Category Archives: Library Profession

Library Week in the Life

The Library Day in the Life Project has come around and at a very fortunate time for me. I changed jobs back in August, moving from Las Vegas back to my hometown Philadelphia. I’ve been wanting to write something about the new position but have been too busy learning the new position to have much to say about it. But now I’ve been the Liaison Librarian to the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University Libraries for five months now and have, trial by fire, gotten a better understanding of what I am doing.

It is also good timing for me because I have just finished my tenure on American Library Association’s Notable Videos for Adults Committee. I have devoted most of my blog posts to reviews of films that I screened for that group and have been thinking I need to reinvigorate Tombrarian and get back to posting other things as well and feel like the Library Day in the Life Project is a great opportunity to jump start some new ideas for this blog.

For those who don’t know, the Library Day in the Life Project was started by my friend and professional colleague, Bobbi Newman, back in 2008 in response to discovering that someone had found her blog, Librarian by Day, by searching for “What’s a librarian’s day like?” She started this project to let the library community answer that question, providing library students, patrons, other librarians and whomever a resource for understanding what it is librarians do. Library Day in the Life has become a valuable, high profile project that really enhances the profession. Bobbi explains the project:

People participate by sharing a day or week by writing blog posts, tweeting, creating videos and taking pictures. Last round there were just under 250 people signed up on the wiki. There were over 800 people participating via Twitter.  It has grown to be an international project with participants from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, France, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Singapore. Participants are from academic, public, college, special, school libraries, professional organizations and library vendors.

I have participated twice in the past, in the first two years: 2008 and 2009. You can find out more and see who all is participating at this year’s project page.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I have opted to not do a daily update but write a post highlighting some things I’ve worked on for the week. I’m far too busy and/or lazy to chronicle things day-by-day.

So, some highlights:

  • I have recently returned from the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference which was held in Dallas, TX. Mainly, I was there to perform some committee work. I am the Chair of the Video Round Table and, as I mentioned above, serve on the Notable Videos for Adults Committee. This week, I had to follow-up with some of that committee work, contacting a couple of people who volunteered to serve on the round table, submitted requests for meeting rooms for the annual conference in Anaheim in June, and worked with our web committee to post the results of the Notable Videos Committee, which screens nominated documentary films throughout the year and then meets to compile a short list of recommended films.
  • Dove into a project for revising the resource guides associated with the college I serve. Since there was no one in my position for several months, the guides were overdue for some maintenance. I need to make some changes, fix broken links, and clean up the code (those who know me know that I’m ALL about clean code).
  • Set-up a blog and twitter account for communicating with the college.
  • Assmebled a slide show of pictures of libraries I have visited and shared them at a space planning meeting.
  • Met with co-worker to discuss possibly collaborating on an article.
  • Met with a student contemplating library school.
  • Met with representative to analyze the book approval plan that had been established prior to my hire. Suggested some refinements but also need to take a close look to ensure that the plan is meeting current needs.
  • Attended a meeting to provide feedback on a video search interface that would allow more convenient online browsing of our VHS and DVD holdings.
  • Began testing library services and resources on the iPad.
  • Worked 4 hours on the reference desk and 3 hours of reference chat.


An Announcement

I am happy to announce that I have accepted a position as the Liaison Librarian to the College of Media Arts and Design at W. W. Hagerty Library at Drexel University, beginning on August 22nd. I make this announcement almost 4 years to the day of beginning my position as Head of Media and Computer Services at the University Libraries at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I will miss many things about my experience here in Las Vegas, mostly my great friends and colleagues, but the time has come to return to my hometown for this amazing opportunity. I received my MS from Drexel back in 1999 and am very excited to be going back professionally. So much has changed at Drexel and at Hagerty Library since my days there and I look forward to working somewhere new, yet familiar. Being a city boy and born and raised Philadelphian, I am thrilled to be working at an urban university.
I felt a natural affinity with the staff during my interview and am excited to be working with my new colleagues. I appreciate Drexel University Libraries’ forward thinking approach, focusing on the educational role of librarians and the notion of the library as a place of intentional learning. They seem to be an agile organization willing to try new things, as exemplified by their new Library Learning Terrace which is gaining national attention and pushing the conversation about the future of libraries.
Working with the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design will give me the opportunity to work with creative and artistic people on a daily basis. As many people know, I have great enthusiasm for “non-print” aspects of librarianship and am excited to work with a program that offers degrees in areas such as Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Dance, Film & Video, Interior Design and Photography, among others. Some of these disciplines will be very new to me and I look forward to the challenge of learning from my soon to be colleagues.
Here’s a look at some of the exciting things that go on in the college:

