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Oh my goodness

Oct. 14th, 2010 | 03:02 pm

It's been forever since I've updated this journal! I've kind of fallen away from blogging in general, unfortunately. I'd like to get back into it, but it's so hard to find the time! A lot has happened since my last post. The most major piece of news is that I got a full time job! WOO HOO! I love it, and I thank God everyday for it. I'm a science reference librarian at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Yes, this is the same place where I was a student assistant. I was a student worker for approximately a year before I accepted the full time position. I get to do all kinds of neat things, and am surrounded by cool people and awesome science. There are just no words for how blessed I am. :)
I am still involved with the Special Libraries Association; I am the membership chair for the Tennessee Valley Chapter. So if you are anywhere close to or at all interested in the TN Valley Chapter of SLA, just let me know and we'll get you joined up! ;)

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Gettin' Involved!

Jan. 21st, 2010 | 11:30 am

2010 is off to an amazing start. I started my new part-time Postmaster's position with Oak Ridge Associated Universities. I'll come back later to post a little about what I've been doing there, because it's pretty interesting to be using my MLIS degree outside of a traditional library setting. But more on that some other day. I still have my part time position at ORNL's research library, and I still love it! It's too bad the position is only temporary, because I've really appreciated working with some amazing people and learning a variety of duties. I feel like I've gotten to try my hand at tons of different tasks, and I'm developing skills that I know can translate to other environments. I also still have my part time evening/weekend reference librarian position at a small private college in Knoxville. So I am stretched a little thin between 3 employers, but I'm giving each one my best, and hopefully my diligence will pay off in the long run.
This year I am also going to be the Membership Chair for our local chapter of the Special Libraries Association. I'm eager to be more involved, and this position is good for beginners. Hopefully I can ease my way in to more involvement later on, but right now I feel like I've got enough to handle. :)
I've been brainstorming some research ideas and making some professional goals for myself. I'm not sure I'm brave enough yet to post my goals for the world to see, but maybe one day I'll get to that point. :) Anyone feel like collaborating?

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One Wish for Library Organizations

Dec. 1st, 2009 | 10:06 am

I wish that library organizations would spell out their full name at least once in each listserv listing or American Libraries Direct article. Some acronyms are fairly obvious, but others are not so much. It's very easy for people in an organization to forget that not everyone is involved, and not everyone can keep all the acronyms straight. It's a little frustrating to get an email that says "Want to join the leadership board of ____ (insert some 3-5 letter acronym)?" Well, how would I know if I want to join the leadership board if I don't know what the acronym is for? And yes, I could do a quick search online, but my employer, though perfectly content to let me check email, is a little less permissive of other internet use. It would just be so much easier if organizations could follow professional writing process by spelling out the whole name at the first mention of the organization. :/ Ok, sorry to vent. I just had to get that off my chest.

I just voted in the Special Libraries Association name-change vote. SLA is voting to see whther members would support a name change to make us the Association of Strategic Knowledge Professionals (ASKPro). I thought the name and acronym were pretty clever, and that the name is very inclusive of librarians and other information professionals. But I am a little conflicted about leaving behind the Librarian moniker. So I gave it a lot of thought and then voted my conscience, and I'm really curious to see how the vote turns out. I think I can be happy with either outcome, though if ASKPro doesn't make the vote, and people are still determined to leave SLA, I don't know of any other options.

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Making Presentations

Nov. 6th, 2009 | 08:16 am

I picked up a great book at the library this week called "I Can See You Naked": A fearless guide to making great presentations. It's by Ron Hoff, and it takes a lighthearted approach to preparing people for public speaking. I haven't gotten to read it straight through, but have been perusing it on my breaks. So far, I love it. It seems to have a lot of great advice, and keeps a positive attitude without being too preachy.
One of the great gems of advice that it offers is not to tell your audience that you are nervous. Now, I generally avoid public speaking because I am very self conscious and nervous. Since going into Informtion Science, I've gotten a little more brave and even volunteered for public speaking opportunities in front of small-medium crowds. I usually tell my audience that I am nervous, because I feel it mentions the proverbial elephant in the room. I mean, I figure that *I* know I'm nervous and *they* know I'm nervous, so let's just get it out in the open and move on. But the book brings up a great point in that once the audience knows you are nervous, they worry for you. They are not as focused on what you say, because they are concerned for you. Isn't that nice of them? :) But it is true-- everytime I know that a speaker is nervous, I start to worry for them, and hope that they just survive the presentation. So from now on, I am going to do my best to put the audience first by focusing on their feelings and perceptions rather than dwelling on my own nervousness. I think it will be a win-win. I can't wait to get more tips from this great book! 

