Saturday, August 23, 2008
So my mom was a library worker (with a B.A in library science from Mississippi State College for Women) and my Aunt Mary ran the Blandford, MA library for years, so I guess I was fated to become a librarian! In fact, that’s what I told people I wanted to be in grade school (when it wasn’t being a fighter pilot). In fact, I actually kinda enrolled in library school in the late 80s – my first class was in the spring term and it jumped *right into* the MARC record. Honestly, I was kinda freaked out, and I had a job offer anyway, so I dropped out almost immediately.
The job offer was from Project Vote Smart, where I worked from 1989 to 1997, when I left to really go to library school. I was the first paid employee and for a long time I did pretty much everything, but eventually ended up running the Reporter’s Resource Center, among (still) many other things (OK, I have to boast a little – I was on C-SPAN once!). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was doing Special Library work. Eventually I knew that I needed to leave and go do other things, and I thought I would get an advanced degree in public policy. But I actually never got around to taking the SAT, or applying.
So, in the fall of 1996 I got an invitation to be on a panel at Washington State University’s Foley Institute on How to be a Better Consumer of Political News. It was me and a bunch of journos, and the conversation quickly went into blame-the-media territory, which just wasn’t my deal, so I stayed pretty quiet. So someone saw that, and lobbed a question aimed straight at me, about access to information, and I just went to town on it (I can only say) passionately (I still have the video of the forum – haven’t watched it in years, but I should digitize it as part of my personal history!).
Flying back to Corvallis from Pullman, I started thinking. I had actually suggested librarianship as a possible career for my husband, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe that was really want I wanted to do – it was a career that embodied connecting people with information, leading to knowledge, often at a one-on-one level. So when I got home, I took Mark out to lunch and confessed that I wanted to go to library school myself, and *now*!. Luckily he was cool with it! Immediately I arranged to take the SAT, and applied to the University of Washington’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science. I got in, started in 1997, graduated in 1999, was *incredibly lucky* to be hired as an adjunct librarian at UW’s Suzzallo Library (a great experience, with absolutely great people!) and – should I say coincidently or ironically? – got hired as a social science and instruction librarian at Washington State University in 2000! Mark got a temporary staff job at WSU’s Manuscript, Archives and Special Collections in 2001, and then started working at Pullman's Neill Public Library. He enrolled in the UW’s MLIS distance program the year it opene , and got his degree in 2005 (he works at the WSU Libraries as well, now). Funny, how it all came together in a big circle in the end!
I'm so glad I went to library school. I love what I do!
Sunday, August 03, 2008
So tonight I was reminded of something that crosses my mind at every conference I attend. Conferences are as much about casual conversations at receptions and other informal places and situations as they are about formal presentations. Already I've got some ideas to take back with me!
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Rumors of the “death of reference” have been greatly exaggerated! Reference service now encompasses not just traditional forms such as telephone, email, and in-person point-of-service, but also Instant Messaging, Text Messaging (SMS), blogs, wikis, library pages on MySpace and Facebook, and virtual reference desks in Second Life.
A Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends conference will explore all aspects of reference service in a broad range of contexts, including libraries and information centers, in academic, public, school, corporate, and other special library environments.
I'm very glad to be going to this conference, because my own feelings about reference -- specifically desk-based reference -- are mixed, and have become more fluid over the past few years. I still think that the one-on-one interaction of a reference desk transaction is the best way to respond to a need, and create a connection. But... even at my residential based, small town campus, more and more people access library resources through our website (effectively our digital branch). Shouldn't I put as much emphasis into being there for them as I do at the desk? But in a way, I do...I publicize my IM names, email, and telephone number in every class I teach and every email I send. I push our library instant message service. But...I've never received an IM query from a student (although I did receive one from a faculty member who created her account just to IM me and ask me to teach a social software/Zotero session for her class this fall...that actually made my summer!). Sometimes I think students just don't want to use social tools for academic purposes, but then I read CHE and IHE articles about how they contact their instructors that way all the time. Maybe its a campus culture thing? I've never really investigated how many faculty and staff at my university actually use social software...hmmm...something to think about...
I've gone off topic a bit, but I think I will be returning to this idea of how the provision of library reference service (really, all library services)is/are changing, especially in the context of social software use in higher education. I'll be blogging the Ref Ren conference, and linking to others who are blogging it as well.
Friday, August 01, 2008
His book...that would be The Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four - he was the fourth author (tht is, wrote the fourth largest number of entries) so he didn't make it into the cataloging record, alas...
Here's a very bad phone-camera picture as proof: