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

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Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital items and collections.

Component 1: Statement of Competency

At the heart of a library is its collection. The purpose of this collection is based surely on the library’s mission. “As budgets remain tight, the allocation of scarce resources requires that libraries answer important questions about their primary functions so that they might make these allocations wisely” (Rubin, 2007, p185).

Upon entering the profession many information professionals are presented with an existing collection with in which they must help maintain, build and perfect. The key to maintaining a collection is to remember that the growth of the collection does not mean acquiring only but also shaping it towards the needs/desires of the patrons, weeding the collection of unnecessary items, adding quality material over quantity of material and securing it in the event of a disaster. “They [librarians] maintain the collections by reviewing titles for preservation, replacement, off-site storage, or removal” (Haycock & Sheldon, 2008, p51).

The hardest of these is shaping the collection to fit the needs of the patrons. Over recent years many libraries have adopted what has been referred to as PDAs or Patron Driven Acquisitions. While I worked at an academic library, the library budget has a set amount set aside specifically for PDA requests. I helped process these requests and while occasionally some of the selectors would submit requests through our PDA system, predominantly it was patron centered.

How PDA requests work is the library develops a set of standards for the types of material they want to receive PDA records from vendors. These standards can include publication date, exclusion or inclusion of certain subject material, inclusion/exclusion of material types, classification ranges and format (electronic, physical, serial, hard bound, etcetera). These records then get loaded into the library’s catalog so they are searchable by users and then when a patron clicks on the record of interest, if it is a PDA record they are usually prompted to click on a link (this is presented in the 856 field) that will send the request to the acquisitions department where they will then order the item. This form of collection building helps secure that the purchases (physical or electronic) for the collection are direct requests of the patrons.

Libraries spend a great deal of time and money on building their collections however it is vital that they also spend money on insuring the safety of their collections. They can do this by investing time in ensuring safety of the collection is also related to managing the facility, preservation of material, security of items against theft or crime, and having a disaster plan in place.

Libraries can ensure the safety of the collection by implementing RFID tags in items, security systems in entrance gates, locking down computer towers and securing the system. This will help minimize the possibility of acts of theft to the collection.

The agreement on the preservation of material will prove itself to be difficult as departments may have different ideas of what should and shouldn’t be a priority. Another instance that took place while I was working in an academic library was developing and implementing a new policy on serial subscriptions and binding policies. With electronic resources becoming ever more prevalent and accessible through database subscriptions libraries looking to be e-preferred libraries will look to eliminate print subscriptions, primarily dealing with serials. During this implementation policy there was discussion on which serials in the collection we would for sure continue the subscription to in both print and electronic format; it took several meetings before the decision was made. “A further challenge for managers is the changing nature of collections and service patterns and the accelerating rate of change” (Rubin, 2007, p493).

One of the most important aspects and often last on the list in collection maintenance is what to do in the event of a disaster, natural or not; “Developing such a plan requires time and effort, but is essential” (ibid, p489). Very few libraries have in their budget to maintain a perfect facility; disaster planning and facility management go hand in hand. Keeping the facility in good working order will help avoid unnecessary disasters such as water leaks during hard rain storms because corners were cut in repairing the roof.

When it comes to collection maintenance, development of the collection is priority. It is important to keep in mind the focus of the collection, the purpose of the collection and the quality of the collection. Having a collection of 1.2 million items where 60,000 or more items have not circulated in over 10 years does not maintain the aspect of quality. Weeding, sometimes viewed as a bad word in the library world, is essential is collection maintenance. Having policies in place specifically for the collection development will help make this process less painful and more rewarding for the library.

Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:

My first piece of evidence I chose to include is a discussion post on the [Disaster_Plan_Cornell]. I briefly reviewed and linked to Cornell University Library’s disaster plan. This piece of evidence shows my understanding of the importance of a disaster plan and having a policy in place as well as my ability to evaluate this policy in strengths and weaknesses.

