Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘networking

Tentative schedule for ALA 2010.

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CC Image courtesy of wallyg on Flickr

Well, I finally got around to putting together my tentative schedule for ALA. I was honored to be selected as a 2010 recipient of the 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant which will help to finance my attendance. A huge thank you to both NMRT and 3M!


Leave for DC (driving) and check into hotel


9 am – 12:00 pm – ALA Unconference, 207A @ WCC

7:30 – 8:30 pm – NMRT Mentoring Social, East Overlook @ WCC


8 – 10 am – FYI: First Year Impressions (and Confessions), 147B @ WCC

1 – 2 pm – 3M booth @ exhibit hall

1:30 – 3:30 pm – Pecha Kucha Presentations of Marketing Ideas that Worked in Academic Libraries, 103A @ WCC

6 pm – Drinks with the Deans at The Gibson


8 – 10 am – PR Forum: Next practices in communications @ your library, 146B @ WCC

10:30 am – 12 pm – Designing Digital Experiences for Library Websites, 146B @ WCC

1:30 – 3:30 pm – ACRL 2011 National Conference Coordinating Committee Meeting, South American A @ Capital Hilton

7:30 – 9 pm – NMRT Awards Reception, Grand Ballroom @ Marriott at Metro Center


9 am – 12 pm – ACRL 2011 Virtual Conference Committee Meeting, Chinese Ballroom@ Renaissance Mayflower

1:30 – 3:30 pm – For the Love of Reference, 202A @ WCC OR Ultimate Debate: Open Source Software, Free Beer or Free Puppy?, 146B @ WCC

5:30 – 7 pm – Battledecks: The ALA Rumble Royale, 103A @ WCC


9 – 10 am – Closing Session: Amy Sedaris, Ballroom C @ WCC

Driving back to PA

What are your plans for ALA? Anything you’re looking forward to? If you see me, say hello, or let me know if you want to meet up. And don’t forget to use conference tag #ala10 and follow @alaannual!

Written by Erin Dorney

June 7, 2010 at 11:06 PM

2010 PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies: Apply today!

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2009 PALS Attendees

I’m currently the Treasurer of the College & Research Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association. Being involved with the group last year as a member-at-large really helped me learn more about Pennsylvania, meet other academic librarians, and get involved with PaLA in a number of ways. One new initiative from our state association is the PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS). After a blog post last May regarding surprises from my first year as a librarian, I was honored to be invited to speak to the inaugural PALS class of 2009 about “Achieving your Potential” where I discussed my freshman year on the job. I have become good friends with many of the librarians who attended PALS and consider them among my most valuable colleagues. It was probably one of the best professional development opportunities I have seen geared towards supporting leadership of new librarians.

This year, the CRD is again sponsoring two attendees to PALS. The workshop will be held June 6-9, 2010 at the Radisson Penn Harris, Camp Hill, PA. We invite nominations and applications from academic librarians who have less than six years of experience and who have the potential to become the next generation of library leaders in the state of Pennsylvania. The CRD will pay for Academy registration for the two librarians chosen (alert – free! free! free!) and will work closely with them as they continue to enhance their careers. Further information about the Leadership Academy can be found at:

If you are interested in applying or in nominating someone to be sponsored by the CRD, please send the following by April 1, 2010 to Tina Hertel at tina.hertel(at)

• A letter of interest
• A letter of nomination from your supervisor
• Current resume of the nominee
• Statement indicating PaLA membership or intention to join at the end of the program

Nominees will be informed of the CRD’s decision by April 16, 2010. Any questions or concerns about the process can be directed to me or to Tina. I can’t stress enough how important and valuable this opportunity is for potential library leaders. Please consider sending in a nomination and don’t forget, you can nominate yourself!

Written by Erin Dorney

March 16, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Conference Attendance Advice.

