Alexis M Waide

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Archive for the tag “librarian”

We’re number 1!

Forbes says we’re number 1!: The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs

Oh, wait, we’re number 1 but it’s not good – Library and Information Science is named the number 1 worst degree in the Forbes article, based on mid-career median income ($57,600) and projected employment increase for common jobs in the field (8.5%).

I know this has been making the rounds since it came out a week ago and a lot of people I know have expressed dismay and outrage.  Several of my program-mates have said, speaking for themselves as well as librarians they know and fellow MLIS students, that they went into the program because they love libraries and happiness in a career doesn’t rest solely on income.  I agree completely with these statements and the indignant feelings from which they stem, i.e. how dare Forbes suggest money is the only thing that makes a degree valuable!

However, that projected employment increase is disheartening, not only for the general picture it paints for all information professionals in the field but also the outlook for new ones just entering it.  8.5% employment increase for common jobs?  It does not bode well for me and my peers who have just graduated or are graduating soon, or for the thousands of people entering programs in the fall.  Yes, it seems the majority of people go into MLIS/MLS programs because they genuinely want to do it and believe working in the field will provide them with professional happiness.  I know no one in my program who entered thinking, “I’m gonna make millions as a librarian!”  But we did all enter thinking, “This degree will help me get a professional position.”  That thought and that 8.5% don’t really mesh well.  It’s hard to be happy in a job I don’t have.


Why I’m in library school

A mini mid-library school crisis has come upon me the past week or so, mostly because I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have to do.  There’s class, school work outside of class, work work, SCALA-presidency related things, social life, beginning the practically full-time job of looking for a job, and then normal adult-life stuff, like scheduling a dentist appointment which I keep. forgetting. to do.  Graduation is less than six months away, at this point, and I’m stressing about the fact that I have no idea what will happen at that point – will I have a job?  Will I be moving?  Will I not find a job and continue working at the Engineering Library?  Thankfully, Pitt allows student workers to continue working another semester beyond their graduation so if it comes to that, at least I have part-time employment.

I really shouldn’t complain (and I don’t think I have – too much, anyway) since I intentionally made all the choices that led me to this point.  And all of that above is good stuff.  Really good stuff.  But what I really want to do (for a couple of days until it gets old, anyway) is curl up in bed with a book – a non-school book, of course.

To combat these blahs, I tracked down the SlideShare presentation that my sister-in-law (aforementioned State Librarian of Montana!) sent me when I was applying for school in fall 2010.

Even though I knew I wanted to work in libraries, I didn’t know if I had what it takes.  This presentation made it pretty clear that beyond a love of books, knowledge, and information, I have the disposition of a librarian, if not all the technical skills (which I’m gaining in school, obviously).  I love working with people and connecting them to information, I have a passion for libraries and the work of librarians and other information professionals, and I believe that while things have changed significantly for libraries (with more to come), libraries aren’t going anywhere – they’re just adapting and evolving.  So, thanks to the sister-in-law, thanks to Stephen Abram, for sharing the presentation on his blog where the sister-in-law saw it, and thanks ultimately to Ned Potter, for helping me understand librarians and inspiring me to be one.

Regulated vs. unregulated acts of ownership

I’ve been thinking about how it’s strange that something like Open Access had to come about to make digital information sources more widely available, and yet no similar idea or concept exists within the printed “analog” sources of information.  I jokingly said something during a class discussion that it’s too bad you can’t just go into a bookstore, grab a book off the shelf and walk out without paying.  Just say “Open Access!” when they ask you to pay.  Of course, we can’t do this because, as my professor for the class Understanding Information said, we never “own” e-sources in a physical way – even if you buy an e-book, it’s never actually “there.”

All this reminded me of an article by Lawrence Lessig about Open Source and Open Access.  I had to go back and find the article because something he said struck me as particularly interesting:

…reading a book in analog space may be an unregulated act. But reading an e-book is a licensed act, because reading an e-book produces a copy… Selling a book in analog space is an unregulated act. Selling an e-book is not. In all these cases, and many more, ordinary uses that were once beyond the reach of the law now plainly fall within the scope of copyright regulation. The default in the analog world was freedom; the default in the digital world is regulation.

(“The people own ideas! New technologies are forcing us to make important choices about how we use books, music, software, and other cultural products. Do we want them to be free–or not?” by Lawrence Lessig from the June 2005 issue of Technology Review)

At first, this concept seemed really backwards to me.  Not that digital works are regulated, but that analog works are not.  Of course selling a book is regulated; as I pointed out already, you can’t just walk into a bookstore and walk out with a book without paying!  But what Lessig means by regulated and unregulated is that most uses of analog books create no copies, whereas by their very nature, digital books always do.  And those digital copies can be taken away more easily than physical print copies.  Are we trading freedom of action and ownership for portability and convenience?

Why librarians are (still) necessary

I came across this quote today while perusing various library job listservs and RSS Feeds and really like it:

“The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.”

Seth Godin, The Future of the Library, May 2011


I came across it in a bulletin from the Mid-Hudson Library System but it originally came from Seth Godin’s blog.  He’s written several best-selling books on marketing, leadership and change.  I came across them a lot when I worked in a bookstore but was never particularly interested; perhaps I’ll have to read some in my new life as a librarian.


New Montana State Librarian

My sister-in-law has been named the new Montana State Librarian!  There was a nationwide search and it came down to her and two others and she earned the position despite having fewer years of experience than the other candidates. Amazing that she’s got such a prestigious position less than 10 years or so out of graduate school.  Congratulations, Jennie!

Embedded librarianship

Last week in LIS 2000, we had a panel of three librarians, one from an academic library, one from a middle school library, and one from a public library.  I thought it was interesting that all three of them brought up embedded librarianship.

November 30, 2011

One thing that came up quite frequently last night during the panel discussion was the idea of embedded librarianship – the idea that librarians need to get out from behind the desk, get out of the office, or get out of the library entirely, and make their presence known within whatever community they are a part of.

I first heard the term used in David Lankes‘ (a professor at Syracuse’s iSchool) recent talk here at the iSchool.  From what I remember, he gave an example of a librarian he knows working within an university’s science department.  She has weekly hours where she is physically present within the department, as well as a Twitter feed which she updates regularly with sources and news articles relevant to the various research groups within the department.  The department finds her increased presence, both physically and virtually, incredibly useful.  Sounds like a success.

I think part of the drive toward and the likely success of embedded librarianship comes from having a familiar face present within a community of learners or patrons.  We’re all familiar with “library anxiety” from our readings and class discussions.  What better way to combat the anxiety than having a librarian present within a classroom, department, writing center, Twitter feed, etc., putting a name and (hopefully) friendly face to the library?

This librarian had to eat ice cream, drink fresh milk and play with adorable barn kittens as the embedded librarian for a University of Oregon class called Geographies of Food.  If this is what embedded librarianship involves, sign me up!

This is an interesting article on embedded librarianship from Library Journal.

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