In library news, I wanted to write about an experience I had a couple weeks ago in which I met with an information professional from Oak Ridge Associated Universities. It was neat, because it represents the first of what I hope will be many success stories with the social networking site, LinkedIn. I was contacted on LinkedIn by Meredith Goins, an info pro at ORAU. She reached out to me, I guess because I am a UT SIS alumna, and because I work at the research library at Oak Ridge National Lab. She offered to meet with me to show me what she does in her profession. I met her at ORAU and have to say that I am very, very impressed. Meredith was so great to offer me some mentorship and some professional development advice while showing me the great resources that ORAU uses to meet users' information needs. Talking with her really opened my eyes about practical aspects of competitive information, government operations, grants, and more. It was neat to see practical applications for concepts we discussed in Dr. Pemberton's class at SIS. In addition to being amazed at the variety (and amount!) of work done at ORAU, I was personally impressed by Meredith's openness, candor, and energy. I'd really like to strive to be more like her my professional activities: she is active, proactive, and reactive all at the same time! I'm so glad that LinkedIn affords people these opportunities. I am going to make it a goal of mine to reach out to others in the same way as I climb the gently sloping ladder of librarianship. :)

Lastly, in personal news, my hubby and I bought our first home. We are participating in the recession by taking advantage of the first time homebuyer's tax credit. It's a huge step for us, and one that we've been thinking about for a long time. In some ways I think that maybe it would've been wise to wait a little longer, but the tax incentive did what it was intended by encouraging us to take the plunge and affording us the opportunity to do so. It's been fantastic so far! We've been in our new (well, 30 year old) home for about a week and we *love* it. Our dog and cat love it, too. It is nice to have the feeling that our "rent" money will be working for us now, and it's great to see a tangible representation of the fruits of our labors. I want to thank everyone that helped us move and that made this possible.

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Was I Duped?

Oct. 6th, 2009 | 09:15 am

I recently joined the social networking site LinkedIn and like it so far. I've solidified some connections and am getting my feet wet in the waters of professional networking. I joined a couple groups, mostly for library-related stuff, like Special Libraries Association, American Library Association, the ALA New Member Round Table, etc. One of the groups that I joined recently had a discussion that interested me: a young lady, a recent graduate of some MLIS program, posted to the discussion board that she felt duped by getting into this profession. She seemed to resent her MLIS program for not being upfront with her about the bleak job outlook. Her post seemed motivated by frustration. She wasn't lashing out in anger, necessarily, but she was calling for sympathy, and wanted others to come forward and say that they, too, felt duped.
It really made me thing: was I duped? It is undeniable that I'm having a hard time finding a full-time academic or special librarian position, but there are reasons for this. In my case, I am limited by geography. I have a family here that is unable to relocate at the moment, so I am looking for library jobs in a town that has a library school. There's not a lot to choose from, and there is a lot of competition for the few openings that arise. Additionally, the economy is struggling. It's hard to find a job in most fields right now! I feel so blessed, so fortunate, to have 2 great part-time librarian opportunities to help me make ends meet while I look for something more long-term. (Heck, in a perfect world I'd take a full-time gig and keep my part-time evening librarian job! But would that be a little greedy?) Even though I don't have that full-time dream job, I am gainfully employed in the field in which I was trained. I was not duped.
Should the school have come forward and said "thank you for being students here, but we should warn you: there are no jobs to be had." No, that is not their obligation. There are no guarantees in life, and for someone to expect that type of confession is unreasonable, in my opinion. It's a superfluous disclaimer. If the school decided to take a break in offering MLIS degrees, what purpose would that serve? Educating new information professions is part of what keeps the profession alive!
I feel so relieved that I was not duped, because no one wants to feel that they were a fool, or that people were maliciously set against them. But will I feel a little better when that full-time offer comes along? You bet! :)

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Fun stuff :)