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ALA Midwinter 2010 Exhibit Floor

At the request of Jen & Jason of The Dean Files, I’ve put together some conference tips for ya’ll. To be sure, the tips below are based on my own experience and your conference experience could vary based on a number of factors (where, when, weather, personality, roommates, alcoholic tolerance, available technology, etc). I’m drawing from my attendance at various state, local and regional conferences (the State System of Higher Education Library Cooperative Organization, the Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference), two ALA Midwinter Meetings, and one ALA Annual Conference.

(in no particular order)

1. Volunteer for something. It doesn’t matter what, just do it. If you’re a student, it gives you something to put on your resume other than just attending a conference. You can volunteer at the exhibit booth for your alma mater or for one of your professional associations (ACRL, PLA, LITA, YALSA, etc.). Try being a NMRT resume reviewer or greeter. Some conferences seek bloggers/microbloggers to cover certain presentations which can help you get your name out there and hone your journalism skills. I know for the ACRL Virtual Conference we’re going to be looking for volunteers to moderate webcasts and give tours in Second Life. There’s something for everyone! It’s a way to build in some structured social interaction to your conference experience and you never know who you will meet or what you’ll be invited to do next time once people realize that you’re reliable.

2. Some of the programs you are really looking forward to will inevitably disappoint you. Maybe this is just me, and it’s probably just because I read about the programs weeks in advance and literally plan my entire day around them. Maybe I just build things up too much in my mind. But the point is, you should have a “plan b” for almost every session you want to attend. Just in case there’s no room, the speaker winds up droning on and on to a text-heavy PowerPoint, or you realize that you already learned all of this in library school or real life.

3. I have to second Steven Bell’s suggestion to leave the program book behind. You do not need to carry the weight of that book around with you all day in addition to your laptop, food, water, notebook, smartphone, cords, business cards, etc. I usually end up looking at the schedule online or the night before, tearing out the one page with the hotel map, and tossing the whole thing into a garbage recycling bin in the hotel. I think the program book could probably get phased out if conferences are really looking to be more green. You tell me, do we need printed programs with the net and all this mobile? Just a thought.

4. To borrow a phrase from Stephen Abram, don’t hoard your business cards. “They’re like smiles – they only have value when they’re given away.” We’re all at a conference to learn, not only about libraries, but about each other (aw, so touchy feely, but true). Personal connections are really important, so trade information with the people you meet so you’ll remember each other later. There are also some technologies that help you do this without having to hand out actual cards, like QR Codes or the iPhone Bump app. Follow up with your new friends after the conference about collaborative projects, job opportunities, and shared interests.

5. Things to bring: ibuprofen, band aids, water bottle, granola bars, a sweater, mints/gum (sooo much conference coffee breath!), cold medication for days and nights, at least 2 pairs of comfy shoes.

6. Make a schedule. You will probably deviate based on how you feel that day and what opportunities come up (a colleague or new acquaintance cancels or asks you to join them for dinner, you don’t get enough sleep the night before because you’re adjusting to the hotel bed so you sleep in, etc). But having a schedule will give you a starting point. Another note on schedules – pace yourself! Resist the urge to cram one thing after another day after day because you will wear yourself out. Leave enough time in your schedule to accommodate spontaneous activities (these are often where you learn the most!). Allow yourself to enjoy being in the presence of others who care and make sure you have time to test the local flavor (a bar, restaurant, theatre performance or local band).

7. It helps to know a few people who will be attending the same event as you, so utilize your computer-based social networking connections to facilitate real-life networking opportunities. Conferences are a great place to meet the colleagues you have been tweeting with virtually for the past six months or that blogger you follow religiously. Let people know you’ll be in the area and put out some feelers for meetups, dinner, coffee breaks, etc. Lots of this happens serendipitously as you network, but you’ll feel more confident if you can recognize a few familiar faces.

Some other library conference tips can be found here:

And interesting non-library specific conference tips can be found here:

So tell me, what conference tips do you have?

Written by Erin Dorney

March 1, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Library Day in the Life.

