LITA Forum, 2014: My Recap

Last week (Nov. 4-8, 2014)  I attended the LITA (Library and Information Technology Association) Forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was my first LITA anything that I had been a part of and had no expectations beyond those of myself in networking and learning. There were so many fantastic sessions to choose from it was really difficult to choose and thanks to the incredible use of Twitter, I was able to get snips of what was going on in the sessions I couldn’t attend.

I was volunteering with the 2014 planning committee to help out at the conference and showed up a day early to help with the pre-conference sessions. Can I recommend that if you go to a conference, volunteer. Especially if this is your first time at said conference. It open the doors to a lot of opportunity for me and I was able to meet and do many things I would not have if I wasn’t volunteering. Showing up early turned out to be in my benefit because there wasn’t much for me to do besides monitoring the pre-conference sessions so I took advantage of the time to visit of some local attractions in Old Town Albuquerque, specifically the Natural History Museum of New Mexico.

Having some down time prior to the conference was wonderful and I highly recommend to designate downtime either before or after the conference. My reasoning for this is that the conference becomes more than just sessions and lots of people learning/speaking about for the most part very similar topics. It gives you an opportunity to experience life outside of the conference venue, in this case the hotel.

I used Twitter for a substantial amount of note taking for multiple reasons: Sharing session snips with those who couldn’t make it and so that I could refer to it later easily. I have put any embedded tweets in [ ] as I refer to them throughout my recap.

**My recap includes only a few of the sessions I attended. As I gather my thoughts on the rest of them I will add them in along with more resources.**

Feel free to read them here: 

My primary focus going into the conference was to attend as many sessions on institutional repositories (IRs) that I could, learn how they are being used and what other libraries are using. My current place of employment is actively researching IRs as we are on the cusp of moving from our current option, ContentDM, to something that will better suit our needs. Choosing an IR has become increasingly more challenging as OpenAccess and data, where’s our data & what does it say, are major factors in what you need to and want to accomplish with your IR. How it is used, presented, accessed and managed can change what software you go with.

Goal: Learn what others are doing with their IRs.

Achieved: Margaret Heller’s session on “What Does Your Repository Do?: Understanding and Calculating Impact” showed me how Loyola University Chicago’s IR is being used. [PDF]

Margaret’s presentation was super interesting as it took Loyola’s IR and showed how it was being used. The content in the IR is accessible all over the world and when Loyola looked at the data of their IR it showed countries that they never would have thought would have interest or be accessing the content.

The story of why: limited access to resources at their library/institution or lack of resources on that specific topic.

MH_LITA

Having the story beyond the numbers really stuck with me; if done right an IR can serve people you never thought would be accessing your content. [Are the traffic drivers of IRs aligning with the institution’s goal/mission? #litaforum Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

This session more or less reconfirmed the importance of having and IR and the OpenAccess movement.

Resources Gained:

Real-Time readership map from LUC: http://ecommons.luc.edu/readership_map.html#content

Goal: Learn/Discuss an IR in action and resources used.

Achieved: Tommy Keswick’s session on “Using Islandora for Digital Content Delivery” discussed and showed Detroit Public Library using Islandora . [Check out an #Islandora repo from Detroit Public Library. http://t.co/oYgI4up5nF #LITAforum Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Tommy and I had talked about Islandora a couple of months back at a meet-up in L.A.; prior to my move to New York and prior to my immediate interest in implementing an IR. Islandora is on MPOW’s list of IRs to look at, primary reason our entire site is on Drupal. Islandora is a Drupal, Fedora & Solr developed DAMS (Digital Asset Management System). Why use a DAMS and not just a CMS? A DAMS like Islandora offers standards for metadata, integrity tools and extensibility. A major drawback I have with many IRs is the presentation of the content is never “sock blowing” awesome. No, Islandora isn’t sock blowing but it is definitely a major step closer.

Resources Gained:

Git Repo for Entity Bridge [Cherry Hill devs figured out a way to utilize the flag ability from Drupal with Islandora, Entity Bridge :https://t.co/xGsJejbFpz #litaforum — Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Solution for Indexing [A solution for tricky indexing create a catch all field(s). Use them to search whole words & to search partial words. #islandora #litaforum — Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Git Repo for JQuery Zoom [View GitHub repo for JQuery Zoom https://t.co/rwkKHq2Yln #islandora #litaforum — Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Goal: Be inspired. Achieved: Keynote sessions #1 and #2 (I missed #3 due to flight conflict).

AnnMarie Thomas: Playing to Learn: A Maker’s Perspective. Obviously, her entire keynote was about being a maker. It was by far my favorite point of the entire conference. “It doesn’t feel like work if you’re laughing” so often we get stuck in the “work no play” aspect that we forego opportunities to learn. Her keynote session resonated with me. As a newly dubbed librarian over two departments that are recovering from a stressful reorganization, this session gave me the humph to encourage play at work.

[After being inspired by @amptMN keynote at #litaforum I put out a puzzle this AM & my dept enjoyed the fun. #MAKERS pic.twitter.com/kxb4ludDm4 Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 11, 2014]

Lorcan Dempsey: VP at OCLC. He spoke about Thinking about Technology Differently. “The network reshapes the society and the society reshapes the network.”

