Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘LIS students

Interview with “I Need a Library Job”

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erindorneyCheck out my 6-question interview over on the website I Need a Library Job (INALJ) today! The site is a goldmine of ideas and resources for job seekers, new professionals, LIS students and career-minded information professionals. You can also find INALJ on Twitter, Facebook, and now my Blogs I ❤ page!

Naomi will be posting more interviews in the coming weeks with fellow Lead Pipers Emily Ford and Ellie Collier. Oh yeah… I forgot to mention that I was invited to join the team at In the Library with the Lead Pipe! So honored to be working with such a fabulous group of professionals… and if you have ideas for guest posts over there, talk to me!!

In other news, I’ve added a sidebar widget (right hand side, just above Archives) called “Erin ‘Round the Web” to gather all of my various guest postings published outside of Library Scenester.

Written by Erin Dorney

January 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Guest Post: Navigating your career compass by Nicole Pagowsky

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I am pleased to welcome my first guest blogger! Nicole Pagowsky is an Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Arizona. She is a 2011 ALA Emerging Leader, a volunteer/admin for Radical Reference, and Tweets @pumpedlibrarian. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact me.

Navigating your career compass

by Nicole Pagowsky

One night before a panel presentation, a combination of lack of sleep and nervous/excited energy prompted me to completely scrap my original outline when I was hit with a random-seeming epiphany about a thing I called a “career compass.” That panel presentation was at ALA Annual 2011 in New Orleans, and it’s where I met Erin, as we were on a panel with a number of other librarians for REFORMA’s How I Landed My First Librarian Position, And What I Did ‘In Between’. Luckily for me, my explanation of this idea was coherent, and so Erin invited me to write a guest post for her blog explaining this concept and to also write about one of my projects, Librarian Wardrobe.

The panel and some background

So first, a little background on this panel — it was geared toward LIS students, early career librarians, and any information professionals looking for their first position in the field. Those of us on the panel had a variety of experiences, from being academic, school, public, or special librarians, as well as spending time on hiring committees. The main purpose though was to have us new(ish) librarians talk about what we did before and during our search in a very rough economic downturn to ensure we were attractive to employers. We all have been involved in a number of projects before and after our first positions, so we were asked to share our advice with the audience who may feel lost or unsure about what to do during the first job search (aside from applying to jobs).

At the time, I was a community college librarian in Dallas, TX, but have since moved on to be an Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Arizona. So now I have two job search experiences under my belt, and both in tough times (2009 and 2011). This career compass I thought of that night imparts a 360 view to your job search and your personal brand.

Your career compass

So, essentially, backwards on your career compass is your experience. This is your baseline need for applying to jobs. If you don’t have certain required experience, you won’t even be considered for the position. This experience is a given and makes up the foundation of your profile. Don’t miss out on this during library school or a period of unemployment.

The next step on the compass — side-to-side — would be networking and your career connections. Once you have the experience necessary to be considered, your connections will help reinforce your personal brand, either through having the chance to work on projects or scholarship with others, or opening up other opportunities in general. Networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word: I wrote a bit about it on my blog.

And finally, looking forward on your compass, you have the projects you’re excited about, and your plans for what you are doing beyond the job and your basic experience. This makes you stand out from the other hundreds of candidates competing for the same position who have the same amount of experience as you. What makes you stand out? Why should they pick you? And, looking back at networking, having more interests gives you more stuff to talk about so it’s even easier to build those professional connections.

Wrapping it up

Consider the whole picture when you are assessing your effectiveness as a candidate. Look beyond your experience and requirements for the job. To tie in Librarian Wardrobe (LW), since I have an interest in early career issues, I thought it would be useful to others to create a resource on what librarians wear to work (and job interviews, and conferences, and presentations, etc.). I myself was a little unsure about what was appropriate to wear when I was first starting out, and I can see many others are as well from the LW web stats by how many searches are done for “what does a librarian wear to work?” and various iterations. From metadata collected by each post, you can search by tag to see, for example, what academic librarians wear, or what an instruction librarian wears, or what kinds of scarves librarians are wearing, and so on. Being on Tumblr, the content (aside from interviews) is user-submitted, so we get a wide variety of positions, locations, types of libraries, and also styles. I recently participated in a virtual panel for the SLIS Library 2.011 Conference: Riding the Long Tail: Leveraging a Niche to Build a Network (the recording is now available through that link). We had some great discussions about library communities and homegrown networks.

Thanks to Erin for inviting me to write a guest post! The REFORMA panel will be offered again as a webinar in the future, and hope to see you at #alamw12!

Written by Erin Dorney

December 7, 2011 at 9:14 AM

What should I put on my business card?

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I’ve been following a great NMRT listserv discussion about business cards for MLS students/new professionals. I thought it might be nice to synthesize some of the advice in a blog post, along with offering some thoughts of my own.

Traditionally, print business cards were standalone pieces, designed to provide a glimpse of an individual’s qualifications and contact information. Cards included things like an individual’s name, mailing address, phone number, fax number, office location, etc. However, business cards have undergone major transformation within our increasingly digital era. They now have the potential to provide a gateway to an individual’s full-fledged online persona.

So, what should we put on our print business cards? As a designer, I am a fan of less text. Using visual elements to create an impact is something I am always striving to improve in my own work, and that includes personal branding/identity management. Instead of listing every little detail in lines of uninspiring text (typography is the most difficult design decision for most individuals), I would advocate for the following:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • QR code AND/OR a link leading to a landing page or something like an profile
  • Optional – If you are a student, you may consider including “MLS Candidate, Institution Name, Year of Graduation” next to or beneath your name. This indicates to potential employers and new contacts that you are on the market.

