Final Reflections

I could reflect endlessly about my first semester in the School of Library and Information Science, especially since I entered the graduate program without any defined goals about what my future within it would be. For someone who started the program with just some vague idea of working with data or in an archive upon graduation, I’ve talked a lot about my goals in these entries. The positive thing about assigned self-reflection and journaling assignments is that they force you to look at your progress under a microscope. What have I learned? How have I grown?

Prior to entering the SLIS program, I sometimes felt at a loss in terms of any future career path beyond my current position. Though I am serious about my studies, even more so after experiencing my first semester within SLIS, I even applied on a whim; a sort of “why not?”  I’ll always remember the day I made the decision. I was having a particularly excruciating day in retail (with that said, I do love my current job, and customer service in general) and that classic lightbulb in my head turned on. Library school! I didn’t have an updated resume, my GRE scores were about to expire, and the idea of writing a personal statement four years out of undergrad was incredibly daunting– despite that BA in English I earned way back when.

Somehow, I finished the application and was admitted. Obviously, and thankfully. I’ve enjoyed my first semester a lot. The work has asked a lot of me, but it’s so wonderful to see how very worth it very piece of it is. I’ve gone from being an individual who knows very little about libraries (minus the fact that there are many different kinds ) to a LIS student with (at least partially) formed opinions about things like e-books, makerspaces, digitization, and funding. I’ve actually found blogs, journals, and associations that seem to be tailored to my personal interests– something I suspected might happen, but had to see to believe.

The main thing I’ve grown to love about libraries in general over my first three months in the graduate program is how flexible the category of librarianship is, and how many ways a LIS degree can be adapted to different institutions. I don’t want to work in a public library? No problem– there are other options out there– academic libraries, archives, museums, even private companies. I can work as a cataloger, a researcher, or even a data analyst with my MLIS. It all depends on how I tailor my studies– which internships I apply for, what classes I take, who I network with, what I read. With that said, the most exciting thing I’ve learned about libraries so far is the role of technology in their future. I remember talking in class about how the jobs we’re training for now are the jobs that do not yet exist. This reality challenges my competitive, inquisitive core, and I’m sure it will continue to through my studies.

Where will I be three years from now? Hopefully (finally) graduated, with a good amount of work experience under my belt. I’m in no hurry to get there though. One of the best things I can do for myself as a LIS student is to take the time to explore career paths and job options while I’m still in school. I find it important to keep a stead pace with my eyes wide open, to in turn learn what I can. I want a future within LIS to be excited about, and I’m the only one who can make it happen.

What I Write About When I Write About Library School

Since the beginning of the semester—my first semester—in Wayne State’s School of Library and Information Science, I’ve struggled to determine just exactly why I’m here. I look back on my initial journal entries, my memory of our first class discussions, and I remember being somewhat stumped as to my final goal. It certainly wasn’t to work in a library in the sense that we always picture here in the Midwest—a boring, albeit professional setting in a local public library. My paternal grandmother was a parochial school librarian back in the 60s, and I certainly didn’t foresee myself in that setting either.

The reason I applied to library school, I remember saying in one of our first class meetings, was because I like “old things.” And learning about them, and organizing them so other people can experience them. I have friends that went to library school, and they all have interesting jobs working with pieces of the past. At the time, I felt foolish for saying something so vague in front of so many strangers, who kept voicing their future, more respectable dreams of academic or children’s librarianship. Real, defined dreams. Three months later, it’s still true—I’m in it for the “old things.” However, with countless readings, discussions, and two graduate courses (just about) under my belt, the ambiguity of my initial response is much more defined. I’ve learned that my aspirations, though still in development, are just as valid as any one else’s. Like we’ve discussed in class, there is room for all of us within the field of librarianship, regardless of interests and goals.

This class has helped me define my goals. Though I still have a lot to learn after a mere 26 years of growth, I know what is important to me. I know what my passions are. I want to use my eventual MLIS degree within a field that mirrors my personal interest in the fields of cultural studies, music, or art. I am excited about the prospects of digital content and the future of information organization.

