December 15, 2010

Using zines as an introduction to library research

I've used my zine lesson plan with 5 humanities classes now and posted the information (including handouts) to my portfolio. This is at an urban community college with many typically under-served students that may have low literacy skills and are pretty brand new to research and libraries.

The purpose from the instructor's perspective is to offer another option for the students to complete a final project; this arts appreciation class is one of the first courses a new student might take at this college. From the librarian's perspective, this is a way to introduce students to how publishing works, give them an opportunity for informal research and creativity. By allowing students to choose any topic relating to art that is of interest to them, it takes some of the pressure off potentially intimidating library resources being explored for the first time. This also falls under critical instruction by talking about whose voices get heard in which platforms and why. Who gets published in a magazine or journal, of course, differs from who might publish a blog or zine.

Many of our students are not familiar with zines, nor blogs. One of their other options for an assignment is to create an autobiographical entry in a blog, so I introduce that mini-lesson first and we talk about what blogs are and how they have evolved (most students have never had their own).

After getting an introduction to electronic self-publishing, I introduce zines but only minimally; I don't want to impose my view of zines before the students get a chance to form their own opinions. I break them up into groups and give each 1 zine, 1 magazine, and a Venn diagram worksheet to compare those items and blogs. After explaining how a Venn diagram works, I allow about 10 minutes for groupwork. After they compare and contrast, we discuss as a class and will look at things like appearance, cost, required knowledge/background, subjects covered, credibility, and publishing processes for differentiation. An interesting point that Jenna Freedman discusses in Zines Are Not Blogs is the digital divide. Students will say that blogs are free as opposed to zines and magazines, but that's not necessarily the case. One must have computer and internet access to read a blog, as well as at least *some* computer literacy to create a blog. If there is not a school or library nearby, an individual would be required to pay for computer/internet at home, and that is not free. This is an interesting perspective on where zines and blogs differ; there are people who believe zines are dead and why make a zine when you could just make a blog, but there are still people out there who don't have access to the tools required to read/create the electronic version of self-publishing.

After the discussion, I explain they will be making a mini-zine (1 piece of paper turned into an 8 page zine). They can choose any topic (as I mention above) as long as it relates somehow to the arts. It can be any style they want: typed, drawn, comic, collage, handwritten; they just need to include at least 2 sources in a citation from any library database. I demonstrate how to use one of our most user-friendly databases (Student Research Center) and then show them how to cite a source in the citation management software our library uses, NoodleTools.

I tell the students if they are going to make a zine, it's only fair if I make one too, in exchange (I am looking to collect student zines after grading to display in the library). After using sample search terms for yarn bombing (knit graffiti), I show them my final product so they can get a sense of the assignment from start to finish.

This has been a successful IL session so far and I am in the process of collecting zines from Fall semester and will be getting more from Winter term students! You can have access to learning objectives, the lesson plan, and handouts from my portfolio.

November 14, 2010

Librarian Wardrobe

I had an idea awhile back before I moved about starting a blog about what librarians wear to work. After mentioning it to a few people on Facebook, I decided to not bother since no one really seemed interested in participating; but then recently saw A View From Your Desk, which is a user-submitted blog about the view from a librarian's desk (and even contributed) and it reminded me of my blog idea. 

So, I've now created a new blog about what librarians wear to work: Librarian Wardrobe. Anyone can submit an image, and it could be the submitter wearing the outfit, parts of the outfit on a hanger, or whatever combination works.

It will be interesting to see how dress codes vary at different kinds of libraries and for different kinds of positions. When I was starting my job search during/after library school, I was wondering myself what exactly is appropriate since there seems to be a lot of variation, so maybe this will be useful to new librarians as well.

November 5, 2010

Taught to teach

Credit: melodi2 from
Last month, myself and another recent graduate from my program were invited to a favorite instructor's academic libraries class to talk about our experiences as new librarians. The class being in Arizona, my friend in Mississippi, and myself in Texas made it a virtual session in Elluminate.

