Tag Archives: professional development

Where I’m at.


It’s officially been one month since I assumed my new role. Classes start again in about three weeks. And it’s my birthday month. Yay birthday!

Before birthday (and the start of classes), though, comes a lot of prep work. I’m in the process of emailing faculty from the liaison departments I inherited. Our library is also in the process of switching over to Libguides from an in-house system, so I’m creating course guides for my assigned TSEMs and creating shell course guides for classes I’ve confirmed instruction for, but haven’t nailed down the specifics yet.

I have to admit, I still feel weird emailing professors and saying, “Hi! I’m your new liaison librarian.” But the more I get “Oh, that’s awesome. Can you come teach a session?” the more it sinks in. Part of my role involves supporting student retention and success, so I’ve been reaching out to faculty members teaching classes that either haven’t had a library component before or haven’t had a library component in a long time. Which is cool, because I’m basically building from the ground up.


It seems there were a lot of problems

We’re also in the process of weeding the general collection. I’m working with the American History section (E in LCSH), which includes gems like the ones on the left. Also, can I add “a distinct negro strain” to my list of phrases? “Flavor of blackness” is also on the list. I found most of them in the archives 🙂 I’ll have to find them and share them at some point. Good stuff.

Also, I decided to take advantage of a few MOOCs*, because I like learning and I wanted to brush up on my education background knowledge, for a few reasons. A.) I work with the teacher education program on campus and it’s been a little while since I’ve actually studied education, besides leisure reading of articles and blogs. B.) I came across the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute a few weeks ago and was fascinated by the concept of a program that encompasses applied research, a school, and a teacher training academy. C.) I found an online course taught by
the director of the UC Urban Education Institute. and D.) I’m planning to apply for a Ph.D. program that will in part be focused on education and literacy. So I’m taking two MOOCs. One is Critical Issues in Urban Education  (offered by The University of Chicago, as mentioned) and the other one is Literacy Teaching and Learning: Aims, Approaches and Pedagogies (offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a focus on multiliteracies. Yes please.) 

So that’s what I’m up to. Oh, and I’m presenting at a conference next week, so I’m mentally preparing for that. Also, I can’t wait!




*MOOC = Massive Open Online Course. Interestingly, I’ve seen a few articles recently that describe MOOCs either designed in part (or whole) by students or that feature student contributions. I wonder what possibilities exist in that with information literacy and developing instruction modules for distance learners or larger classes where possibilities for F2F instruction are limited. Hmmm….



The Collective: from improv to instruction (and everything in between)


Last month, I attended The Collective 2016, an innovative library conference centered on library practice. (It only took me over thirty days to write a summary!) The conference was highly interactive and aimed at fostering collaborative idea development and networking through hands-on, workshop-style sessions. It was great!


Table games, anyone? Me, upper left. (Image courtesy of @Anitalifedotcom)

The conference started with an icebreaker session. You know, one of those activities that starts with “get up and move to a table of people you don’t know.” (I didn’t, by the way…) But instead of just making small talk or even having to talk about anything specific at all, we played board games. Who doesn’t like board games? My table played jumbo Jenga. Our tower was very tall and it never fell! Yay us!

Improv as professional practice

The first session I attended was about using improv as a tool for professional practice, both in the classroom and out. My wonderful colleague, Christina, introduced me to improv a few years ago, at an in-house library event, so I was familiar with the concept. I’d also taken an improv workshop, due to the influence of said wonderful colleague. I was interested, though, in seeing how it could be used as a professional tool.

We started by doing an exercise on “Yes, and” in which the main speaker provided a statement and the participants replied enthusiastically with, “Yes, and?!” Jill Markgraf, the session presenter, made the correlation to providing front-facing library services and being mindful of approaches to the research facilitation process. Recognizing students’ place in the research process, rather than looking down on or criticizing them for either getting a false start or not knowing where to start is important. Even seeking help is worth affirming, because we’re all learners and have to start somewhere. So the “yes” is affirming and the “and” builds on that by offering suggestions, guidance, or redirection.

