Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
On Saturday, I put a deposit down on my first NYC apartment, and two days later I attended my first NY Librarians Meet-Up Group!
It’s been a whirlwind of activity since I arrived less than five days ago from my beloved hometown of Fresno, California. While I have contended with the usual culture and sticker shocks of most new residents, I felt quite at home at this meet-up. This is no surprise since I love meeting new people, and new librarians especially.
The meet-up was in a hidden gem of SOHO, the NYPL Mulberry Street Branch, which I later learned was once the Hawley & Hoops chocolate factory. The Jersey Street entrance was a little obscured by scaffolding—and I think a few of us got lost—but the branch quickly surmounted the difficulties. Patrons are treated to an almost Alice-in-Wonderland effect as the branch drops two stories underground. Restored brick walls are showcased throughout, and it even smells nice due to the parfumerie next door.
Kate Dietrick, a staffing specialist at InfoCurrent, presented various uses and benefits of the social networking site LinkedIn, which she described as a “Professional Facebook.” Fifteen librarians and students attended. Most of us had LinkedIn accounts, but did not deploy it strategically. While Dietrick had many useful topics, a few stood out in particular:
1) Recruiters use of LinkedIn
Most interesting to me was Dietrick’s perspective as a recruiter. As a recruiter, Dietrick said that she often “lightly stalks” potential hires, especially if she is trying to fill unusual or in-demand positions such as metadata librarians. She runs a keyword search for that title or other skills, and often people in her network will come up as possibilities.
Even more surprising to me was that if Dietrick knows of someone who might be a good fit for a job opening, but that person is not looking for a job, she will SEARCH THIS PERSON’S CONTACTS. This is under the assumption that this person is likely to have other contacts with similar skills or interests. Often as librarians or professionals, we know people through associations or committees. This makes perfect sense, but I had never considered it before.
TIP: Dietrick suggested that users include specialized skills in their “Summary” section or other parts of their account to ensure that they come up in recruiters’ search results. For instance if you know a certain database or standard, but it is not in your job descriptions, put this somewhere in your account so that you will be retrieved for those queries. (As information professionals, I'm sure we are all aware of the power of search retrieval.)
2) Use LinkedIn to research companies or people
I also enjoyed Dietrick’s tip to research future employers through LinkedIn. If you are interviewing at a company or library, LinkedIn can provide useful information on company hierarchy, size and job descriptions. You can also discover information about the person that is interviewing you for the job. This might make it easier to connect or make an impression with that person.
As a career tactic, Dietrick also suggested that we research the backgrounds of other information professionals that we respect or admire. This will give us an idea of how to recreate that path to success.
3) Using LinkedIn to promote yourself professionally
She also recommended that librarians view LinkedIn as a way to “promote your brand as a librarian.” Implicit in this suggestion was that this could be a way to market services to your users— especially since many information positions are vulnerable, misunderstood and/or underutilized.
She suggested, for instance, that if you provide a service to a new lawyer and then later connect to this lawyer on Linked-In, that lawyer will then be able to see your many other services and accomplishments. He or she might then contact you for other information needs.
4) Nuts and Bolts of Linked-In as a tool
The Meet-Up also included a discussion of the nuts and bolts of LinkedIn, such as requesting recommendations from former co-workers or employers, posting pictures, and how to connect with others. It also including general guidelines for what to post.
Unlike a paper resume, LinkedIn does not have to be limited to one or two pages, nor does it have contain library-only experience. Many of us come to librarianship after other careers, and Dietrick recommended that this other experience could be included on LinkedIn to form a full picture of your career. In fact, Dietrick suggested that many degrees and types of professional development should be listed on our LinkedIn accounts—such as chairing a project, attending a conference, or learning a new database.
On the flip side, she cautioned that LinkedIn should be treated similarly to a resume. It should be easy to read, with bullet points, and it should not include too much personal information that would be inappropriate for a resume.
While moving to a new city, and finding my first post-MLIS job during the Great Recession are not ideal, I am happy to have found an active, welcoming (and free) library group so quickly upon arrival. I look forward to joining and sharing in this local library community.
Diwata Fonte, MLIS Drexel University ‘09
Thursday, July 9, 2009
My first NYLibrarians Meetup Event was an extensive tour of several divisions and services within the Center for Jewish History. I was delighted at the opportunity to get a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of such a vibrant and specialized library--one which I may not have ever found myself visiting had I not been for the tour. Afterwards, Stephanie asked the group for feedback on future events that she was interested in scheduling—in particular, she wanted to know if there was any interest in scheduling events in Brooklyn, such as a tour of the children’s library at the Brooklyn Public Library.
