Monday, May 27, 2013

Why MLS Students Should Read Job Ads NOW

I won't be getting my Master of Library Science (MLS) degree until next year. Still, I'm perusing online ads for library and archives positions right now. Why now and not later? To better prepare myself for the job market for when I do graduate.

It's never too early to look at job ads online!
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According to Nicole Helregel, in an article she wrote for Hack Library School, reading job ads now as an MLS student will help in "developing your long-term goals/career path" and "shaping your degree." Knowing what employers are seeking in a job candidate helps me to decide what classes to take so that I can meet those requirements. For instance, a number of archives positions require you to have experience in digitizing materials and have a working knowledge of common metadata standards, such as Encoded Archival Description (EAD). So I make sure to enroll in classes on digital imaging, digital libraries, and archiving practices. I also discovered from reading job ads that many employers prefer that you know a second language, preferably a Romance language like French or Spanish. (Some also ask that you know German.) As a result, I'm seriously considering taking language classes in addition to my library school classes.

Helregel also points out in her article that eying job ads now will lead you toward "gaining valuable experience. The sooner you figure out what kind of practical experience you need, the sooner you can seek it out." She says, "Many students finish their MLIS in two years. That's two years of time you can spend getting in-library experience (whether paid, volunteer, internship, or practicum). Don't wait until the month before graduation to find out that the job you want requires a year or more of in-library experience!" I know from personal experience that hands-on, real-world experience will help you get a foothold in your preferred career field. Right after I got my bachelor's degree, I had a free summer during which I interned full-time in order to get job experience. These days, with a full-time job, I don't have the time to intern but I do have the time to volunteer. And I'm doing just that in order to get the skills that I need to be a viable candidate for a library or archives job.

In addition, reading job ads now can serve as inspiration ("read over your dream job descriptions and think positive thoughts about graduation, your career possibilities, and the dynamic, engaging field that you have chosen to enter"). It's also "a good habit to make!" Helregel says. If you make it a point to regularly look over these job ads, "you'll already be well-steeped in the language, terms, and requirements when it comes time to search in earnest for a post-graduation job!" So true! (Repeatedly seeing the acronym "OCR' in ads got me familiar with the tool of optical character recognition.)

To see Helregel's entire article, "Start Reading Job Ads Now," go to THIS LINK.

Friday, May 24, 2013

'I'll Dewey Your Decimal': Librarian Problems Blog

Librarian Problems is a humorous Tumblr blog that illustrates the travails of librarians through an entertaining sequence of animated GIFs.

Focusing on the daily nuisances that are part of the job for those who work at public libraries, Librarian Problems is sure to elicit nods of recognition and plenty of laughter. For instance, what librarian wouldn't be amused, bemused, or bedeviled by the following scenarios?

Someone Asks If They Need a Library Card to Check Books Out:

When a Dead Bird Was Found in the Book Drop:
When I'm at the Desk and Someone Asks, "Do You Work Here?":
When Someone Says I Don't Look Like a "Traditional" Librarian:
As the great Alan Alda wisely observed, "When people are laughing, they are generally not killing each other." A terrific Tumblr for librarians, aspiring librarians, and fans of librarians, Librarian Problems is 30-plus pages of funny. Check it out HERE.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Literary Mixtapes for Characters in Classic Books

What songs would make up the soundtrack to your life? This is a fun question to ponder, either alone as we daydream or with friends at a party. Well, let's try to imagine what music would accompany our favorite characters in classic works of literature as they wend their way from "Once upon a time..." to "The End."

A page from the 1955 Random House book Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Marjorie Torrey.

Pop culture website Flavorwire has assembled mixtapes for more than 25 characters in best-selling literature, from Harry Potter and Humbert Humbert to Gandalf and Jay Gatsby. So "if you've ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels," said the folks at Flavorwire, "wonder no more!"

Let's think about Alice, of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. What music fills our ears as she eats a mushroom and encounters hookah-smoking caterpillars, tailcoat-outfitted rabbits, and weeping mock turtles? I hear "White Rabbit," by Jefferson Airplane - an easy one. Flavorwire lists "Who Could Win a Rabbit?," by Animal Collective, "Wonder," by Natalie Merchant, "Mushaboom," by Feist, and, of course, "Alice," by Tom Waits, among other songs that reflect the mood of Alice's surreal adventures.

