I’m a Librarian. Of tech, not books.

Post originally published on LITA Blog: http://litablog.org/2016/02/im-a-librarian-of-tech-not-books/


When someone finds out I’m a librarian, they automatically think I know everything there is to know about, well, books. The thing is, I don’t. I got into libraries because of the technology. My career in libraries started with the take off, a supposed library replacement, of ebooks. Factor in the Google “scare” and librar*s  were going to be done forever. Librar*s were frantic to debunk that they were no longer going to be useful, insert perfect time and opportunity to join libraries and technology.

I am a Systems Librarian and the most common and loaded question I get from non-librarians is (in 2 parts), “What does that mean? and What do you do?” Usually this resorts to a very simple response:
I maintain the system the library sits on, the one that gives you access to the collection from your computer in the comfort of your home. This tool, that lets you view the collection online and borrow books and access databases and all sorts of resources from your pajamas, my job is to make sure that keeps running the way we need it to so you have the access you want.
My response aims to give a physical picture about a technical thing. There is so much we do as systems librarians that if I were to get in-deep with what I do, we’d be there for a while. Between you and I, I don’t care to talk *that* much, but maybe I should.

There’s a lot more to being a Systems Librarian, much of which is unspoken and you don’t know about it until you’re in the throws of being a systems librarian. There was a Twitter conversation prompted when a Twitter’er asked for recommendations on things to teach or include in on the job training for someone who is interested in library systems. It got me thinking, because I knew little to nothing about being a Systems Librarian and just happened upon it (Systems Librarianship) because the job description sounded really interesting and I was already a little bit qualified. It also allowed me to build a skill set that provided me a gateway out of libraries if and when the time arrived. Looking back, I wonder what would I have wanted to know before going into Systems, and most importantly, would it have changed my decision to do so, or rather, to stay? So what is it to be a Systems Librarian?

The unique breed: A Systems Librarian:

  • makes sure users can virtually access a comprehensive list of the library’s collection
  • makes sure library staff can continue to maintain that ever-growing collection
  • makes sure that when things in the library system break, everything possible is done to repair it
  • needs to be able to accurately assess the problem presented by the frantic library staff member that cannot log into their ILS account
  • needs to be approachable while still being the person that may often say no
  • is an imperfect person that maintains an imperfect system so that multiple departments doing multiple tasks can do their daily work.
  • must combine the principles of librarianship with the abilities of computing technology
  • must be able to communicate the concerns and needs of the library to IT and communicate the concerns and needs of IT to the library

Things I would have wanted to know about Systems Librarianship: When you’re interested but naive about what it takes.

  • You need to be able to see the big and small pictures at once and how every piece fits into the puzzle
  • Systems Librarianship requires you to communicate, often and on difficult to explain topics. Take time to master this. You will be doing a lot of it and you want everyone involved to understand, because all parties will most likely be affected by the decision.
  • You don’t actually get to sit behind a computer all day every day just doing your thing.
  • You are the person to bridge the gap between IT and librarians. Take the time to understand the inner workings of both groups, especially as they relate to the library.
  • You’ll be expected to communicate between IT staff and Library staff why their request, no matter the intention, will or will not work AND if it will work, but would make things worse – why.
  • You will have a new problem to tackle almost every day. This is what makes the job so great
  • You need to understand the tasks of every department in the library. Take the time to get to know the staff of those departments as well – it will give insight to how people work.
  • You need to be able to say no to a request that should not or cannot be done, yes even to administration.
  • No one really knows all you do, so it’s important to take the time to explain your process when the time calls for it.
  • You’ll most likely inherit a system setup that is confusing at best. It’s your job to keep it going, make it better even.
  • You’ll be expected to make the “magic” happen, so you’ll need to be able to explain why things take time and don’t appear like a rabbit out of a hat.
  • You’ll benefit greatly from being open about how the system works and how one department’s requests can dramatically, or not so dramatically, affect another part of the system.
  • Be honest when you give timelines. If you think the job will take 2 weeks, give yourself 3.
  • You will spend a lot of time working with vendors. Don’t take their word for  “it,” whatever “it” happens to be.
  • This is important– you’re not alone. Ask questions on the email lists, chat groups, Twitter, etc..
  • You will be tempted to work on that problem after work, schedule time after work to work on it but do not let it take over your life, make sure you find your home/work life balance.

Being a systems librarian is hard work. It’s not always an appreciated job but it’s necessary and in the end, knowing everything I do,  I’d choose it again. Being a tech librarian is awesome and you don’t have to know everything about books to be good at it. I finally accepted this after months of ridicule from my trivia team for “failing” at librarianship because I didn’t know the answer to that obscure book reference from an author 65 years ago.

