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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. Presented by 4 librarians from the Portland Radical Reference Collective. You can also find us via our Facebook group.
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 cat women," but it’s changing! 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.
- ALA Library Outreach Resources - http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/olos/outreachresource/libraryoutreach.cfm
- Pop Goes the Library – a great blog on the influence of pop culture and librarianship: http://www.popgoesthelibrary.com/
- The Hollywood Librarian, a film by Ann Seidl exploring librarian stereotypes and pop culture portrayals: http://www.hollywoodlibrarian.com/
- You Don’t Look Like a Librarian! – dedicated to debunking the pesky stereotypes: http://www.librarian-image.net/
- A Hipper Crowd of Shushers - New York Times article on hipster Brooklyn librarians: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/fashion/08librarian.html?pagewanted=all
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.
- The American Library Association (ALA) is the agency responsible for accrediting library and information science (LIS) graduate programs. To find out which programs are currently accredited visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/educationcareers/education/accreditedprograms/directory/index.cfm
- The Art Libraries Society of North America has a guide which rates programs on their art librarianship components: http://www.arlisna.org/resources/onlinepubs/degree_programs_directory.pdf
- Information on medical librarianship is available from the Medical Library Association: http://mlanet.org/education/libschools/
- Music librarianship program information is available here: http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/employmentanded/libschdir.shtml
- Joint programs in law and librarianship or programs that include coursework in legal librarianship: http://aallnet.org/committee/rllc/resources/lawlib-state.asp
- US News and World Report Graduate ranking for LIS programs: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/grad/lib/search
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.
- All of ALA's scholarships, including the Spectrum Scholarsihp: http://ala.org/scholarships
- Association of Research Libraries Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce Scholarship: http://www.arl.org/diversity/init/index.shtml
- Ethnic caucuses have some scholarships; i.e. AILA (http://www.ailanet.org/) APALA (http://www.apalaweb.org/), BCALA (http://www.bcala.org/), CALA (http://www.cala-web.org/), and REFORMA (http://www.reforma.org/).
- Progressive Librarians Guild has an essay contest: http://www.libr.org/plg/Braverman.php
- College Scholarships.org has a general overview with links for different scholarships: http://www.collegescholarships.org/scholarships/librarian-students.htm
Critiquing the education:
- While the field is rapidly moving towards information science, there are still plenty of traditional library skills and revamped old ones taught in school. Here are some blogs that occasionally critique library education:
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 you 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.
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics - information on what a librarian position entails and employment outlook http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm
- US News http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/best-careers/2008/12/11/best-careers-2009-librarian.html
- Metafilter - http://ask.metafilter.com/69747/Is-it-really-that-hard-to-get-a-job-in-Portland-OR
- Substitute/On-call work - oftentimes these positions can turn into permanent employment
- Contract/temp positions
- 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
- 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, and get involved in library-related groups such as:
- Radical Reference
- Interlibrary Lush (Facebook group)
- Portland Downtown Librarians Brown Bag Lunch
- Portland Area Archivists (Google Groups page; requires you to join the group to see postings)
- The NW Central website has a listing of various events happening in the Pacific Northwest
Below is a list of employment websites for librarians, information specialists, and paraprofessionals:
- Lisjobs - http://www.lisjobs.com/jobseekers/
- Pacific Northwest Library Association - http://www.pnla.org/jobs/index.htm
- Oregon Library Association Jobs - http://www.olaweb.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=58304&orgId=ola
- Be a librarian at a federal government agency - http://www.usajobs.gov/
- The Library & Information Science Professional's Career Development Center - job hunting articles and links to job sites http://www.liscareer.com/jobhunting.htm
- Art librarianship internship roster: http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/afa/pdc/internshiproster.htm
- Map of US Residency programs: http://libraryresidents.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/map-of-library-residency-programs/
- It is always a good idea to check craigslist, individual schools, businesses, and library associations
- NEWLIB-L - discussion list for new librarians, position announcements often posted:http://www.lahacal.org/newlib/
- Web4Lib - librarians and library staff involved in World-Wide Web management, but anyone is welcome to join the discussion - http://lists.webjunction.org/web4lib/
- Libs-Or - sharing of information about the Oregon library community - http://listsmart.osl.state.or.us/mailman/listinfo/libs-or/
- PNLA-L - a mailing list is intended to cover a variety of library-related interests in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada - PNLA-L@yahoogroups.com
- Livejoural Libraries community - http://community.livejournal.com/libraries/
Activism and Librarianship
"Books are weapons in the war of 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:
- Radical Reference
- Library Underground (list of resources for activist librarians):
- Anarchist Librarians Web
- Progressive Librarian Guild
- Libr.org (list of resources for progressive librarians)
Speaker Bios and Contact
Renee has ran the library employment gamut, working in various departments and positions within a public library, as well DePaul University's Special Collections & Archives, and the Chicago Film Archives. She continues to teeter on the library/archives fence and spends her days managing Portland State University's Facilities & Planning Archive and working as a Substitute Librarian at Fort Vancouver Regional Public Library. She can be reached at rbartley[at]pdx[dot]edu.
Ian has worked in several capacities at Indiana University's library in Bloomington, IN and at the Free Library of Philadelphia. He is currently a youth services librarian in Beaverton. He can be reached at iduncans[at]gmail[dot]com.
Nate is at present mostly a freelance writer, but has worked for the Special Collections Library at the University of Colorado - Boulder and for rare book dealers. He can be reached at mellingsather[at]gmail[dot]com.
Lana currently works as the library director at the Oregon College of Oriental College. She has also worked in a specialized public library, an academic law library, a large university library, and an archive. She can be reached at lthelen [at] ocom [dot] edu.