Most importantly, I know that the jobs I have enjoyed the most, regardless of position, are the jobs I can align myself with in regards to mission, structure, and motives. Though I’d love to eventually find a job in a traditional archive or museum setting, I am open to other venues. I want to work with an institution I can support as an ethical, idealistic person. I want to be excited about my job; I want to be a part of a socially responsible organization; I want to contribute to the greater good. I desire meaningful work, and I suspect most MLIS students would agree—we certainly aren’t in it solely for the great pay and copious benefits.

In my classes so far, I have been challenged to discover what a library can be, and encouraged to define my professional goals in a timely, achievable way. The best thing I can do to make progress within my professional life is to take action—engage in classes, discover new media, seek guidance from peers and professors, and establish my repertoire via hands-on learning opportunities like internships and work studies. I am thankful the Archival Administration concentration within my MLIS program, which I plan on following, requires a practicum—real life experience truly is the best teaching tool. It is especially important to me since I don’t already have experience working in a real archive or library.

When I graduate from this program, I want to be ready for work in this ever-evolving field. I want to be engaged, enlightened, informed, and most of all, prepared. I am happy to be a MLIS student at a university committed to allowing me to develop into a professional with these goals taken into account.

Revisiting Assumptions

For the first post in my blog at the beginning of the semester, I made the post Introductions and Assumptions concerning the beliefs I hold about the library and information science profession. Revisiting them, I am a bit surprise at how much they still hold up. So many of them tie back to things we discussed or read about in class. For this post, I will revisit each assumption I stated back in September.

  • People with MLIS degrees are not bound to a traditional (i.e. public) library setting. There are several other areas available to graduates– for example, any major corporation that has records and other information to keep track of most likely has someone with an MLIS degree holding it together behind the scenes.

Getting to visit two very different institutions definitely confirmed this, as did discussing the visits in class. One of my visits was to University of Michigan’s Visual Resource Collection, where I shadowed their Information Resources Technical Specialist and got a glimpse into a world of cataloging, metadata, and special collections. My other visit was to an elementary school media center, where I learned about work as a teacher librarian. Other people’s accounts of academic libraries and other archives further cemented this for me. Additionally, looking into different resources like listservs, journals, and blogs opened my eyes to other facets of librarianship.

  • Libraries are not about books. They are about meeting the needs of their community, whether the community is an exurb full of middle-class families, a big-city research university, or a private collection of artifacts. The goal that links these varied institutions is the same: providing a collection of resources, whatever they may be, in an usable fashion.

They sure aren’t! Lots of libraries have books, but anything that can be considered a resource has a place in a library. One thing we discussed in class is the growing presence of makerspaces in libraries. Makerspaces are areas where people gather to create. They often have materials and tools available for use and generally cultivate an environment accepting of artists, inventors, and other “makers.”

  • The digitization of content will not result in the death of the library and the librarian profession. As I just said above, libraries are not about books, and thus will survive the eventual decline in popularity of print material. Additionally, digital content needs to be monitored and tended to just as much as– and maybe even more than– analog content. The shelf lives of several digital storage options prove to be intrinsically less stable than a Victorian-era leather-bound book, and have to be updated much more frequently than you would think. There are also new areas opening up in tech-based librarianship, including specializations like digital content management and metadata analysis. Our need for Library and Information Science professionals will only grow with the prevalence of digital media!

My visit to the Visual Resources Collection allowed me to see how a formerly-analog collection has tailored its offerings to advances in technology, with their digitized collections and online finding aids. Additionally, my group project on e-books showed me how libraries are embracing different formats.

Though my assumptions rang true through the entirety of my first semester, I still learned a lot about the LIS field. My initial beliefs were just that– beliefs. My classes gave me the insight to support them.

Technology Sandbox

Questions Posed: What do YOU feel are core resources libraries and information agencies should be using to reach a wider user population? If you were given complete freedom, what would you do with what you’ve learnt? Would you set up a Twitter account for your library? Would you start your own company using Web 2.0 technologies? Would you run courses for your friends and neighbors? Or would you ignore the whole thing and hope it all goes away?

WIth the increasing popularity of social networks and related technology for people of all ages, more and more libraries and other types of information agencies are embracing them as a way to reach out to patrons. For this entry, I will take a look at two platforms I think could be effectively used at such institutions.