Also, those lists are not, by any means, complete — I’m curious, what would you add?


Possibly of interest, a bit dated (2011) but a comprehensive list of posts on systems librarianship: https://librarianmandikaye.wordpress.com/systems-librarian/

Blanket Statements [written in frustration]

I really struggle with blanket statements, statements that imply your frustration of one person apply to a large group, or even not large group of people.

Recently there was a post written on the LITA Blog that discussed stereotypes about men and librarianship and if technology is bringing more skillful men into the field. The post has not been well received, for justified reasons. I too am scratching my head at the topic of choice and lack of research done in the piece.

Something to keep in mind is that saying things that imply your disgust in a blog post applies to every person that writes for that blog is a bit harsh. Implying that the organization as a whole is not worth your time if they let something like this get posted.  There have been several really great pieces written by members of the LITA blog team that have NO association with the current post (http://litablog.org/2015/10/is-technology-bringing-in-more-skillful-male-librarians/). Yes we are a team but we don’t all have the same views, we don’t all agree on the same thing, but we do all write for LITA Blog and we choose our topics. Topics are NOT assigned to us, we have the guideline to write about libraries and information technology.

Yes, I am a LITA Blog writer. Which is why these blanket statements are taken personally because the generalization that the entire blog writing team is bringing shame to the profession is harsh. Maybe instead you should provide productive criticism or comment on the blog post so the author gets to hear directly that the piece ruffled your feathers & why. Instead of making a blanketed statement, and discrediting (whether intended or not) the work and writing of others.

As I write this I’m frustrated, and I think rightfully so, as a LITA Blog writer, I’m not thrilled that a fellow writer wrote what they wrote, but it’s their topic, something they felt they wanted to write about. I do not have to agree with it, but I think I can disagree with it with respect.

I ask, in the defense of the talented team I write with, that you don’t discredit the entire blog based on one post that really pissed you off. We all see this world with a different perspective, remember that and even though I disagree/dislike the view given in this specific post, if I want different ideas to be presented, then I have the opportunity as a LITA Blog writer to do that.

If you want something to change then you must be proactive for its change. Tossing it to the side like it’s not worth your time, what good does that do? Work towards making things better. We have that ability.

**UPDATE**
A fantastic response to the post being mentioned by Galen Charlton, https://galencharlton.com/blog/2015/10/books-and-articles-thud-so-nicely-a-response-to-a-lazy-post-about-gender-in-library-technology/

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:

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

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]

SCCLD Social Media Internship Final Report

SCCLD Social Media Internship Final Report

Whitni J. Watkins

San José State University, School of Library and Information Science

Abstract

The purpose of this report is to explain what I did and learned during my internship period with the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) as their social media intern. The report is also a requirement for fulfillment of San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science’s Virtual Internship program. The report focuses primarily on the student learning outcomes (SLOs) and will include a breakdown of activities and tasks performed during the internship period and how they relate to the achievement of the SLOs.

Santa Clara County Library District

SCCLD consists of 7 community libraries, 1 branch library, 2 bookmobiles and an online library. They serve the areas of Santa Clara County in California including: Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Lost Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, and Saratoga. They serve a population of 412,732 with a rate of 52% being current library cardholders.

As an intern with the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD), I was working with Megan Wong, the virtual library manager, to develop procedures and policies to help further the presence of the library in multiple social media platforms. SCCLD is present on 7 social media channels including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and 44 library blogs.

Internship selection

I chose to apply for this internship based upon my interest in the use of social media in organizations such as libraries. I also lacked professional experience in a public library, as all my experience is in academic libraries and SCCLD provided me both options.

Student Learning Outcomes

Prior to beginning my internship I worked with the internship supervisor, Megan Wong, and developed a set of SLOs that would outline the tasks and responsibilities to be accomplished during the internship period.

  1. Effectively identify, monitor and respond to the community audience formed around the library’s social media by reviewing previous posts and audience response on social media platforms (Facebook, & Twitter) and attending Reader’s Advisory meetings (virtually).
  2. Learn and practice best social media practices through hands on use of platforms including scheduling posts and daily interaction on forums to increase traffic on Santa Clara County Library district social media platforms; including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
  3. Formulate a social media marketing plan; set up policies to manage a public social media account and the distribution of information.