 

infovsknowledge by the GapingVoid

We have a lot of text. A lot of records and what we want to do with it is turn it into a form that is more usable. That will yield more insight, more knowledge.

 

We want to make a qualitative difference with the quantity of data/information that we have. I enjoyed this keynote because working in libraries and in library systems, surrounded by information and technology. How I think about it and know it’s use and how it ties together is not how someone else may think about it. Lorcan boldly said, and I agree, “Technology is integrated. It isn’t something you pick up and move over. It is implied and incorporated.”

We have moved from caring just about the outcome to caring significantly about the method. We want to know the how not just the what. Libraries are working constantly with learning behaviors and research behaviors, we see software that has been created to manage the data to tell us more than the what.

You can view the entire keynote session here LITA Forum 2014 Lorcan Dempsey [70min]

Goal: Network and meet others. 

Achieved:

Volunteering: My reasons for volunteering were both monetary benefit and personal networking gain. As I mentioned I had never been to a LITA forum before. I had interacted with a handful of other attendees via Twitter but didn’t know anyone in person. Volunteering gave me a ground to start running. I recorded keynote sessions (gave me a front row seat, WIN!), introduced conference sessions and worked with the planning committee and met up and coming committee members.

Game Night: Cards Against Humanities! [You’re missing out. Come join us! #LITAforum pic.twitter.com/EiadiwR4JB Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

OpenRefine Skill-share: The last night of the conference there were networking dinners to sign up for. A couple of us had tweeted interest in playing around with OpenRefine so instead of doing a networking dinner; I took the initiative to do a sign up for playing with OpenRefine. We ended up with a decent response and had some fun. [@cm_harlow @ranti @lorcanD Say what?!  pic.twitter.com/cK5gyif7DM Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 7, 2014]

Unfortunately most of our time, due to dodgy wi-fi, was spent getting installs completed. However, most if not all of those who came left with a bit more knowledge of the program than before and we opened a door of possibility for those who hadn’t any clue as to what OpenRefine could do. [and we’re almost up and running. Installs on multiple OS’s takes time. #litaforum pic.twitter.com/U8rolMh55H Whitni Watkins (@NimbleLibrarian) November 8, 2014]

Overall the conference was great. I learned a lot and was able to come back to MPOW with a stronger knowledge of IRs and a stronger reasoning behind my recommendations.

Things I learned for next year, always volunteer, have a goal in mind prior to going but be willing to change/adjust that goal as you need, pack snacks, take good notes, and don’t cement yourself to session that does not hold any interest to you.

Other Resources from the Conference:

The title? What we make of it.

While talking about my position and VERY jokingly saying I’m the hot-shot. What I say goes cause I’m kind of a big deal. It was followed up with ‘What is your title?’ The initial thought process was, my title doesn’t really matter really, but actually it does. What we do shouldn’t be dependent on our title but our title should be dependent on what we do.

Titles should be meaningful. Tell the reader what they are about to get right? Do they work the same way in the professional world? I think that was the intention but it really isn’t so and it really is much more than a precursor to what you’re getting into.

More often I hear ‘Your title doesn’t mean anything’ and I disagree, it means something even if it doesn’t amount to much in relation to everything you do and it is up to us to put the meaning behind it. I’m beginning to think that those who say ‘titles don’t mean anything’ believe that their job does not emulate their job title. Many times we have ‘other tasks as assigned’ that can convolute the initial focus of the position. This happens, especially when things get shrunk and other things get stretched thin. I think you know what things I’m talking about.

Mind you, this isn’t always a bad thing. Depending on how you look at it of course. It can be a really great opportunity to hone and expand your skill set. What we do with our skills helps bring meaning to our titles.

My official title: Technical Services and Systems Librarian. Someone looking for help on the library system or technicality help in records would come to me. I know this stuff and I can help them. See my title means something. A title should not however limit you. As with writing a title should introduce an overview of a story and help guide the reader to what they need. If we keep this in mind while we create our jobs our titles will be more worthwhile.

This all stemmed from the desire and need to blog but I couldn’t come up with a blog title.

A leak or an invasion of personal privacy.

**disclaimer: this may not be eloquent because I’m slightly frustrated at the misplaced blame**

There has been a lot of discussion about the nude photos that made they rounds on the internet. The photos that created so much activity sites like 4chan, Reddit and Twitter has explosions of activity they almost crashed. 

It wasn’t a leak, it was a break in, full on robbery. Our choices define our destiny, but this can always be disrupted by other’s choices. Dr. John Armstrong states “Agency is the power that people have to direct their actions. Actions may be observable from the outside such as raking leaves, reading a book, or eating a sandwich, or they may be those which are entirely contained within an agent’s mind such as summoning a memory, focusing one’s attention upon a speaker, or thinking about tomorrow’s trip. All of these actions we can direct, but there are also actions, or perhaps ‘doings’ (to use a weaker term), that can happen without our direction or even against what we would prefer. When either of these circumstances obtain, we can be said to be acting involuntarily.” (Agency in Plato’s Laws, 2006)  

I keep seeing things written about the nude photos like “they shouldn’t have taken them in the first place” or “if they don’t want others to see them they shouldn’t have taken them”. My response to that is: Why? The photos were taken, this isn’t the crime here, the crime is the involuntary sharing of these private photos. 

