This blog by Bill Drew the Librarian has been shared a lot by my peers in my 9005 Management class. As a group of MLIS students and aspiring librarians, I think this post strongly resonates with all of us. Among the may things we are taught in this program is to think creatively, be innovative, and share ideas but the points in Bill Drew’s post seems to suggest that the opposite often takes place in an actual workplace setting (we are no longer in Kansas, er….library school, anymore it would seem).
We talk about a lot of different issues in 9005 including workplace org culture, generational diversity, different personalities (we all did the Myers-Briggs test), and conflict resolution. While it may seem to many that learning how to properly catalog, do reference interviews or build a website may seem like crucial library skills we must all acquire, I think the skills learned in 9005 will be more beneficial to us when we get into the workplace and have to deal with some of the issues mentioned in Bill Drew’s post.
As I am nearing graduation and (hopefully) entering the workplace in the not-so-distant future, I hope that I am lucky enough to end up in a workplace that encourages out-of-the-box thinking, new ways of doing things, and allows new librarians room to grow but also learn from their more experienced peers. However, even in such an encouraging environment, you are likely to come up to people who do not like change and may butt heads with you if you propose something even moderately revolutionary but part of the challenge is learning how to communicate with your colleagues, compromise on how things should be done, and learn to listen to other people’s opinions and hope they can offer you the same courtesy. Of course I want to be taken seriously as I enter the workplace in a professional role but young millennials can’t just barge into a new workplace and expect that all their ideas will be listened to either. While it may be disheartening to know you are being stifled, it is important to try and stay positive and keep reminding yourself of why you got into librarianship int he first place (i.e. to help people, make information accessible, advocate for information literacy, etc.) and find your own way to have that positive impact. If you find you are not able to do that at your current workplace, then perhaps it is time to move on to a new institution who allows you to spread your wings a little.
As a history enthusiast, I really enjoyed learning about the evolution of the library profession in my 9005 Management course and how the profession has changed over the past century. We watched this really interesting vocational video about librarianship from 1947, which gives a good insight about the roles and responsibilities of librarians in the immediate post-WWII era, what kinds of educational requirements are needed, and job prospects for aspiring librarians in the mid-20th century.
In some ways, not much has changed in the past half century in the library profession. In 1947, the educational requirements were a university degree and attend a specialised library school, while in 2014, the same is true except the requirement is now a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS/MIS/MLS). That is not surprising in that educational requirements for many jobs have increased to at least have a basic college or university degree, but the specialised degree in library school is still the minimum requirement to be a librarian then and now. Another thing that remains true in the field of librarianship are the soft skills required to excel in the profession. While the demand for hard skills may change as technology advances, the human side of the profession remains unchanged as librarians need to have excellent interpersonal skills and must deliver exceptional reference services to patrons. Having a love for books/information and people is as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 1940s, even if librarians now use electronic databases and digital resources.
However, some aspects that are different in the profession are the range of job titles and specialisations that exist nowadays and the availability of jobs during this time of austerity and economic uncertainty. In the video, the narrator describes five main types of librarians: (1) Catalogers; (2) Reference Librarians; (3) Circulation Librarians; (4) Children’s Librarian; and (5) School/Academic Librarians. The video also mentions subject specialists, special librarians (i.e. Hospital Librarian), and Library Administrators as potential job titles but this small pool of traditional library roles is tiny in comparison to the wide range of positions that can be found today. Fellow MLIS blogger Mia Breitkopf writes about job-seeking possibilities for MLIS graduates in her blog “Information Space”. In one of her posts, she lists 61 non-traditional library jobs for MLIS graduates, showing the breadth of job opportunities available for the profession. Many of these newer positions are attributed to the rise in technological uses in libraries and information settings, which did not exist in the 1940s. During my MLIS, there has been a lot of discussion about the death of the library profession due to technological improvements but based on this list, it seems that technology has only helped expand the profession into areas never before thought possible. Some examples of job titles she lists include Information Resources Specialist, Digital Reference Librarian, Documentation Specialist, Metadata Librarian, Digital Archives System Administrator, and Data Management Analyst.
One aspect of the video that was surprising and a little disappointing was that it talked about the healthy job prospects and career opportunities for library students during the 1940s and an increasing need for “thousands of librarians”. In the age of mass budget cuts to library and cultural institutions, free internships, part-time and contract positions, and insurmountable student debt to get an MLIS degree, the job prospects for new librarians in 2014 looks quite different from 70 years ago. It would seem that the “Golden Age” of traditional librarianship (whatever that might have been) has passed and a new age of non-traditional, technology-based librarianship is being ushered into the 21st century. However, this cross-disciplinary approach to managing libraries and information will hopefully benefit new MLIS grads and perhaps the job market is not as bleak as it may initially seem. With a little creativity and thinking outside the box, MLIS grads can develop the hard technological skills to excel in a tech-heavy information position, while still utilising their invaluable interpersonal skills to serve clients and provide reference services. Regardless of the job title, this is one aspect of librarianship that is likely always going to remain the same.
Since this is my professional blog, it seemed appropriate to upload a copy of my C.V. which highlights my professional achievements. I have varied interests and have experience working and volunteering in archives, libraries, museums, hospitals, non-profit organisations, and large corporations. While I am open to all sorts if career possibilities, I am trying to pursue a career specifically related to archives and would love to work with special collections within an academic library, a local history room at a public library, or a corporate or regional archives.
Today I had the pleasure of attending a Paper Conservation Workshop put on by the Archives Association of Ontario’s Southwestern Ontario Chapter. The four hour workshop was taught by Mary Gladwin of the County of Oxford Archives and was held at Weldon Library here on campus. Mary was a delightful teacher and showed us how to safely remove staples and smooth out any holes, showed us how to clean paper materials using Skum-X Cleaning Powder (awesome name btw and can be found at Carr McLean), how to repair tears using archival repair tape and Japanese repair tissue, and how to encapsulate paper materials for protection. We were each given 3 original bank notes from the late-19th century to clean and repair to clean and repair and we all had a lot of fun doing it! There was a fellow MLIS student in attendance as were Mary Kosta and Jenn Vickers who are the Archivist and Archival Intern at the Sisters of St. Joseph Archives here in London where I volunteered last summer so it was lovely to catch up with them. At the end we were each given an information booklet and a kit with some supply and material samples which was a lovely surprise!! Here are some pictures from the event:
Here are some photos from the Bookbinding workshop I ran as part of the GRC Presents… workshop series on February 27, 2014. I briefly spoke about the evolution of “the book” from cuneiform tablets to papyrus scrolls to the codex to e-books and discussed the development of parchment and paper and I showed many different examples of historical binding structures and had some physical examples from the GRC’s rare books collection to pass around. I showed pictures of my trip to Montefiascone, Italy last summer where I took an Early Gothic Bookbinding course and showed how complex it is to make a book by hand. We then ended with a practical component and I showed the class how to sew simple 3-hole stitch pamphlets and allowed them to use traditional bookbinding tools such as bonefolders, awls, and slitting knives, which everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy!! I had such a great time teaching this workshop and for spreading awareness of the art of bookbinding to a very enthusiastic audience! I am teaching an encore workshop on March 27 for people who were not able to sign up for the first one and am excited for that!!