And more about the college from the Dean’s message:

At Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, we go about teaching design, media and the performing arts in a different way. Our sixteen undergraduate and five graduate degree programs empower students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to succeed in highly competitive creative fields. Our programs are predominately studio based. That means small classes and hands-on learning. We start with a very special faculty… teachers who have worked at the top of their fields… winning Emmy Awards… designing for top fashion houses… creating art that’s exhibited in the world’s great museums… and as leaders of major cultural organizations and media companies. They bring real life know-how and industry contacts to the classroom but, most importantly, they bring a passion for teaching.

What Is Mid-Tenure Anyway

In my various social circles, I’ve been talking about my upcoming “mid-tenure.” I’m sure my friends in academic institutions know what I am talking about, but I also have friends who are not in academic libraries, and I even have friends who are not (gasp!) librarians at all who probably have little to no idea what I’m babbling on about. So, I want to give a brief overview of what it is and what the process has been like in my place of work.

In the most general sense, tenure invovles successfully completing some kind of probationary period in order to make one’s job more or less permanent. Most employment situations have this even if they don’t call it such.

In many academic work places, usually just for faculty, this “probationary period” is much longer, usually in the neighborhood of 5 to 7 years. The point of this long period of time is to give the faculty member time to prove his or her worth and a scholar, teacher and/or researcher. I put “probationary period” in quotes because even though the position is not permanent, it usually is a contract position. Most often, a person in this position is on a yearly contract that more or less automatically gets renewed unless there are extenuating circumstances.

When faculty members are “up for tenure,” they need to provide evidence of their achievements. A board of tenured faculty members evaluates the work and decides whether or not they have achieved enough to be granted tenure and be given permanent employment.

Many places have a mid-tenure review, which is what I’m heading into and have been talking about. At my library, mid-tenure candidates go through the motions of applying for tenure in order to get feedback from tenured librarians regarding our progress toward tenure. The process for mid-tenure stays within the library. When I am up for tenure, my work gets evaluated at the campus level.

Whether or not librarians should be considered faculty and whether or not they should be held to the same standards as teaching and research faculty is a Ginormous Can of Worms which I am not going to get into here.

Getting one’s work scrutinized is stressful, but the mid-tenure process is meant to be helpful. What candidates gets from the process is constructive feedback on how well their work is progressing and on what they may need to do in the next couple of years to make getting tenure much more likely.

At my library, the process involves a few things, which, I would assume are fairly similar to those at other institutions.

  • As a state funded university, there is a form to fill out in which we provide an overview of our education and work.
  • There is the infamous “packet,” which for us takes the form of a binder. Into this binder, we put any evidence of our accomplishments, including our CVs, annual reviews, annual reports, publications, presentations, the state form and anything else we can think of to help us make our case.
  • Our direct supervisors and our tenure committee provide feedback on our binders and we have some time to make revisions.
  • The bindesr then go to the administrative office in the library where other librarians can go and review them.
  • There is a library faculty meeting where all the candidates field questions about their work so far and plans for improvement.
  • Finally, we get feedback from the library Dean and our direct supervisors.

We get evaluated on three general categories:

  • Job performance: how well we execute our daily job duties.
  • Scholarship: what we’ve published and/or presented. What also gets considered is the quality of the publication or the importance or prestige of the conference where we presented.
  • Service: what we have done to provide additional service to the library, university, and professional organizations.

Although I have been working in academic libraries for 17 years (yikes!) and have been a professional librarian for 10, I have only been a tenure-track librarian since taking this job in 2007. The tenure process is still somewhat new to me. I would be interested to hear what the process is like at other libraries.

2nd Annual Library Day in the Life Project

A year ago, Bobbi Newman over at Librarian By Day, proposed a project asking librarians to chart what we do at work for one day. The results, which you can find at this wiki, were enlightening, mainly because no one seems to have a typical day. July 27, 2009 marks the 2nd Annual Library Day in the Life Project and you can get the lowdown here.

It’s an interesting time for me to take part in this project. I just past my 2 year anniversary at UNLV and I am currently working on my mid-tenure packet, so what I do all day is much on my mind. I had never had a tenure track position before, and I think the prospect of tenure persuaded me to become over-committed to work above and beyond my actual job. At my 2 year mark, I was feeling stretched too thin and decided as I rotated off some committees to limit myself as far as joining any others. I have my committee work under my belt for my mid-tenure packet and intend to focus more on the day job, so to speak. The Day in the Life Project comes at a time of transition for me.