I'm still exploring my instruction style as I get used to my position, the college, and the programs, but after 6 months now, I do feel much more comfortable. One of the students in the SIRLS class asked a question probably on many soon-to-be and new librarians' minds: how do you learn how to teach?

I personally tried to get as much experience as possible at least just making presentations while in library school. For my internship, I took initiative and worked with my supervisor to get instruction into my responsibilities. This did not bring me anywhere near a pro, but I was able to do some library orientations for a summer internship program.

After that, I just read. Read, read, read. Anything I could find that talked about instruction methods or library instruction. Books, magazines, blogs, you name it. I'm still working through the reading list I keep for myself. When I started my job, I asked for reading suggestions from my supervisor and even had the chance to read through all her collected teaching materials from over the years. I asked to watch other librarians teach and am hoping to get in some classes to watch experienced instructors as well. Of course I remember what I liked and didn't like while a student myself, but seeing the classes from a different perspective will be really useful.

I'm still figuring out assessment and outcomes, as well as tailoring instruction to our students specifically. Being a community college, we have a wide range of demographics, skill levels, and interests.

I've found I am the most successful with teaching when I do doubt myself a little because I feel like it puts me on the same wavelength as the students: I'm a little unsure about teaching and they're a little unsure about research, but we can connect there. I try to just have a conversation with them as much as possible; at the same time, I try to say in the mindset of hey I'm going to show you some neat technology and tricks.

Anyhow, here is my (work in progress) list for figuring out how to teach. If there are more suggestions out there, please leave them in the comments; I do have to say much of the library literature on teaching ignores showing how to write an actual lesson plan, which is frustrating, but nonetheless:


  • Made to Stick (Chip and Dan Heath) - How to make ideas stick in presentations/ads, and of course in teaching. They give many real-world examples and offer a handy acronym to aid in composing these sticky messages using their suggestions.
  • Critical Library Instruction (Emily Drabinski, Alana Kumbier, and Maria Accardi, eds.) - Essays on the "banking model of education" described by Freire, and finding other, progressive methods to teach students using involvement, real world scenarios, and teacher as student/student as teacher. Many of these were inspiring and made me excited to work some of the ideas into my teaching.
  • Library Instruction Cookbook (Ryan Sittler and Douglas Cook) - Cookbook-themed ideas on instruction activities (mostly for one-shot classes); many really applied to 4yr academic institutions so weren't as helpful for me, but certainly have a list of about 10 ideas I might be able to use or tweak
  • Teaching Information Literacy: 35 Practical, Standards-Based Exercises for College Students (Joanna M. Burkhardt, Mary C. Macdonald, and Andre J. Rathemacher) - A little dry, but does help in better understanding the ACRL Standards and how to apply those to teaching
  • Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. ( - New edition of textbook, have not gotten to yet
  • Mckeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategy, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (Wilbert McKeachie and Marilla Svinicki) - Seems to be a standard for college instructors, most not receiving formal education on exactly *how* to teach. A good amount of the book felt irrelevant to libraries, unfortunately, but did pick up some good tips by skipping around.
  • Teaching Librarians to Teach: On the Job Training for Bibliographic Instruction Librarians (Clark and Jones) - This book is old, like 1980s old. I read it the month I was graduating library school and can't remember much... I think I did find parts of it helpful for a start in learning library instruction, but might not be the best one out there...
  • Motivating Students in Information Literacy Classes (Trudi Jacobson and Lijuan Xu) - Good overview in getting students engaged through assessment.
  • The Invisible Web in Learning and Teaching (Jane Devine and Francine Egger-Sider) - This book wasn't really specifically about teaching, but had some good ideas for helping students grasp the deep web.
  • New Librarian, New Job: Practical Advice for Managing the Transition (Tucker Cory and Reeta Sinha) - Again, not specifically geared to teaching, but did help understand the role of library instruction and information literacy within a position description and general expectations.
  • Ideas for Librarians Who Teach: With Ideas for Teachers and Business Presenters (Naomi Lederer) - Perfect for skimming; sound bites of ideas.
  • Public Speaking Handbook for Librarians and Information Professionals (Sarah R. Statz) - Helpful tips for public speaking and presenting (of course can directly help with teaching), and finally a book on public speaking geared to librarians who, let's be honest, aren't always the most outgoing bunch.