The other activity that stood out to me was Good, Bad, and Ugly. It is a role-play scenario in which three individuals take on the parts of experts in field and provide feedback on, well, the good, the bad, and the ugly. A statement or situation is provided by the facilitator. The “good” persona talks about all the positive elements; the “bad” persona talks about negatives; and the “ugly” persona gives extreme worst case examples of everything. This being a library conference, somehow everything kept coming back to alcohol. I felt kinda sorry for the good persona when someone in the room asked about diversity in librarianship and she couldn’t think of anything to say off the top of her head. Being that I’ve always got my nose in some article or book on the topic, I was mentally squirming in my seat, thinking, “Oooh! Pick me! Pick me!”


Librarians improvising. (Image from Library Improv)

Jill suggested using this activity as an ice breaker for departmental meetings. Librarians, in my experience, can be people of strong opinions. Get a bunch of people in one room to discuss changing things and it could take a while, so I could see how it could be a useful way to acknowledge feelings and worst case scenarios while keeping things light.

After the session, I went to Jill’s Library Improv website and found the Keyword Taboo activity, which I used later in a class. It went swimmingly, so I will keep her site in mind for future instruction brainstorming.


Instructional design and teaching strategies

I went to a lot of sessions that dealt with designing and improving instruction. Because I am currently teaching a three-credit, semester length course, I felt I could use some help with brainstorming for effective teaching, particularly because, at the time, I was still working on shaping the final project. Sessions I attended covered problem-based learning, creative planning and problem solving, instructional design, and designing one-shot instruction with an eye towards the framework. Like I said, it was a lot of instruction stuff.

The instruction process in academic librarianship involves a lot of complicated pieces. Being faculty, there is that expectation of instruction and research, but most librarians don’t teach semester length courses. Instructional support often happens in conjunction with teaching faculty in various departments, most often the ones affiliated with liaison areas. One of the sessions I attended involved planning one-shot instruction sessions under different circumstances. Such as, you talked to the teaching faculty, made all your plans, and then arrived at the classroom to find you only have twenty minutes to talk. Or, a professor asks you to come speak to their class, but the instruction isn’t tied to any project or assignment. There were also optimal scenarios, such as, you have a three session series in which to cover basic IL concepts related to X discipline and your students are freshmen.

One of the things I appreciated most about the conference was the opportunity to gain hands-on practice in instructional and curricular design. Too, the reason it was valuable was because of the opportunity for collaborative planning and feedback from the session facilitators. Chatting with one of the facilitators during the  “Make it Beautiful, Make it Usable: Improving Instructional Materials for Today’s Learners” session gave me ideas for developing the final project(s) for my adjunct course. Also, seeing how different libraries in different academic communities have developed and used lessons to address student learning outcomes.

Most of the assessment programming I attended was focused on a programmic level. I’m also interested in assessing student learning in single-shot, series, and semester length courses. What does assessment look like on an informal vs. formal basis? How are these measures used to improve student learning, instruction, and match (curriculum mapping)?

As a side note, one of the sessions I attended was facilitated by a librarian and a professor from my alma mater. I couldn’t resist going up to them later and saying, Hey! I used to be a student here, but now I’m a librarian too! I think I was more tickled about that than they were.

More Info

If you’re interested in learning more about the programming, you can view community notes, handouts, and PPT slides via Sched. You can also find archived live tweeting of the conference here or via #libcol16.



I’m currently listening to Jessye Norman sing Habanera, because my friend reminded me that I do like opera. And I especially enjoy sopranos, her voice texture in particular, because of all the things I wish I could do with my voice. Oh, and I’m grading papers again.

*We now take a break from our regularly scheduled librarianship to talk about teaching as an adjunct.* It’s almost halfway through the semester. As a matter of fact, midterm grades are due this week, a fact that escaped my notice until fairly recently. So I figured now would be a good time to look back and think about all the things I’ve learned so far. Read the rest of this entry

Tl;dr – I’m very excited


Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!

Defying Gravity | Wicked

I figured I would give a nod to my love of performing arts there. Nice touch, right? A few updates on my residency experience Read the rest of this entry

Effecting meaningful change and investing in people (CIDLIS 2015)


“Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.” ~ Jacqueline Woodson


The UMD iSchool Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) hosted its third annual Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in Library and Information Science (CIDLIS) on October 15th & 16th. [It was previously known as the Symposium on Diversity in LIS Education.] The purpose of the conference was to highlight issues surrounding diversity and inclusion, as it relates to the LIS profession. This could include working with library users, relating to other professionals, considering LIS as a profession, and/or thinking about curriculum and instruction in LIS education. The format consisted of two concurrent workshops on Thursday evening (one for practitioners and one for faculty/graduate students interested in research focuses on diversity and inclusion in LIS) and then daylong concurrent presentation sessions on Friday. There were also two main speaker sessions. Overall, the content was interesting, though its usefulness varied for me, personally. Below are some thoughts I had concerning the sessions I attended. (Sorry, it’s kind of long.)