Potential things to include on your landing page: LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one, go make one now), Twitter (if you tweet professional or pseudo-professionally), email, Skype, e-portfolio, blog, major awards/recognition (Library Journal Mover & Shaker, ALA Spectrum Scholar, ALA Councilor, etc.).

Using a QR code on your business card is a quick and easy way to link smart phone users to your virtual persona. QR codes are becoming more and more popular (I recently spotted one in a Sephora magazine and another one on a table tent in the University dining hall). You can generate a barcode for free as sites like this QR-Code Generator. The only thing to keep in mind is that not everyone has a smart phone (I don’t), and some who do may not have downloaded a barcode scanner. I would recommend including a short link in addition to the QR code for individuals who either don’t have barcode-scanning capacity or who are unfamiliar with QR code technology.

If that seems sparse, don’t worry. White space is one of the most valuable elements designers can have in their toolbox. Consisting of the empty space between and around graphical elements and text, white space provides breathing room and is sometimes referred to as negative space. It gives the viewer’s eye a chance to rest, along with subtle cues regarding intended visual path. Although a business card is small space-wise, visual clues and breathing room are still important. Use remaining space on the card to make some kind of personal statement, through colors (fun, professional, minimalistic), a logo, a quotation, embossing, etc. You can find some great examples on The Business Card Flickr group. Be wary of cramming too much on both sides of the business card – many people like to write notes on the back about where and when they met you, things to follow up on, etc.

Some might argue for including your job title on your business card, but I think if you want to remain flexible, leave it off. You can always include a section on your job/institution on your landing page. Plus, when you purchase business cards (check out sites like VistaPrint and MOO), you usually have to buy them in large quantities. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck with a box of outdated and useless business cards (although there are some fun things you can do with them; check out cards of change). However, you could put a more generic title after your name (one that’s not tied to your business or institution), like “Information Professional”, “Graphic Design Guru” or “Instructional Designer”.

There are lots of other voices out there, some even pondering whether print business cards are dying.What do you think? What’s on your card?

Written by Erin Dorney

February 7, 2011 at 8:39 AM

Looking for a library job? Hang in there!

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Depicted below was, at one time, the root cause of much anxiety and self-doubt: job rejection letters.

From the following employers: University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Towson University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, East Stroudsburg University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Health Sciences Library, Virginia Tech University of Delaware, Washington County, Oregon, East Carolina University, University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Denver, NC State University, University of Washington, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, MacroSys, Swarthmore College, Moravian College, Yale University, Davidson College, Northern Arizona University, and University of Colorado.

And I didn’t even include the list of places I applied for online… Over 45 applications were submitted before I secured my position at Millersville University. Do I resent any of these companies/institutions for not hiring me? Absolutely not, it was just not the right fit at the right time. I’m posting this for all of the new librarians, recent graduates, those still in school and those considering librarianship as a career. I was doing my job search back in 2008 and the marketplace is even tougher now due to the economy. I’m sure many of you have similar piles of rejection letters (or maybe you throw them out as they come… or maybe you’re awesome and found a job on your first or second try). I am writing today to say: don’t give up hope!

I’ve seen a lot of good posts lately that might be of interest to those of you who are at various stages of the job search:

As always, feel free to ask me any questions about my job search (and search committee) experiences. I would love to help bring more passionate professionals into the field. Are you currently looking for a job? How many places have you applied to? Any surprises so far?

Written by Erin Dorney

September 20, 2010 at 8:49 AM

Implications of a School Media Degree?

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I recently received an email from a current graduate student who was wondering whether getting an MS in LIS with a School Media specialization might limit her when it comes to applying for jobs in other environments such as academic, public, or special libraries.

Because I’ve only been on one search committee since I’ve become a professional librarian, I could only really share my opinions and observations. I basically told her that I don’t think it will limit her as long as she can make a strong enough case for the skill set required. She has experience interning in an academic library and clerking in a public library, demonstrating that she is exploring multiple options. That hands-on experience already catapults her above many new grads who will have never worked in a library in their life. I think if her cover letter is strong enough, and if the job is the right fit, she should be able to justify it.

I also took to Twitter/Facebook and asked some of my colleagues what they thought about the issue.

? from LIS student: will getting a school media degree limit career choices (academic/public/special)? #librarians pls chime in

Library school student Amy Pajewski – “from what i’ve heard in face-to-face class..once you choose school lib, you do nothing else. However, the old director of the Lanc Pub Lib System was a school librarian who became director of a public library and then went back to school libraries bc it was her passion. I think it would be easier to switch school to public rather than special/law/academic.”

Recent LIS grad Kiyomi Deards states that in her opinion – “Might make it hard to get into an academic library, education liaison might work, but I don’t see it translating to corporate”

Library school student Maria Rachelle Bedia – “school media are given specific courses and electives to take geared towards becoming a school librarian… I think this is a bit stricter than the other concentrations… at least that was what I saw when I looked at the curriculum for each specialty.”

Recent LIS grad & librarian Peter Coyl – “I don’t think so. The only way they’ll know is if you put it on your resume or job app, and nothing says you have to do that”

Academic librarian & professor Ryan L. Sittler – “School media COULD be limiting. But in practice… not really. There are no limitations in regard to public librarianship. And for academic? There are few, if any. That said, depending on where you apply… there may be a perception that the degree is not as “robust.” Even though it requires more credit hours…” and later “Depends on the type of job, too. A SLM person transitioning to work as a Teen Services Librarian at a public library or an Instruction Librarian at a college/university might actually be a better hire.”

Librarian Philippe Cloutier – “Definitely not limiting. It creates more opportunities if anything.”

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments (I’ll be pointing the student here to read any additional responses).

Written by Erin Dorney

July 12, 2010 at 10:25 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