My second piece of evidence I chose to include is a [Millennium Record Updating Procedures for Serials sent to stacks] I worked on when implementing a new policy into the collection dealing with serials management. This policy work was a collaborative effort with colleagues. I chose this piece of evidence to show my understanding of implementing new policies for collection maintenance. This policy required significant changes in how staff and student workers handled incoming serials as well as processing serials that were being sent to the stacks or removed from the collection based on a retention policy. This also shows my understanding and ability to work with other staff members to coming to an agreement on a policy for maintain the collection.

My final piece of evidence I included is a set of work from my Libr298 special studies course. This evidence includes: metaverse-library-sci-fi-exhibit-may-2013, a list of completed books that I created in the InWorldz Community Library science fiction collection and a list of authors and notations on their published works [ Science Fiction Books]. The magazine highlights the science fiction collection that was created for this particular exhibit. In the magazine on page 50 includes an excerpt about my work with InWorldz and the library collection I helped build. The excel worksheet shows my knowledge of adhering to specific collection standards: science fiction, open access, and if the book was digitized or had audio with it. This project required me and one other student to develop the collection for the library. We researched popular science fiction authors and listed works that either satisfied the criteria for the collection or were main contributors to science fiction and thus should be included in the collection. The word document is a listing of the authors I submitted for approval and the works I recommended we included in the collection.

Conclusion:

Understanding the basics to maintaining a library’s collection is knowledge every library professional should have. The collection is the heart of the library; it is what brings in funding, what brings in patrons, and why the library exists at all. Collection maintenance, development, weeding, preservation, and protection, is an ongoing process that takes precious resources however as the library’s heart, just as our bodies, without it we will cease to exist.

References:

Haycock, K. and Sheldon, B. (2008). The portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

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

Evidence:

Disaster_Plan_Cornell

Millennium Record Updating Procedures for Serials sent to stacks

metaverse-library-sci-fi-exhibit-may-2013

Science Fiction Books

completed books

How’s your Time Management?

silver stop watch clock with the image of a business man running

Being an online student means you MUST learn to manage your time effectively. As an online student you aren’t confined to attending a physical location for a set day and time and that’s fantastic (for most). It is also the gateway to true procrastination. Unless it is physically in our face humiliating us for showing up late to a lecture it’s easy to ignore.

Vicki Steiner, Libr203 professor, shared a fantastic link to a Time Management Toolkit, from MindTools, which includes a Time Management Quiz.

Take the quiz, see how you are doing.  

Welcome SJSU SLIS Students!

Welcome to the San Jose State University SLIS (School of Library and Information Science) program! I will tell you up front, this program is not easy, it takes discipline and focus but it is worth it. You are bound to make lasting friendships and enjoy what you learn and yes you will learn lots of information. Don’t fear trying our courses that sound interesting, in fact I recommend it!

When I started this program in Fall 2011, I was very anxious and concerned that the lack of physical classroom attendance would keep me from doing me work. Fortunately, SJSU does a fabulous job at making sure you stay involved and participate. I was fortunate enough to be able to blow through the Libr203 course in the first 3 weeks, if you have the time and are able I highly recommend this for a couple of reasons.

Reasons….

1. You gain familiarity with the tools you will be using in the rest of your courses

2. You finish the class and don’t have to focus on it for the rest of the semester

3.  [I don’t have a third reason…..]

Discussion Boards: Overwhelming? 

Yes, the discussion boards can get overwhelming, especially as more students enter the class site and posts go up and the interaction starts building. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by email notifications, you may want to unsubscribe yourself from the boards. Note that if you do so, though, you will need to check the various boards regularly to see if important information is added.

The amount of discussion in LIBR 203 can tend to be a bit more voluminous than your other classes, since we’re a bit more informal and a big part of the discussion activity is intended to help students meet their classmates, acclimate themselves to networking in an online environment, and so forth. As a result, when you start your other classes, it would be a good idea for you to at least initially subscribe to the discussion forums in those classes, since your specific posts–both original and responses–may be graded by the instructor.

One of the many great things about LIBR 203 is that it affords students the opportunity to experiment with how they interact with the learning management system. So feel free to take advantage of the time in this class before the semester starts to play around with your notification settings and see what works best for you.

I look forward to getting to know you better over the next two months and hope you will feel comfortable dropping me a line or two or three after the course so that I know how you are getting along!

-Whitni