Blogs/Magazines/Journals/Specific Articles
I'm just going to post a link to my -- I have over 60 pages and articles tagged as instruction. Some are from librarians and library organizations, some from other educators. I add to this list regularly.

September 29, 2010

Kuhlthau, Second Life, and Beach Jupiter

All throughout library school I heard about Second Life, how exciting it was and how it could have educational benefits; I thought eh ok that's great for people who like that sort of stuff, and I'm willing to acknowledge its possible potential, but I wouldn't want to try it.

But the other day, I saw on the ili-l discussion list that the iSchool at Sheffield University was going to start a journal club in Second Life to talk about articles relating to information literacy instruction. After attending less interactive webinars more recently I thought maybe a visually-oriented, interactive web meeting would be more intriguing. I decided to just give Second Life a shot and thought I could attend the session while at our quieter, satellite campus.

To set myself up, I created an avatar and tried to get comfortable with the program (you need to download the browser to your computer (it's free)). Making my avatar look how I had sort of hoped was very awkward and seemed janky to me, but I feel like it's good enough -- she is no longer bald and wearing both a skirt and pants at the same time. Walking, running, and flying aren't as tedious as I had thought they would be, and for the most part, I think I get the basic functions.

The article we discussed in the session was:
Kuhlthau, C. C., Heinström, J. & Todd, R. J. (2008) "The 'information search process' revisited: Is the model still useful?." Information Research [ejournal], 13(4), paper 335. [Available at]

Organized by "Sheila Yoshikawa" and with the discussion led by "Pancha Enzyme," which are Second Life handles of course, it was a smooth session with a lively discussion (my avatar's name is "Beach Jupiter"). It felt more interactive than a standard webinar, and granted it was meant to be a group discussion rather than a presentation, the visuals certainly made me feel more inclined to participate than an anonymous chatbox.

I'll summarize what I took away from the discussion, but won't spend too much time on summarizing the article itself since it's easy to access:

First, Pancha gave an overview of the article we read to reiterate the main points:
  • it covers knowledge construction and feelings in information seeking
  • the article showed it is still relevant today, changing for the information environment (technology)
  • the method can be diagnostic in figuring out point-of-need to assist students struggling with assimilating information
  • it offers recognition of discouraging and motivational emotions in the research process
 (And I will add, from the article, the six steps of the information search process are, in order:
  1. initiation
  2. selection
  3. exploration
  4. formulation
  5. collection
  6. presentation)
She also had slides ready that avatars could zoom in on to read closely and projected SCONUL's 7 Pillars of Information Literacy and Taylor's Learning Process Sequence (see section 3.1.3) for comparisons. We discussed that Taylor's process seems to offer more room for emotions (as opposed to SCONUL's pillars), and that it also focuses on the experience of learning.

We talked about strengths and weaknesses in the article as well:
Weaknesses first:
  • article illustrates research process as linear, when it truly is not
  • students could not describe their own emotions; they had to rate pre-chosen terms
  • confidence intervals were small (for emotions)
  • much information now comes from browsing and encountering (not just searching), so is the article still fully relevant today with the expanse of technology?
  • individuals have different emotions when there is no grade involved (or money/time constraints for non-students)
  • seems prescriptive: those who follow the process of this emotional rollercoaster during research will not be as successful, as it says the students who followed the process more closely did the best grade-wise and with learning
  • could be used as a marketing tool for libraries to appeal for more student/class time
  • can use the process to show students that their frustrations and anxiety (as well as other negative emotions) are very common and do not represent a sign of failure
  • could be used as a guide to time management
  • (should be explicit for learners and not a secret guide for librarians/teachers)

They are looking for discussion leaders in future sessions, as well as articles to recommend. Seems like a great thing to keep up with, and I will be attending sessions as I am able.