The people

People are complex and multifaceted creatures. I really liked how Dr. Hill and Dr. Cooke addressed diversity in the Thursday evening workshop. Each of us have things about us that make up our cultural identities. This may include things such as race/ethnicity, nationality, religion, class/socioeconomic level, gender, sexual orientation, and educational background. These things affect how we look at life, approach situations, and relate to other people. There is no crime in owning any one of these identities, but it’s important to understand that we do not approach life as any one of these identities. The combination of these identities is what makes up our personal culture. We may then relate strongly to others of any one (or more than one) of these identity groups. For example, while two people may identify strongly with each other as African Americans, their personal experiences (and deeper identities) may be further shaped by the one person being Muslim and female, while the other is a gay male and Christian. Recognizing these complexities is key to fostering environments of diversity.

I don’t remember which session it was, but one of the presenters made a good distinction between diversity in numbers versus diversity and inclusion when it comes to social acceptance. True inclusion happens not when we’ve reached the magic number of minority employees or the right amount of books that are pertinent to underrepresented populations of library users, but when library users and library staff alike are able to be themselves, strive for the best, and not be distanced, ostracized, or held back because of the categories they hold as personal identities.

During the first keynote speaker session on Friday (Dr. Renee F. Hill), the example was provided of using “what are you?” to try to determine someone’s ethnic heritage. Aside from it being a tiresome and potentially rude and invasive question, most people don’t appreciate being classified as a what. “What” is for objects, not humans. For those for whom family origin and ethnic heritage is an important part of their identity, they will reveal that information as it is appropriate. Chill. Focus on getting to know the person first and who knows, once you put away your burning curiosity, you may find out they’re a really cool person. This also applies to issues of race and social justice. I often hear people ask, what can I do to be a better ally? How can I help? First, calm down. Second, get to know people. Let them get to know you. Articles and papers are definitely great for educational purposes, but trust is built through relationships. And then, speak up, unapologetically, when you see things that are wrong. But always, listen.

During the Thursday evening practitioners’ workshop, someone asked the question, can libraries encourage diversity-centric approaches to librarianship if they’re short on financial resources? Um, yes. Diversity is not a shiny toy that only those with money can afford. It doesn’t cost money to recognize people as people and to be willing to self-evaluate (as well as encourage peers to self-evaluate) the attitudes and biases you may bring with you to the profession. In particular, those in administrative roles set the tone for how libraries functions on a personal level. It’s not a comfortable process to go through, this self-examination and growth, but its necessary. Look at yourself. What are your identities? How do those identities relate to the identities of the people you work with or for? Once you know yourself, you’re ready to get to know other people.

The professionals

Oh, LIS field…we are innovators and game changers, we say. And we are, except when we’re not. The LIS field has a long history of whiteness. Any time you talk about diversity, this information will come up. The most recent ALA member demographics study of September 2014 showed that the profession is over 87% white. Granted, not all librarians are ALA members, but this particular study surveyed over 40,500 professionals. That’s a lot of people…Additionally, in the ten years since they’ve been running this study, the numbers have remained virtually unchanged. Now, why is this even important? I mean, maybe people of color don’t want to be librarians or information professionals. It’s not like the salary is as high as, say, a doctor. Or someone in the STEM field. Reality check: people of color aren’t exactly welcomed across the board there either. The reason why it matters in LIS is because it matters everywhere. It’s because if librarians & information professionals are supposed to support access to information for people, all the peoples, then there should be all the peoples supporting access to said information. I’m sure anyone who follows this topic is aware of the power of community. People gravitate towards those who look like they are safe and familiar. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s color-based, but given our nation’s history, it often is.

Speaking of professionals, there have been conversations and research about the lack of representation of people of color in positions of leadership. Maybe people of color don’t want to be in leadership…maybe. But I seriously doubt it. (Here’s looking at one.) It all goes back to recognizing and evaluating identities and…being an ally. It’s about creating spaces where people of color can not just be employed, but are also given equal opportunities to grow professionally and pursue those higher level opportunities, if they so desire. LaVerne Gray spoke on Friday about the muting of African American voices in librarianship, with a focus on African American women. She also spoke to the sense of community that black women build, based on similar identities and the knowledge of being “the only one in the room” (Gene Dembey).

