About erinclupp

I am an aspiring archivist/librarian and novice bookbinder finishing up my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree at the university of Western Ontario. I previously completed a BA Honours in History and Classical Studies at the University of Ottawa and a Certificate in Archives and Records Management at Algonquin College. I have been taking bookbinding courses with the Canadian Bookbinding and Book Arts Guild (CBBAG) since January 2013 and had the opportunity to take an Early Gothic Binding class with the Montefiascone Conservation Project in Montefiascone, Italy in August 2013. At this time, bookbinding is more of a hobby for me than a professional calling but my ideal job would combine the two somehow and teach or be a rare books librarian. I view myself as a 'generalist', rather than a 'specialist' and am interested in many facets of the LIS profession including archives, preservation, reference services, special collections, records management, classification, and special libraries. I have research interests in the history of the book and book as an artifact, historical bookbinding structures, privacy and surveillance, makerspaces and the 'democratisation' of knowledge, digital preservation issues, and graphic novels. I like to dabble in everything and try out new things all the time! My personal interests are as varied as my professional ones and I enjoy cinema, theatre, art history, video games, food, music and outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, cycling, canoeing. My various interests makes me a 'master of integration' as I combine the various elements of my life and somehow they all seem to mesh together. Travel is one of my biggest passions and I hope to visit every continent in my lifetime (so far I have only covered a good chunk of Europe). My favourite places so far have been the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Turkey, which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2011. Next on my bucket list are the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, Peru, Morocco, and Mongolia (because why not). Through my travels I combine my love for adventuring with history, art and of course old libraries and books (highlight was visiting the library in the Strahov Monastery in Prague)!!! As I am nearing the end of my MLIS, I will be actively seeking employment but also looking to network and exchange ideas with other professionals, which is what I am hoping to achieve through this blog.

Return to the Blogosphere……

So, due to end-of-term craziness, home for a visit, being keeping busy with job hunting, conferences, and volunteer work, I have not been as diligent with my blog as I had hoped. I hope to be more consistent with it from now on as I have a bit more free time on my hands. The past two months have been full of many accomplishments and professional developments which I should have been posting about regularly but instead I will just write a brief summary in this post here to get myself going again (I have a list of ideas for future posts, so I want to get back on track).

Well, first things first……I have completed my MLIS degree since my last blog post! It has been the most amazing and transformative experience of my life. I have learned so much about myself in the past year and a half and feel like I have finally found my “home” within the profession. School was more than just classes and assignments (which was of course a huge chunk of it) but more so about the extracurricular activities and events I have been a part of. A large part of my experience goes beyond the classroom as I attended conferences, joined student groups and professional associations, taught workshops, gained work experience, completed volunteer practicums, and spoke at my first conference. I have met some of the most amazing people who share common interests with me from around the country and beyond. I feel honoured to country these people among my colleagues and can’t wait to be working with you all. To me this has been the most valuable part of this experience and the reason I chose to do a full-time, in-class degree instead of doing it part-time or by distance. While it is nice to not have homework for a change, I really do miss being in the classroom and lament that it was over so quickly (enjoy every moment of it, even when you feel you hate it). While I look forward to the next adventure life has in store for me, whatever that may be, I will look back fondly on my time at FIMS and am glad I made the decision to come here (no regrets).

Perhaps the most surprising event recently was that I had the honour of winning the “Spirit of Librarianship” award at the end of my semester as voted on by my peers and professors, which recognizes contributions made to the library school community, such as my dedication for helping fellow students, steadfast presence in school life, and a positive and friendly attitude. I felt like the people at FIMS and my time there had made such a positive impact on my life, it was great to know that I at least made a little bit of a positive contribution myself. I always want to leave a place better than I found it and I was happy to hear from friends that people were still talking about the bookbinding workshops I taught last term in their Information Literacy course this term. Also the fact that more people are talking about bookbinding in general just makes me happy! 😀

I also finished my contract working as a Library Assistant working at the Graduate Resource Centre (GRC) at FIMS. I am very grateful to FIMS Librarian Marni Harrington for giving me the opportunity to experience working in an academic library setting, contribute to the FIMS community, and who encouraged me to run the bookbinding workshops. Knowing my love for rare books and special collections, Marni had me create a digital exhibit of the GRC’s special collections materials using Omeka and I was able to mostly finish the site before I left (the perfectionist in me would have liked to tidy up the descriptions a bit more). The site can be found here: http://fimsgrc.omeka.net/ and while only the Rare Books collection is up, there are plans for additional collections to be added as well this term.