Student Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcome 1.0

The first learning outcome was to effectively identify, monitor and respond to the community audience formed around the library’s social media by reviewing post and audience response on social media platforms, Facebook & Twitter and attend the reader’s advisory meetings virtually.

The first half of this learning outcome was achieved through daily monitoring of SCCLD’s Facebook page and Twitter account (See Appendix item 1 for clocked hours). Through my monitoring I learned what posts were most popular on Facebook, the time in which users frequented the page most often and as well as what posts reached the largest population (see Appendix item 2). The constant monitoring of Facebook allowed me opportunities to see what types of things the “fans” enjoyed seeing the most. This allowed me to recommend specific types of posts for staff to focus on to encourage more interaction on the page.

Monitoring the Twitter account was less insightful as the audience focus was less targeted, this became a recommendation item on the social media plan I put together. I used the opportunity while monitoring Twitter to find more community to follow, to communicate with those who tagged SCCLD in tweets. This received good feedback, one individual stated, “@sccld You’re awesome! Great job with the social media!”  (See Appendix 3 for full conversation).

The second half of the SLO, attend Reader’s Advisory meetings, was later dropped by the internship supervisor due to scheduling constraints on both parties . Any information pertaining to my responsibilities as the intern was relayed to me by my supervisor.

Learning Outcome 2.0

The second learning outcome was to learn and practice best social media practices through hands on use of platforms, including scheduling posts and daily interaction on forums to increase traffic on SCCLD’s social media platforms; including Facebook & Twitter.

This SLO was achieved through research, daily interaction of SCCLD’s social media platforms and volunteering to post on the Facebook feed weekly. For research, refer to the bibliography page for a listing of articles that were used in shaping the focus and evolvement of SCCLD’s social media. Traffic for SCCLD has increased; the follower count for Twitter has grown by 29 followers since the beginning of the internship and Facebook has increased by almost 80 “likes”.

The biggest accomplishment SCCLD saw over the past 3 months was hitting the 1K milestone, 1,000 page likes on Facebook, without the use of a Facebook campaign. At the beginning of the internship period, SCCLD was looking at 927 likes by the end we were up to 1,006 likes (see appendix item 4). Through research and recommendations, the staff began posting content that sparked more interaction from our fans. The interaction provided greater opportunity for our Facebook page to be seen and receive more likes.

Another opportunity that came from monitoring Facebook daily was the opportunity to answer a reference question  and turn it into a very positive experience.  A patron made a comment on a post on Facebook and I responded to her comment, which then sparked this reference opportunity. This patron desired that a certain book be available on an audiobook service that SCCLD subscribes to.  I found that although the service did not have the book, that the book was available on disc for checkout from the library.  The patron was ecstatic about this revelation and left very happy. The interaction between myself and the patron is publically visible and created a positive experience that others can read and gain more insight to SCCLD.[1]  

Learning Outcome 3.0

This SLO required that I take the knowledge I gained and formulate a social media plan and set up policies to manage a public social media account and the distribution of information.

The SLO was accomplished through 135 hours of research, hands on practice and incorporation of best practices. This was a difficult task to accomplish, as it required viewing each platform; see footnote for link to full social media plan.[2]

Along with the social media plan, Megan and I put together a best practices document that listed key bullet points for each platform about posting and things to keep in mind while managing the platform. For example, Twitter only allows 140 characters in posts, only use 120-130 of the characters so there is room for followers who want to retweet or quote your tweet. Another example is to always use the #SCCLD in Tweets and Instagram’s, this will help make SCCLD more searchable in the platforms.[3]

Conclusion

My internship experience with SCCLD was very positive. My supervisor exhibited a democratic management style where we each collaborated on ideas and together chose ones that fit the model we were working towards. This method of management was very effective as it allowed and encouraged innovation. I would recommend that there be more insight from the managing side to help better guide the focus of the organization. This would have been more helpful because I was an outsider to the organization.

Code of Ethics: ALA

One thing I found was that SCCLD was very strict into adhering to statement II of the ALA Code of Ethics that  reads, “We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.” One example of this was a user posted a quote on the SCCLD Facebook page that contained the F word. The user did not censor the word in the quote; however SCCLD policies enforce that staff does not censor comments made on public platforms as it is a violation of patron’s right of speech. Although my instinct said to “hide” the comment as to not offend those who read the post, I knew that the policy was not only enforced but was also in accordance with the ALA Code of Ethics by which I, as a current ALA member, established I would do my best to uphold.

