This post is for all you Halifax Librarians out there. By now, you’ve probably got the e-mail, but I wanted to post it anyway. This way, I can link to my favourite Christmas song below the fold, which is a decent track no matter where you live. –ms
Halifax’s Library and Information Science Holiday Social is back – Join your friends and colleagues for an evening of great food, door prizes, fun, and holiday cheer at our annual Holly Jolly!
The Holly Jolly costs only $10, or $8 for students. We’ll be taking over Argyle Fine Art at its new Barrington Street location on Thursday December 8, from 6pm to 9pm. There are many door prizes to give away, and once again we’ll have excellent catering from Certainly Cinnamon. In the spirit of the season, we ask that Holly Jolly’ers bring a non-perishable food item(s) to support the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank.
This past June marked a year’s time since I graduated from library school, and this July marked the end of a one-year contract that I started just weeks after crossing the stage. I was real fortunate to find work so quick after getting my MLIS degree, and I thank my lucky stars for that everyday. Of course, there was some skill and good grace involved, but I know that finding work often involves being the right person in the right place at the right time, and I’m happy that things worked out as well as they did.
Anyway, July was a whirlwind for me. Between wrapping up projects and clearing off my desk, using up the last of my vacation, and taking in a few more short conferences, I had little time to think about what I’ve done since graduating and what that meant. But now that I’ve found a moment’s peace, I can lay out some advice to recent LIS graduates, based on what I’ve learned the past year. It’s imperfect, I’m sure, but nothing is ever 100% or complete in this world, so I’m okay with what follows.
Advice to LIS graduates from a recent LIS graduate:
Share your opinions with your employers and colleagues
You still have a lot to learn, and these people can help you along the way. But more importantly, these people want to know your opinions, too. You may be new and green, but to a lot of people, you represent vast potential because you can bring different and new ideas to the table. You shouldn’t ever take over a meeting with your opinions and antics, but you should definitely speak up and be heard. Remember: you won’t be hired to be a bump on a log, so make sure your contribute to your library and your team.
Don’t shoot for the moon
Once you land a job, you may be so full of enthusiasm that you’ll want to tackle everything at once. Don’t do this. Prioritize what needs to be done against the library’s timelines, your schedule, and also against your own learning curve. Taking on too much will burn you out and potentially let others down. Instead, create a schedule with your supervisors or mentors, and return to it regularly to adjust it up or down. This shows foresight: they’ll appreciate that you’re balancing your duties and also keeping them in the loop.
You’re going to be a brand new hire at a brand-new-to-you organization. Your co-workers will know this and expect you to have some questions. Frankly, it would be weird (if not unfriendly) if you never ask them anything about how things work locally. These people will become your mentors, and they will be expecting you to be looking for guidance on some things and instruction on others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s best the way to get to know your new workplace, colleagues, and duties.
Spend time at the end of the day planning for the next one.
For your mental health, turn off your e-mail 20 minutes before your day ends in order to focus on what you’ve accomplished today and what’s in store for the next. This is a simple planning technique that will make 830AM Wednesday not appear so daunting because you’ll walk into Hump Day knowing already what ought to be worked on first.
Keep reading. Keep learning
Librarianship (especially academic librarianship) is an awkward blend of theory and practice. Take time in your schedule (mark it in your calendar) to research what’s going on your field: look at academic and professional journals; read some blogs; get in the conversation on Twitter and Google Plus. Since you’ll have just started work (or will soon be starting work), it will be easy to fall out of the loop on account of the duties you’ll be taking on while on the job (see my points above). Therefore, plan ahead and reserve time to keep yourself up on LIS news and research
Look ahead to what you will formally study in the future. Whether it’s professional development or a part-time degree or certificate, you should be thinking about what you may want to study in the future that will help you get the Next Great Job You Really Want, or that will help you stay informed about the Great Job You Just Found And Don’t Want To Leave. “Continuous Learning” isn’t just a happy PR line. It’s a requirement for life, in my mind.
I don’t care if you do it in person or online, but don’t stop meeting people. Networking isn’t greasy. Networking is just what people do – getting to know other people, which will be helpful at work and at play (you never know who your new Best Friend Forever will be). And make a point to meet people outside of Libraryland, too. There are a lot of people working outside of LIS whose interests are similar to our own, and they can bring you new perspectives and ideas that you may not be thinking about simply because they’re working with a different network in the first place.
Keep writing job applications.