Some will talk about disrespect, others may say stuff like it’s their own fault for taking the photo, but guess what, it isn’t. That’s like saying, because I bought a nice 60″ TV and left my blinds open for natural light I was BEGGING or DESERVING for it to be stolen. The fault lies in PRIMARILY in the person who decided it would be their right and enjoyment to publicly violate personal privacy. I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with taking a nude photo of yourself. It is in fact the ONLY time that consent is 100%. You are taking the photo of yourself. I’ve taken nude photos of myself; especially when I am feeling particularly awesome about my physique. Yes, I could do this in my underwear, and I have. I see no issue in taking the photo, in fact I see NO issue in sharing the photo, especially if I made the choice to share the photo (say you know like TheHusband cause we like to keep it hot and sexy like that). Again, this isn’t me confessing that I’m sending nude photos of myself to someone, it’s merely me expressing my thought on the matter, so don’t take anything out of context and think “Whitni is sexting or sending nude photos of herself to people!”

What I do, in my personal privacy is my choice. See there is that choice again. I (and I’m sure the celebs) don’t take these photos expecting them to be hacked and distributed. Like your home, we want nice things, we want a clean home and we like to admire our home; we take precautions to protect these things. As with many other things. Guess what, to hack the accounts that means the owners were ALSO taking the precautions to protect their goods. If you didn’t know the word hack means “use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system.” They weren’t lying on the street with a free sign. They weren’t sitting in a cloud storage with a CC license (Creative Commons is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States, devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon *legally* and to share). 

I think so many of us are missing the point of this situation and we are essentially saying “You deserved this”. NOBODY deserves what happened, ever. Violation of privacy, zero consent given, and personal information shared with anyone and everyone willing and wanting to see. Are you getting my drift? This isn’t about taking the photo, this is about security. This is about abuse of power and abuse of knowledge. Those who hacked the accounts (abuse of knowledge), could have seen the photos, enjoyed the photos and then left but they didn’t. They chose to flood the internet. 

Our focus should not be on the subjects of the images, our focus should be on are we keeping our valuables secured from malicious hackers who if accessed could try and destroy our lives. Appreciate your goods, but keep them safe.

All I ask is be careful. Don’t be naive, protect yourself. Look at the larger picture before making claims and pointing fingers. STOP JUDGING! Just don’t do it. Taking a nude picture of yourself doesn’t mean you disrespect yourself. It’s risky (and risqué :-P) so again be careful and don’t be naive (showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment). Protect the things you want to keep private.

Learn & use the protocols for strong passwords (http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/creating-strong-passwords-easier-you-think-206865). Understand what cloud storage is, if you plan on using it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_storage). Know your privacy settings on your computer (https://www.privacyrights.org/securing-your-computer-maintain-your-privacy) & on your mobile devices (http://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/home_users/Secure_your_mobile_phone_and_devices)

How unemployment took up all my time

Prior to February of this year I worked full-time as an ILS coordinator at the University of California, Riverside, I went to school full time to get my MLIS with San Jose State University – School of Library and Information Science and I worked part time as a graduate assistant. Between August 2013-Dec 2013 I was a full-time graduate student, full-time employee, part-time employee (20hr/wk) and an intern….yet somehow when I was provided with 40hrs/wk of ‘free’ time, I am busier now than ever. Why?

Because I got involved. I took the moment to grab lunch with friends. I applied myself in every aspect of life (professional development, scholarships, publications, building connections & relationships, exercise, applying to jobs that I wanted to do in places I wanted to live, we eat out less and the laundry is done more often.)

I still go to school full-time (but only really for about 6 more days), I’m now graduated. I work part-time and I train for marathons/half-marathons/5ks. Being unemployed is hard work. I cannot sit around collecting a small paycheck and doing nothing with myself to improve my situation.

I have attended a handful of workshops. When you have the time to look for them you will see that there are local workshops/meet-ups just about every week sometime multiple times a week.

I continue the intensive job search but am fortunate enough to actually have plenty of jobs to apply for.

But most importantly I do not stop learning. I took it to myself to get involved in Treehouse tracks and learn or hone my skills. I started following repos I’m curious about on Github. I freshen up on my language skills (Spanish and American Sign Language) you never know when these can come in handy. I take the time and I work more with committees and groups and volunteer. I got involved and did the things I wanted to do but couldn’t because I didn’t have time.

Unemployment can be stressful, and usually is. However, you can’t change your situation without moving forward. Put your full effort into a job you want. Take the time to reassess your goals (personal and professional) and take a breather and refresh. Spend quality time with family and friends. Have fun, it is good for the mind and the soul.

My first shot at installing Ubuntu (Windows PC_netbook)

So I realized that I am lacking significantly on some of the key tools with server admin >> system admin. Linux/UNIX experience.

I am working with an old (2008) HP mini 5101, Intel Atom N280 .66GHz, 1GB memory, 160GB HD, currently running Windows 7, originally came with XP.

