Thing 23: What next?

My 23 Things for Professional Development program has come to an end. This has been a great experience that I am glad I did. I learned about new technology tools, but also had a chance to really think about some bigger issues such as advocacy and lifelong learning. While in the day-to-day grind, it is sometimes difficult to remember to dedicate some time to these important issues and to spend time planning and not just doing.

For my last Thing, I considered my professional development plan. For my job, I have a list of five goals for the year that I have agreed to work on. These are a bit big and broad in nature. For this Thing, I decided to take the guidelines located at
http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/professional along with my library’s new strategic plan and those big goals that are on my PEP and draft a working document. I believe this will be a useful tool. I used the goals from the strategic plan and broke them down into chunks of responsibilities which are in my circle of influence. I believe it will adapt and change as I have more conversations with my supervisor and other library leaders and my understanding of the priorities firms up a bit more over time. This is a start, anyhow.

I’m thrilled with the 23 Things Program. I encourage others to work their way through the Things and discover some great new tools and ideas to further your own library related goals!

Thing 22: Volunteering to gain experience

I must admit – I have never done this. Unpaid library internships are becoming more and more common, and several of my classmates in school took advantage of these opportunities to earn college credit while gaining experience in a particular field of library work.

I have recruited and supervised several interns who took advantage of this opportunity to gain experience in the adult and teen departments at my last library. I even spent some time researching the pros and cons of offering unpaid internships to recent college grads who were still looking for full time employment. I’ve had some excellent experiences with volunteer interns and had some experiences with a few bumps along the way. It seems to work best when the library has very specific projects that need to get done. These projects need to be the kind that are independent and do not require a lot of supervision, or the experience quickly becomes a time drain for the supervisor and frustrating for the volunteer. Being able to recognize when an individual may not be able to deliver in the interview process is also extremely important. It is true that this person is agreeing to work for no pay, but that doesn’t mean it is “free” labor. It costs time and energy to train and supervise, evaluate and provide constructive criticism to library volunteers who are at your location to learn skills to put on their resume. The expectation at the end of the experience is that the volunteer will know how to do certain things or handle themselves better in certain situations and that you as the employer will then vouch for them. It has to be a win/win for all sides involved. If there are warning signs early on that there might be difficulty in coming to that end point – it really is best for all parties to be honest and up front with each other.

Developing an internship program is in my library’s strategic plan for the next five years. I have no idea if I will be involved in any way. If I am, I have very certain views (obviously) on what makes a terrific experience and what doesn’t. From a supervisor’s standpoint I must say that it can be extremely rewarding to get to know a student while they are working through their classes and have all these great fresh ideas spinning through their head and then you get them and make a few of them a reality in a real-world situation. Seeing that person progress through their career is pretty cool too. It is worth the effort as long as you have the time and processes in place to make it a success and you recruit individuals who share your library’s vision.

This post is part of the 23 Things for Professional Development program. This online professional development program provides the opportunity for librarians to explore new technology and outreach ideas and apply them by completing activities each week and then blogging about their experience.

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

About eight months ago, I decided to take the plunge and start looking around for what might be my next career move. This was a very hard decision. I LOVED my job. However, my husband desperately wanted to move to a warmer climate, and I had to say I was ready to make a change in latitude as well. We both started looking for jobs. I was incredibly picky. I was lucky in that I was able to be extremely picky — because I wasn’t in a situation where I had to leave my current job. After casually browsing job ads for about a month, there was a position that looked almost too good to be true. It would have been tempting even if it had been located in a cold-weather climate. The fact that it was located in paradise (the Treasure Coast of Florida), made the opportunity to apply too good to be true.

Before I applied, I realized I needed a game plan. I updated my resume. I also had several people review my resume for me. This is something said over and over, but it really is important. By getting my husband, my mother, and a friend to review my resume – I was able to benefit from having lots of eyes review and catch issues. It was also really helpful for achieving balance in how I presented myself. Things which I thought were super important, weren’t necessarily the things that should take up precious room on my resume and vice versa.

One thing I wanted to highlight was my approach to technology. I like to learn new things and I like to play around with technology. I thought it was important to show my skills in a way that highlighted this part of me – so I created a digital portfolio. I was familiar with the portfolio concept from my time as a landscape designer in a previous life, but had a hard time finding many examples in the library field. Some people had websites or blogs which showed off their skills. One librarian even had an infographic of her experience – which I thought was pretty cool. In the end, I decided to create a prezi of my work experience. It had the main points from my resume, but then went into more detail about specific projects and programs and included pictures, statistics, and quotes from reviews and comment forms. I included the private link to the prezi on my resume.