Don’t fret when you don’t find work right away. And don’t fret when the term position comes to an end, either. Like I said at the very beginning of this post – finding work is a combination of your hard work and a little bit of chance. Find postings that appeal to you for whatever reason, and then apply to them. Don’t worry about what you can’t control (i.e., the candidate pool). Just write the best damn application you can every time (but never lie), and know that you’ve given it your all every time. And keep applying. The world may be going broke, but there are still jobs out there. And your perseverance will pay off, I promise.
(Sidenote: Are you interested in academic postings only? Keep in mind that the hiring process in academic library land can be real slow, and that often, postings open three times in the year: Fall, Winter, and Spring. Don’t let this get you down: it is what it is.)
Have you got any advice to share? Comment below and share your insight!
#CLA2011 has come and gone, and so have all its divisions and interest groups left us. They’re going to be replaced with “networks“, which will be self-governed, self-initiated groups who advocate the interests of their members. This is a bit risky, I agree, but I like this move in principle: it shows that the CLA has faith in its members, and it will help the general membership come together in ways that interest them the most.
But we’ve got a little dilemma here. As Kim at Re:Gen has pointed out, the organizational structure of the Association as we know it has been wiped away. There’s now nothing until we rebuild it again. The king is dead; long live the king.
And that’s what we plan to do. There is currently a group of academic librarians, who are mostly new or recent graduates, that is working on creating a new network to represent our interests. Here’s what we’re interested in:
Real and effective networking, in the profession and at the library schools
Crowd-sourced professional development from our peers and by our peers
Tech, lots of tech. There are 5 time zones in Canada, people, and the Interwebs helps bring us together
Raising the visibility of a new generation of information professionals. We want to take part in (if not drive) transformative change in our academic libraries.
We can’t and we won’t do this without you. If you are interested in the future of academic librarianship in Canada (and your place in it), then please visit our wiki and contribute to it today We are looking for ideas for this network’s aims and goals, and we are looking for like-minded librarians and library students who want to participate.
Head to the wiki, create an account, post your opinions, and make this happen. Let’s do this.
And if you needed one more reason to contribute, then it’s this:
The name of the game is networking: people meeting people, for the purpose of meeting again at a later date.
[n.b. You can contact me personally for more information, too.]
This week I sat in on my first Halifax Library Association board meeting. I’m its new treasurer, and while I have very little experience in the treasury (aside from a failed experiment in a B.Acc programme – i left that due to sheer boredom), I’m a glutton for titles and letters and acronyms. So, I was more that happy to sign on and take part. My first official act will be to finally pay my membership dues; my second act will be to hound you to pay your own.
As a group, we sat down and hashed out some ideas to improve membership and programming in the coming year. Although nothing is “shovel-ready” just yet, I think we have some exciting things in store for the fall. Right now, we’re planning on a “library pub crawl” in September to attract some of the MLIS students at Dal’s School of Information Management. I’d like to find a way to get the NSCC programme as involved in this as Dal’s MLIS programme, so we’ll see if anything can pan out there, as well. At any rate, this will all be followed by some extensive evening tours for the entire membership, which will hopefully always finish at a local pub.
One thing that we did discuss at length was the idea of having regular, informal gatherings for the membership to socialize and to discuss whatever the night’s topic might be. It may be a fund-raising event, or it may not, but either way, it would be a chance for the locals to get together and catch up on their lives and on things going on in the workplace. The member who mentioned this idea was invoking the HLA’s tradition of holding regular networking meetings before it was called networking by having regular get-togethers in someone’s home, sort of like a “brown bag lunch, except with drinks”. There is some merit in this: since the larger regional and national library associations have cornered the market on formal professional development, it may be a good idea for the HLA to stick to what it does best – getting like-minded people together.
I have to say that I think the informal-gathering concept is very appealing. The fact is that the HLA had been doing this for years, and it is known for its roots in social networking. And given the popularity of unconferences and Camps nowadays, a regular librarians’ meet-up might work quite well. I’m drawing some of my inspiration for this from the wild success of Halifax’s Third Wednesdays meetup for anyone in the community who is interested in tech, the internet, people and social media. The 3W meetup started small, but through word-of-mouth promotions has turned into a monthly event that packs a local pub full of professionals who are there to talk and listen and share a pint and talk some more. Given the sheer amount of libraries in town and the fact that peninsular Halifax does have a bit of a knowledge economy to back up its ship-building, government and military sectors, I think we could organize a similar ongoing event for the local librarian/information professional community.
What this would take is commitment to the cause and an understanding that the event remains informal and social. This is something that would be about communicating and building relationships.. At any rate, we’ll see how it all pans out – there’s always more to follow.