Thing #23: Final reflection

23 Things has been a fun and educational experience.  I learned about some new tools available on the web that will help me in my personal and professional lives.  Because of the program, I tried Twitter for the first time, updated my RSS feeds, learned to shoot screen capture videos, and experimented with Google Calendar.  23 Things was great motivation to experiment with tools on the web and trends in the field and think about how they could be used in a library environment.

Now that 23 Things is over, I will stay aware of new developments in the library field by reading Library Journal, reading blogs, going to professional development training and events, and serving on library committees.  Thanks, Nebraska Learns 2.0 and CPD23, for a great experience!

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Thing #22: Volunteering to get experience

Most of my time in libraries has been in paid positions.  As I talked about in a previous post, I stumbled upon a career in libraries unintentionally.  I worked in libraries for about 5 years before I left Colorado to move to Nebraska.  When I arrived in Nebraska, my local library system was in a hiring freeze.  I realized I needed to meet people and learn more about the local libraries in order to get my foot in the door.  Because my school would charge me extra to do an internship, I decided to do one on my own.  I contacted one of the branches and asked if I could do an internship.  After some negotiation, I was able to do job shadowing at two different branches.  It was interesting, I met quite a few people, and I was able to see how things worked behind the scenes.  When they did have a job opening, one of the interviewers was the branch manager for whom I’d volunteered.

I believe volunteering is important to meet people and show them what you can do.  I wish my Master’s program would have included an internship or practicum.  However, I feel librarians need to be careful about how much volunteers do in the library.  In order to provide the best service to our patrons, we need paid, professional staff doing the most important tasks and demonstrating the value of this career field.

Thing #21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

I have spent many hours in the past two years applying to library jobs.  I want to put my best foot forward when applying for a job; there are so few jobs that I feel like I can’t afford to make a mistake.  Most of my job advice comes from the Ask a Manager blog by Alison Green (http://www.askamanager.org).  She gives advice about job hunting that is appropriate for current times and accurately portrays what most hiring managers are seeking in a candidate.  Per her advice, I have a system when applying for a job.

First, I print the advertisement and use a highlighter to mark all of the skills required or desired.  Then I add to my basic resume to demonstrate my experience using those skills in a work environment.  I try to show my accomplishments rather than just listing my job duties.  I go to the institution’s website to find out the mission and identify things that are important to the institution.  I use this information to write a custom cover letter.  I have someone else check my application materials to make sure there are no typos and submit it.

If I am offered an interview, I do more intensive research.  I go back to the institution’s website and make notes about what they do.  I try to find a list of staff and check to see if I am connected to them in any way via LinkedIn.  I try to identify at least one unique thing that they do that I can speak to in an interview.  Finally, I practice standard interview questions aloud and try to think of stories to fit with behavioral questions.  (Tell me about a time you…)

This process is time-consuming, but I’d much rather be over prepared than under prepared.  I am interested to know how others promote themselves.

Thing #20: The Library Routes Project

I started working in libraries by accident.  It was never a career that had crossed my mind.  I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a library, so I never spent much time at the library.  I wanted to be an elementary teacher.  After college, I moved to Aurora, Colorado.  I worked as a paraprofessional for Denver Public Schools for a year, then began applying for teaching  jobs.  I sent out dozens of applications with very little response.  Feeling defeated, I started looking for other jobs.  I saw an opening at the public library and applied there as a backup.  I finally landed an interview for a 3rd grade teaching position.  The same day, I was called to interview for the library assistant position.  I interviewed at the school one day, the library the next.  A day later, I was offered the library job.  (I was later informed that they chose someone with experience for the teaching job.)

As I learned the library assistant job, I realized that it had the fun parts of teaching (helping people, research, teaching classes) without the bad parts of teaching (politics, standardized tests, angry parents, disciplining a classroom of 35+ kids).  I worked there for almost two years before I moved to a new city and a new job.  As an assistant librarian in the young adult department of a suburban library, I discovered my passion for programming, outreach, and marketing, as well as working with teens.

I moved back to my home state of Nebraska after almost three years working in YA.  From 2009 to 2010, I worked on my MLS online through Clarion University.  I graduated last December.  For a year and a half, I worked part-time library assistant for Lincoln City Libraries.  Working at a branch library means doing a little bit of everything.  A couple months ago, there was some “staff restructuring” that created additional hours for library assistants.  I interviewed and was approved for an additional 20 hours.  I was able to quit my second job and now am working full-time at the library!

As another part of the restructuring, all of the library assistants were given extra duties.  I am now a substitute storyteller.  If someone is sick, on vacation, or at an outreach event, I fill in to do Toddler Time or story time.  I am still getting comfortable and establishing my style, but it has been a lot of fun so far.

Reading through some of the entries in the Library Routes Project, I realized that librarianship is not the original career choice for a lot of people.  Many of them enjoyed going to the library or worked in a library when they were younger but did not consider it as a career until later in life.  Also, it seems like budget cuts, difficulty finding a job, or staff reduction has led people down paths within the library world that were not part of the original plan.  I’ve enjoyed reading about how people got to be where they are today.  I hope to continue along my library route and encounter new projects and challenges.

Thing #19: Catch-up week/reflection

The thing I’ve used most in the past weeks is Google Calendar.  I’ve been using it to keep track of my work schedule and it’s really come in handy because I can access it from both work and home.  I also had a chance to use SlideShare again.  I uploaded the handout for my presentation at NLA and received an email each time someone downloaded it.  What an easy way to share information and save paper!

The thing I plan to explore further is Screencast-o-matic.  I think it could be a valuable tool for helping library patrons with our new catalog as well as with downloading audiobooks and eBooks.

We’ve learned about so many great things so far; I wish I had more time to use them.

Thing #18:Jing/screen captures/podcasts

I just tried Screencast-o-matic and it was amazing!  I liked that I didn’t have to install anything and it was easy to use.  I could see myself using this to help my grandma with the computer, to help patrons navigate our new catalog, and to show patrons how to download eBooks.

I have used screen captures many times.  Recently, I did a presentation about free online resources to use at the library.  I was worried the wireless Internet wouldn’t work in the hotel, so I created screen shots of each website for my PowerPoint to refer to if needed.  It’s an effective tool for showing step-by-step instructions on how to do something on the computer.

I have never created a podcast, but I have listened to many using Windows Media Player.  At my old library job, one of the librarians used an iTalk to record Teen Advisory Board members giving booktalks.

These are all great tools to provide interactive instruction to library patrons.

Thing #17: Prezi and SlideShare

I will preface my post by saying I like PowerPoint.  A lot.  Now SlideShare gives us a way to share our fabulous PowerPoint presentations easily, even if our recipient doesn’t have the same version of PowerPoint or doesn’t have PowerPoint at all.  Most recently, I have used SlideShare to share a presentation about the New Members Round Table of the Nebraska Library Association.  I was able to share the presentation with the others in the group, then send the link to local library students to view and learn about the group.  Additionally, I was able to embed the SlideShare presentation into our group’s blog.  You can view it at http://nebraskalibraries.org/NMRT/2011/04/learn-more-about-nmrt/

SlideShare is a very useful tool for sharing presentations in an accessible format.