I’m documenting my experience to hopefully provide help/insight to others who decide to venture down the same path with the same level of experience that I have.

I started with this article <http://librarian-dev-ops-intro.readthedocs.org/en/latest/intro.html> shared with me from my Twitter “cry for help”. (Thanks @Kayiwa!)

“It is yes written to install Ubuntu as a virtual machine but it should essentially amount to DL ISO and burn install.” (Exact words from the response to my cry.)

Since I am installing this on a Netbook I first need to DL Ubuntu and then put it on a USB so I can boot it on my netbook (read no CD drive to burn disc from) You can read about how to do this here: Ubuntu documentation installation/From USB stick This article is pretty straight forward so you should not have any issues doing this. **I didn’t follow the document, I kinda just did it my way**

Once you have the ISO on your flashdrive it’s a plug and play & reboot and wait.

This is by far one of the easiest installations I’ve done and I didn’t use more than the URLs in the first article to get myself started. Probably because I really only need the URL for the ISO DL. But I do see myself most likely referring back to it for the Ubuntu Intro.

UPDATE: not as easy as I thought it would be. I thought that it was going to be a very easy install but with my lack of knowledge (surprisingly so) it wasn’t as easy as what I thought it was going to be. I started with writing this: “seriously it was give or take 5 steps to get my netbook running Ubuntu (this is assuming you have a little more than a basic knowledge of DL and installing software)

1. Go here and DL ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop)

2. Open the DL and Copy to USB stick (make sure USB is 2GB)

3. run from USB device on netbook & reboot (it tells to you, you just click yes)

4. Let it run it’s magic and then refer to this link to get you started (http://librarian-dev-ops-intro.readthedocs.org/en/latest/ubuntuintro.html)

On to bigger and better things. ”

Then a couple of hours later I ran into this annoying error that wouldn’t let me actually boot Ubuntu. (see a forum thread here about the error: Forum thread about serious errors….)

It seemed pretty straight forward on install but if you have NEVER installed an OS before either from bare or along side another OS then it’s not entirely straight forward but this will tell you what I did and it worked for me. Keep in mind if you aren’t currently running Ubuntu you need to ignore all the documentation for creating a bootable USB that mentions “Open the dash and search for Startup Disk Creator.” because well you AREN’T using ubuntu yet so you can’t access this.

Do this instead.

1. Install UnetBootin (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net) you’ll go through the steps to select your drive and install onto the USB.

2. Insert USB into netbook and install Ubuntu (usually accessed by opening USB and double clicking on the .exe file), you’ll need to reboot the comp (it asks you). This is where I ran into all sorts of errors until for some reason or other decided to boot the comp into boot menu where I then was able to run from the USB disc and WALLAH! I got the menu for installing Ubuntu. (documentation on this is slightly confusing & vague or I’m a bone head)

For my first install I decided to install along side windows 7 until I am really sure I won’t ever need it or any of the programs again and then I will perform a whole new install.

The job I didn’t get

I wrote this the night after my interview with Elon University for the Systems Librarian.

A day of Elon. I flew into Raleigh NC yesterday afternoon where [redacted] picked me up and took me on a beautiful scenic route back to Elon. I sure have missed the east coast.

[redacted] reminds me of [redacted] which is fitting because [redacted] is from Greensboro. [redacted] has been wonderful and really helpful this entire process, I am surprised that she is a cataloging librarian only because she is a delight to be around and I think would do well at the front.

Dinner last night was wonderful. The ladies I ate with had me laughing and smiling the entire time. My office would be right next to [redacted] and she is a hoot! I’ve really missed southern hospitality.

I am staying at this adorable and beautiful BnB called the Burke Manor. The bathroom is huge, the bed is comfy and the service is fantastic. I’m not use to this type of service and catering. Makes me look forward to staying in them more often.

Today was a long but delightful day. I had 4 more mtgs/interviews, a presentation, lunch and dinner with staff and 3 different tours. The staff at Elon is much smaller (30ish ppl) than UCR but they really embrace change and I appreciate and enjoy the direction and initiative the library dean has, the support of staff and the support for professional development and helping and making way for the staff to grow. One thing that I love about Elon is the community and campus involvement the library has. They do really great out reach and everyone holds high respect for each other.

I really felt like I fit in with this library it hits all the points that I want in a position. In one of the interviews the dreaded what do you want accomplish in 5-10 years career wise.  My answer? I want to be established at an institution, preferably one (if not) like Elon.

I attended a musical tonight put on by an Elon honor student and it was great. It struck me on every emotion and I was thrilled to attend it.

I am feeling really good about this, I just hope they see that I am a great fit for the job. Only time will tell and it is now in God’s hands.”

I finally heard that although I had a strong interview that they had selected another candidate for the position. I was crushed to read that. To get so far and feel so good about the interview and not make it; well at least I now have a good failure story. Which made me think ‘If I wanted to use this as my interview response, what would I want to be able to tell them?’ This has helped shaped my reaction to a crummy situation.