Sep. 10th, 2009 | 09:32 am

Well I haven't updated this blog lately because I've been very busy. I thought that once I graduated I would have tons of time, but now that delusion has worn off. :) I am still working 30 hours a week at the research library at the local national laboratory. This has been an amazing experience because I've gotten to work with some really skilled librarians. Also, my experience has been incredibly varied. One minute I'm helping to ship documents or scan and deliver articles for interlibrary loan, and the next minute I'm making charts in excel to reflect our lab's citation statistics! I've gotten to track publications on our internal system, learn about grey literature, get tons of time on the reference desk, help with little collection develop projects, and even edit catalog records. I am so grateful to all the great folks I've gotten work with. If only this were a permanent position. Sigh. I have hopes that I might be able to transition into some sort of full-time position at the lab, but I'll just have to see what happens. There is also an Archivist/Assistant Professor position opening up at UT that I am tempted to apply for. Even though I am not currently an archivist, per se, I do have a couple years of experience working as assistant registrar at a museum. I think all the digitization, artifact handling, and records management aspects of the museum position would translate well. Plus I am intrigued by the opportunities to publish and collaborate. So wish me luck on that. :)
Speaking of collaborating, I am working with some great folks from the Tennessee Lib. Assoc. and our chapter of the Special Lib. Assoc. to write a proposal for the 2010 TLA conference. We're trying to get a speaker to come talk about her experience using her storytelling background in her current position as a librarian at a correctional facility. I think it would be amazing to hear about her job and all the great services she is providing, so keep your fingers crossed on that, too! :)
In addition to my 30 hrs at the lab each week, I'm also still working 20 hrs a week as the evening reference librarian at a small private college. I work in a library that serves our medical students. We have 2-year, 4-year, and graduate programs, so I get to help a wide variety of students. We're also on a quarterly system instead of a semester system, so it feels pretty fast-paced sometimes. This position has been really interesting because most of the time I am the only librarian there. That gives me a lot of responsibility and a lot of opportunities to try new things and interact with students. I am their one connection for 4-5 hours each night, and I've got all the duties: reference, circulation, instruction, technical troubleshooting.... It is also a new experience for me to work in a private school. My past experience at the University of Tennessee and at Pellissippi State Technical Community College have prepared me in a lot of ways, but private school is so different!
Anyhow, that's what I've been up to. That's why I haven't been updating. Everything is good, and hopefully it will continue to be good. :)

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Jun. 13th, 2009 | 03:49 pm

I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I just finished my second week of work at Oak Ridge National Lab's Research Library and it is AWESOME! I million thanks to Amber,a classmate and SIS student orgs member that referred me to the job. I'm getting tons of great experience. I only wish it were a long-term position!

Soon I'll be working at the reference desk by myself. I have lots of little duties (shelving, etc), but my main tasks include sending items through our interlibrary loan service and correcting/updating catalog records in ALEPH for our ebook collection. All of this in conjuction with my night job as a reference librarian at a private college make me feel like I am finally a "real" librarian. I feel like my education prepared me well for the things I will be doing when I get a full-time position.

All in all, I am so thrilled that I was able to get this summer internship at ORNL. You can bet that I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open to see if any full-time opportunities arise. I have been so blessed to have such great working experiences.

Oh yeah, one last thing...  Even though my work at Hodges Library (at UT) has mostly come to an end, I am getting the opportunity to train the new graduate students on how to work the Research Assistance desk! I'm so stoked to get to stay in the loop with the awesome people from RSC. I'll be working a few hours across the next few Sundays starting tomorrow.

Ok well that's enough for now. Hope everyone else is doing well and enjoying this beautiful summer!

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At last-- an update!

May. 28th, 2009 | 11:17 am

I was reading through emails from all the different listservs I am on, and came across this article about the Tenure process, particularly as it applies to digital scholarship. It discusses how tenure decisions have been outsourced to university presses: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/05/26/digital

In other news, for the past month or so I have been working part time in my first "real librarian" position. I am a Reference Librarian at a private college. I work in the medical library, so I'm going to get to utilize skills from Martha Earl's fabulous Health Sciences Librarianship class. So far I've done some reference, a lot of circulation, some techinical troubleshooting with the world's most evil printer, and lots and lots of APA citation help. It's really neat to finally be able to call myself a Reference Librarian, instead of a "student assistant" or something like that. Soon I will begin doing some instruction and orientation sessions. I'm nervous, but looking forward to it as well. I wish the position were full time, as health insurance would be nice. However, on the plus side, I am going to get a wonderful opportunity: my part time schedule is allowing me to accept a second part-time position! This second position is a temporary student position for summer, but it's at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Research Library! :) I am so excited. I get to start that position on Monday. I'm really looking forward to it. Not only is it a very prestigious place to work, but I'll get to try my hand at a variety of duties, including indexing, cataloging, bibliographies, and some hard-core science reference.

