Portland, Oregon

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'How to become a Librarian' Links & Resources

Below you will find additional information on the topics discussed during the 'How to become a Librarian' panel.

Librarians Today

Influence of technology:

Technology has become so ever-present for modern librarians that some institutions place more emphasis on the MIS aspect of their program, or wed it so closely to the MLS half that the two are virtually indiscernible. In addition to being adept at the traditional rolls, librarians are also expected to have a firm grasp of the changing Internet and gadget landscapes. It also helps to have a good understanding of hardware and software if you plan to work in a public library setting; you will most likely be expected to act as backup for tech support! Basic skills such as HTML / CSS, Photoshop and Excel can be a huge boon on a resume, and many library schools offer courses on software in the library. You will also be expected to master the basics of the automation software that your library uses within a week or two. Some automation software is incredibly user unfriendly; seldom are librarians 100% happy with the software at their libraries.

  • “Web 2.0” – Love or hate it, this buzzword has taken librarianship by storm. It refers to using the Internet to bolster connectivity and interactivity through social networking sites, blogs (sometimes multiple blogs for one library), podcasts, etc. Get the lowdown here: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html
  • Local digital librarian and technology consultant Aaron Schmidt blogs about library tech: http://www.walkingpaper.org/about
  • The Nextgen Librarian’s Survival Guide- a guide for upcoming library / information professionals. GREAT for disovering what you need to grasp as an up-and-comer: http://www.lisjobs.com/nextgen/
  • Shedding the Stereotypes: Librarians in the 21st Century is a blog by Meredith Farkas, “librarian, writer, and tech geek,” that primarily examines technological impact on libraries: http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/
  • Tame the Web – another blog on libraries and technology, dedicated to keeping the flow of online information free. There's lots of "Web 2.0" talk here: http://tametheweb.com/

The Field Itself:

Yes, librarianship is stereotyped as being dominated by middle-aged women…but it’s changing, as the four of us show! Is that fabled mass retirement still on the horizon? Modern library jobs encourage librarians to put themselves out and remain open to constant innovation and cooperation with the surrounding community. Gone are the days when you could sequester yourself behind a desk or in the stacks. In public libraries, outreach to schools, community organizations, the elderly and under served populations are often stressed, and academic librarians are expected to take an active role working with professors and teaching assistants to gather materials to support the classes. Now more than ever, librarians are also expected to be "professionally engaged" by attending conferences and networking functions.

Library Science School

Picking a Program:

It's essential to think about what components you want from a LIS degree program. Is location important, price, do you want to do a distance learning program and take classes online or do you want to physically be in the classroom. Do you already know you have a specialty such as art or music librarianship? Below are some sites to help you find the right program.

Paying for it:

Typically the most economical option is to attend a state school as an in-state resident. But of course, as mentioned above, money isn't the only factor you should use in determining which library school to go to (unless it is unavoidable) and with public funding falling by the wayside, it is increasingly important to look for other funding opportunities. Many of LIS associations offer scholarships if you are interested in a particular type of librarianship, such as young adult librarianship, technology, law librarianship, etc. Below are some good places to start looking for funding. Also be sure and get in touch with the school you decide to attend and find out what resources they know about. Additionally when you know where you'll end up going to school, look into local organizations and chapters of national groups. They often have scholarship opportunities and the competition isn't as flooded.

Critiquing the education:

Job Hunting

Looking for work in the library field can be daunting but just keep with it, and eventually you WILL find the job that is right for you. In the meantime, here are a few tips and tools to assist your during your [possibly] long and [probably] arduous hunt...

Getting advice on writing résumés, finding employment, etc.:

  • Use all the resources of your library science school. Most LIS schools have seminars on job hunting, résumé writing, and interviewing advice. If not, you should be able to talk to your academic advisor about the job hunting process.
  • Conferences often offer résumé writing and review services, and occasionally recruitment services.
  • Listservs [listed below] are also useful in getting information from professionals already working in the field or from others who have had similar job hunting experiences.

The job market for librarians and in Portland:

Other library-related employment:

  • Substitute/On-call work - oftentimes these positions can turn into permanent employment
  • Contract/temp positions
  • Archives
  • Records management
  • Paraprofessional work
  • Freelance information and library services - This article discusses types of freelance work that librarians and information professionals provide. For example, independent researcher, cataloger, indexer, etc. http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/librarians_information_science/58818

And it the interim:

  • Keep up your skills. This can be done by volunteering at library, museum, school, archive, or any place your skills may be of use.
  • Remain in the library circuit loop. Keep up-to-date with library news, attend library-related functions such as Interlibrary Lush, and get involved in library-related groups such as RR, CopyNight, Portland Downtown Librarians Brown Bag Lunch, Portland Area Archivists, etc.

Job links

Below is a list of employment websites for librarians, information specialists, and paraprofessionals:

Listservs and other sites where position announcements are often posted

Activism and Librarianship

"Books are weapons in the war on ideas." (U.S. domestic propaganda - WWII)

There is a long and proud history of activism and librarianship. Often this has taken the role of the battle against censorship. Librarians, as guardians of public access to information, are regularly called upon to defend selection choices in their library. This can come from the left or the right (but usually from the socially conservative elements of the right). Indeed, this intrusion can also come from the government, as most recently seen in the fight between libraries and the elements of the Patriot Act which allow unfettered access to patron records. (Many libraries rapidly responded to this violation of civil liberties by destroying patron records, for example, or only keeping information about items currently checked out). As a result, librarians are regularly involved in the fight against censorship which has created something of a proud, activist librarian history. As a result, people are sometimes attracted to the profession as a direct extension of their progressive values. Even the mainstream elements in librarianship, such as ALA, have elements committed to progressive causes, such as the celebration of Banned Books Week or the Status of Women in Librarianship Committee. Remember that as a student you can join ALA and take part in such committees, which is great for meeting similar-minded people and, of course, networking. In addition, a variety of "underground" librarian groups exists to promote progressive, activist agendas, such as Radical Reference or the Progressive Librarian Guild. Here are a few links to more information about activism in librarianship both on a mainstream and an underground level.

On the mainstream level:

  • ALA stance on censorship:
  • Library Bill of Rights:
  • Banned Books Week:
  • Special ALA committees, such as the Status of Women in Librarianship Committee:
  • And the ALA Round Table on Social Responsibilities:

Going underground:

  • Radical Reference
  • Library Underground (list of resources for activist librarians):
  • Anarchist Librarians Web
  • Progressive Librarian Guild
  • Libr.org (list of resources for progressive librarians)