August 25, 2010

Library maps

I've been dabbling in cartography for our library, drawing out (virtually) and labeling our downstairs and upstairs to help students navigate the stacks better (only showing first floor map here). We do have labels on the shelving, as well as LCSH guides, but this can help make it more visual and holistic.

I mentioned this task very briefly in a former post but now I have the finished products. We plan to post these maps on the bookcases, create smaller handouts students can take, and also post it on our website. Instead of just having a static map as a tab on our LibGuides, I made the suggestion we use photo editing software to create circles or highlights over each subject area's related locations to customize the maps for various departments.

As a review of Gliffy, I really liked it, and it's free. If you select to have objects snap to grid and align, it makes having repeating objects much easier to deal with. As you can see, there are also options for color and text styles/fonts. I also liked the variety of floorplan objects you can select to make furniture look close to what your library might have. Did I mention it's free? That's a huge plus.

The subjects chosen to be shown on the bookcase images (if you can even read them -- text is harder to read on the maps when posted here via Blogger) are ones that directly relate to classes offered and highlighted programs. For example, students are less likely to look up photography books here, and more likely to look up architecture and interior lighting for buildings because of our interior design program, and lack of a photography program.

It will hopefully be less intimidating for students to navigate the library having a map ahead of time; this should also really encourage browsing. I'm excited for when we get them posted to see what the reaction will be.

A slicker example I saw recently of a library map is the University of Arizona's virtual tour but I believe from what a colleague mentioned that it was not free. The pop-ups with photos do look really nice.

July 1, 2010

Early career credibility

I've been thinking about credibility a lot lately -- credibility with students and in collaborative relationships with faculty. Being a new librarian, it can be difficult to gain trust when not only are you new to the organization, but also new to the profession. Some students are set in their ways with asking for help from a particular librarian, and some faculty do not seem as open to working with a new person they don't really know very well. Not always having the answers and having to ask another librarian for input doesn't always help the case.

When I asked my very excellent ACRL Instruction Section mentor what to do if someone asks a question in a session I am teaching and I do not know the answer, she told me it's okay to say that it is a good question and I'm not sure of the answer but will find out. This also applies to the reference desk; my supervisor has encouraged me to come to her with questions because since I am new, I am not expected to know everything. I have only had one teaching experience at this point, but when I'm on the desk and a student asks me something I don't know, I will first try to find the information together. On one hand, this can really work to my advantage by turning it into a teachable moment because once we do arrive at the information being sought, I can say "hey you did great it's really just trial and error," and it makes the student feel more comfortable with the library as well as asking me for help. That really has been one of my favorite scenarios.

However, and this has happened a bit too, when a student asks me a question and I really am baffled, I will have to say I'm not as familiar with that subject as my supervisor but I will go find out or go ask her to assist them. I've had a few individuals approach me at the desk and ask for my supervisor specifically, when I say she is not available, I really have been asked if I "know what she knows." I will tell them I might not know everything she knows but I know a good amount and would they like me to help them. Usually, the student will say yes and I am able to answer their question (or figure out where to find the answer). I feel like with the students, this will just take time for them to get used to seeing a new face and that I am able to be helpful.

When I see students again that I have helped, I make sure to follow up with them and ask how their paper or presentation went, and that usually seems to help form more of a relationship. Now I do have students come back to me for help without hesitation, albeit there still are a few that only want help from a specific librarian. Building relationships first with faculty, outside of anything having to do with the library, is another great piece of advice my mentor gave me.

I have not yet met most of who I will be working with from the faculty since it is summer, but I have been trying to provide good service regardless of whether it was asked for or not. For example, I am now sending out emails about new books to instructors in certain subject areas, and I plan to ask for input on collection development once I have more interaction with them; if I don't know an answer to a question, I follow up as soon as possible. One instructor came in looking for an online version of the Oxford English Dictionary, and I wasn't sure offhand if we subscribed electronically; my database and then catalog search took a little longer than I had hoped, so I made sure to later email him to follow up and point out the other online dictionaries we have instead of the OED and let him know where the print version was located for future reference.