I also had the pleasure of speaking at the Humans of New Librarianship conference, organised by the CLA and SLA student group chapters who did an amazing job at planning everything. Guest speakers for the conference included the hilarious and brilliant Stephen Abram and FIMS own MLIS professor Sarah Roberts who spoke about her PhD research (and who recently successfully defended her dissertation, so kudos to Prof. Roberts)!!! There was a lunch over at the Grad Club, a “bakerspace” available at coffee breaks (aka build your own delicious baked goods), and the day concluded with lightning rounds from MLIS including myself. I spoke about a Human-centered approach to archives and special collections, specifically in academic libraries but I am going to go into more detail on that in another post!

Last week I volunteered at the Festival of Trees here in London at the Western Fair District (a ceremony part of OLA’s Forest of Reading program to honour Canadian authors and promote literacy). The Festival is Canada’s largest literary event for young readers and had events across Ontario in Thunder Bay, London, Ottawa, and Toronto. It was a blast to be at and I enjoyed running various activity stations for the students and talking to them about books and reading and school. The London event had about 1500 students (as well as teachers and parents) and I was very happy to see them get so excited about reading!! Who says kids don’t read anymore today?? In fact I would bet they read even more than ever due to the access of material online and through e-books. Also the fact that not all kids read books doesn’t mean they aren’t reading. Still, great to see young readers being encouraged!

Finally, I have been busy attending conferences and volunteered at the OLA Super Conference back in February (my first conference ever)! I attended some good lectures on makerspaces and special collections libraries in academic universities and volunteered at the career centre! I regretfully had to miss the Code4Lib conference held at the London Public Library at the beginning of May but am eagerly anticipating the WILU conference happening this week from May 21-23 at UWO to which I am attending (and will hopefully blog about). If I am still in London at the end of June/beginning of July I am hoping to take another bookbinding course with Dan Mezza with CBBAG. The course being offered is the Finishing course (more advanced decorative techniques) in which I will learn more about blind and gold tooling techniques, inlays and onlays, and tilting on the spine. I am hoping I’m able to take this course and pics and comments will follow!

Alright I hope I wrote enough to make up for my absence the past while. I look forward to posting again soon!!

Miniature Books FTW!

So what could possibly be better than old, rare books? MINIATURE rare books of course!!!!!! Check out some of the diminutive books @ Miniature Mondays – Special Collections & Archives from the University of Iowa

Maybe once I am done school in 3 weeks (OMG) I can try my hand at some miniature things myself!!! 😀


How to Kill a Young Librarian’s Love of Librarianship

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.

The “Golden Age” of Librarianship? Changes in the Information Profession from 1947-2014

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.

Librarius Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)

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.

Clupp_CV_March 2014

Please feel free to contact me to talk about my experience or any career opportunities! I will also be putting a copy of my C.V. in the revised “My Experience” section.

Paper Conservation Workshop by AAO-SWOC

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:Free Swag

Cleaning with the Scum-XdSqueaky Clean Bank NotesUsing Archival Repair TapeRepairing w/ Japanese Repair TissueEncapsulation

Bookbinding Workshop @ FIMS (February 27, 2014)

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!!PowerPointMe with the Books I have MadeBookbinding ToolsExamples from GRC Rare Book CollectionDemonstrating Paper SlittingSewing Pamphlets #1Sewing Pamphlets #2Sewing Pamphlets #3Sewing Pamphlets #4

Why “Liber-Libre”?

So why did I name my blog “Liber-Libre” and how does it have anything to do with books or libraries? Well liber is the Latin word for book, so that makes sense, and is the root word for the French word libre which can translate to  “the state of being free”, “having freedom”, or “liberty”. It is interesting to note that the word “liberty” has its root in the word for book; thus liberty and books share a special link. Perhaps the link implies that the way in which we gain liberty is through books which contain knowledge and information and perhaps books, knowledge and liberty are all requirements for a democratic society.

More recently, the “Libre Knowledge” or “Free Knowledge” movement promotes knowledge sharing and the freedom of information exchange and is related to the ideas of Open Source Software, Open Access, and the Creative Commons. With this is the notion that information is and should be a public good and not a commodity as a means to facilitate liberty and democracy. This is in keeping with Sandra Braman’s theory that information is “a constituent force in society” in that it has an active role in shaping the world and “truth emerges not as a dictate from above but from discussion of facts among men and women” (Braman, 1989, p. 240). In other words, the information exchange is a communal process and knowledge is something that should be shared freely, which is what the function of a library is!! Liber-libre!!

Braman, Sandra (1989). “Defining Information: An Approach to Policymakers.” Telecommunications Policy, 13(3), 233-242.