As a fervent Brooklynite and a library school student who has been considering the merits of young adult librarianship, I found both prospects appealing. I contacted Stephanie, who generously offered to allow me to make arrangements for a Brooklyn tour myself. The prospect was initially a bit intimidating, but I was exceptionally pleased with how straight forward the planning process was, and the opportunities that scheduling this tour afforded. For one, I was able to schedule a tour which appealed to my own personal interests—young adult librarianship and multilingual services in a public library setting. Secondly, it compelled me to reach out to active and talented librarians who, as we found during our tour, were exceptionally willing and excited to share their experiences and diverse collections with other librarians and MLIS students.
Our tour started in the youth services wing with David Mowery, the head of Youth Services. The Youth Services Division is composed of both a large children’s library and a recently-renovated Young Adult section. At 6:00 PM, the library was an active, energetic place, with children and parents perusing the stacks, making use of the computers in the youth-dedicated ‘Tech Loft,’ and studying. Highlights included viewing the rotating artwork that is on display in the section, a discussion about limited funding and its effects on youth programming, and information about how to best utilize the most popular, but least resilient items in the YA section—Manga (Japanese comics).
Following our tour of the Youth Division, we met with Frank Xu, the head librarian of BPL’s Multilingual Center. Though operating on a tight budget in a somewhat cramped corner of the adult fiction wing, the Multilingual Center manages to serve an incredibly large and diverse population of recent immigrants and Brooklyn residents for whom English is not a primary language. The center specializes in assisting individuals find practical resources (such as job-finding aids), collects current fiction and literature extensively in five languages (and somewhat less extensively in eight additional languages), and provides ‘conversation-roundtables’ in a variety of languages including English, Spanish, and any other language they can find volunteer teachers for. The staff—a small group of librarians who are exceptionally gifted linguists (one librarian, we were told, speaks over five languages; most speak at least three)—works together to ensure that the largest possible group of patrons is reached. For instance, the staff ensures that all information on the website is translated into as many languages as possible, organizes a popular reading series with international authors, and travels to public libraries and book fairs throughout the world to purchase popular contemporary materials that are being read in their home countries.
As a whole, the tour reinforced for me many of the wonderful qualities of public libraries, and especially of the Brooklyn Public Library. Upon leaving, however, a few things in particular struck me. For one, that the public library system reaches such an incredible variety of patrons—children, teens, recent immigrants, scholars, students. And as such, no vein of librarianship, even within the public library system, is quite the same. Secondly, that at this time, when we need our public libraries more than ever, they are making small miracles with the limited resources at their disposal.
Library School Student attending Queens College Graduate School of
Library and Information Science program in Flushing, New York I found
the NY Librarian’s Meetup Group. This particular Meetup has been very
beneficial in providing a social networking space for the needs of
Librarian’s and Library Students alike in areas such as museum and
archive visits, library tours, resume workshops, and library skills of
various sorts. Social outings have included coffee shop sit downs, a
walk and tour through the Botanical Gardens.
Just recently I have been privileged to accept a volunteer internship
at a Brooklyn based organization called Children of Promise. Children
of Promise, NYC (CPNYC) is a Brooklyn based organization committed to
embracing and empowering children of incarcerated parents to break the
cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal system. CPNYC’s
mission is to provide children of prisoners with the guidance, support
and the opportunities necessary to effectively develop leadership
skills, form positive social relationships and enhance academic
performance. Implementing the principles and best practices of youth
development, this innovative after-school program infuses a mental
health model. Mental health based intervention allows CPNYC to acknowledge the
traumas children of prisoners experience and to address the problems
and challenges at the root, allowing young people to create new
behaviors, new habits and new reactions. It also allows staff to
understand the sources of negative and inappropriate conduct and model
appropriate behaviors and reactions.
Through my volunteer internship, I will be among 3-4 other library
school students who will help to develop their afterschool and summer
day camp library. They are in need of new/used children and teen
books. If you think you can help, please contact me at Librarianmarc[at]gmail.com. We will be organizing and cataloging their new library and helping to set up and
implementation plan for running the library smoothly. This is a great
chance for me to help others, especially children in special
situations. The NY Librarian’s Meetup Group has been the force behind
the inspiration to getting me out and looking for career-related
experiences, internships and a job.
Through my membership, I have attended a few of these events. Joining is free and the
social networking you experience is a lifetime experience that builds
on everything you already know. Stephanie is a hard-working organizer, dedicated to pleasing a wide range of professionals, library students, and individuals considering librarianship. So get involved, come to a few
groups, share what interests you and make a few suggestions as to things you would like to see happen. That’s all in the spirit of Meetups.
Best of Luck,
Marc E. Shelton