There are plenty of things I could have done better in the interview, because you can always do better. However, I put everything out there and although right now I feel that maybe if I interviewed better with the dean or with the associate provost or if I presented more eloquently I would have been selected, I know that I did give a very strong interview, that I did everything that I could to show them that I was their best choice.

So what now? I read the response from the dean at Elon that answers my question, “what was different between myself and the chosen candidate that made them chose them?” I put myself back together, I continue to learn and be involved and I try again and again until I make it.

How do I do this? Well I started another in depth search for positions I found interesting and I saved them. The goal is to begin working through the application process. My in depth search involved reviewing other job descriptions and pulling keywords to create my taxonomy.

Then I pulled up articles on skills that were highly recommended for the job I wanted as well as pulling from job descriptions. I then checked in with Treehouse so see if they had any tracks for training and I saved them. I also looked up tutorials and I used social media to ask for help.

One thing that I did do was allowed myself essentially a time for mourning the loss. I think that it is healthy to allow your body and mind to release that stress. It isn’t a sign of weakness to be sad and even upset about a situation like this. However, the key is to give yourself a deadline in which you will pick yourself back up and you will put it behind you and begin again.

Before diving back into a list of new applications, I also gave myself the day off, where I did everything but check email, get on the computer and access social media. Sort of a cleanse by disconnecting.

Then I start again. I put my best foot forward and I work towards that end goal.

Statement of Professional Philosophy

Statement of Professional Philosophy:

The Pathway to my MLIS:

Becoming a librarian was not a dream of mine; it was not even a conceived possibility because I was going to play soccer professionally and that was it. Growing up I loved the library but only in the summer. My local library offered a fantastic reading program that rewarded you, multiple times, throughout the program with tangible objects like tickets to professional sporting events. Essentially, I loved the library because of what it did for me. As I started my undergrad program, again I loved the library, usually only when I had major papers to do research on. Again, I loved the library because of what it did for me.

You see, when I started my undergrad and quite near the end I was set on going to law school and then all of the sudden I wasn’t. Well I can’t say ‘all of the sudden’ because it was a process of about 2 months. The last semester of my undergraduate career was a game changer for me, why? Well that semester I became a student assistant in the library. The library became my focus place, my hangout, my professional training, my niche and the staff became my family. Again, I loved the library for what it did for me but began to also love the library because what I could do with it for others. I didn’t go to law school when I graduated, I wasn’t preparing for the LSAT, instead I completed a digital archives internship and I researched library schools.

When I first decided to go to library school I was set on going into archives management. I enjoyed digitizing and preserving materials however after my internship I realized that I did not enjoy it as much as I first thought I would and did not want to pursue a career in it. What I did know was that I actually enjoyed the digitizing process of using technology and creating digital content for the library website and I missed creating research guides and working on cataloging projects in the ILS. I then decided to pursue the MLIS degree instead and focus on using technology to develop digital content for the web.

Passions and Focus:

What ultimately clenched my interest in working with libraries was the organization of information, the embracing of using technology to enhance the user experience and being “what can you do for me” for patrons. Those who study library and information science are given an opportunity to design, create, and serve for the benefit of many; I love being the person that solves the problem that seemed to them unsolvable. As I have worked in the library field and journeyed through my MLIS career these passions have not changed but have evolved towards a greater focus on digital content and web design & we development. I took courses that encouraged these passions including: Best Practices in Module Web Design using HTML and CSS, Web 2.0 and social networking tools in libraries, Special Studies: Virtual Worlds, Understanding Content Management Systems and using Drupal and my  Virtual Internship centered on Social Media use in Public Libraries.

When I started library school I was six months into a professional library position where I was head of the learning resource center (LRC) at a very new academic trade school; this meant I had complete control to shape the library from the archaic state it was in to what it now has become. I had two years of paraprofessional library training and experience under my belt so I was both enthralled with the responsibility and utterly terrified.  When I started working at this school the materials of the LRC were locked behind glass cabinets and students were terrified to ask me questions and often commented on how nice I was compared to the previous library worker. This made me sad for multiple reasons but primarily because it tainted their view of the library. My goal was to brand the library in a way that students saw it as a benefit for them to use it, that it was giving them something they did not have before. I wanted to teach the students that I was here for help, I wanted them to know that the LRC had something they wanted that they did not have before.

I spent a significant portion of these first six months organizing the collection and advertising to faculty, staff and students the materials that were available for them to use. When I started working the collection was organized by in-home developed call numbers, essentially the program they were used in and then an accession number, example: Anatomy-001. The complete listing of library materials was housed in an excel spreadsheet that was printed out and put into a binder for browsing, in house only. This is when I learned most about copy cataloging and became very grateful for World Cat and budget and user friendly OPAC resources such as LibraryThing. I spent many hours searching catalogs and completing the records for our material, after about three consistent months of this I finally had some sort of OPAC for students to view our material outside of the library.

I had accomplished this significant task prior to library school however, when I started the MLIS program an entire new world of opportunity opened up.  In the first year, I learned about database building, controlled vocabulary, library management, and web design and development. The first semester gave me the confidence I needed to feel like I could make an educated difference in the LRC, where I learned about library science, the basis of the profession and gained many resources for reference when needed.

