Archive | January, 2010

Weeding a library is like weeding a garden

23 Jan

I’ve done a lot of garden weeding in my life. One summer, I worked maintenance at a golf course and I got stuck weeding all of the flower beds around the club house and the tees for the whole summer. This was an incredibly tedious job and I realized that you could either be a perfectionist (picking every last weed) or just get the most obvious ones. Either way, you are never truly finished weeding because almost as soon as you are done, more weeds spurt up. This past week, I have been working on a project to weed the Reference Collection at the Education Library. This section has some really fantastic resources in it, however, mostly you can’t see the flowers for the weeds. Just like weeding a garden, this is a tedious job going through the individual titles to determine their current relevance to the collection but in the end it can be rewarding. This library collection has obviously not been weeded for years and it was in dire need of a good clean up. If you are entering a garden or a library collection that has not been weeded in a long time, there is temptation to just pull everything in sight. The problem with this of course, is that in your haste, you are potentially removing valuable plants/documents. I am cautious and try to think of the potential interest for a document before it is weeded but it also gives me great pleasure to rid the library collection of documents that are of no value to our users. These are the titles of which I am most proud to say are no longer a part of the Reference Collection :

New Career Options for Women : a selected bibliography (1976),

Personnel des Commissions Scolaires et des Cégeps (1978-1979),

The Black World in Literature for Children Vols. 1-3 (1975)

Christopher Marsden speaks on Net Neutrality at McGill

22 Jan

Chris Marsden PhotoLast week, I attended a fascinating talk on Net Neutrality hosted by Media@McGill featuring Christopher Marsden. Christopher Marsden is a professor at the School of Law at the University of Essex and a guru on the legal implications surrounding information transfer.

Net Neutrality is a term that I had heard thrown around a lot recently and I was interested in attending the talk because I still did not have a clear idea of how to define the concept and I was curious to learn more. I assumed that Net Neutrality referred to the opportunity the web provides to obtain Open Source software and applications such GIMP 2  and Open Office or the possibility the web offers to consult material made available through Open Access publishing. This talk, however, focused more on the pricing of Internet Service Providers and the regulations in place in Europe and in North America to ensure that consumers have a right to basic internet service. When I first walked into the room, I noticed that it was packed with students and faculty none of whom I recognized as being from SIS. The Power Point Intro Slide read “Medium Law and Network Neutrality – History, Common Carriage, Bottlenecks and Oligopoly “, “Oh my God!” I thought; I had no clue what that title even meant! Since I knew the speaker taught at a faculty of law, I was concerned that I had unknowingly walked into a talk directed at law students and that I should leave while I still had a chance. Luckily I stayed and learned about network capacity and the hidden costs of the internet. Most of the students and faculty present were from Communications or Media Studies. However, these issues have huge implications for Information Professionals such as librarians and I wish some of my fellow SIS students had attended.

It is fascinating to think of how fast the internet evolves and one of Chris Marsden’s points was the difficulty of Internet Service Providers to predict the changes in consumer needs and wants. Originally the internet was primarily text based and therefore basic internet service was more than adequate. However, with arrival of Napster, consumers demanded much faster network capacity (do you remember how exciting it was when a song took less than twenty minutes to download?). Now consumers want to upload photos and stream videos to their hearts’ content which requires extremely fast networks but they don`t want to pay more than they did for the basic service. The most alarming concept for me as an information professional is the idea of price scaling which means that network providers could charge more for different types of service (websites with more applications). In a tech-based society where so much information is shared on the web, especially through Web 2.0 technologies, having network services with differentiating prices would reinforce a tier-society of those who could access online information and those who could not. From Chris Marsden’s talk, I took away the idea that since network providers are companies seeking to make a profit, as librarians, we must fight to keep the information highway open to everyone by lobbying for Net Neutrality and for striving to keep our users information and technology literate through open technology in the library and programs like workshops that users to develop the knowledge and skills crucial for their advancement in our internet-based society.

Chris Marsden also took the opportunity to promote his upcoming book on the same subject as his talk Net Neutrality: towards a co-regulatory solution The book is not yet available in print but while waiting you can also pick up Chris’ previous publications Regulating the global information society (2000) and Codifying cyberspace : communications self-regulation in the age of Internet convergence (2008). I cannot say that I completely agreed with everything that he said on the topic of Net Neutrality but he is incredibly knowledgeable man and I count myself fortunate that I could attend this talk. Thank you Media@McGill for hosting this great speaker! In the future I will consult their list of events with greater interest.

Advice on how to get a part-time job while completing a MLIS

16 Jan

You asked me for advice on how to find a part-time job in libraries while completing an MLIS and here it is! I discussed in a previous blog post How Valuable is Library Experience to MLIS student? the advantages of gaining important experience while still in school. I hope the advice from that post along with the tips listed here will be useful for those of you confident enough to take on both studies and a job. Good luck!

