reference or activity, they are now gathering dust.

Do you have different experiences and/or expectations concerning the validity of MLIS course notes?

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

ALAO Conference Early Birds

It's time to register for the 32nd Annual ALAO Conference! Notices have been arriving via email reminding all that early bird registrations must be postmarked September 20, 2006.

What is ALAO? ALAO is an acronym for the Academic Library Association of Ohio. An active professional state level organization for librarians:

"We are over 600 members, representing more than 100 libraries, organizations, and businesses. We provide support, encouragement, and continuing education opportunities for academic library staff from all over Ohio through our workshops, annual conference and other programs. ALAO is the Ohio chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and is a section of the Ohio College Association (OCA). " - ALAO web site 9/07/06

If you are not familiar with ALAO, attending the fall conference is a great way to learn about this organization. In addition to presentations and poster sessions, IG and committee tables will be present allowing conference attendees the chance to explore. Additionally, each interest group supports at least one presentation/session at the conference and presents a workshop in the spring. ALAO supports six interest groups and several committees that represent the "concerns and issues related to academic librarianship in Ohio." Current interest groups include:

My first year working at Ashland University, ALAO held their annual conference at the John C. Myers Convocation Center here on campus. Our library director, Bill Weiss, offered anyone interested the opportunity to participate. As a result I attended my first professional library conference. I found the CMCIG table and was invited to their annual business meeting, attended the sponsored session, and signed up to be a coordinating committee member. This IG was essential to me as a new librarian as it provided me with opportunities to work with my peers and a network for support. After a year on the CMCIG coordinating committee I became IG chair and served for three years (one as co-chair). This led to the opportunity to serve on the conference planning committee for 2004 and 2005 and my current appointed positions on the ALAO Board as Liaison To Ohio ALA Councilor and OLF Representative.

ALAO is a great opportunity for Ohio academic librarians. All you have to do is attend that first conference and get involved!

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Brown Bag, lunch?

Brown Bag is a new feature offered by The Chronicle Wired Campus Blog:

"Join Chronicle editors every Thursday at noon, starting this week, for The Brown Bag, a new live chat on higher education’s hot topics. Every week we will be joined by an expert from the world of higher-education finance and technology to answer your questions about recent news and to share ideas on how you can run
your institution more effectively." - The Chronicle Wired, 9/6/06

This announcement falls into the "it's a small world" category because the featured speaker is from Case Western Reserve University, Lev S. Gonick, vice president for information-technology services and chief information officer and Rebecca works at CWRU.

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Friday, September 01, 2006


So I've finally survived my first orientation week & first week of classes as a librarian. Diane has been blogging for both of us up until now, but now that I actually have a moment to catch up on some reading and think about something other than getting others oriented I will take this opportunity to write.

I came across this item at OA Librarian praising OhioLINK's recently released recommendations for Ohio faculty and students to retain intellectual property rights. The reasons behind these recommendations are summarized pretty effectively in the corresponding press release. I have to say that these recommendations make me very proud to be affiliated with OhioLINK.

For those who do not want to click through and/or are not familiar with the ins and outs of scholarly publishing, I will summarize why OhioLINK did this and why it is important. Ohio colleges and universities produce a lot of journal articles every year through the research of their faculty and students. The works of the students and faculty are a result of the classes and research at these IHEs (Institutions of Higher Education). Yet when they turn these works over to journal publishers, often the author signs over their copyright which means they no longer have control over what they just worked so hard on. The publisher then charges the library of the author's IHE for access to that article via a subscribition, in effect that IHE has paid twice for that item. In the case of electronic access, the library may have to continue to pay large yearly licensing fees for that journal or else they will lose access to all the previous years they've already paid for, including articles written at their own institution.

What OhioLINK is recommending is for scholarly authors in Ohio to negotiate a bit with publishers. Maintain control of works that you have published by retaining some or, if possible, all of your rights under copyright. Deposit items into your institution's or another open access electronic depository. Do something to make sure that your work is and will continue to be accessible to you and others in your field and won't simply disappear because that's what the publisher decided. I hope faculty, staff, and students in Ohio take these recommendations to heart. Read more about this situation and the new recommendations at OhioLINK's page devoted to this issue.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!