Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Upping Your Library Intelligence: Vacuum and Use

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In this final post in this series, I think it is important to talk about two things: vacuum and use.

This series has given you ways of increasing your library intelligence.  Wherever you are in the library and information science field, you need to continue to increase your knowledge of the field. You also need to increase your knowledge of what is happening in other areas.

If your library is expected to react to the world around it, then knowing what is happening around you is important.  You cannot live in a vacuum.  You cannot make the library your fortress against outside forces. You cannot ignore what is happening out in the community.  You must be aware of what is happening and take time to learn about non-LIS things.

Take time to understand what is happening in your larger community - whatever that community might be.  What are its issues, concerns, or joys?  What is changing or needs to be changed?  What's happening with the budget, land use, etc.?  What are people protesting and why?  Learn this so that when you need the information or a point of reference, you have it.  Learn this so if something occurs that requires the library to act, you can do so quickly.

You can learn what's happening outside of the library through interacting with your community and your larger organization. You should also be paying attention to the news sources, which are relevant for your community.  While you may be unable to read, listen, or watch everything that is relevant, you can read headlines and table of contents, and then read any articles that seems particularly useful.  You might want to attend relevant meetings or information sessions in your community, as a way of learning more about what your community is discussing.  Of course, don't forget that social media can help you stay on top of what your community is discussing. Just be sure that you're hearing from multiple sides on an issue.

As for use, this new knowledge which you have garnered is only effective if you utilize it.  Be willing to be part of library conversations, whether that is with LIS students, LIS professionals, or members of your larger community.  Share what you know about libraries but remember:
  • Do not use library jargon.  Please don't use library jargon with members of your larger community, because if you use words that they do not understand, they will just stop listening to you.  Limit your use of library jargon with other members of the LIS profession, because the breadth of the profession means that we all don't actually understand each other's jargon.
  • Listen.  The saying is that you have two ears and only one mouth, so you'll listen twice as long as you speak.  When you listen, you will actually have a better idea of what you should be talking about.  If you're unclear about what you should be saying, ask open ended questions.  By the way, some members of our community are rarely listened to.  Being willing to listen actively and openly is a wonderful gift.
  • Acknowledge that you don't know everything.  There will always be topics that you don't understand.  If it is a topic that you really do need to know more about, use your library skills to learn about it.
When I started this series, my main focus was on LIS students, but it quickly broadened to other members of the LIS profession.  In addition, the topics in this series grew more than I anticipated.  I'm sure there is more to say, but I will stop here.  If you have comments, questions, concerns, or ideas, I hope that you will post them as a comment.  If you have found this series useful, please comment and tell me why.  (I enjoy good news!)  And if you know someone who should read this series, please pass it along to them.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

KinderGuides, Georgia State e-Reserves, and Copyright

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Andrew Albanese and Christopher Kenneally discussed two copyright cases in the August 4 installment of the Beyond the Book podcast.  The KinderGuides case has to do with the creation of plot summaries for young students of famous works.  Was this Fair Use?  The other is the continuing saga of the Georgia State e-reserves case.  The episode is 16 minutes in length.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Upping Your Library Intelligence: An Ongoing Need

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This - I think - is the second to last post in this series.  In this post, it is time to confront a reality.  That reality is that some graduates of academic programs believe that they need to learn nothing more than what their degree program taught them, and then get frustrated when they learn that isn't true.  Many of us have heard a graduate lament that his/her academic program did not teach them everything.  That fact, though, should not be a surprise.  No industry - including the information industry - is stagnant. There is always something new to learn.

If you are currently in an academic program and looking forward to a professional position OR you are in your first professional position, there are two points to keep in mind:
  1. Many employers will immediate teach a new employee specific skills for that work environment.  Rather than being frustrated at this, recognize this as an opportunity to learn more.  If what you are being taught is different than what you learned in your academic program, judge neither as being wrong but rather as being options to carry with you into the future.
  2. Employers will want you to continue to learn, whether that employer is able to fund that activity for you or not.  You will need to identify - perhaps with input from your boss and your colleagues - what you need to learn and the best way to learn it.  It is then up to you to pursue that learning whether it is through reading, podcasts, webinars, seminars, workshops, conferences, or academic classes.
Yes, the need to increase your library intelligence will be continual, because libraries are constantly changing.  That means that your job will constantly change.  I encourage you to be proactive in your learning.  Don't wait until your boss must force you to learn something new.

In terms of professional development, I have written several blog posts on attending conferences.  Those tips can be applied to many different professional development situations. I also have a post on reading and listening recommendations for MSLIS students.

By the way, if you are still in school, your academic program should teach you - implicitly or explicitly - how to be a lifelong learner.  If it isn't obvious to you how your academic program is doing (or did do) that, ask.   

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Upping Your Library Intelligence: Put in the Time

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There is no shortcut to upping your library intelligence.  There are things you must do, and those things will take time.  Let me say that we all have the same amount of minutes is a day.  That means that we all have the same opportunities to increase our knowledge of libraries and the information field.  The question for you to consider is... How are you going to fit the necessary activities into your day?