Talk to people about your job search

This may seem extremely self-explanatory but I cannot emphasize the importance of discussing your job search with other people. This begins with other students in your classes who perhaps already have a part-time job and know that their boss is looking to hire more staff. This also includes your professors who might need students as research assistants or know of other job possibilities. Even though working as a research assistant is not specific library experience, it will demonstrate that you have strong research skills, which looks great on a librarian’s C.V.!

Talk about your passions

If you are passionate about a particular area of librarianship, let people know! If you can establish your reputation as being an expert in an area then people will want to tell you about available positions that would interest to you. This is how I got my job at the Montreal Children’s Library last year. I am so obsessed with children’s literature and everyone in my program knew that about me from almost Day 1 of the program. When a paid part-time position at the Children’s Library was advertised, I had several people email me with the information encouraging me to apply for the job saying that it sounded perfect for me.

Subscribe to Job ListServs

McGill’s School of Information Studies has an extremely active Job ListServ for students and graduates. Every week I receive emails regarding job postings for libraries looking to hire. Although most of these postings are for full-time positions for which I am not yet eligible, from time to time, we do receive part-time job postings that are suitable for students. Some people wait until they are closer to graduating before subscribing to the Job ListServ because they figure that the job postings are all addressed to candidates who already have obtained their MLIS, This is a mistake because in the meantime they are missing out on part-time postings that would provide them with valuable experience.

Get Involved

Employers are impressed with students who are involved in extra-curricular activities. Getting involved in various associations and the planning of events also allows you to meet a larger circle of professionals who could become valuable contacts. My job at Westmount Public Library is a perfect example of how getting involved is the best way to impress employers and find a job. Last year, I applied for a part-time position at the library and although I thought I’d put together a convincing cover letter and professional-looking C.V., I lost hope when I didn’t get called for an interview even after I performed a “friendly follow-up call”. However, things changed in my favour when I co-organized Web 2.You 2009, a conference on the implications of Web 2.0 technologies in libraries, and the entire professional staff of Westmount attended the event. My boss remembered my application and at lunch time asked me to sit down and talk with her. Although I had an official interview afterward, I know that our lunch time discussion at the conference was the real interview and that I impressed my boss by being having organized of such a successful event.

Attend Job talks and Career Fairs

The most obvious place to find a job is at a Career Fair. However, it is not as easy as it seems. You must know how to talk to the right people and to be able to sell yourself a necessary asset to their library. Last year, at the McGill Career Fair very few of the libraries there actually had vacant positions to fill, but if you managed to impress the right person, it was well worth the exhausting afternoon of going around introducing yourself to everyone you met. It was at the Career Fair last March that I met Maya, a liaison librarian from McGill’s Education Library, and we talked about my previous experience working with teachers. Although there was no open position at the Education Library at the time, she thought that I would be a great addition to their team and I was hired on in September to work at the Reference Desk.

Never be afraid to sell yourself

If you want to be hired, people need to know what you have accomplished in the past as well as your strong qualities. Even if you are by nature a humble person, learn to speak up about your strengths! In this economy it is unlikely that anyone simply hand you a job on a silver platter. You will have to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the position, so learn to speak with confidence about why you should be hired!

Good luck, I hope this is useful!

Web 2.You 2010

6 Jan

I have the honour this year of co-organizing the 3rd annual Web 2.You conference. Web 2.You brings together information professionals and MLIS students for a day of learning and exchange on the implications of Web 2.0
technologies in professional information settings. This event was originally organized in 2008 by Amy Buckland and Jan Dawson who, at the time, were both MLIS II students at McGill University. The first conference was a huge success with speakers like Jessamyn West and John Dupuis. One MLIS I student who attended of this first conference, Graham Lavender, was inspired by John Dupuis’s presentation to start a blog and went on to co-organize Web 2.You 2009 the following year. Well, this year it is my turn, luckily with Adrienne Smith, a fantastic MLIS I student, at my side, and we have had quite a learning experience! Organizing a conference is hard work! From finding speakers, to securing a venue, to applying for grants, this year’s organization has been full of ups and downs. This is why I am SO proud to announce that registration has now begun and we have an amazing line up of speaker: Michael Porter, Jenica Rogers, Graham Lavender (I am aware that this leaves me open to accusations of favouritism) and a panel discussion group featuring Michael Lenczner, Patrick Lozeau and Michele Ann Jenkins.

Web 2.You 2010 will take place on February 5th 2010 at McGill University’s Thomson House. I hope to see as many of you there as possible!

For more information on the event, our speakers, or registration, visit the Web 2.You Wiki.

Published in ABQLA December Bulletin!

4 Jan

ABQLA logo I was extremely excited today to receive in the mail my new ABQLA Bulletin. As I’ve mentioned, I am the president of the McGill Student Chapter of the ABQLA (Association des Bibliothèques du Québec/Quebec Library Association) and, in September, I was asked to write a contribution to the next bulletin. My article is entitled “Why Get Involved?” and it focuses on the importance of students and informational professionals getting involved in extra-curricular activities such as the organization of social events and professional development opportunities. I wrote this text months ago and I’m so excited to see it published! You can access the PDF version of the Bulletin from the ABQLA’s website.