Facebook, as most people know by now, is a social networking site that, in addition to regular user accounts, allows organizations, musicians, public figures, and businesses to create and maintain profiles. Sometimes it seems like everyone is on Facebook. The real amount, according to Pew, is around 71% of Internet-using adults (Duggan 2013).

Because of this large amount of users, it makes sense for libraries and other information agencies to be on Facebook too. In fact, it’s an obvious choice. According to Library Journal, 99% of libraries with at least one social networking presence use Facebook (Dowd 2013). Having a Facebook profile ideally allows a library to keep its audience informed and up-to-date with current and future activities and other goings-on. According to Pew, most Facebook users log on at least once a day, and because of that, are generally more “engaged” with posts than on other networking platforms (Duggan 2013). One other positive aspect to Facebook is that users are able to link other social networking profiles and various apps to their profiles. For example, a library with a Twitter account would be able to link the two profiles so every time they send out a tweet it is simultaneously posted to their Facebook page. There are tons of possibilities: a library can link or embed blog postings, photos, and other media as well.


Instagram is a photo sharing social network that allows users to quickly turn basic smart phone photos into more visually appealing ones using embedded editing software, and then share them with followers. It is mobile-based, and life Facebook, able to be linked with other social networking sites.

Though not as popular as Facebook overall with only 17% of all Internet users, Instagram skews “younger,” with 39% of people 18-29 having accounts (Duggan 2013). Despite this, like Facebook, Instagram boasts high engagement among users according to Pew. The mobile aspect is also a good feature, as more and more people use smartphones and other tablet devices. This makes it a great choice for libraries, who can greatly benefit from user engagement, a sentiment echoed by Danielle Salomon, the teaching and learning services librarian and social media manager at UCLA Powell Library:

[…] we have had more success connecting with our students and engaging in teaching and learning on Instagram than on any other social network we use. Instagram makes sense for our library because it reaches a young, urban, and diverse demographic—one that reflects our undergraduate population. Our library maintains a presence on four social networks—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram—but we prize Instagram for being the place where we have the most rewarding interactions at the moment. Our Instagram followers tend to be highly engaged and attentive to our content. While there is no chance of truly “moving on” from Facebook (Facebook purchased Instagram last year for a much-publicized $1 billion), Instagram has breathed new life into our social media activities. (Salomon 2013)

According to Salomon, her library reaches a completely different demographic on Instagram than they do on Facebook. From my point of view, this cements Instagram as a worthwhile tool of its own– especially since you can link your Instagram account to your Facebook page.

The linking of social networks seems to be a key component to succeeding on a marketing level with a library, or any organization. The other most important key seems to be posting interesting, engaging content that makes users click. A quick Google search lead me to a few posts on the topic, tailored specifically for libraries:

If I were in the position to do so, I would make sure that my library or information agency had a system of social networks appropriate for the audience we are trying to reach. Ideally, there would be a social media manager for the library, in charge of maintaining both our website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook– or whatever other social networks become popular by the time I’m in charge. It’s just another way to reach out to our audience, and if used to its potential, and effective one at that.

Works Cited

Davis, R. C. (2013, November 6). Using Instagram for your Library. (CUNY Academic Commons) Retrieved November 30, 2014, from Emerging Tech in Libraries:

Dowd, N. (2013, May 7). Social Media: Libraries Are Posting, but Is Anyone Listening? . (Library Journal) Retrieved November 30, 2014, from Library Journal:

Duggan, M. and Smith, A. (January 2014). Social Media Update 2013. (Pew Research Center) Retrieved from:

Kroski, E. (2012, October 4). 9 Interesting Ways to Use Instagram for Your Library. (Open Education Database) Retrieved November 30, 2014, from iLibrarian Archives:

Salomon, D. (2013, September). Moving on from Facebook. (Association of College & Research Libraries) Retrieved November 30, 2014, from College & Research Libraries News:

Follow a Professional Listserv

For this entry, my assignment is to follow a listserv related to my specific interests within library and information science. Listservs are intimidating! However, this exercise made me much more comfortable with them, especially in terms of finding ones that fit my needs.