While a full-time job would offer me some security, I feel really blessed to be given these 2 part-time opportunities that will strengthen my skillset. I'm going to get a lot of valuable experience, and hopefully make some good connections.

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Graduation Day

May. 8th, 2009 | 01:44 pm

Today is graduation day! Although I wasn't able to walk through, or attend the hooding ceremony, I am trying to reflect on my experiences at SIS. It's been such an unreal journey! I have gotten a lot of great experience at different jobs and with a variety of projects. I am still holding down a couple part-time jobs as I look for The Job: a full-time (with benefits!) position with reference and instruction duties, hopefully in an academic setting. I've got interviews coming up, and applications going out, but it will really feel like I've reached a milestone when I find a full-time job.

My time at Pellissippi came to an end this week (at least for now!). It was bittersweet. I didn't want to leave! Everyone there has been so great to me, and so supportive. My boss gave me the most beautiful flowers, and many people had some kind and encouraging things to say. I've been so fortunate; so blessed.

One tiny regret that I have was that I didn't attend the larger graduation ceremony at UT today. I didn't go to my graduation for my bachelors, or for my first master's degree, or for this degree. However, this ceremony could have been different, because UT was awarding Dolly Parton her honorary doctorate. Apparently she sang, and was her usual smart, funny self. I would've liked to have seen that, cause I ♥ Dolly!
Well, onwards to the future. Time to boldly go into the strange new world of professionalism! Wish me luck! :)

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Tennessee Library Association Meeting 2009

Apr. 13th, 2009 | 02:57 pm

This past weekend I got to attend the Tennessee Library Association meeting. I presented at the conference on Friday morning (Good Friday!) with Rick Bower (a librarian from Pellissippi) and Emily Ellis (who used to be at Pellissippi and is now a librarian with Knox Co. Public Lib.). We had a pretty good turnout for 9am on a holiday! There were about 40 people there, including some of my awesome SIS classmates. Our presentation was called "Using LibGuides to Share Information with Users in a Web 2.0 World." I was really pleased with the turnout-- people were attentive and we got some great questions and wonderful participation. Feedback was good as well. I was pretty nervous since this is one of the larger (yet not the largest) talks that I've done.
The conference was great-- I got to meet several people whose names I knew. I saw some great posters, but missed out a lot of really interesting presentations that I had wanted to see. Originally I thought that I wouldn't get to leave for Nashville until after my night shift at Hodges. I was kind of bummed about that. But then my awesome supervisors at Hodges let me off work and covered the reference desk for me so that I could get on the road early. What an amazing team. :) As a result of their kindness, I was able to leave for Nashville 3 hours earlier than I had expected, which gave me time to practice with Rick and Emily the night before our talk.
One scary part of the trip was getting caught in some really awful weather on the way back. On Friday, my team and I stopped to eat at a great restaurant in Lebanon. Once we left, I heard on the radio that there were bad storms a-brewin'! Emily called to let me know about the tornado warnings. I did some crazy white-knuckle driving back to Knoxville. I felt as if I was outrunning tornadoes all the way home! Cities I had just passed were coming across the radio as tornado warning areas. What a mess. I was glad to make it home safely.
Oh, I also met Martha Gill, who is the head of the Friends of Tennessee Libraries group. She gave me an awesome license plate frame for my car that says "Suppor Tennessee Libraries." I think I'm gonna stick it on my husband's 1988 Porsche 924S so we can support TN libraries in style. :D

In other news, I'm still trying to find THE JOB. I mean, I've got a few part time jobs right now with libraries and institutions that can't keep me forever. :( Which is sad cause I love all my jobs, particularly the library ones! But it's time for me to graduate and move on. I have had a few interviews. The one I am most excited about is for a full time instructional librarian position at a 2 year college outside of town. The only downside to it is that I am competing with classmates that I really like. So it's kind of bittersweet for whoever gets the job, but at least there would be no hard feelings. So if you read this, cross your fingers and say your prayers that I can get an on-sight interview. Peace out!

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