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Taken March 2008, the day before my interview at Millersville University. The building I now work in every day is behind me to the left.

Library Day in the Life is a project where library workers from all types of libraries document a day or week of their work life. It was started by Bobbi Newman, and you can check out her original blog post on the event and the official wiki for more information. The fourth round is being held this week (January 25-29).

Some people choose to blog, some use Twitter, some record video or take pictures. This will be my first year participating and it just happens to fall on the first full week of classes at Millersville University where I work as an academic librarian. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to post about, and have not yet decided exactly how many days I might end up discussing. Guess we’ll see!

I think this is a great project because it provides a brief glimpse into the depth and breadth of what librarians do. Just last week at a friend’s birthday party, I swear I must have been asked at least 5-6 times, “So, what does a librarian do?” This is one of many opportunities we can take to share our stories. I can see implications for:

  • Library school students who want to share their experiences. I could easily imagine a spin-off of a Library Student Day in the Life. It would be very interesting (particularly to learn about the experiences of online and in-person LIS students) for people who have been out of school for a while to see how things work these days, what students are learning, the generational impact of technology on life and education, etc. If anyone knows of a group who has done this, leave a comment! Hmm… perhaps this is something for the Young Librarian Series
  • Administrators, students, patrons, friends, family, the media and board members who wonder what librarians do in the age of Google. This is an opportunity to share both the exciting and mundane parts of your work life. Many members of the public have no clue what librarians do (probably because many of us still haven’t nailed down elevator speeches for ourselves and our institutions). This is bad for funding, bad for our professional image, and bad for the progress and reform librarianship needs to undergo. How can we expect support without basic understanding? Informing is a key first step, and sharing your impact as a librarian could go a long way.

Some suggestions:

  • Add your name to the wiki
  • Include your job title & type of library in your blog post or video to help readers
  • Use the hashtags #libday4 (Twitter) and librarydayinthelife (blogs)
  • If you don’t have a blog/Twitter/etc, you can just create a new page in the wiki and post your day there
  • After your first post, edit your wiki entry to change your blog link to a link to your tagged posts (link directly to your day in the life post(s), not to your blog in general)
  • Add your Flickr photos or videos to the Group on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

January 25, 2010 at 9:50 AM

PaLA 2009 – Monday.

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9-10:15 – Putting the Wow in to Your Library Using Nonverbal and Merchandising Principles (Larry Nesbit, Library Building Consultant, Mansfield University, retired, Joyce Seno, Architect, Larson Design Group Julie Brown, Furniture Representative, Brodart Co.)

Architectural vision vs a library vision

Did a similar presentation 6 years ago at PaLA – not much information has remained the same

A successful library needs to come from the user’s perspective – not the librarians!

A square foot costs about $200.00 when all is said and done, so you need to utilize space wisely

We need to integrate computers into virtually every space in the building

Nonverbal communication is culturally specific

70% of what we communicate is nonverbal

Example: Wegmans ceramic tile  flooring in the produce section – why do they use this particular material? (because the tiles and grouting rattles the carts, causing consumers to slow down and buy more produce)

People want a safe, comfortable environment with social opportunities

Example: Cabela’s has few retail stores, in person it is the “ultimate experience”

Think about how big store entrances are in the mall – more welcoming and inviting

Vestibule – costly from a square footage perspective – try a wall display case or bench

When you walk into a library, you usually see Circulation and that’s it. When you walk into a bookstore, you see books (check out isn’t front and center).

Companies spend lots of money on market research – we don’t have that level of funding but we can use their findings and learn from what they do.

Brodart will be introducing mobile checkout units within the next year

Displays – libraries have a tendency to put too much out which defeats the purpose. People won’t browse if it looks too crowded.

Aisle space – 5 feet – “butt brushing” If a person feels uncomfortable, they will leave the area.

Make a statement, don’t just fill the space – Joyce Seno

Think about privacy for computers, specifically in information commons. Tell your students you want them to stay, not just use the computers and move on. Territory and space. Don’t put computers in an aisle (jostling and no privacy).