I think I will need to explore faculty collaborations a bit more because I know some instructors in my subject areas do not bring their classes to the library (never have and don't necessarily plan to), and I hope to find a way to work with that -- or at least come to a compromise of sorts. Again, a lot of this will just take time, but I'm trying to get on the right track from the start. Hopefully, once I'm introduced to more instructors in my area I will have more opportunities.

June 22, 2010

Trial by fire

Yesterday wound up being my first foray into library instruction. An instructor accidentally mixed up the times given for bringing his class in, so shortly before they would be arriving, my supervisor approached me at the reference desk with, "Guess what... you will be teaching today!" She was already scheduled to teach a class in the classroom, so I had to cover the other class on the computers by the entrance area. Part of my position is instruction, but it wasn't going to be for about another month until I would start.

Nothing like trial by fire as a few colleagues had mentioned to me later on. I had a slight case of terror, but at least previously sat in on a few of my supervisor's instruction sessions to be somewhat familiar with the material. I also figured there was no point in being nervous, because I didn't really have time. I was given the handouts the students get and was able to use those as my lesson plan; they also would serve as visuals since I didn't have the use of a computer/projector.

We went over what I would cover, and I was able to do a very quick run through until the class came in. I definitely had the jitters at first while passing out the handouts, but I think it was one of those things only you notice. As Olivia Mitchell said in regards to anxiety in public speaking,
Just like we don’t see the energetic paddling as a swan glides across the water, you don’t look as nervous as you feel.
Overall, I would say it went well. One of the biggest challenges was going at a pace that would keep the students who had already done similar exercises for other classes engaged, while also not going so fast that the students having more trouble would fall behind. I did end exactly on time, which was great, but I could tell about a third of the class was bored. I did find out later that a lot of that class was from our early college, so I had many high school students on the fast track. That helped me feel a little better about hearing a giggle or two, and I'm sure once I have more practice that wouldn't phase me.

Using analogies, such as going to different databases is like going to different stores when shopping, seemed to help the students who were struggling more to understand better. I would have liked to use more examples like that, but was more focused on getting across the correct information first.

Working in more humor is another goal I have for next time. I did see via the information literacy instruction discussion list (I believe) that someone is working on collecting information about using humor in library instruction, so I'd like to see the results of that when they are available. What I did do that my supervisor suggested was review how to get to the appropriate databases when the students would not be in the library: the scenario of being at home, waking up in the middle of the night, and just being so excited to do some research, what would you do to get to where we just went?

I think these improvements will come in time, but I am keeping notes of what I did well and what I'd like to work on so I can see progress as I teach more classes.

May 11, 2010

Week 2, day 2

There was quite a big gap in posting, but now that I'm all settled in TX and have started work, I think I'm more able to give some attention to my blog.

Today was week two, day two at my new job and I think I'm adjusting well. In case you missed my previous post, I took a position as a reference/instruction/collection development librarian at an urban community college in downtown Dallas. There is a lot to learn but my new supervisors and coworkers are understanding about information overload and being able to remember it all. I wanted to write about my initial perceptions and experiences at my first library job before I might forget, to reflect from the perspective of a recent graduate.

My paranoia was right: library school is not enough

(so I'm glad I went overboard in gaining hands-on experience outside of the classroom)

Library school certainly gave me enough theory and understanding of how to keep up with library news and topics so that I can have an intelligent conversation with other librarians and stay current professionally, but what is really helping me keep up right now in a live environment is my previous library work experience, as well as previous jobs in customer service. I honestly kiiiind of shrugged off how important my customer service experience in positions such as a lowly sales clerk would be, but it does make a big difference.

