Final Reflections

Reevaluating various course assignments and critically thinking of ways to apply them in a professional position will help make the abstract aspects of classroom learning become more concrete and practical for every-day living and working. With the semester coming to a close, I am dedicating the final post to reflecting on what I have learned.

There are multiple ways I can bring what I have learned into a professional position in my future and current workplace. My general understanding of the library as an institution as well as the various other information agencies has become more developed and fleshed out, thus giving what I do at the Southfield Public Library more meaning. Furthermore, I have defined what I believe is my role as a professional within the information institution. For a class discussion post, I wrote:

“Professionalism” is an abstract idea. I think we can connect “professionalism” and “professional” the same we we might be able to connect “libertarianism” and “libertarian;” one is the doctrine and the other is the adherent, but both are umbrellaed under the same definition and philosophy. Consequently, each exists as a result of the other. “Professionalism” is the state of a person working in accordance to and mastery over certain behaviors and services of a profession. I think there is general professionalism, which is a behavior and individual conduct all people have the ability to emulate, and there is educated professionalism, where people learn a specific skill set within a defined profession.

I have also gained more insight on the roles other people have played to help the idea of the library become what it is today. For example, I researched Charles Evans and the impact he had on the world of libraries. Evans assembled and published the first twelve volumes of American Bibliography, which is praised for “one of the greatest bibliographical compilations of all time” (Charles, 1944). Today it continues to be an invaluable source of information. While reading about his life, I learned that Evans was prone to simplicity, naturally shy, and so dedicated to and absorbed in his work that he had little inclination for much social interaction. In this way, Evan’s leadership was communicated through his ability to embrace his innate character traits. I wrote, “He was shy and reserved, yet this did not prevent him from committing himself for a worthy cause for the sake of his fellow human beings. He understood that being in constant social interaction is not the only way to serve and love humanity.” It was encouraging to know that being a leader can take on many different forms.

Other perceptions I originally held have also changed significantly over the course of the semester; as I began to understand the various avenues and career paths that apply to individuals with an MLIS degree, I decided to focus on archival administration. My decision was driven by the well-rounded appreciation I developed for different libraries and information agencies during the library visits for a class assignment. Visiting a research library and speaking with the head librarian who earned a graduate certificate in Archival Administration fostered my curiosity in archivists; I wanted to know who they were exactly and their job description. I learned there is a distinctly different cultural environment between the public, academic, and research libraries, yet also fundamental similarities as well.

My understanding of the role of the information professional has also developed in the sense that what I know has become much more concrete, especially regarding technology. Coming into the semester, I knew that computers were a necessary component to librarianship, but the fundamental requirement and thoroughly inundated necessity of technology within the information field was surprising to me. For my Technology Sandbox blogging assignment, I wrote, “If society is embracing technology and the use of social networking platforms, blogging, microblogging, image sharing, audio, and cloud computing, so must the library” (A Sandbox of Technology). Through this assignment and also through LIS 6080, I was able to more fully comprehend the ways libraries are putting different aspects of technology to use.

After this semester, I plan to finish the rest of the core classes next semester online and then dive into on-campus courses related to archives next fall. Also, through the professional associations assignment we worked on for class, I learned about the purpose and value of the Society of American Archivists (http://www2.archivists.org) and The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (http://www.ifla.org). I plan to become a member of the Society of American Archivists to network, stay involved, and stay informed. In my post, I wrote: “This comparison and analysis was helpful for me in unpacking what this association offers and the opportunities it involves” (Professional Associations).

Finally, concerning long-term goals, I am still hoping to travel and work abroad. While I am aware that my perceptions and attitudes will continue to develop and change as my understanding of the field evolves into the reality of a career, I nonetheless feel that the fundamentals I have acquired during the course of this semester has significantly defined my understanding and appreciation for the work of the information professional.

Resources:

Charles Evans. (1944). In Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles

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Revisiting Assumptions/Assertions About LIS

My understanding of Library and Information Science as a discipline and a profession has increased exponentially in the last four months. However, the assumptions, assertions, and beliefs I listed in the introduction of my journal have not considerably changed. For example, my first belief was that libraries are set apart from other occupations due to their extensive history and historical contribution to civilization. I wrote:

I am drawn to the idea that librarians and libraries have a unique history of their own wrapped in global history. I may be idealizing librarians, yet I am attracted to their historical roots, and the ability to stay (for the most part, as far as I can tell) true to their original purpose while keeping afloat above the ever-changing development of the technological tides. (as cited in “Personal Goals/Objections for My Studies“)

After watching The Hollywood Librarian and learning about the library’s impact on ancient cities like Alexandria, a city claimed to have thrived during its time largely due to its well-established library, and also how movies traditionally connect the destruction of books to the destruction of civilization, I have confirmed (to some degree) that my original belief was true, libraries have and are still portrayed as having a unique influence over society.

