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!

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 #10: Librarianship

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.  I’m now a part-time library assistant for Lincoln City Libraries.  Working at a branch library means doing a little bit of everything.  However, working part-time means I miss out on doing special projects and programs. 

From 2009 to 2010, I worked on my MLS online through Clarion University.  I graduated last December.  Now I’m looking for that elusive full-time professional position.  I would love to work in youth services and do programming and outreach.  But with tight budgets all around, library positions are few and far between.  In a year and a half, changes will take place in my personal life that will allow me the flexibility to move.  In the meantime, I will continue to work as a library assistant and participate in professional development activities to keep my skills sharp and my options open.

Thing #5: Reflective Practice

Ah, reflection.  As an education major, we did a LOT of reflecting; every lesson plan had to have a reflection at the end.  At first I thought it was pain and would rush through it without much thought.  But, as with many things we are forced to do in school, I eventually began to see the value in the practice and began to do it in other parts of my life.

I’ll begin with the personal branding exercise.  It was good to take stock of what I’ve already done and to get suggestions for other things to try.  It pushed me to finish things that I’d started including buying my own domain name and creating my personal logo.

Second, I was surprised to find that Twitter was more valuable than I’d originally thought.  It’s nice that everything is so succinct; I can judge in seconds what I want to pursue further and what I can skip.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed my 23 Things experience for both the motivation to pursue new skills and the camaraderie with other participants.