Every library school program has its pros and cons, and as happy as I am with what I took away from SIRLS, the reference class I had was very weak (and the instructor is no longer there if that says anything). It was 100% theory, with no practical experience, without even practicing on classmates. Because I had some previous experience in sales and virtual reference I feel a little better, but if I hadn't done an internship or had the position I had prior to my current job, I think I would have had more difficulties (and perhaps not gotten the job anyhow). However, whether a program has a great reference class or not, that work experience is invaluable! I highly urge current students to work or volunteer to get that background.

A Master's degree does not automatically equal expert

I'm glad I had spoken with others about how they felt on their first day at their first job, not just in LIS, but other fields; a common newbie misconception (and huge stressor) is believing just because one has a Master's that they should automatically be an expert and know everything. Every library is different, with different databases, OPACs, and procedures, so learning a lot on the job is necessary. When I don't know how to answer a student's question immediately, my first response is still to beat up on myself a little and get stressed, but I don't think it's possible for a new librarian to know how to do everything. When I shadow at the reference desk, it seems to be understood that there is a learning period, so I think I need to give myself a break (which I'm slowly learning to do better), and the more relaxed I am, the better customer service I can provide.

Watch and learn, do and learn

The best way to learn everything I need to get familiar with is to just watch others (shadowing) and then try it myself and learn from my mistakes. That was how I best remembered which supplement aids which ailment and is located in which section of the store when I worked in natural health, and it is how I'm best remembering how to help students find information in the library now. I've also taken a copy of every pathfinder and library guide created for our library so I can read them all over in my office when I have some down time. Practicing with the OPAC and various databases while it's slow at the desk is also very helpful. We have a binder of assignments instructors have shared with the library, so something else I'm going to do when I have more time is to try doing as many assignments on my own as I can so I know what the students will be going through (doing the just the research, not also writing the papers, of course).

I haven't started instruction yet (not until summer sessions), but I can say for reference, you just have to jump in and do it to learn. Making mistakes in front of students isn't fun, but it does at least show them you're human and gives you the chance to find out the answer for future questions.

March 18, 2010

Somewhere in Texas by the yellow sand

I am happy to announce I have recently accepted a job offer in Texas with a community college and will be moving from Tucson next month. I informed friends of this more privately on Facebook and otherwise wanted to wait until I received the official letter of offer, but I'm so excited, I just had to share. I will be doing instruction, reference, and collection development.

Officially, it took me 9 months to find a position I feel is a good match for my background and interests, as well as being in a location that would be able to mesh with my lifestyle. I also needed to keep in mind that my partner would need opportunities to find work, and since he's involved in art, we would need a bigger city.

I really enjoyed the position I've had while searching, and am so happy I had such an excellent supervisor who was also a mentor to me. Unfortunately, the position is unable to be full time and permanent, and there is not really any room to progress.

From being able to work while I searched, I was able to be picky, and I certainly do not take that luxury for granted. My success rate with interviews was pretty good, and now that I do officially have a position, I hope to pass on some advice to new librarians looking for work:

-While in school-

Take full advantage of *everything* your program has to offer. I went into my program with no official library experience, so I was anxious about doing as much as absolutely possible before graduating to give me the background and skill set I would need. Join and participate in numerous student groups and/or get involved in community service projects through other library professional organizations. Go to conferences if you can, take online webinars, go to lectures and resume-writing workshops, etc. Taking an internship or practicum in my program was optional, but I think it should be mandatory -- getting that work experience, mentoring, and potential recommendations is incredibly helpful. The more experience you have, the more opportunities you will have. The following scene from The Secret of My Success is unfortunate but true:
Unnamed employer: I'm sorry, Mr. Foster. We need someone with experience.
Brantley Foster: But how can I get any experience until I get a job that GIVES me experience?
Unnamed employer: If we gave you a job just to give you experience, you'd take that experience and get a better job. Then that experience would benefit someone else.
Brantley Foster: Yeah, but I was trained in college to handle a job like this, so in a sense I already have experience.
Unnamed employer: What you've got is college experience, not the practical, hard-nosed business experience we're looking for. If you'd joined our training program out of high-school, you'd be qualified for this job now.
Brantley Foster: Then why did I go to college?
Unnamed employer: [laughs] Had fun, didn't you?