Libr200 introduced me to the various roles and responsibilities of a library; this helped me see my role as the head of the LRC in a greater light and paved a way to improve the library.  My main focus was to get the LRC recognition to students, faculty and staff. I created an information literacy course that I took to the classrooms of the school I was working at. This course taught students about the resources we had, how they could access them and how they would benefit them during their time at the school. This course increased library usage ten-fold, it was amazing and affirming that what I was doing was on the right path, the students saw what the library could do for them.

With the increase of material circulation and the students’ desire to see the collection and search it and use it I knew my next step had to be upgrading the current format of circulating materials, filling out a form. I worked on automating the library; this allowed students to circulate material for longer periods of time and also use it off campus where prior to that they could only use material in the LRC. Another step towards the LRC being something the students saw benefit in.

My passion with technology, my experience in creating digital resources and my love for organization led to becoming the campus digital resources designer and I created over 300 graphic resources for advertisement for school programs, community events, career resources and health clinics. Taking Libr240: Information Technology Tools and Applications with a focus on designing for the web helped me hone the skills I had to really serve the community by giving my guidance to create a library website. The website opened a whole new world of access to students from contact information to catalog searching and project help and upcoming campus events. The creation of the website sparked my interest to study web programming further and to learn to work on multiple platforms.

The implementation of technology use in the LRC continued to grow as I took courses on social media use in libraries, web 2.0 tools and reference services. We implemented the use of Weebo chat (which has since been discontinued), Text-a-Librarian through Google Voice, a library blog through WordPress, and continued development of enhanced resource guides. All of this content was integrated into the library website so that students could access it conveniently and the page hits exploded from student use. The LRC was becoming the resource I aimed for it to be, it was serving students in a manner that it never had before.

I worked in the LRC for four semesters of my MLIS career, including a summer term, and was able to accomplish significant projects because of it. I knew I was in my dream career because not only was I successful in these implementations but I loved everything about it, I truly loved seeing the students actually using the LRC (physically and virtually). When I left this school to pursue a career as an integrated library system administrator I was truly sad as this place was my MLIS project, something I had built from scratch, I was proud of it.

When I ventured into library system administration, as the integrated library system (ILS) administrator, I learned an aspect of the library that I knew very little about, the back end of every ILS module pertinent to a library. This included learning how each department ran. I spent months going through training and learning the procedures in acquisitions, serials, access services, preservation, cataloging and reserves. I really learned what it took to run a library and the man power it required. It was here where I also moved from creating digital content to managing digital content and resources. When we automated the library at the previous school the collection and patron size were much smaller; at this library the collection was millions of items, with hundreds of staff members and thousands of students to serve. Handling a library of this caliber required significant attention to detail and the ability to see the bigger picture simultaneously.

My course work in online searching (Libr244) taught me how to build complex Boolean search strategies to find specific information. I was not aware of how I would apply this to my professional goals until working with ILS where I had the responsibility of creating reports that pulled various types of information for multiple departments. This course taught me how to break down complex topics to the basics and build up; this is a skill that expands beyond Boolean searches and into to general reference questions all together in all fields of study. I used this skill significantly and intuitively as the ILS administrator when troubleshooting issues with the system.

While I worked as the ILS administrator the immediate result of seeing the students benefit from the library wasn’t as apparent as it was in the LRC, sometimes it was not apparent except to myself and only because I knew what the system was providing the students. Although I missed this immediate reward and the interaction with the students I learned that my passion for working with technology and web programming overshadowed that.

As information professionals we are lifelong learners involved in a profession that moves rapidly. I have dedicated myself to this profession; “In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information” (ALA, 2008). As digital resources continue to impact how we organize and deliver information to our patrons it is imperative that we continue to understand, learn and participate in this evolution of information dissemination.

I intend to keep up with the profession through my continued attendance and participation in professional conferences. I have been fortunate enough to attend ALA annual and midwinter as well as participate in CLA and local conferences such as the LA Archives Bazaar.  I have continued to build my technology skills by learning multiple library systems including: content management systems (CMS), learning management systems (LMS), web 2.0 tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and multiple communication platforms.  I have been expanding my programming skills by attending webinars, workshops (physical and virtual) and participating in programming projects through Treehouse and GitHub. There is so much to learn and so much potential for technology in libraries that it often becomes overwhelming on what to learn next. The ability to see where we stand in society, as professionals, and understand our impact on the greater society allows us to take important steps to shaping the libraries potential.

References:

American Library Association, (2008). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics.cfm

Conclusion & Affirmation

Conclusion:

We talk fondly now of the reactions we get when we say we are going to school for library science but at one point I was the one stating, “You have to have a master’s degree to be a librarian?!” Now I am on the other side of the conversation justifying and teaching others about the profession and why I have chosen to pursue it as a career. When I decided to go to library school, specifically online library school, I was concerned about what my experience would be because I thrive off of the personal interaction with my professors and was fearful that the virtual environment would impede on the opportunity to create these personal relationships. I think because of my concern of not being able to create personal relationships in an online environment that I took extra effort to create a personal connection with classmates and my professors and I have created connections that I will carry with me the rest of my professional career and even lifetime.