Responsibilities

While working with SCCLD my primary responsibilities included:

  • Build followers on Facebook, work towards gaining better awareness
  • Develop best practices for Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram
  • Monitor and participate in Facebook & Twitter posting
  • Develop procedures for implementing an Instagram photo contest
  • Develop procedures for implementing a Facebook campaign

My main priorities were developing the procedures for different platforms and researching best practices. My site supervisor broke down each month’s priorities based upon what was accomplished and learned in the prior month. One action item that stayed continuously on the menu was finding a way to gain better awareness on Instagram and to use it to promote the library. The action plan was of great help to keep priorities in view; and I recommend that it be a best practice for future SCCLD internships.

The most difficult aspects of working in this [virtual] environment was connecting with the library. Due to schedule constraints I did not get the opportunity to participate in the Reader Advisory meetings and in part I felt like this created a gap between me and the staff. I wish the staff would have reached out to me more to give feedback or insight on how they are currently using social media; however I could have encouraged this more by sending out emails and interacting with them more.  I think this was a difficulty primarily because this was a virtual internship and had I been on site my interaction with staff would have been satisfactory.

Technology

Throughout the internship I used a variety of technology to accomplish the tasks set before me. I used email, Google Docs, and the Virtual Library Wiki for collaboration with my site supervisor as well as some staff at SCCLD. I used social media platform mobile applications for iOS[4] to manage SCCLD’s accounts including; Twitter, Facebook, Pages, Cubenect, SCCLD mobile site app, WordPress, and Instagram. I also used the full website pages for Twitter, Facebook, WordPress & sccl.org to manage these same accounts. All tasks were easily accomplished through these forms of technology  and I do not have any recommendations for improvement.

Course Work

As I made my way through this internship program I found myself grateful that I had taken Libr246: Social Media & Web 2.0 tools. This course, although only briefly, provided me with an overview of how some libraries used social media. It also introduced me to some of these libraries that had great examples, such as NYPL, to refer to during my research. I also found myself referring back to information I learned in Libr210: Reference and Information services, specifically Reader’s Advisory services. The reader’s advisory will be incorporated through Facebook posts, Pinterest boards and library blogs. These ideas were introduced to me through Libr210. Although I have a strong background in social media, these two courses introduced me to aspects of the library that I may have over looked during my research, specifically the use of Pinterest in the library.

Equally, I would have been better equipped had I taken course work on censorship and public libraries. This internship was my first non-patron experience in a public library, so many rules that exist in a private academic library in regards to censorship are forbidden in many public libraries. I am a firm believer in not censoring however it is still an area I do not know much about. I also think course work in library marketing would have helped me in the long run as a put together the social media plan. I am confident in my work but I know that having a formal foundation in library marketing would have saved me time as I set up action items for the social media plan.

I feel that this internship exposed me to opportunities and experiences that helped me more fully understand the impact social media can have on organizations. Although the work I performed during this period seemed insignificant in process, when put into the bigger picture I realize that this helped structure SCCLD’s social media presence. The social media plan will be a basis from which SCCLD can build their policies and procedures; this is of significant value to the organization.

Working with SCCLD has helped me form a more professional view of social media and how I can now use it to my advantage in advancing my career. I have a solid understanding of Facebook, as well as the ability to create and implement Facebook campaigns for other organizations with which I may work. I can state that my internship at SCCLD was a rewarding experience and I will take from it a significant amount of primary evidence as well as a new perspective on using social media in libraries.

References

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

Santa Clara County Library District. (2013). Social Media Policy [PDF]. Retrieved from Santa Clary County Library District Staff Wiki (private access).

Watkins, W. (2013, October 27). Facebook: the form of reference/advertising/reader’s advisory AIO [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://nimblelibrarian.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/facebook-the-form-of-referenceadvertisingreaders-advisory-aio/


[2] Full social media plan, drafted and submitted by Whitni Watkins to SCCLD: http://bit.ly/1e2eNnE

[3] Best Practices guidelines document: http://bit.ly/18y5MOx

[4] The use of mobile applications was not a requirement to accomplish my responsibilities; their use merely provided convenience and all tasks could be accomplished through the web browser.

 

Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.

Component 1: Statement of Competency

“From its earliest days, the true power of the Internet lay in the ability of the network to enhance communication” (Farkas, 2007, xix). With the introduction of the internet not only has communication ways changed but the way we access information has changed. Before the web, information was accessed within highly structured systems with which librarians knew best how to navigate to these structures and databases to find information for the user. This was a well-known need for a librarian. With the implementation of algorithms and spider crawling in web search engines such as Google and Bing, navigating these systems and finding information, albeit maybe not be of highest quality, has become common knowledge to the 21st century user. New technologies and the digital age have forced libraries to reevaluate their function and role within the society. Libraries will not disappear, as many suggest instead they will thrive as long as those within them evolve and adapt with new technologies.