-During and after school-

Having a professional website and other, electronic means to showcase your "personal brand" is so helpful. Employers have so many candidates to look through now with the economy being the way it is, that the more you can present about yourself and the easier you make it for them to decide if they're interested or not, the better your chances are. I put up a professional portfolio, created this blog, and started a Twitter account. This way, you are able to keep current in the field, and also make it clear how you are interested in contributing to the discourse. Instead of just saying "I'm a great communicator," the hiring committee can also actually see your communication skills in practice. Keeping up with blogs and Twitter feeds makes it much easier to have intelligent answers for tougher interview questions.

It's also useful to install a stat counter or analytics code on your sites if possible. You can see if your information is effective, and also determine what specific pages or files interest a potential employer to know what to focus on more during the interview. I remember for one interview, through my site statistics, I noticed an employer had viewed all of the tutorials I created, so I knew that was of importance to them and was able to discuss that further.

I also kept a spreadsheet of my applications, listing the employer, the position, location, deadline, date I applied, how I applied, and then any notes. When I would get an interview, I would color code that row orange for phone interview, yellow for in-person interview, and then green for job offer or acceptance into employment pool; red was then for rejections after interviews. I found this so helpful to keep track as well as knowing when to follow up.

-While applying-

A favorite instructor of mine from my program told me that you should apply to as many jobs as possible that you think you might be interested in because hiring committees sometimes talk in libraryland; if you're in a lot of candidate pools at various institutions, other institutions might find you even more appealing.

If you aren't able to have a library-related job while searching, then volunteer! Even if it's only a couple hours a week, it shows that you are committed to gaining experience. You could also sign up to be a mentee or do something with your alumni association.

And of course, be aware of what you're putting out there about yourself. I cringe a little when I see soon-to-be librarians cursing and speaking negatively of classmates in their public profiles, because you know most potential employers will look you up. Of course everyone has conflicts and can get stressed, but publicly displaying your grievances about your colleagues doesn't always go over so well, unless you're the Annoyed Librarian and get paid to make people feel better about themselves by tearing others down (was that hypocritical heh).

At the same time, don't hide who you are, because you don't want an employer to think you are one way, and then you might feel like you can't be yourself once you get the job.

Despite being stressful and unsure if there was a (happy) end in sight, I feel like I have really learned a lot about how employment in libraryland works. Hopefully this advice is found useful. If anyone else has tips, please do share in the comments.

February 11, 2010

Grant writing for libraries

I attended the first WebJunction online conference yesterday and the day before, watching presentations on using Tech Atlas, Marketing for libraries, and Library Grants 101. I really enjoyed the Library Grants presentation by Stephanie Gerding, and thought I would share some of my notes. My notes are an overview of the most important points I took away (as I suppose notes are meant to be), so to see the grant writing process cycle, success stories, and more tips, see the archived presentation, as well as the blog on grant writing created by Stephanie Gerding.

Important point: Always focus grant writing on the *people* because funding groups are most interested in helping people. Study what *they* are trying to accomplish and write your grant towards that goal.

What makes a good project?
-matches funder's interests and priorities
-demonstrates strong need
-offers something new, innovative, or creative
-offers a model that can be replicated
-has tangible outcomes or products
-has a reasonable budget and timeline
-includes community partners
-has an evaluation plan that measures progress (and statistics)
-causes a change in behavior, attitude, skill, life condition, or knowledge in the ppl. it serves

Sometimes funders like to give $$ to fads (new, innovative, creative)

Good to have an elevator speech / tell everyone you know, because you never know who will whip out a checkbook

Sources & Resources
Categories -- government (federal, state, local) and private (foundations, corporations/businesses, clubs/organizations, professional/trade associations)

Creating & Submitting Proposal
Show how people will be affected (positively) through getting this funding

Other tips
Always follow directions!
Tell a story in proposal, appeal to emotions
Focus on *positives* and solutions

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