People like Tim Ferriss, Malcolm Gladwell, David Allen, and others have thoughts on how to learn something new, how to fit learning into your day, or how to make time for the things you need to be focusing on.  It all, though, boils down to putting in the time.

We each have 1440 minutes in each day. Generally, we spend 480 minutes sleeping and 420 (or more) minutes working (that could be working a job or going to school).  That leaves 540 minutes for the other things we need to do, including meals, commuting, taking care of your family and home, etc.  In those 540 minutes, can you dedicate 20 minutes to increasing your library intelligence?

20 minutes a day may not seem like much, but if you spend 20 minutes per day on a learning activity, and do that five days per week, every week, that is 5200 minutes per year (86.66 hours). 

One key is dedicating time on your calendar.  Yes, put that 20 minute block of time on your calendar and keep that meeting with yourself!  This meeting with yourself could be done anywhere (home, car, work, parking lot, park).  Some days, you might use that time to actually meet with someone or to attend a training session.  This suggests, by the way, that the 20 minutes might not occur always at the same time each day and that is okay.  What is important is that you do it!  Will you do this for the a year or for the rest of your life? That is up to you and what your goals are.

I have had long periods in my life where I needed to dedicate a specific length of time each day in order to accomplish "X".  In one nine-month period it was indeed a learning activity and I did it every day, seven days a week.  Keeping that time was difficult when I was traveling (like at a conference), but I still tried my best to do it, because I of its importance.

If this idea resonates with you, go to your calendar and begin to schedule that time with yourself.  You might use the first few 20 minute periods to organize your learning and networking activities, then use future periods to do those activities.

Resources and Inspiration:
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Monday, July 31, 2017

Upping Your Library Intelligence: Get Digital

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Thinking
When I worked in my college library - eons ago - paper was the format that ruled.  Things have changed and obviously we live in a digital age.  Behind - or underneath - everything we do as librarians is something digital (e.g., a database).  Technology facilities everything.  Without it, most of our work would not get done.

Desktop computers entered the consumer world around the time I was heading to graduate school.  My first professional position wasn't in a library, but was as a corporate technology trainer.  Yes, my job was teaching others how to use this technology that was now on their desktops.  Back then, using technology meant learning a variety of different commands in whatever software was on the computer.  There was a sense of accomplishment in understand how to format a document in word processing software or programming a complex set of commands in the spreadsheet software.  All of those commands were worth knowing and using because you could see how the end result was better.

With that as a prologue, let me encourage you to learn the in's and out's of the technology that is at your fingertips.  Yes, you can open up your word processing software and just type, but there are a ton of commands in the menu - learn what they do! Ditto for the spreadsheet software you're using and any other software you are using on a regular basis.

If you are a student, I can tell you that getting to know the software you are using for your assignments will make those assignments look much better. Yes, better formatting (subheadings, margins, line spacing, pagination)!  You'll also find that there are menu options (e.g., thesaurus) that can help you create a better sounding assignment.  Then there is the magic of tables, merging, etc. that can streamline your work.

If you are an information professional, taking time to get a better handle on the software you're using can help you work smarter. We often don't have enough time in the day, so fighting with your software to get something done is not a good use of time.

By the way, often there is a more "command driven" way of using software.  Don't be afraid of that. Yes, that includes understanding those codes that are actually in the typed documents you're creating. Just trust me that a little knowledge of those commands will be helpful.

If you don't think you can learn these tools on your own, training is available.  Look for low-cost or free training options through your library, library consortium, Lynda.com, and other web-based training services.  You might find free tutorials on the Internet or YouTube. If there is someone in your midst, who is really good with technology, you might ask that person to give you a lesson.  No, you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on training! 

Besides the software on your computer, get to know the software you are using to search a library's databases or the Internet.  If you're working with special software to help you with digitization, metadata creation, or something else, learn the in's and out's of that software, too.  Consider how awesome it would be to know become more proficient at that software than the people around you! You would become one of the go-to people for help, and that would make you stand out in a positive way.

If you don't feel that you can learn this software on your own, check to see what training is available from your database providers and the other suppliers of the software in your library. It is likely that there is free training available.  You might also seek out someone who is more proficient and ask if that person can given you an one-on-one lesson in those commands the person finds most useful.

I haven't talked about your mobile device. Yes, those are indeed powerful devices and likely you don't know enough about them.  Take time to learn what they can really do.  Waiting for a meeting or standing at the bus stop?  Explore the apps that you have or search to find better apps for what you want to do.  (I always look for free apps and I can tell you that there are lots of awesome free apps available.)

Finally, I've made this post about you, but let me say that if you learn the technology that is around you, you'll be able to answer technology questions your community members have.  In addition, you'll be able to do one-on-one or group technology training, which many librarians do as part of their positions.

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