Seating – “A chair says we care” quote read by Julie Brown. Put chairs next to windows.

People want to be seen but not disturbed.

Borders recently announced that they are taking shelving out of their stores in order to make room for teen spaces.

Book stacks – “the forgotten zone” – Every 3 foot section of shelving costs $3,600. Use is key. Carve out spaces in stacks for seating areas. Stagger/slant shelves, use browsing units (the more people can touch, the more likely they are to take it with them). Open it up, use shelving of different heights. It’s not just a storage area.

Administrative zone – Internal spaces are important as well. You need to be comfortable in order to do your job well.

10:30-11:45 – PALS: PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies (2009 PALS graduates: Calida Barboza, King’s College, Lisa Galico, Juniata County Library, Sharon Helfrich, Andrew Bayne Memorial Library, Mike Packard, Pottstown Public Library, Paul Proces, Delaware County Community College, Heather Simoneau, Lehigh University, Jennifer Worley, Dauphin County Library System)

Initially planned on doing this every other year, but because of overwhelmingly positive response, will be doing it each year (as long as funding allows).

This was a two way street, PaLA has learned a lot from new professionals regarding the future of the association.

Most of the 2009 PALS participants were nominated and sponsored (cost $500/$600).

Complaints about the program – too busy (nonstop events/sessions), make nomination process easier (are working on this for 2010).

Q: Doing things differently because of PALS? Paul – Before PALS I was a nominal ALA/PaLA member, now I’m involved with up to 6-ish committees. Calida – Afterwords, I felt more comfortable/empowered to bring issues up at my home institution.

2:30-3:30 – iPrimer: Using the iPod Touch and iPhone in Library Reference and Education (Corrine Syster, Instructional & Information Technology Librarian, Central Pennsylvania College, Misti Smith, MLS Technology Literacy Specialist, Mount Aloysius College)

Ages 13 through 24 = half of iphone users

Cost of an 8-gb iPhone w/data plan and fees for the first two years is about $2,000.00 (this is why I don’t have one yet… damn student loans…)

iTouch is more affordable ($199.00 one-time fee for 8-gb)

Academic applications:

* Clicker/student-response systems (i.e. Turning Point ResponseWare)

* Course management systems (i.e. Blackboard Learn, Mobile Moodle)

* E-texts (i.e. Kindle App, CourseSmart)

Abilene Christian University – research showed clear impact on student engagement (w/ iPod Touch or iPhone)

University of Missouri School of Journalism – requires incoming students to have an iPhone

Standford’s free iPhone programming class has been accessed over 1 million times

iTunes U – Libraries can put tutorials here even if they don’t have iPhone/iPods

Apps to help students – iHomework, Evernote, MiGhtyDocs (helps teach time management & organizational skills)

Q: Copyright issues? Most applications handle their own copyright.

Q: App fees – are they one time or subscription? Typically one time fee. If you delete it, you can put it back on for free as long as you have synced it on your computer.

Q: How do I get Camtasia tutorials from the library website to a platform like this? You can just upload it (may have to reformat into Quicktime) to iTunes.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 19, 2009 at 6:41 PM

PaLA 2009 Schedule (draft).

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Here is a draft of my schedule for PaLA in Harrisburg next week. Hope to see some Pennsylvania colleagues there, let me know if you want to meet up for anything!


5:15-6 – New Members Reception (I’ll be staffing the CRD table, so come check out our poster, get some candy and learn more about what you can do as a member of the College & Research Division!)


8-9 – SCC Hospitality Suite ( I’m staffing the hospitality suite as a member of the South Central Chapter)

9-10:15 – Putting the Wow in to Your Library Using Nonverbal and Merchandising Principles (Larry Nesbit, Library Building Consultant, Mansfield University, retired Joyce Seno, Architect, Larson Design Group Julie Brown, Furniture Representative, Brodart Co.)