What songs do you think would play in the background as the plot thickened around Sherlock Holmes, Holly Golightly, Don Juan, Jane Eyre, and other memorable characters? Go to this link on Flavorwire's Literary Mixtapes HERE.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fugazi Frontman Speaks at Library of Congress

Ian MacKaye, co-founder and frontman of legendary punk bands Fugazi and Minor Threat, spoke at the Library of Congress last week. On Tuesday, May 7, MacKaye stood in the Montpelier Room of the library's James Madison Memorial Building to talk about digital archiving - particularly as it pertains to the Fugazi Live Series.

Ian MacKaye, in the office of Dischord Records, based in Washington, D.C.
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In 2004, MacKaye started the Fugazi Live Series. The series is a branch of Dischord Records, the independent record label that MacKaye co-founded in 1980. The goal of the series is to make the 800-plus recordings of Fugazi's live shows available in digital archive form to fans of the band. That's fifteen years of concerts that would be accessible on the Internet. Each concert can be downloaded for just $5.

Digitizing more than 1,300 hours of tape for the Fugazi Live Series is quite an undertaking for MacKaye and his staff at Dischord Records. He talked about the project Tuesday evening at the Library of Congress. "This is an insane project," he said. "It involves the digitization of all of the cassettes. Then, those files are mastered and edited, so they're individual songs. It's a crazy job. And honestly, the amount of money we put into it - not counting the hours - it's not making any money. But somewhere down the road, some kid very much like me will be interested in what was happening during this time."

In addition to converting hours of concert recordings from analog to digital format, MacKaye and the people at Dischord Records are scanning live photos, flyers, and posters of Fugazi for the online archive. They are also accepting submissions for the Fugazi Live Series from fans. Fans who have high-quality live recordings, photos, flyers, and posters of the band and wish to submit them to the site should email the staff of Dischord Records at for more information. Note that they "can not keep track of unsolicited material, so please do not send original prints or digital files" or "audio files, CDs, or cassettes without first getting the go-ahead. Thanks!"

"This has been such an incredible project," he said, "because I've been sitting on these tapes for so long, and I think, 'Finally, here, everybody else can have it.'"

Ian MacKaye's appearance on Tuesday was sponsored by the Library of Congress' National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. The event was free and open to the public.

For more on MacKaye's talk at the Library of Congress, go HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Librarians Advise Their Past MLS-Student Selves

Most of us who have advanced along a certain career path wish there were things that we had known at the beginning of our careers. Knowing these things, we feel, would have made that path smoother. This is a wisdom that we usually don't share with others. But this wisdom could benefit those who are just starting out.

Dude, what should we tell ourselves? A pivotal scene in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989).
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The Special Libraries Association (SLA) recently hosted a Twitter chat that allowed veteran information professionals, new librarians and archivists, and current library and information science students to share what they have learned along the way. As someone who is now in library school and is selecting courses and engaging in professional activities that she hopes will help her land her first real-world library job, I found this Twitter chat extremely helpful.

Moderators of the SLA Twitter chat asked that participants answer four questions: 1) What subjects or skills do you wish you were taught or exposed to in library school? 2) What was your favorite class or project in LIS school? How have you applied what you learned to your career? 3) What formal supplemental education, if any, did you pursue after library school? 4) What recommendations would you give a library school student? Each question would be addressed in fifteen-minute intervals during a chat session that would last approximately one hour, and the hashtag would be #SLATalk.

I signed in to Twitter as the session began and saw the advice (and reflections) come in furiously. A few wished they were taught organization management as it pertains to budgeting and hiring and firing, recruiting and retaining, and motivating employees. Others wished they were instructed on the ins and outs of vendor relations, including license negotiation and contract signing. And at least one participant wished the importance of networking was emphasized in class. Other gems that followed were "Don't do a specific track. Taking a variety of classes will best prepare you for your entire career, not just your first job"; "Don't rule anything out. You never know where your career will take you"; "Apply for any job that interests you. DO NOT rule yourself out (that's HR's job)"; and "Get involved with professional groups. Network. Make friends. Play nice. Pay if forward when you have an achievement."

To read the SLA Twitter chat "What would you tell your past MLS-student self?," go to THIS LINK and start at April 9, 2013.