  • Checked email and updated to do list.
  • Took a look at a demo for Swank Digital Campus and contacted rep with a bunch of questions.
  • Set-up a meeting with the Systems Manager for the afternoon and created a list of topics to discuss.
  • Nominated Poisoned Waters for the ALA Video Round Table Notable Videos for Adults. Typed up some notes I made about it.
  • In looking up the links for the Round Table, I discovered that the video presented at the VRT program celebrating the 10th anniversary of Notable Videos is available on YouTube and I wrote a post.
  • Wrote post for our departmental blog promoting some new additions to the collection.
  • Took a look at a trial for American History in Video.
  • Met with Systems Manager and discussed progress on the fall image, getting IP addresses for new copiers, finding time to set-up and test a software trial, and providing access to streaming media content.
  • Worked on mid-tenure packet.
  • Worked on semi-annual report.
  • Updated stats for Media and Computer Services web site and other web services. In updating stats, noticed something amiss with a couple of the media pages, so fixed the problems.
  • Set-up meeting with Web Technical Support Manager for Thursday to discuss LabStats implementation for the public.
  • Google Reader
  • Back to the mid-tenure packet.

Of course, there were a lot of other little routine things during the day too, but these are the items of note. It was a rather calm day, which I haven’t had a lot of recently. Last week was crazy because I was catching up from being out for ALA.

Internet Librarian 2009

I recently received the good news that 2 of my proposals for Internet Librarian have been accepted, so I’ll be heading back to Monterey in October for my 3rd IL.

I presented once before at Internet Librarian and twice for its east coast counterpart, Computers in Libraries but these upcoming presentations will be different because I have only presented solo at these conferences before. The two proposals that were accepted were ones that I submitted with someone else. The conference planners grouped us together with other speakers, most of whom I know. I am rather excited to be presenting with these colleagues and am looking forward to meeting the couple of people who I haven’t met before.

Bobbi Newman, of Librarian by Day fame, and I sent in a proposal about cloud computing. We have been added to a session with Rachel Vacek, Web Services Coordinator, University of Houston and Anna Creech, Electronic Resources Librarian, University of Richmond. We are slated for Monday, October 26th at 3:15pm.  The session is Collaborating in the Clouds: Selecting Tools:

Do you collaborate on documents within committees that are made up of members scattered around the world or your institution? Are you looking for alternatives to mail discussion groups that will push your content out to committees and beyond? And, most importantly, are you interested in tools that manage documents which can easily be transferred as staff and committee rosters change? The first presentation discusses the pros and cons of some of the best online and open source tools for simultaneous creation, sharing, and management of content. Newman covers a variety of cloud productivity tools including word processing, spread sheets, wikis, presentation, calendars, task managers and other free applications. Ipri discusses how the move away from desktop applications is influencing academic libraries. Many libraries are investing time and money in restructuring their public areas into collaborative learning spaces. Will the move to cloud computing assist or undermine these efforts?

Jason Griffey, of Pattern Recognition, and I submitted a proposal about using mobile devices in libraries. We will be presenting in a double session with R. Toby Greenwalt, Adult Services Librarian, Skokie Public Library; Jason Clark, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Montana State University (MSU); Matt Benzing, Information Technology Librarian, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Michael Sauers & Christa Burns, Nebraska Library Commission. We are slated for 10:30 – 12:15 on Tuesday, October 27th. The session is Dreaming, Designing & Using Mobile Library Platforms:

Ipri & Griffey start this double session by explaining why you can’t just replicate your existing web site for mobile users – needs and technologies are different in the mobile world. They discuss how libraries must rethink their services and go with completely new models in light of ubiquitous computing and connectivity. Greenwalt discusses the specific Skokie Public Library’s “going mobile” LSTA grant project to develop a suite of mobile tools, including a mobile website, catalog, text messaging alerts, and mobile reference service. Clark talks about delivering video and images through optimized web sites that work with the next generation of smartphones and mobile devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry Storm, Palm Pre, Google Android). He discusses challenges and advantages of developing mobile sites, the debate between native smartphone apps versus mobile web apps, best practices for mobile web design, and the lessons learned in development processes. Benzing discusses creating alternative versions of a website for mobile users, utilizing needs information of users from surveys, focus groups, and usability testing. The last segment of the session looks at mobile reference, where Sauers and Burns look at the basics of using the Internet on regular cell phones as well as smartphones.