I already follow a few listservs at Wayne State– namely, LISSDISC, a student-only LIS listserv; and SLISNF, a listserv for both faculty and students.

Because of my interest in the area of digital preservation, I chose to follow ALA’s digipres listserv (click here for an archived list of entries). It ended up being way over my head in terms of technical jargon and issues I am unfamiliar with so early in my career– particularly alienating entries include archiving 250TB master filesWhat is the real impact of SHA-256? – Updated, and Pachederm? I have no idea what any of the posters are talking about. It is nice, however, to see professionals seeking out advice from colleagues and sharing their own experiences via the listserv.

More relatable entries included calls for papers, job postings, and conference announcements. A post titled Wayne State University NDSA Student Chapter’s 3rd Annual Colloquium: Call for Speakers and Poster Submissions piqued my interest (Hey! That’s my school!), however overall it wasn’t a good fit and I decided to look at other listservs. The digipres listserv might be something to come back to once I’m actually working in the field of digital preservation.

Because of my interest in the humanities, I thought another good listserv to follow would be ACRL Digital Humanities Interest Group (click here for an archived list of entries). Like digipres, it was still a little over my head– though definitely not as technical. Entries, like most library listservs, included calls for papers, job postings, and conference announcements. There was also a good amount of Q&A posts related to aspects of digital preservation. Also prevalent on the listserv are relevant articles and survey postings.

Posts I found interesting included Millennial librarians – we want to hear from you, concerning survey responses from younger professionals, and Digital Libraries + Hybridity: An Interview with Clifford Wulfman. The latter was especially great to find. Via to the introduction for the interview,

Clifford Wulfman is the Coordinator of Library Digital Initiatives at the Firestone Library at Princeton University and consultant to Princeton’s new Center for Digital Humanities. He has been involved with the Perseus Digital Library, the Modernist Journals Project, and is currently Director of the Blue Mountain Project, an NEH-funded project to digitize European and North American avant-garde art periodicals from 1848-1923. (Wulfman)

Avant-garde periodicals? That is right up my alley. The Modernist Journals Project? Also right up my alley– and I’m pretty sure I used it as a source in my undergrad. How cool to see such subjects on an LIS listserv. Wulfman has a background in both literature and computer science. As someone who also has a background in literature , it was amazingly inspiring to get a glimpse into the kind of work he is doing within the digital library field. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of my degree.

Though the listservs I followed were both a bit to advanced for me, I plan on keeping up with them in the future as I learn more about the field of archiving, both digital and analog. I am especially thankful that I found the Digital Humanities listserv, as I was not aware there were groups out there for such a specific field. I always learn something knew with these journal entries!

Works Cited

Wulfman, C. (2014, October 29). Digital Libraries + Hybridity: An Interview with Clifford Wulfman. (R. Shirazi, Interviewer) ACRL Digital Humanities Interest Group. Accessed via:

Blogging about Professional Blogs

For this entry, I followed two blogs written by library and information science professionals. It was a little difficult finding blogs within my range of interests that were routinely updated and current; however, after a bit of searching I found the following: The Annoyed Librarian and Letters to a Young Librarian.

The Annoyed Librarian

This blog, presented by Library Journal, is updated by an anonymous, usually annoyed and often humorous writer described on her “About” page as “possibly the most successful, respected, and desirable librarian of her generation.” We never do learn the identity or actual job title of the Annoyed Librarian, but this doesn’t make her posts any less insightful or topical.

Topics generally center around current issues in the library world at large including advocacy, funding, and political and social issues, and the blog averages around 8-9 posts per month. Entries I found enlightening included:

Though I don’t always agree with the author (at least at this point in my career), I appreciate her strong opinions and ability to make her informed, albeit annoyed, case. The subjects covered are interesting and always tie into real-life issues and current events. I plan on continuing to follow this blog.

