Preserving the past: My first time planning a program

Programming is a key role of any librarian. So that’s why I convinced my boss at Hampton Public Library to allow me to organize a program all by myself. While I had flirted with the idea of a citizen science program, it eventually hit me that I could create a program that actually married my two lives: My former life as a page designer and my current life as a librarian. And so my Preserving Memories: A Digital Preservation Workshop was born:

The flyer I made to advertise for my preservation workshop. Designing flyers is another way I transfer newspaper skills into my current career path.

The flyer I made to advertise for my preservation workshop. Designing flyers is another way I transfer newspaper skills into my current career path.

In case that doesn’t track for your, here’s how I got from point A to point B: One of my key roles as a page designer was photo handling and the scanning of documents. At a newspaper, the goal of digitizing is really to get hard copy art into the digital format in which we design our newspapers. And as a librarian, my goal is to find information for people. So helping patrons through the process of digitizing photos and using them for family research meets my needs.

With the support of my boss, I brainstormed possible speakers, came up with topics they could each cover and (finally) picked a date. We have a genealogy expert and an archivist from the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News. And when I asked who might be best to demonstrate scanning and basic photo editing, my boss nominated me. So this will not only my first experience planning a program, but also my first experience presenting one. I’m really excited! In an event with this many firsts, there couldn’t possibly be any more, could there?

Apparently there can! Because then my boss also nominated me to speak about the program on Round Robin, a local talk show on the city’s municipal channel. Along with out city’s marketing email and the library’s Facebook, it’s our best form of marketing. So without further ado, here’s the most fun, terrifying, embarrassing and satisfying 13 minutes of my life. Please try to refrain from laughing the whole time, or you’ll lose count of just how many times I use the word “exactly.” (Hint: It’s too many.)

I plan to get into the nitty gritty of preserving memories, along with resources and tips (hopefully some from those who are far more expert at this than I am) in a future post.

It’s all news to me

I’ve officially turned into the person my former newspaper colleagues dreaded: I get all my news from the web. I know. I had a subscription to my local newspaper for several years and I am not kidding when I say that I haven’t actually read any of the issues from my 3-times-a-week delivery since at least May or June. I would pick it up and toss it in my backseat on my way to work just to get it off the front lawn. Then I would promptly forget about them until they had completely filled the feet space and spilled onto the seat itself. At that point, I would grab them up in big armfuls and take them to the recycling bin. Maybe that was my first sign that I was officially done with the field and ready to move on to another. Or maybe it was more indicative of the fact that I had so little free time that I couldn’t justify spending it reading the news, especially when it was my job to read the news on a daily basis. Less than a week left

I kept the subscription after I quit for many reasons. I wanted the lifeline to my previous life. I enjoyed making fun of grammatical and spelling errors or poorly designed pages (and I still do). I had the pie-in-the-sky dream of saving tons of money with coupons (I didn’t have the time to read. What made me think I had time to clip coupons?!?). But yesterday I officially cancelled my subscription. It took 10 minutes, which was way more time than I wanted to spend on the task, especially since I had to spend it arguing with a rep about why I was cancelling it and, no, there was nothing she could do to change my mind. In the end, she asked, “Well, ma’am, where are you going to get your news if you don’t keep your subscription with us?” I gave her the answer they’ve probably heard hundreds of times: The Internet. And I wasn’t lying. I spend a great deal of time browsing my Google News page, which I have customized to my preferences, including which sources I would not like to read and the addition of categories highlighting Chelsea F.C., Newport News and library news. And my local paper never carried news about Chelsea anyway, so this works better for me, since I can get all my news in one place. Which is really the failing of the hyperlocal papers: When you only do local stuff, it gets annoying having to go to several sources to get all the news I find important.

So that ends my era of reading print newspapers. I still check out the local front pages while at work, mostly to appreciate good designs and make fun of poor designs. I now get all my news online and I don’t feel like I’m missing out, which kind of makes me feel guilty, especially since I know so many people whose livelihoods depend on people reading print newspapers. But like my profession, journalists have seen this coming and are working to stay relevant as the world changes around them. So, I guess I do still have something in common with my former colleagues.

Dream Jobs: Journalism and Mass Communications Librarian

This post is part of an ongoing series about interesting and exciting job prospects in the field of library and information science. Join me as I explore the evolving roles librarians fill.

In an effort to begin narrowing down the types of jobs I’m interested, I plan to start a new feature called “Dream Jobs.” Right now I’m not completely sure what I want to do with this degree. To combat this uncertainty and to really get a feel for how huge this field is, I’ve been reading job boards in my down time. It’s a little early to seriously apply for any these jobs (I won’t have a degree until August 2014 and the degree is generally the required quality for most of these employers), but it’s nice to see what’s out there. So for now, I’ll be gathering descriptions of jobs that immediately make me say “Hey, I would really love to do that!”