When I first started the MLIS program at SJSU in the Fall of 2011 I had no idea how it would change my life and the relationships I would create. As I spent hours going through course work and reading past discussion posts I realized that the amount of information I have taken from this program is much more than I ever anticipated receiving. This is not to say I thought I would not get much from the program but that I heavily underestimated how incredible this profession is and those who teach it.

It is with endearment that I complete this program, endearment towards my professors who had passion and desire for the profession. What first captured me in libraries was the staff I worked with was so helpful. At first I thought that was just because of the environment and school I was working at but throughout my journey towards my MLIS degree, I can assuredly state that those who work in the library profession are passionate about their field and love to help and share this passion with others. I too have evolved into this and every opportunity I get to teach someone about what it is to be a librarian I take it.

During my stretch in this program I have: served as a peer mentor, completed a virtual internship, worked as a lead assistant on the transition of the LMS, presented workshops and participated as a guest lecture in student orientations. I have also the opportunity to work on multiple group projects, led team projects and complete high caliber projects that I am proud of and have used in job applications. I have enhanced my online presence without losing the personal human touch. I have written papers and proposals that have been used within my professional career to enhance library spaces. I have learned what it is to write professionally for the web, have a steady professional blog, designed multiple websites and published several web-pages. I have honed the process of tutorial creation for a diverse population and been introduced to amazing technology projects and programs. Most importantly I have created relationships with some of the most amazing peers that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to.

I come out of this program with the ability to create strategic plans complete with literature reviews, SWOT analysis, environmental scans and missions and value statements. I am capable of designing a full-fledged website from scratch incorporating general programming and integrating web 2.0 and 3.0 tools. I have experience working with multiple major library management systems (Desire 2 Learn and Canvas) and content management systems (Drupal, Joomla and WordPress). Along with these skills I have a greater understanding of library management including addressing sensitive situations with care and understanding while still holding true to professional ethics and necessities. My reference services have increased exponentially and I have been introduced to more resources then I will ever know what to do with.

My time at SJSU has been focused on web development and creating a better digital user experience, my plans for further professional growth are focused on the same concepts. Just as my concern that the online environment would hinder the development of personal interaction with professors, I have focused on helping libraries create an experience for the user that would cultivate the personal interaction and cultivate further collaboration with others over information.

It is amazing that this journey has gone by so quickly. It has been the best decision I have made for my professional career and has been highly satisfying. I find myself getting excited thinking about the next step in my professional career and this confirms to me that I am where I need to and want to be, as an information professional.

Affirmation:

I, Whitni Watkins, hereby affirm that:

  1. All introductory, reflective, and evidentiary work submitted is mine alone (except where indicated as a group or team project), and has been prepared solely by me.
  2. I am protecting the privacy of the contents of my e-Portfolio by password protecting it or by sharing the URL only with my e-portfolio advisor.
  3. Before making my e-portfolio public I will respect the privacy of others by removing mention in this e-Portfolio of information that could lead to the identity of individuals (team members in group projects, internship supervisors, interviewees, etc.) and institutions

Introduction to my ePortfolio

Contained in this area of my blog includes my final project for my Masters in Library and Information Science from the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at San José State University. This project is referred to as an ePortfolio.  The ePortfolio is an electronic presentation of my course work and professional work as they relate to demonstrating understanding and mastery of the core competencies of the program.

The compilation of work showcases the discussion and collection of evidence I have selected to demonstrate and display my knowledge, skills and abilities over the course of my educational career at SLIS. This ePortfolio serves as evidence of what I have learned, accomplished and can accomplish.

I began working on the organization of my course work in the Fall of 2011 where I created folders for each competency and would save copies of course work that was applicable to the corresponding competency folder. This was an instrumental task when it came to my final preparation for creating the ePortfolio. I then spent some time before the start of the Fall 2013 semester rehashing through the course work where I went through each piece of work that was in the competency folders and removed any work that I felt was a “just in case” piece of evidence. Taking this extra step turned out to be a huge relief because I was able to go through each folder and see which competencies I was strong in and which ones I was not. It also allowed me to start writing immediately because I had the evidence selected and organized already.

Having my evidence broken down into competencies allowed me time to trial the multiple options of building my ePortfolio well before I had to start the official process. I built sample ePortfolios in Google Sites, D2L, Weebly and WordPress. In the end I chose to showcase my ePortfolio on my WordPress blog for the following reasons:

  1. Ability to password protect each post
  2. The blog was also used to compile my professional work from:
    1. Virtual Internship
    2. Web Design courses
    3. Peer Mentoring course
    4. Easily exported and imported to other areas and servers
    5. Well known platform that has stability in its existence

This ePortfolio is structured in the following manner and showed be showcased as such: Introduction, Statement of Philosophy, Core Competencies, Conclusion and Affirmation Statement. Each section is organized in the general format including an introduction paragraph, body & evidence, concluding paragraph and references (if any).