10:30-11:45 – PALS: PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies (2009 PALS Graduates)

12-1:30 – CRD Board Meeting

1:30-2:00 – SCC Hospitality Suite

2:30-3:30 – iPrimer: Using the iPod Touch and iPhone in Library Reference and Education (Corrine Syster, Instructional & Information Technology Librarian, Central Pennsylvania College Misti Smith, MLS Technology Literacy Specialist, Mount Aloysius College)


9-10 – Emerging Leaders Showcase: Pennsylvania Librarians Leading the Profession (Come see me present with Jen Jarson and Rebecca Metzger about the ALA Emerging Leaders Program!)

11-12 – When Students Go Mobile: The Effects of Smartphones on Information Literacy and Academic Library (I’m moderating this session featuring Kristen Yarmey-Tylutki, Digital Services Librarian, Weinberg Memorial Library, The University of Scranton)

12:30-2:15 – College & Research Division Luncheon Rethinking the Copyright Wars and the Role of the Academic Library (James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian for Columbia University)

4-5:30 – PaLA Annual Business Meeting


9-11:45 – Got Game? BRING IT! : Gaming in Libraries (My second panel, featuring co-panelists Greg Szczyrbak, Learning Technologies Librarian, Millersville University, Curtis Datko, Access Services Librarian, Alvernia University and Ryan Sittler, Assistant Professor / Instructional Technology/Information Literacy Librarian, California University of Pennsylvania. This is an interactive session where you will be able to play games!)

12-1 – Closing Luncheon The Joy of Censorship (Joe Raiola, Senior Editor, MAD Magazine)

Written by Erin Dorney

October 15, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Things you need to know about.

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Many things have been happening as of late. Some of them are culminations of projects I’ve been working on for a long time, some of them are new discoveries, and the worst of them is my annual reappointment process which is a major time-suck. Here are some of the fun ones:

LACUNY InstituteOn October 23rd I’ll be part of a panel addressing “Issues in Next Generation Librarianship” along with Jason Kucsma and Emily Drabinski. If you’re in the area, please come out to support us and join the discussion regarding inter-generational workforces, among other things. Our panel is going to be moderated by Dr. Marie L. Radford from Rutgers University and the Institute will also feature keynote speaker Stanley Wilder. I feel honored to have been selected for the panel and am looking forward to my trip to NYC, which includes a weekend with the one and only Miss Ashley Rath who will be in town working on The Apprentice. Holla!


I don’t know how I found out about this blog, but I sure am glad it happened. Swissmiss is a design blog and studio run by Tina Roth Eisenberg out of NYC. Charming design. Fun and inspiring posts. People, this is the blog I purposely mark as unread in my Google Reader so that I have something to look forward to during those random rough spots throughout the day. You really need to check it out.

PaLA Annual Conference

During the 2009 Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) Annual Conference I’ll be participating in two panel discussions. You can see me on Tuesday, October 20th for “Emerging Leaders Showcase: Pennsylvania Librarians Leading the Profession” with Jennifer Jarson (Muhlenberg College) and Rebecca Metzger (Lafayette College) and on Wednesday, October 21st for “Got Game? Bring it! Gaming in Libraries” with Greg Szczyrbak (Millersville University & my mentor!), Curtis Datko & Miroslaw Liwosz (Alvernia University), and in a last minute lineup change,  Ryan Sittler (California University). Let me know if you’re going to be at the conference, and we can meet up or share a meal! And as always, I appreciate your support at the sessions :) There are a lot of interesting sessions scheduled, and in particular, I’d like to point out “PALS: PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies” on Monday (The exceptional inaugural class of PALS talking about their experiences and projects), and “When Students Go Mobile: The Effects of Smartphones on Information Literacy and Academic Library Service” on Tuesday (which I’m moderating and sounds awesome).

So what have you all been up to lately? Anything fun and exciting?

Written by Erin Dorney

October 5, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Social networking: Be an active, responsible user.

