I had the great good fortune of going to a reading by the poet Willa Schneberg the other day. I’ve been hearing about Willa, who is a friend of a friend, for years, yet had never had the pleasure of meeting her until her reading. She is both a gifted poet and a moving reader of her poetry.
A couple of months ago I got an email from my colleague Chris Erdmann (Data Scientist Training for Librarians) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He wanted to talk about ways librarians could help keep the scholarly community informed about new and developing technologies that could affect its work. He’s been following Thomas Crouzier’s blog, Connected Researchers, and talking with other interested, interesting folks such as Amy Brand at Digital Science. Chris and Amy thought that a discussion among a group of librarians and other stakeholders in the scholarly process could be a promising beginning for brainstorming ideas and strategies.
As a member of the Outreach Team for HOLLIS+ (our new discovery system) I spent some of the last week presenting at and attending open meetings with library staff to demonstrate the new system, which is in beta testing (not yet ready for prime time; coming very soon!). I have read a lot, and heard […]
Okay folks, it’s time to talk about one of those things they usually don’t cover in library school: job benefits. As any employer can tell you, the cost of your benefits is considerable (or at least, usually it is, if you have halfway decent benefits, and most libraries do provide at least that). Which means your employment provides you with stuff to which you may not pay a lot of attention…until you’re up against a problem and really need that safety net.
Over the past couple of years my colleague Kathleen Sheehan and I have been working with a Library Student Interest Group, sponsored by the College Library and the Harvard Undergraduate Council, and we’ve met some great students through this work. Allison Gofman is one of the students who has been part of the LSIG. She is also a photographer. This past year, for her final project in the course, United States in the World 30: Tangible Things: Harvard Collections in World History, Allison created the beautiful online book, Harvard Libraries: Books That Breathe. It “is a visual exploration of the libraries as physical spaces: not only as beautiful architecture or as a collection of books, but as a unique intersection of the two.”
Last week I enjoyed one of my favorite times of the year: Commencement Week at Harvard. I love it then because so many students bring their parents and families into the libraries to see the glorious resources to which they’ve had access during their studies here. There’s a definite feeling of excitement in the air, and both the parents and students are absolutely sparkling with energy and lively interest. Serving at the Information Desk I get to meet lots of these folks, and I enjoy answering the myriad questions they pose.
So I was at the Information Desk in Widener not long ago, and business was uncharacteristically slow (the thing I like best about working the Information Desk is that it’s usually hoppingly busy, and the kinds of questions that come in range from, “Where’s the bathroom?” to “Can you help me locate this 16th-century manuscript that’s essential for my thesis?”) when my friend and colleague, Joshua Parker, stopped by to say hello. Our discussions always cover a host of topics, but a favorite is about kinds of organizational structures (if you read the post linked from Joshua’s name you’ll see that he is that rare bird, a library manager mensch). He had some noteworthy things to say and some useful resources to recommend for reading, which I’ve found interesting and which I’m going to pass on to you folks. They’re not your usual library organization or management titles, however.
When I attended a non-library event recently, I was introduced to the group as a librarian, whereupon one of the assemblage enthused, “you must love to read!” to which I replied, “I do—but I don’t get to do much of it at work.” “What do you do at work, then?” was the very reasonable followup question. I talked about database searching, and teaching, and serving at public desks, and giving researcher tours, and doing research consultations, and giving presentations, and serving on committees, and keeping statistics for all of this…and by that time the querent’s eyes were glazed over and they very probably regretted asking what they thought was a no-brainer question.
n my last column I summarized what “a slew of library managers” told me they do to develop professionally, as well as what they’d like their direct reports to do in the area of professional development. This time around I’ve asked a bunch of front-line librarians (public, academic, special, public services, tech services, special collections, etc.) what they’re actually doing in terms of professional development. After summarizing their responses, I’ll do a little comparison between the different sets of replies.