My second assumptions was that, “librarians are acknowledged and have respect in the world of academia.” For our team group project, my group in LIS 6010 explored the significance and responsibilities of academic libraries and the role of instruction and teaching in the profession. I learned through researching for the blog and following various listservs that academic librarians are supported and wanted by their universities due to their ability to not only research and find information, but also for their ability to share these searching skills with others.

Finally, my third assumption was that “the work librarians do has the potential to be rewarding in nature.” I would still agree with this. Furthermore, in the course of these four months of my first semester, I have decided to direct my attention to archival administration within the field of library science. I am drawn to archives because of the unique job opportunities. Getting a graduate certificate in archival administration will qualify me to be either a librarian or an archivist. I have spoken with a couple different archivist who explained I may not be able to get an ideal job in archival work immediately after graduation, however, with some patience and determination (and also the willingness to move out of the state), landing a job in archives is definitely not impossible.

As I stated in my first journal entry, what I invest my life in is very important to me. One of my goals for this semester was to understand the basic philosophical principles of the profession and develop my own principles as well. One of the principles I stated in my personal philosophy was to enjoy what I do. Motives are an integral aspect of a career; if I just want to be a librarian or an archivist for the money, then I am in the wrong profession. I am aware I will not become wealthy off of this career. However, as a general rule, I do not believe librarians are in the information business for the money. Good librarians, that is to say, librarians who exhibit more than merely meeting the education requirements and work experience, are those who do not let the realities of their work disillusion their love for what they do. A good librarian looks forward to coming into work every day and feels a sense of fulfillment by a job done well.

A Sandbox of Technology

Technology is an integrated aspect of modern culture that greatly affects and influences users on a daily basis. To “ignore the whole thing and hope it all goes away” is not a viable option, especially not for institutions like the library who want to reach out to the community through whatever means possible. If society is embracing technology and the use of social networking platforms, blogging, microblogging, image sharing, audio, and cloud computing, so must the library. Not only will the library’s involvement in these technological mediums help it stay relevant to the population it serves, it will further stretch its range of resources and services to its community.

Facebook and Twitter are at the core of the library’s resources for raising awareness and reaching remote users. Updated information from the library’s profile shows up on its followers’ news feeds as either posts or tweets; users typically check their feeds multiple times a day. According to 23 Things UK, self-described as a “free online course which introduces library staff to social networking, online tools and mobile technology,” Facebook users worldwide represent “54% of all social network users.” This information was taken from “Social Networking Statistics,” based on findings from Browser Media, Socialnomics, and MacWorld. 23 Things goes on to explain, “Social networking is unbelievably popular and growing rapidly. The total number of Facebook users in July of 2013 had risen to 1.15 billion, surpassing the use of land line telephones and even email for a growing percentage of people.” Furthermore, Twitter is a well-used platform for microblogging and expanding a professional online presence. Due to Facebook and Twitter’s dominance in social networking platforms, if the library were to use social media, Facebook and Twitter would be considered a fundamental given.

However, 23 Things UK also explained that, “some authorities prohibit libraries from having their own Facebook page. Others are considering having a page and are evaluating the security, access to the site and staff time required to maintain it.” Facebook and Twitter’s security is questionable, it is one of the networks’ greatest weaknesses, and this reality is becoming increasingly apparent to libraries. Privacy and security issues are common among both Facebook and Twitter. 23 Things also explains that “Some microblogging services, including Twitter, offer features such as privacy settings, which allow users to control who can read their posts. In the business world, security can naturally be a concern, since there is potential for sensitive information to be publicised on microblogging sites.” Institutions like the library must be wary of the dangers of security breaches and become well-acquainted with the privacy settings on both Facebook and Twitter before using these networks freely.

Considering what I have learned through my own experiences with technology, in addition to the ways I have been encouraged and required to utilize tools such as cloud computing, YouTube, RSS feeds, blogging, and social media networks for the sake of class assignments over the duration of this semester, and finally what I have pinpointed in filling out the Technology Sandbox worksheet, my understanding of technology and how it can be applied to the library has changed and become more clearly defined. If I were given complete freedom, as a librarian, I would plug my library into social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (after carefully reviewing and applying the privacy settings). I would follow librarians who are further advanced in the technological world of libraries to gain insight and ideas on the best ways to utilize what is currently available. I would create online tutorials through Camtasia and Youtube and offer classes in the library to help students or patrons understand the mystical intricacies of technology and how to access information through them.

References

23 Things UK. (2013). WordPress.com. Retrieved from http://23thingsuk.wordpress.com