One major impact of technology is the ability to navigate our resources remotely, many of our patrons are no longer needing to come to the library and that’s okay. However, this means that we must go to where our patrons are, social media platforms. We want to communicate with them, learn about what they are interested in, what they want to “get” from the library. It is imperative that libraries develop an online presence and make themselves available remotely, as we do with our resources. This means that we as information professionals need be cognitive of how to use these technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr.

Beyond communicating through social media avenues we also need to be able to serve our patrons by being proficient in current and up and coming technologies. This includes physical hardware (e.g. tablets, eReaders, smartphones, and mobile devices) but also software such as cloud services (e.g. Google Drive or Drop Box), presentation services (e.g. Prezi, Glogster), collaboration services and webpage building services. The library will continue to be the place to look for the newest New York Times best seller but on top of that we will be the place to try new technology and develop innovative software, a prime example of what libraries will evolve towards with technology is North Carolina State University’s state-of-the-art library, The Hunt Library (http://youtu.be/BzL8MHbBtiY).

I introduce the Hunt library for multiple reasons. First, it touches base on the funding and cost of technology implementation. Funding, budget cuts, short staffed are all unfortunately common terminology within information professionals. The design and building of the Hunt library cost a significant lump of change, $115 million to be exact. Technology is not cheap, especially when you are expected to offer it to your users, it is the new norm. Library administration will be spending a significant amount of time on funding technology adaptation and less on budgets for collection development.

Second, as you learn about the technology that has been put in place at the Hunt library; the collection is only 1.5 million books and housed in a Robot-driven BookBot storage and retrieval system which uses only about 1/9 of the space that was used when storing the books on shelves. The bot retrieves book request via a computer click and within minutes; the technology not only saves space but time as well. The space that has been freed up from the stacks has been honed in on collaboration, technology creation and innovation and maker-spaces. I mention these facts because the core vision of the library was to provide the “ability for our students, faculty, and partners to immerse themselves in interactive computing, multimedia creation, and large-scale visualization” (Hunt Vision, 2013). This is what library spaces will evolve to, because of technology.

Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:

The first piece of evidence I have included for this competency is the link to the JPG files of a library brochure I created at a prior library using Photoshop [LibraryBrochurep1] [LibraryBrochurep2]. I chose to include this piece of evidence to show that I understand the importance of knowing new technology and using it within your work place. This is but one software application that I know, but it is a very common and highly sought after skill by patrons. While I was working as a Library Director, I wanted to create better digital resources and more aesthetically pleasing library material so I learned the basics of Photoshop and have gradually taught myself more techniques and am able to teach others the basics of using this software. I know that because I was willing and desired to learn this software that I have a very useful skill for our profession as we move towards more digital resource development and web design.

The second piece of evidence I included is a link to a [Prezi presentation] that I created for an information literacy course at a previous job; this piece is included in a folder because there are data files that need to be contained with the presentation in order to view it offline. When you open this file which I have shared using the cloud storage DropBox, you will need to open only prezi.exe to view the presentation. I included this piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of using technology tools to produce a presentation for a library workshop. Also, by sharing it through my cloud storage DropBox I have also demonstrated my ability to work with the newest form of storing files on a cloud service.

The final piece of evidence I have included here is a [screen shot of my web portfolio] & included a [link to the webpage] that I built. This piece of evidence shows my understanding of digital recourse and using technology to communicate to remote users the information that I want to share with them. Although this is a personal page, it support the ultimate goal of the library which is to provide access to information to our users. This piece of evidence also shows my mastery in the skill of web design and creation which is highly sought after in libraries as their online presence is the most important aspect of their marketing and advocating their use.

Conclusion:

These technologies: BookBots, collaboration tools, social media interaction, and software for program creation, web design or photo editing will be things that we as information professionals should know the basics of. If we want our users to use these tools then we need to know how to teach them or help troubleshoot basic problems. Libraries will become information and technology hubs and less book storage.

References:

Farkas, M. G. (2007). Social Software in Libraries: building collaboration, communication, and community online. New Jersey: Information Today, Inc.

NCSU Libraries (2013). The Hunt Library. Information Retrieved from: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/huntlibrary

Evidence:

Library Brochure Images

librarbrochurelibrarbrochurep2

Website Screenshot

Web_Portfolio 

Prezi Presentation Link