Monday, October 26, 2009

Librarian Interview #2

While at the NYLA conference, I was able to interview the director of Livonia Public Library, Frank Sykes, for my reference class. My assignment was to learn how reference services work at his library, including modes of delivery, assessment and levels of service provided. We also discussed his recommendations on how to stay current with reference trends and other general observations he has.

Similar to getting to Carnegie Hall, Frank’s recommendation to become good at reference is “practice, practice, practice.” Just like any other program or application, you have to become familiar with it. Databases have different interfaces and various ways to search for a desired result. Reference is also a field where the professional has to stay on top of their game. Research, webinars, and list-servs are all ways to be informed of new databases and research methods.

Frank’s goal is to provide more specific, local information to his patrons in the next few years. He feels that small public libraries will be focusing on reference questions in local history and genealogy, local and county jobs and local school projects in the future, as this is what they can answer that the internet search engines cannot. 

It is nice to hear of the prominence of genealogy and local history questions in public libraries, as this gives me more options to look into once I start my job search. Although there may not be a specific department, the knowledge that I will get to work with people on family history related topics in reassuring.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Half way through the semester

It is the midway point in my first semester of graduate school. I have been incredibly lucky, learning quite a few things that will help me with my career as a genealogical reference librarian in the future. The first is that the American Library Association has a division which focuses on reference services and in the division is a part for history/genealogy librarians. I will be joining this ASAP to network and learn more. They are also giving a full-day workshop in Boston in January on genealogical librarianship that I plan on taking. Second is that librarians are tremendously nice. I interviewed the head of the local history/genealogy department and she gave me a lot of tips, which I look forward to implementing:-) Most of all, I have been constantly citing everything for papers and have assignments where we have to write down every site or item we search, even if it comes back negative. This is a habit I really need to get better at for my genealogy research, so I am hoping it will carry over.

I am looking forward to actually doing some research in about 7 weeks and hope to have until the end of February to do so... I also may have a very exciting announcement soon about school and some international genealogical research... Wish me luck!

NYLA Conference 2009

I attended my second library conference, the annual conference for the New York Libraries Association, over the weekend in Niagara Falls. I was able to volunteer, go to workshops and meet interesting librarians, students and vendors. I think that what I realized the most was that I still have so much to learn. Items such as insurance for the library, companies that move a libraries contents to another space and architects dedicated to libraries are all items we have not heard about in class.

I went to two workshops on Friday which made very interesting points for me to use in the future. The first was on ePortfolios and give me tips on where I can take blog in the future. The second was on public library certification in New York state and the new requirements that will be in place beginning 1 January 2010. Mainly, librarians will need to do 60 hours of continuing education/professional development every 5 years to keep their certification active. In my opinion this is a very reasonable amount of work, as the field is constantly changing and it is important that we stay up-to-date.

I also attended to cocktail receptions, one given by the New Members Round Table (NMRT) and another by Syracuse University. In my introduction to library and information professions class, we practiced and discussed "working a cocktail party," which came in very handy at the conference. I was able to talk with librarians and SU alumni and staff about the field, their jobs and their recommendations for students while in the program and even connected a fellow classmate with an internship possibility. The NMRT is always looking for volunteers and I plan on getting involved in the next year or so (as soon as my membership for ALA and NYLA goes through).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Web 2.0/Library 2.0 Group Presentation

For my Information Resources: Users & Services class, our group presentation was on the context of user services. We decided to focus on Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, as that appears to be one of the proficiencies libraries will be looking for when we graduate. Rather than create a powerpoint presentation, we made a Wiki.

Our presentation was given using Web 2.0 tools such as Skype, Wiki’s,YouTube and GoodReads. The amount of Web 2.0 tools is ever increasing, making even our presentation, based on an article from 2009, close to being outdated. One reason I say this is that Wiki’s are slowly being replaced by LibGuides, which were not mentioned in the article, and that I found out by attending the Librarian’s Toolbox conference.

Research for this project proved interesting when I took the Second Life module and signed up for my avatar. The genealogy portion of Info Island was something I had heard about, but never seen before. Although I will never be an active Second Life user, the discussions available there may be something I use again. It was also amazing to me the amount of things schools and companies use Second Life for, from online classes to business meetings. I can see where it would be useful for librarians to have a presence if their school or company does.

The best part of the project was the discussion on the message board that followed for the next week. I feel message boards allow even the quietest student in class to share their viewpoint and everyone who participated learned and taught more about Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 By the end of the discussion, the professor, who had vowed never to get a Facebook profile, finally relented and took another step into Web 2.0.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Librarian's Toolbox Conference

I attended my first library conference September 25, 2009. Hosted by the Upstate New York chapter of the Special Libraries Association, The Librarian’s Toolbox: Enhance Your Connectivity, Productivity, and Presence, gave me a great introduction to the conferences presented by the profession.

The day began with speed networking, which is akin to speed dating in that you get 5 minutes with another attendee in order to newtork. I met many fascinating librarians and the CEO of the SLA. Presentations followed on community outreach, LibGuides and other Library 2.0 features, what the SLA is currently doing to help members, and free web tools libraries can use such as Wordpress. My favorite new 2.0 tool is Prezi. Called the zooming presentation software, Prezi leaves powerpoint in the dust when it comes to presentations. I cannot wait for an opportunity to use it for class.

The conference gave a fantastic first impression to a new library student about the future of the profession, particularly with the changes the SLA is planning to make in the future to help information professionals. I was also pleased to find out how welcoming and helpful librarians are to students. During the networking opportunity, they all wanted to hear about my studies, offer advise and future assistance if it were ever needed. I look forward to getting more involved with the SLA during my career.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Librarian Interview #1

Networking is an important part of a career path. In my introduction to library and information science class, we were given our first opportunity to practice this skill by interviewing a library manager, administrator or department head in order to learn more about the profession.

I was fortunate to interview the director of the local history/genealogy department of the Onondaga County Public Library. Our discussion focused on her job, the change in libraries due to digitization and the things I can focus on while receiving my degree.

Our discussion on digitization brought up many fascinating aspects to librarianship in the computer age. What used to be a long search for an obituary, covering a microfilm search of the death date and four days after, is now a quick online search of digitalized newspapers. The difficulty in deciding what fee to charge patrons has been created due to this new search. Instead of a 25 cent copy, a librarian can easily attach an image to an email. I found her idea of adding “This information is provided by a public library, financed with public funds and donations” to the bottom of the email to be the most logical, particularly since many people will make a donation, often of more than the library would have charged them.

Another problem caused by the digital age is deciding what information to put online. Should the library focus on content and narrative driven data, which will be used frequently or images, which are glamorous and showy? Finding the right blend is a difficult decision.

The majority of the department’s patrons are retired, with a stable source of income and high educational level. They are high demand researchers, knowing what they want or at a difficult point in their research. Their high-end research means that librarians in this field need to be constantly coming up with new and more specialized answers to reference questions. It is important to stay up to date in the field, by being active with the local genealogical society and reading professional publications and listservs in the field. She also recommended conferences offered by the New York Library Associationand the New York State Archives.

After our discussion, I was more convinced that I am following the proper career path for myself. I look forward to learning more about archival procedures, genealogical reference and the digitization of information.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New blog

If you have been missing my posts (and how could you not be?), please check out my new ePortfolio blog Amanda's Athenæum, where I will be posting my journey through starting graduate school to becoming a genealogy and local history librarian.

Back to Basic: July

July went quick! GRIP  went virtual! I attended (most) of the sessions in Documentation and then continued my citation work with my ProGen a...