During this time of exploration earlier this year- I applied to three jobs. The one on the Treasure Coast of Florida was the only one I included a link to my digital portfolio, because I created it specifically to highlight my programming experience. I did receive an invitation to interview. I participated in a phone interview and then moved onto a skype interview. I was very lucky that the organization did not require me to travel to participate in the interview. I may have chickened out. The interview process was different from in my past. I think this is because I had served on several hiring panels in recent years, I was very comfortable during the interviews.  The questions didn’t shock me, I knew what I would want to hear if I was the interviewer, but I also knew that I needed to show who I really was. I didn’t want there to be any surprises. If I was really going to move across the country, they needed to know exactly who they were getting. I also wanted to know as much as I could about this organization and the people who worked there — since I couldn’t just pop in for a few visits and get to know people before committing myself.

By the time I made my move and started my new job, my digital portfolio had received over 100 hits on prezi. My new boss had shared it with the library staff. Everyone knew all about me — the following six months would find me spending lots of time trying to learn all about them!

The job market is really tough right now. It is very uncomfortable to present yourself in positive ways and sell yourself as a librarian who can do great things for your next organization, but unfortunately that is what is generally required to make a job change. Well, that and the willingness to take a leap and jump. I’m glad I did both in order to get to the place I’m currently at professionally.  I will add that having an up-to-date resume and portfolio has come in handy recently when I decided to volunteer to be a library mentor for the Sunshine State Library Leadership program. So, for this thing I took the time to update my portfolio to include current projects and asked my husband to proofread it for me so I have it ready for the next professional opportunity that comes my way, even though I won’t be in the job hunting market for hopefully a long time to come.

Thing 20: The Library Routes Project

Library Roots: How and why I got into the library profession.

In high school I worked part time at a local garden center. I moved my way up from weeding to watering to cashier to florist assistant. When it came time to pick a college and a career, I decided that being a horticulturalist might be a great idea. I loved being outside, and I really enjoyed being around plants. I spent the next four years at Purdue University learning how to design beautiful outdoor spaces. When I graduated, I landed a job with a landscape contractor in Southern Indiana. The owner of the company designed gorgeous gardens for wealthy residential customers and took care of the installation by leading two crews of hard-working guys to carry out the ideas he came up with. I loved the work, although it was very challenging. I was able to participate in some amazing projects. There were a few downsides to this life. It was a very difficult seasonal schedule. More than that, however, was that I was working very hard in the pursuit of money. Not just for myself, but I was always talking someone into trying to spend a little bit more to get better quality building materials or a larger size tree or a better brand of fertilizer. It was always something. There is nothing wrong with this lifestyle, it was just less satisfying than I had hoped.

I decided that if I was going to spend so much time devoted to my career, that career needed to be something that helped others. I wanted to work for a non-profit. The one place that I always wanted to be as a child was the library. My mom would take me all the time to find books and attend storytime. I continued to use the library throughout my life. The idea of working in one seemed like a perfect idea. So I dove head first into this life.

Library Routes: The career path I’ve taken so far.

Once I made the decision to be a librarian, I entered library school. I was a little nervous about going back to school for a masters degree. It wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. No one else in my first semester of classes had quite a bizarre background as I did. Most of them had English degrees or seemed to always want to be a librarian. Despite that, I realized that my background gave me a unique perspective. I also had extensive project management experience by that time, so school work was a lot easier for me the second time around. At the same time that I started back to school, I also applied for a student clerk position at the Greenwood Public Library. It was for 12 hours a week and paid just over minimum wage. I wanted that job so bad for the experience I knew I needed, and was so happy to get it.

The rest is sort of a blur. I worked really hard for the almost two years it took me to earn my degree. I was able to work my way into more and more hours and eventually was promoted to a full time position just before I earned my MLS. The job was terrific. It allowed me to program like crazy, work on lots of different projects, and try just about anything I could dream up to benefit our community. I loved planning programs and classes for adults. I was a little less thrilled about my collection development duties – but it was all a great experience.

After a few years, my supervisor was promoted– which left open an opportunity to become department head of adult reference. I stayed in that position for almost a year before deciding to make a big move to Florida to become Adult Services and Programming Manager for a six-branch system.

I love what I do, and I consider myself lucky to be doing it.

This post is Thing 20 of the 23 Things for Professional Development.

 

Thing 19: Catch up week on integrating ‘things’

Taking a moment to reflect and think about what tools are really going to make the cut is definitely a needed exercise for me personally. I have learned quite a bit from participating in the 23 Things Program. I will not use everything I have been exposed to — but I believe quite a few things have already been integrated into my daily life.

JING – it’s my new copy paste tool of choice. I look forward to hitting that sun button at the top of my screen instead of ctrl-c. I believe it will be most useful for my instructor-specific tasks, but it might be valuable for staff training activities as well.