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Image by m-c and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License.

I have been thinking about social networking websites lately. I think it’s because things are becoming increasingly integrated/cross-platformy. I wouldn’t say that this is a “manifesto” per say, but I’d like to talk a little bit about my philosophy on said sites.

I try my best to be an active yet responsible user. Let’s break that down into two parts, shall we?

I think it’s pretty important for me to have a profile on some of these sites. The age demographic I encounter most at work is the “millennial” generation, amongst faculty members, staff and adult learners. Even if the students never know I have a profile on Facebook or another site, I feel like it brings me closer to seeing their way of life. Which in turn makes me a better librarian because I can gauge their wants and needs more effectively. I can catch a glimpse of what issues are riling up the campus (based on student-created groups, pages and posts) and use this information in a number of ways. As the outreach librarian, I coordinate some of the library  events and exhibits – if a group of students create a Facebook page protesting/welcoming a particular guest lecturer, I can design something based on that interest. Heck, maybe we even have some of the visitor’s books to display, or could invite him/her to host a post-event debate in the library.  As a subject liaison, I teach some library instruction sessions – if I notice lots of students tweeting or commenting about a certain news story, I can pull that into my search strategy to try and keep their attention. It gives me a way to create connections between the library and student interests.

In addition to working with millennials, I am a millennial. I have already had three cell phone numbers in my lifetime and more ridiculous screen names than I care to share (Starbeam3? What was I thinking…). I would be on some of these sites regardless of my career because technology is something that is tightly integrated with the way I live my life. I use social networking to keep in touch with friends from high school, college and grad school as well as professional contacts, co-workers, and people I respect. I find support and knowledge in these connections each time I log in.

When doing anything on the Internet, we should try to be responsible. That can range from locking down certain profiles to protect your (and others’) privacy to limiting the frequency of your updates. I have recently found myself un-following Twitter accounts that were posting too many messages because I was missing posts from everyone else. It’s nothing personal and it’s not because the tweets were uninteresting or bad. I simply look forward to seeing a variety of information when I log in to Twitter – posts from my friends, recording artists, organizations and professional contacts all jumbled into one stream of consciousness. I guess this might stem from one of the traits of my generation – many of us enjoy multitasking and jumping from one thought to a completely unrelated topic. It’s exactly this reason that I don’t have separate Facebook or Twitter accounts (one for work and one for personal). It is an idea that seems foreign to me because my online identity is so closely tied to the one I display walking around every day.

Another aspect of responsibility that I am referring to here is the strength to know when enough is enough. A few years ago I deleted my Facebook account for approximately 6 months. I needed a rest because things were getting too intense with a relationship breakup and transitioning from college to something more closely related to real life. And there are still days when I go into work and have to say “Today I will not get on Twitter”. You could engage in endless conversation and having the power to control yourself is very important. If you say something in haste, it might stick around on the Interwebs forever to haunt you.

I try not to post tons of updates so that I don’t tip the scales of my readers. When I do, I send both personal and professional updates because I am both of those things online and in real life. I advocate for being an active, responsible user of social networks. How about you?

Written by Erin Dorney

August 21, 2009 at 10:57 PM

So, you’re thinking about becoming a librarian?

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One of my favorite things about being a new librarian is that I now have a little bit of experience to offer to others. I am in constant communication with people across the country who are considering becoming  librarians or who are going through library school. These people find me a number of ways, including:

Other potential librarians find me through mutual acquaintances, Facebook, internet searches that turn up my blog, or Twitter. I have even had faculty members encourage their students to talk to me about my recent experience in library school. These communications are fascinating to me! Sometimes they consist of a phone call, sometimes in person, sometimes off the cuff, via email and even through Facebook messages and chat. I truly enjoy this aspect of now being an “MLIS-toting” librarian – I hope that my honesty can assist these interested parties in making a decision on whether this is the right career choice for them.