Letters to a Young Librarian

Letters to a Young Librarian is written by Jessica Olin, the Director of the Robert H. Parker Library at Wesley College in Delaware. I chose to follow this blog because of the author’s commitment to providing resources for those starting of their MLIS studies, and librarians new to the field. Via the About This Blog page:

I started this blog as a way to communicate directly with library science graduate students and new professional librarians. I am disheartened at times when I hear about things that MLIS programs are (or are not) teaching and envisioned this blog as a kind of end run around that nonsense. (Don’t misunderstand me. I think there’s a lot of good going on in some library science graduate programs. However, there is a definite disconnect between what some are teaching and what I do everyday as a professional librarian.) Here’s the blog post I wrote in which I explain why I’m doing this.

The blog features about 6-10 entries per month, including guest posts. Topics are mostly centered around issues in libraries (usually related to academic libraries, as the author is an academic librarian), and career-building information. I find the latter to be the most enriching, because it can be hard to find straight-talk on library careers. Here are a few of my favorite entries:

I found these posts to be so helpful and practical– what a great resource for aspiring librarians to have! I especially appreciate the fact that she hosts guest posts on her blog, which helps give readers a taste of different types of librarianship from varying points of view. I am happy to have found this blog, and will continue to follow it through my graduate studies– and hopefully as I begin my professional career.

Popcorn & a Movie: The Hollywood Librarian

This entry is in response to “The Hollywood Librarian,” a documentary film directed by Ann Seidl. The work covers more than its title suggests– the film works to uncover the facets of librarianship that often go unnoticed. In addition to showing examples of librarians from popular film, Seidl includes interviews and clips of real librarians, highlighting the at times great distance between librarians perceived and actual.

The beginning of the film explains that since the early 1900s, a library was seen to be a place of “women’s work.” At a time when not many fields were open to the “fairer” sex, libraries– with their air of domesticity– became an acceptable career option for women yearning to work outside the home. Interestingly, libraries were not seen as an appropriate place for small children (i.e. younger than 10-12) until some time through the first half of the 20th century– how different than today, where libraries are a mainstay of American childhood activity. The film suggests that Andrew Carnegie’s extensive patronage of public libraries is in part to thank for the presence of children’s librarianship today, as his Carnegie libraries were the first to have devoted children’s sections. The film also mentions his dedication to accessible knowledge, a characteristic that still inspires those in librarianship today. Though the country was still very much divided along race and class lines (and still is to some extent), Carnegie libraries were open to and usable by all, regardless of social construct.

Stereotypes of librarians, most bespectacled with buns, high-button blouses and busybody business, show up throughout, with few exceptions. There’s the livid librarian, middle-aged and furiously shushing (a stereotype I’ve seen shut down by possibly every library-centered blog I’ve read this semester); the young temptress clad in a tight pencil skirt sorting through the stacks; the revered and wise male librarian-type of ancient times instructing Taylor-as-Cleopatra. One clip that seemed to break the old was that of the legendary Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set, in which she takes on the lead role as a in-demand reference librarian (though she still, naturally, looks the part).

Interviews with contemporary librarians, though different in topic, share a uniting thread; to put it simply, they are all delighted with their jobs, though some admit that the work is demanding and the pay less-than-ideal. However, their interaction with patrons and the community at large outweighs, in addition to the importance of libraries on a larger scale, outweighs the negatives. Several also share accounts of how they came to value libraries. I found a man’s story of his first encounter with a Bookmobile bus to be especially touching. He went on later in the film to explain how libraries provided him with a safe space as a child– in contrast to his abusive home, libraries were a place where questions could be asked and knowledge could be sought without question.

The message is clear: libraries benefit society and their importance goes far beyond any role at the circulation desk. The film takes viewers to a prison library program in San Quentin, where inmates build literacy and ensure brighter futures for themselves and society as a whole; we also learn about how funding cuts threatened to close several libraries in John Steinbeck’s hometown of Salinas. The libraries were ultimately saved by fundraising efforts and extra support from a now-released San Quentin inmate, who touted the importance of a library in his rehabilitation.

The Hollywood Librarian sets out to do a lot, and does a lot, albeit briefly. The librarians in the film, though predominately female (some stereotypes do die hard), break the mold of what Hollywood’s portrayal would suggest. The film shows how important a library really can be to society outside simply being a repository for books and computer use, and also gives viewers a glimpse of how dedicated librarians work tirelessly to ensure their continued existence. For that, as a LIS student, I am thankful.