First up is a job that would make a wonderful bridge between my past and my future. According to the post, which came to me through UMD’s iSchool listserv, the Journalism and Mass Communications Librarian for the University of Florida “provide reference assistance, instruction, outreach and collection management to support the large faculty and student populations and academic programs in this discipline.” The position will have a focus on “new technology to access and deliver information to library users,” which is becoming more exciting for me as I discover how many exciting online tools there are out there.

For me, the idea that I can use the last 10 years of my educational and professional life to help young journalists in my new role as a librarian is truly exciting. That and (except for that pesky MLS) I am fully qualified, including the wish that the candidate would have direct experience working in the field of journalism.

I must admit that I am already considering working in an academic library, but because I went to such a tiny school for my undergraduate degree, it never occurred to me that academic librarians might only focus on a single academic area. Knowing this broadens my immediate definition of the role of the academic librarian and gives me new hope that the last 10 years haven’t been a complete professional waste.

Sweet emotions

Remember how I described my love of research being wrapped up in that “magic moment?” Well, apparently I’m not the only one. And, in what will surely turn into a trend, my graduate school classes are teaching me about myself. I suppose that’s part of studying a field that encompasses everything.

It seems to be constantly happening in my LBSC 601 class, which is consistently becoming my favorite class. It looks at information, the use of information and why we need information. I was reading through the textbook, which had the tendency to cause me to zone out sometimes, when I started reading a model of how someone sought information and I was instantly reminded of myself. The model (Khulthau’s Model of Information Behavior) mapped out what emotions we feel as we are searching for information. From uncertainty to optimism to frustration to clarity to satisfaction (or dissatisfaction): I feel all of these things whenever I search for information. My favorite part, as mentioned before, is the clarity, but it’s all part of the search and part of why I love research.

One of the ways I’ve been coping with not yet being able to work in libraries (for monetary and qualification reasons) is by trying to immerse myself in the field when I can. So when I went for a search for how to perform a specific task in Photoshop, I paid attention to how I searched for the info. It was nothing like how I research in an academic setting, so it was fun being able to pick another model out for myself (It was Leckie’s Model, in case you were wondering).

That’s really the key of this online learning thing. You have to fully commit to learning, even when you have a full-time job that demands your attention. Observing myself on the job was illuminating. I even found myself evaluating my approach to customer service from a librarian’s point of view. A patron needed help finding an article that my newspaper had recently published, and I actually brought her around the my computer to show her how she could find them in the future. It’s something I never bothered with before since I rarely have time to really help customers the way a librarian would. So that’s the tip of the day: MLS students (those with full-time jobs especially) need to live and breathe the stuff, otherwise it’s likely not to get fully absorbed. That’s not to say you should let your commitment to work slip, but the field of librarianship  encompasses everything, so it’s likely to apply in some way at your current job, whether or not that job is in this field.

How exactly did I get here?

Life’s a journey. Until recently, I was on a very specific path that I had laid out sometime around my junior year in high school. A decade later I stumbled upon a fork in the road. One way offered more of the same and the other offered adventure. One was safe and the other was risky. And somewhere along the way, I finally threw caution to the wind. I took the path my 17-year-old self did not see coming. That’s how I ended up here.

Journalist to librarian

When I was a junior in high school I took an advanced writing class. Lenny, as we all affectionately called our teacher, introduced us to every style of writing there is, including journalism. The first unpublished “news” article I wrote explored the engrossing topic of kiwi fruit. I was hooked. On journalism, not kiwi fruit, though I do love kiwi fruit.

During my senior year, I mentored at the local newspaper, writing articles on everything from mars travelling closer to Earth than ever before to therapeutic horseback riding. The city editor took me under her wing and taught me that information is power and it is our responsibility to share that information with anyone who needed it.

I spent the next 9 years immersing myself in the field of journalism: writing and researching articles, memorizing an industry-specific stylebook that is otherwise useless, perfecting the art of saying a lot in very little space and learning how switching up column-models adds variety and white space to a page. In short, I spent nearly a decade becoming fairly knowledgeable in just about every aspect of print media.

Something happened in the last two years. I discovered the dark side of the industry: The ideals you must sacrifice to stay in business, the people you hurt to sell a few more papers, the needy you step around because you can’t possibly dirty your hands in order to help them. I’m not saying all journalists are like this. But I feel constrained by my industry, unable to lend a tangible helping hand.

So I started searching, on Google mostly. But the light bulb didn’t flash until I visited my old librarian friends at the university library I worked at for two and a half years before taking over as editor of the student newspaper. The reference and instructor librarian gave me tons of information and sources about the job. She is a librarian, after all. But her excitement about the prospect of me joining the field was contagious. I credit her for giving me the courage to take the leap.

I spent much of my life in libraries, but the thought had honestly never occurred to me. And then it did. And I researched everything I could on the field. And then I researched schools. And then I applied.

And here we are. I’ll begin pursuing my Master’s in Library Science at the University of Maryland at the end of August. I’m part of the online cohort, a growing segment of the library student population. When classes finally begin, I’ll officially consider myself a librarian-in-training, a beta librarian, if you will. And I can’t wait for the journey to begin.