Google – calendar tools and docs/drive have been great assets to me and will continue to keep me headed in the right direction and communicating with the right people in easy-to-access ways. I now have a Google Nexus 7 tablet, so I am that much more in sync with Google….

Evernote – so much of my job is project management. So many projects… so little time! It is what I love the most about my work and the area I think  I could be managing so much better right now. If I could just get a bit more organized, perhaps I could stay ahead of the game. I need to figure out how to TRULY get away from binders/notebooks/note cards and into the world of digital organization once and for all. I think Evernote may be my way into this new paperless lifestyle. I just need to figure out how to sync my evernote organization with the document creation abilities of google drive. I think a keyboard for my tablet may be helpful — but the biggest thing I can do is just stick with the digital system over the notebook and become more efficient with it. I WILL SUCCEED … dammit!

Social Media – I like having an online life. Some may call it a metalife. Some may be terrified of not saying the “right thing” so they never say anything at all on twitter or facebook or on blogs. I like socializing in these ways, so I will continue to do so. I have been exposed to some really neat ideas by conversing with others online. I will continue to do so in careful ways, knowing the risks that are involved. I like learning. I also really like learning in these social ways. I look forward to the “next thing.” I can’t wait until the day I can organize by different passions a bit better so that when I’m in the mood for librarian stuff – all the tweets, blog posts, linked in discussion posts, list-serv emails and the like all go to one place and are sorted by relevance for what I’m interested in (and searchable, too!). Until then I will continue to peruse these different ways of accessing information in my haphazard way and enjoy it as I go along.

Thing 18: Jing / screen capture / podcasts (making and following them)

I learned how to use screenr for creating tutorials last month as part of a professional development exercise. I created this very simple (VERY BASIC) how-to.

Finding the Weekly Lesson

This 23 Things exercise introduced me to JING. I cannot believe I did not know about this tool before! I copy and paste ALL THE TIME. This software takes those actions to the next level. If you just want to use it as a fancy copy and paste button, you can, but it also offers so much more! I’m so excited to know this exists. Short videos, captions, save-as or copy features galore with this tool. And it seems so easy to use. I’ve played around for a few minutes with it and I really think this will be a huge asset to the kind of stuff I do every day. Yay!

I have used Audacity for years. I used to be a huge podcast fan. I downloaded them, listened to a variety of them about different topics. I dabbled with creating them for a while. I have to say — I’m kind of over them. I’ve let all my subscriptions drop. I have turned to video creation and viewing to fill that need. I think a lot of people are transitioning away from them, as well. Maybe not — but I have a feeling…

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for podcasts — this was a terrific Thing 18! I learned about a new tool that I think will be very beneficial. I encourage others to check out the ideas present on the 23 Things for Professional Development Program.

Thing 17: The Medium is the Message- Prezi and Slideshare

Last year when I presented at the Indiana Library Federation Conference, I decided to create my presentation using Prezi instead of Power Point because I wanted to learn more about this tool that I had seen used for a while, but had not yet experimented with. The learning curve took a few hours. Learning how to scale the project and make it flow did require a few re-starts. I was very happy with the final project, however. It was well received, and the presentation itself told a digital story, even without my narrative. My BOOM!-erang Tactics Prezi can be viewed at: http://prezi.com/1tx3zvgtzgps/boom-erang-tactics-getting-your-publics-attention-and-bringing-them-back-for-more/

I also used Prezi about nine months ago to create a digital portfolio of my work experience. I included a link to this prezi on my resume, which helped me land my current job. Or I think it helped, anyway. I would like to keep this portfolio up to date. Unfortunately that is easier said than done. So, it is not public at this time.

Last month I used Prezi to create an online training module for staff at my library to cover a Food for Fines program. During one week, the library system collected food for a local charity and in exchange the library would wipe out overdue fines. I wanted staff to come out of the experience knowing more about the charity and what kinds of cases they take so that they could make accurate referrals. I also thought it was necessary to review the circulation / computer steps necessary to accurately cancel fines. The prezi seemed like a good medium to dissiminate this information and allowed for staff to learn the information in a more appealing way than just sending out an endless stream of emails. The feedback was mostly positive.

I have not used Slideshare much. I uploaded a presentation once. I have viewed others’ presentations a few times. I might look into it more if I presented more.

For ease of creation, sometimes PowerPoint is still the best choice for a presentation. It is great to know that other options exist. I think the tool used depends on the message that is being conveyed and what the shelf life of that information might be. I would love to see digital project scrapbooks created to visually communicate the impact of a particular service or initiative. That might just be my next prezi project in the not so distant future…