I think that this is certainly another area where librarians can utilize their networking skills. Not only do both parties benefit (you get connected to library newbs and get to share your passion while they gain insider information about the field from someone with experience), but you never know when relationships will develop. You might just kindle a friendship or professional working relationship that can last years. It’s also another way to get your name out there and encourage new and innovative people to join the field. Librarianship as a profession is not uber-complicated, but I think the misunderstanding of who we are and what we do encourages a certain level of secrecy that potential newcomers may be intimidated by. When I talk to someone, I try to be as open as possible, sharing  both my positive and negative experiences.

Recently, I was contacted by a student at my undergraduate alma mater, St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. She found my name through the CARD database mentioned above and asked me a few questions about my job. Below are her questions along with my responses. Do you have anything to add? I encourage all librarians to get involved in mentoring newcomers… most colleges and universities already have systems in place where you can enter your information in order to be connected to current students and recent graduates. Not only is it good for networking and information sharing, but the PR effect of having librarians listed in these types of directories can do a lot for the changing image of our profession!

What is the level of schooling needed for your career?
In order to be a librarian, you need to attend graduate school. A list of programs accredited by the American Library Association can be found here: It’s important to go to an ALA-accredited school.

Are there any specific courses or classes you would recommend I take?
All of the library programs are basically the same. You will learn stuff like customer service, cataloging, reference and research assistance, collection development, how to use databases, etc. Most programs have a management class as well, and sometimes a marketing class. I would recommend technology-related courses, anything with digital libraries, web design and development, and marketing.

Are there internships or shadow days that I can take advantage of?

It is almost imperative. Many students graduate from their library program with no experience in an actual library. It is very difficult to find an entry-level position with no experience. If you can’t find a position as a staff member (technician, part time, etc) while you are in school, interning somewhere or volunteering is a great way to gain that experience. I worked at Lavery Library while I was an undergraduate, then I worked as a clerk in a public library for a few months and then as an interlibrary loan technician at RIT while I was getting my master’s degree. That experience allowed me to secure a permanent position in an academic library before I even graduated. Most libraries are very willing to accept interns and volunteers, especially future librarians.

Is it important to make the patrons feel comfortable? How do you go about doing so? (I volunteer in a library occasionally, and that always plays a big role in to who visits, and when.)
It is very important. For me, it’s a little easier to do in an academic library setting – the students are close to my age, so I think they feel more comfortable asking me for assistance than the older, more experienced librarians. They won’t ask for help if the perceive you to be busy or unwilling to offer guidance. So it’s important to look approachable. I try to make eye-contact with people as they walk by and ask if they need anything. I think making sure that your lines of verbal and non-verbal communication is beneficial. I’m sure you know this from volunteering, but once people establish a repport with you, they will come back time and time again. This leads to mutually beneficial relationships because the patron feels more and more comfortable asking you for assistance and feedback.

What is the end that makes all the means necessary? Do you want to sell a product or endorse something or do you want to improve someone else’s quality of life?
I think I’ve chosen the perfect profession. I get to go into work every day and help people with whatever they need. Every day is different. In an academic library I get to be surrounded by a culture of learning. I love the fact that I don’t have to work for some evil corporation and especially that I don’t have to meet sales quotas, lie during pitches, or reprimand people. I simply help them have a better experience in the library and hopefully find the information their looking for.

Do you create your own schedule or do the people around you do that?
I have to say, I have a sweet job at the moment. I am at an academic university where the librarians are considered faculty members (people refer to me as Professor, which is a mind-trip!). As such, all library decisions are made at the departmental level, which means 12 librarians. We don’t have direct supervisors and I don’t report up. I simply work for the best interest of the library and the students. I get to set my own schedule, which is amazing. I have never had such freedom and flexibility in a job before. Along with that comes a high level of responsibility, but I think it’s totally worth it!