The core competencies are presented in a format that was requested by my advisor as well as the manner in which I feel best showcases my understanding and mastery of the competency. Each competency post begins with a verbatim correlating statement from the SLIS webpage of Core Competencies (http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/current-students/courses/core-competencies) of what the competency is about, followed then by a statement produced by me of my understanding of the competency and supported by published material if needed, followed then by the presentation of my evidence and how each piece applies to the competency and ending with a concluding paragraph and references.

The process of creating this project has been an invaluable reflection of what I have accomplished over the past two years through both my educational work as well as my related professional work. It has been a review of my abilities and what I am capable of doing in this field.

Recognize and describe cultural and economic diversity in the clientele of libraries or information organizations

Component 1: Statement of Competency

Libraries are successful because they are dedicate to creating equal access to information to their patrons. This means they spent time focused on understanding and studying how people use information based on cultural and economic demographics. We, information professionals, evaluate how patrons of different ages use our resources. For example are 16 year olds checking out physical books more often than an 85 year old or do they use digital resources and technology more and why? Looking at this data shapes the way libraries market their material and more so how funds are allocated for resources.

Due to the nature and mission of libraries they are accessible by and attract a diverse population. The population ranges in education level, age, cultural background, learning ability and physical abilities. All of these factors play a part in how a patron uses information. It is our responsibility to determine how to attract this population and how to meet and serve their information needs.

I want to point out that social status and economic status are directly related. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published data on the correlation between education level and income and typically those with a higher educational level have a higher income than those with a lower educational level. This suggests, that those with a higher education have a higher socio-economic status and in relation are able to use library resources at a more independent and intricate level than those with a lower socio-economic status. This however, does not mean that libraries that serve lower socio-economic communities should deprive these communities of access to these resources and information.

As the world continues to progress in the digital world, we see that what is commonly referred to as the digital divide, is largely affected by socio-economic status. Rubin explains, “as income rises so does Internet use… Only 25 percent of those with incomes of less than $15,000 use the Internet, compared to 67 percent of those with incomes exceeding $75,000” (Rubin, 2010, p178). One of the primary reasons for not using the internet is complexity of technology. The shows that use of the internet, or lack thereof, is not just restricted access due to income but also due to the skill set and knowledge. Libraries have focused on providing greater public access to the internet through installing public computers and even offering digital literacy programs to teach how to use the available technology.

It is important to acknowledge that cultural backgrounds also largely affect how patrons access information. On a study conducted by Liu and Redfern (1997) on students at San Jose State University, “Statistical analyses indicated that the student’s level of success in using the library was related to English-language proficiency, frequency of library use, and the frequency of reference desk inquiries” (Evans & Ward, 2007, p72). The inability to understand the dominant language of the collection of resources is a huge barrier on how the user with access and use the information that is available.

It is important that libraries understand the demographic makeup of the community they serve and adjust to serve their information needs. One significant adjustment that has been made is the incorporation of multilingual OPACS. This allows users the option of searching for resources in the language which they are most comfortable with. This will allow users to increase their skill set in searching because they now have the ability to use the resource.

Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:

My first piece of evidence I have included for this competency is a blog post I wrote for Libr240 on [Usability versus Accessibility]. This post discusses the importance of creating a website that is accessible to a diverse population and factors that impact how the user may be accessing the information. With digital content one of the most important factors in accessibility is making the webpage accessible to those who are visually impaired. This is done by adding alternative text for images and links within your code. This piece of evidence shows my understanding and ability to acknowledge and adjust to cultural and economic barriers my users may encounter.

My second piece of evidence I have included for this competency is a blog post I wrote for Lib240 [Designed for Mobility]. This post discusses designing your digital content for mobile use. Today, data shows that users are accessing more and more content on mobile devices like tablets and smart phones. This can drastically change how users use the available information, especially due to screen size differences and connection speed. The post discusses how to address some of the barriers that mobile users will deal with when accessing content through a mobile device.

My final piece of evidence is a [Final Proposal] I wrote for Libr285 for implementing a SMS reference service in an academic environment. This proposal discusses the purpose of implementing the reference service; “Studies have shown that 89% of college students have a cellphone and two-thirds of them use it for text messaging (Farkas, 2007)” (Watkins, 2013). The proposal shows my ability to recognize and adapt to how users are accessing and using information, specifically in an academic setting.

Conclusion:

As an information professional it is important that I am aware, able and understand the need to adapt and create resources that will serve a diverse population that deal with cultural barriers and socio-economic barriers. Our goal in the profession is to provide equal access to information, this can only be achieved if we acknowledge and understand the needs of our communities. We are doing great work to minimize the effect of the digital divide through multilingual OPACs, web design accessibility standards and access to technology that is often limited to communities with a lower socio-economic status.

References:

Evans, G. E. and Ward, P. L. (2007). Management Basics for Information Professionals. Second edition. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Rubin, R. E. (2010). The Values and Ethics of Library and Information Science. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Watkins, W. (2013). Research Proposal written for graduate studies course Libr285. San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science.

Evidence:

Usability versus Accessibility blog post for Libr240: https://nimblelibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/usability-vs-accessibility/

Designed for Mobility blog post for Libr240: https://nimblelibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/designed-for-mobility/

Final Proposal for Libr285: [Final Proposal]