Sunday, November 20, 2011


I attended a conference/festival this past weekend (Iowa Music Educators Association Conference held in conjunction with the Iowa All-State Festival). Though it was not a library conference, it did help remind me of why I do what I do. Being surrounded by people who are passionate about teaching and passionate about "growing students" continues to nurture my enthusiasm to teach. Making the switch from being an orchestra teacher to a librarian was a scary thing for me. Seemingly abandoning what I spent so long music, my idea of who I was... But, in the end this switch helped me realize that I didn't become a music teacher because I loved music (though music is definitely something I love). I became a music teacher because I loved teaching, nurturing students, and serving those around me. When I switched to librarianship, I was able to keep all of those things and just apply my skills and passion for service in a new context. This week is Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that I am able to connect with wonderful people; I am thankful that I get to help people every day; I am thankful that I smile when I wake up in the morning and go to work; and I am thankful for the knowledge that I am on the right path. (I am also thankful that music is something I will always have and be able to share.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blackboard and the Library

This week and last week I hosted another set of "Conversations on Information Literacy" sessions. As Faculty Development and Instruction Librarian, I host a series of events throughout each semester highlighting library resources and how the library can help support faculty teaching and student learning. Thus far I have been following a template of what has been done in the past, for several reasons. I am new to this community and understand it takes time for everyone to get used to "the new girl's approach." I also understand that too much change too soon can be a plan for disaster. I want to approach this first year as an opportunity to learn from those around me. That doesn't mean I don't have ideas (and it doesn't mean I don't keep a running list of said ideas); what it does mean is that I am listening, observing, and working to learn more about the community I serve, which will help me craft my faculty development sessions around user needs.

For this pair of sessions we discussed how the library can help support faculty and students through having a presence on Blackboard. (Blackboard, Your Courses, and the Library) We recently migrated to Blackboard 9.1, and with technology change comes some anxiety from faculty. In this session we discussed the different levels of embedded librarianship, types of resources we can link to from Blackboard, and larger lesson-oriented concepts. Though we would like to believe all students come to us with a strong background in technology, that is not necessarily the case. Also, those students who do have background using technologies don't necessarily transfer those skills to other mediums, such as Blackboard. It is up to us to introduce those concepts and build those connections, just as we had to learn these new tools. One thing that I cannot emphasize enough is the inclusion of a lesson (or even just a part of a lesson) that concentrates on the professor's expectations for using Blackboard. Showing students the tools you expect them to use, having in-class activities where students demonstrate proficiency with using Blackboard (prior to looming, important, and intimidating deadlines) will help ease student anxiety when it comes to assignment or discussion post submission. For more information on the Blackboard session, click the link above.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

SLIS CareerCon - Networking, Conferences, Professional Organizations, & Personal Branding

Earlier this fall I was contacted by a friend and current SLIS student and asked to return to Bloomington to speak at the first SLIS CareerCon. Several student organizations collaborated to put on this convention. According to their website, "CareerCon is the first career exploration and preparation conference designed specifically for library and information science students at Indiana University. CareerCon offers presentations and workshops from library and information science professionals in the Bloomington area to help you land your dream job." I was excited to be on a panel discussing Networking, Conferences, Professional Organizations, & Personal Branding. Though it took a lot of behind the scenes work (various emails back and forth between the session organizer and myself, making sure I could have the time off, figuring out travel and lodging for the weekend), I was glad to return to visit with new SLIS students and old friends about my experiences since I left Bloomington at the end of last December (to complete my last semester of SLIS as an intern at University of Dubuque).

I was only able to attend Friday and Saturday's sessions, as Thursday was a full day of travel across "the I states" as I like to call them (Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana). I attended all of the sessions I could and caught up on tweeting my notes from the sessions in the evenings (#SLISCareerCon). Much of what I talked about during my session I have discussed in previous posts on this blog, but I also explained how I laid the groundwork for my internship. Beyond the typical messages encouraging students to carefully proofread job application materials, and the rest of the pointers they can find on any generic website related to job hunting and success, this panel focused on what it is like in libraries. Librarians have high expectations (not that we're type A or anything...oh, wait...)--Not only do we hold ourselves up to these high expectations, but (especially in this rough job market) we hold others, especially job applicants, to a high level of accountability as well. I encouraged students to step out of their comfort level and put themselves out there as a professional.

Below are the pointers I touched on:

Networking, Conferences, Professional Organizations, and Personal Branding

Indiana University SLIS Career Con
3-4 p.m. 10/21/11 E174

Personal Branding:
  • Evaluate your professional goals
  • Craft materials that reflect your philosophy of librarianship, your goals, and that present you as a professional (make use of technology)
  • Have a strong online presence
    • Personal website (you may want to utilize the space available to you through IU; use free websites like Weebly, Blogger, Google; or you can purchase a URL and server space pretty reasonably)
    • Have profiles on Linked In,, Twitter, and maintain a blog discussing current topics in librarianship or projects you are working on
    • Be aware of how what you put online may be interpreted by others; remember things like online privacy and security (Facebook)

Professional Organizations:
  • Be a member of national, regional, and student organizations
  • Be active within those organizations (volunteer to serve on committees or assume leadership roles)
  • Take advantage of lower student rates and test out different divisions and/or roundtables within larger organizations, receive professional publications

  • Take advantage of reduced registration rates for students
  • Determine, based on your employment goals, which conferences will benefit you the most (consider both the information presented in sessions as well as the networking you can do)
  • Ask those around you for recommendations of conferences to attend
  • Bring business cards with you (,, etc.)
  • Examples of conferences I’ve attended: Iowa Library Association Conference, Iowa Library Association/ACRL Conference, Brick & Click Libraries Symposium (North West Missouri State University), Library Technology Conference (Macalester College), LOEX Conference (current students should seriously consider doing a poster presentation!), ALA Annual Conference
  • Others I’ve heard wonderful things about: ALA Midwinter, ACRL

  • Take advantage of every networking opportunity you can (both in person and virtually, utilize technology to build and maintain connections)
  • Volunteer to help at conferences (things like working on the registration committee, being willing to introduce presenters at sessions, and even submitting proposals to present a session or poster yourself will help get your face and name better known)
  • Attend conferences and be outgoing (even if you’re not a naturally outgoing person)
  • At conferences and meetings, make it a point to sit among those you don’t know; be sure you are projecting and open and inviting attitude
  • Take advantage of those few minutes before and after sessions or lunch to chat with those around you, the conference presenters, and those who are hosting/organizing the conference
  • Have something to say (read or glance through professional journals and blogs to have go-to conversation starters)
  • At conferences you will see a wide variety of attire ranging from very casual to business formal; I have found it’s best to dress professionally but comfortably (especially your shoes as you will be walking a lot at conferences)
  • Remember, librarians are the friendliest people ever

Here's a link to a printer-friendly version.
Here's a link to my tweets (which served as notes) from the other sessions I attended.