Do you mentor other people or do you emulate others?
I do both. I mentor lots of people who are considering entering the library profession, including former classmates, student workers and people who ask me for help (such as yourself). Lots of people find me through my blog, Facebook, Twitter, or the Syracuse University website where I am listed as an alumni class leader. So I help a lot of people by just sharing my experiences with them. I try to emulate the librarians and library professionals who I look up to. I read a lot of blogs, participate in conferences and presentation, networking, etc. I think we can all learn a lot from each other.

Is your field growing or staying the same? What are potential opportunities arising in your field? Do you think that, when I graduate in two years, your career will still be open?
There will be lots of people retiring from the library field in coming years. Sometimes that is referred to as “greying of the profession.” At the same time, libraries are changing dramatically. Positions that have been filled in the past are being revamped, updated, and eliminated. New and less traditional positions are appearing. Lots of them are technology related, some are like mine, dealing with public relations and marketing (I am the Outreach Librarian), some are customer service oriented like User Experience Librarian. There are tons of opportunities for newcomers. Everyone I have encountered so far has been helpful and appreciative of new blood entering the field. There are places and people where that is not the case (librarians who dislike the change that is accompanying the generational shift), but for the most part, people are open. I think if you keep your goal in mind throughout school, and participate in activities that bring you closer to that goal, you should be fine. Just realize that the old days of the card catalog and shushing librarian are (for the most part) already far gone.

How do you see your place in the world? Is there anything specific you hope to achieve? (Monetary amount, personal goals)
I see my place as helping students on their educational journey. I want to help them become better, more educated and experiences citizens who can achieve their goals. I want their experience with the library to be a positive and beneficial one so that they will become library champions, utilizing their public libraries in the future and with their children, appreciating literature and reading, using technology to interact with the global community and being knowledgeable about the viewpoints of humanity. These are some of the things I hope to achieve.

Who do you rely on? A personal coach? Friends? Family? Assistants?
I have a huge network of people I rely on daily. I have many professional contacts including librarians from around the country. I have close friends who I attended graduate school with, and friends from every stage of life. Their constant support is imperative to my mental state of mind. They present opportunities for me, help me to make decisions, and support my personal and professional journey. I hope that I offer the same to them.

Written by Erin Dorney

August 1, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Welcome to Chicago!

with 2 comments

Today was the first day of ALA Annual for me, which consisted of the Emerging Leaders workshop & poster session. I am happy to report that everything went well and it was a pleasure to see my peers graduate from the program. Although I have been talking virtually with many of the 100+ 2009 ELs (via Twitter, Facebook, email, etc), it was nice to see everyone in person again. It has been a while since Midwinter in Denver!

We did some more leadership analysis and had lots of discussion/feedback regarding the program overall. I find it very encouraging that the program planners are asking for our feedback and seem to be dedicated to improving the overall experience for everyone. The poster session drew many more people than I thought it would, which was awesome! Thanks to everyone who came out for it. Here is a picture from when we were setting up. There should be more online soon with our whole team and stuff, so I will post when they are uploaded by various people.

2009 EL Team L

Our project information can be found on the ALA Emerging Leaders wiki here: We’re hoping to work closely with ALA to put out a more formal report in the near future – something like a white paper or article.

So far I have met lots of people, reconnected with others, and enjoyed some amazing food! Last night we went to MK The Restaurant where I tried the pommes frites with truffle cream (my first time tasting truffle cream – amazing!), seared Maine diver scallops with English peas, pickled breakfast radishes and minted pea purée, and a delicious dessert consisting of licorice-flavored ice cream and strawberries. Tonight we visited Mana Food Bar where I had grilled asparagus with spicy miso mustard and sesame roasted peppers, and grilled eggplant served with sweet miso sauce. Mmm! You can probably gather that I’m rooming with a foodie, Melissa (Librarychan). She’s teaching me all sorts of Mac tips & dinner/taxi etiquette. I would be lost without her!

Tomorrow is a super busy day so I’m off to bed!

Written by Erin Dorney

July 11, 2009 at 12:55 AM


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