Being innovators and game changers means we have the responsibility to effect change right in our back yards, or in our cubicles. No two libraries are the same, but there are some issues that are just commonplace across the board. Retention of librarians of color is a topic of interest for me, yes, but you don’t have to be a person of color for this to be your interest. In fact, since people of color are so scarce in positions of leadership, one could argue that it should be the interest of non-librarians-of-color in particular.

The program

Ah yes, grad school. That wonderful place where we stocked up on bags under our eyes, with a side portion of shadows. We stressed ourselves out and procrastinated, basically giving up our social lives to balance work and professional development. Oh. That was just me? Sorry.

I’ll try to keep this part short, because I’m looking at my word count (oops). The logical place for change to start is not when professionals enter the field, but before they even get there. There is great potential in LIS education to begin the interrogation process. It is a time to ask (and answer) hard questions, posture future LIS professionals to work with people who are different than them, and take off the rose colored glasses. Of course, in order for this to happen, there needs to be critical education taking place. LIS professors and educators, I’m looking at you.

Whether it’s learning how to evaluate information, teach information literacy courses, classify and name information items, or preserve materials for future researchers, there is always room to “to critique, disrupt, and interrogate [the historical, cultural, social, economic, and political] forces” of our society (Kenny Garcia).

Remember, we’re innovators and game changers. Let’s start changing some things.

Why Professional Organizations?


I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by my graduate student organization in Library Science, AGLISS, in which professionals from the library field shared their reflections on professional organizations and how those organizations can have a positive effect on building a career. unfortunately, we didn’t have a very big audience turn out. But nevertheless, I wanted to share a few of the highlights, in case it could be of help to someone.

1. Professional organizations allow you to network. Yes, yes, we’ve all heard so much about networking that perhaps we start to tune out when we hear the n-word. But seriously, professional organizations allow beginning professionals the chance to link up with others who shared their interests and career goals. It can also provide a chance to “shadow” a more experienced professional and learn tips of the trade.

2. Professional organizations allow you the opportunity to build skills in areas that may not be available through your job or practicum/internship. Practicums and internships are wonderful, but they are temporary. You’re usually in a race against the clock to absorb as much as you can before the clock strikes twelve and you return to normal life. Or at least, that’s how it felt at times this summer. Lovely experience, I learned a ton, but it was over so soon. Through professional organizations, for example, you may be able to boost management skills through heading a committee. Speaking of committees, many organizations are eager to have young, fresh individuals as participants. So figure out your interests, and drop an email.

3. Not all professional organizations cost an arm and a leg. Many of us are still perilously close to that “poor, struggling grad student” phase…or we’re just flat-out still in it. Before you despair, check out the local counterparts of national organizations. For example, MARAC may provide a cheaper alternative to SAA and DCLA may be more cost effective than ALA. You will also recieve a more intimate involvement with local professionals, so you will be better able to connect and (get this) network! [That’s not to say you shouldn’t join national organizations. I’m an SAA member and have gotten some great benefits from that membership. Just keep the local organizations in mind, as well.] The people you interact with on a local basis will be your colleagues or bosses in a few years, so make yourself known now. Also, local chapters will likely host conferences, workshops and events close in vicinity to your state of residence, so it will be easier to attend.

4. Make yourself known now. By being involved in professional organizations, you allow your name and face to be recognized. Because of this, if you commit to something, make sure you’re able to carry it out. It would not be a good thing to gain a reputation as a quitter or a person whose word means nothing. Remember, these are your colleagues and bosses of the near future. Leave a good impression.

5.  Of course, you can always put it on your resume. But why stop at just having words on a piece of paper? Try to shape your time now to reflect your future goals. What do you want to do with your career? What steps can you take now to ensure you receive the experience and professional skills necessary to get to your next step? The work force is competitive, so you have to be proactive.

I hope this was helpful to you. I greatly enjoyed hearing from our professionals and count it as well worth my time. Oh, that was my last point: listen to the people who are in the field now. They have good advice. I guess that counts as networking, but you get the point.

Have a great day! 🙂