May 24, 2015

Organizations: See How They Run | Not Dead Yet

Cheryl LaGuardia

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.

Competency Lists Considered Harmful: Can We Rethink Them? | Peer to Peer Review

Dorothea Salo

Could we talk about skill and competency lists, please? They’re everywhere, inescapable as change. Professional organizations have made dozens. Dozens more come from the LIS literature, as content analyses of collections of job ads or position descriptions. Whatever job you do or want to do in libraries, someone’s made a list of the skills you must supposedly have mastered.

Jack of All Trades, Master of Library Science | Not Dead Yet

Cheryl LaGuardia

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.

Seeing Your Future Self: Do You See a Library Director? | Leading from the Library

Steven Bell

At some career stage librarians may contemplate moving to an administrative leadership position with the goal of becoming a director or dean. Here are some things to consider as you dwell on your administrative leadership potential.

Professional Development: What’s It to You? Pt. 2 | Not Dead Yet

Cheryl LaGuardia

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.

It Can’t Hurt To Ask—or Can it? | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

What lessons can academic librarians take away from “W,” who negotiated for a tenure-track position thinking there’d be no harm in asking for more—but in fact it did a lot of harm?

Movers & Shakers 2014

Movers & Shakers 2014

Welcome to the 2014 LJ Movers & Shakers. The 50 individuals recognized here are passionate about what all types of libraries can do to enhance lives—for adults, teens, schoolchildren, infants, and toddlers. If there’s a common theme among their profiles, it’s that as much as the library is a place to go, it is also a place on the go—to wherever patrons or potential patrons are. The Class of 2014 brings the total number of Movers to over 650. It was difficult to select just 50 people to honor from the more than 225 nominations we received. There’s not one Mover, however, who hasn’t told us that they couldn’t succeed without their colleagues, so, in effect, the Movers & Shakers represent hundreds more who work in and for libraries.

Can We Block the Pipeline Out? | Peer to Peer Review

Dorothea Salo

Some of the best new professionals I meet and teach are leaving academic libraries. Another scholarly-communication librarian in an academic library got in touch with me online last week about finding a different kind of job. I’m well-used to these messages from scholarly communication librarians and research data managers new to the profession; sometimes they’re my former students, sometimes they’re conference acquaintances or folk I converse with online. Like the other pre-departure messages I’ve gotten, this one came from the kind of new professional every academic library claims to need: smart, tech-savvy, creative, passionate, hard-working, up-to-date, and consciously committed to staying that way. Like the other pre-departure messages I’ve gotten, this one breathed disillusionment and burnout. I’m worried.

Corinne Hill: LJ’s 2014 Librarian of the Year

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We knew Corinne Hill was destined to be a star back in 2004, when she was named an LJ Mover & Shaker. She had been a librarian for only eight years. A decade later, as executive director of the Chattanooga Public Library (CPL), she is the 2014 LJ Librarian of the Year, an award sponsored by Baker & Taylor. Hill’s career has climaxed in Chattanooga, where she has transformed what consultants June Garcia and Susan Kent called the “ugly, irrelevant, and mismanaged” public libraries of Hamilton County, TN, into the new and vibrant CPL. “She has fostered a culture of change and innovation that has affected nearly every aspect of the library,” says an August report in the Chattanooga Times/Free Press.

How to Survive and Thrive in Your First Library Job

Congratulations! You have worked hard to earn your degree and have been successful in finding a professional position that suits your skills and abilities. You have navigated a competitive job market in the midst of a recession, and, in spite of reduced budgets, you have been able to launch your career. But no library school, however full of internships and practicums, can fully prepare you for day-to-day life as a working librarian. Here are some hints to help you fit into your role and have a fruitful and rewarding lifework—all based on observations from years of mentoring new ­employees.