Friday, August 15, 2008

5 years

Today in the LSW Meebo room, Steve and Laura were talking about birthdays and Steve mentioned his blog was turning 3 this month. It made me remember I had started this blog sometime in August, so I went back and looked it up. Yep, Monday, August 11, 2003. This blog turned five, this past Monday, August 11, 2008. Not as ancient as or Whatever, but pretty darn old in terms of blog lifetimes.

In addition to this website being 5 years old, so is my LIS degree. In the mail today, I received a survey from my alma mater sent out to everyone who graduated in 2003 asking about the perceived value of their degrees. As if I needed yet another reminder of how quickly the time is passing. Five years tends to be a magic cut off in libraryland. If you've been working fairly steadily since you got your degree, you're probably over-qualified for many entry level positions, but if you're like me, you may not have the supervisory experience needed to move up in the ranks. Five years flies by like you wouldn't believe, and while you may expect to have some supervisory responsibilities by this point, it's not likely unless you've done some job hopping or you got really lucky (if supervising is what you want to do). This has an impact on my career planning, and the five years of experience and what that experience is in is a major cog in any plans for my future.

I've been thinking about the last five years a lot lately. Much of it in reference to this blog being for and about issues relating to young librarians. After five years in the field, I no longer feel all that "young". I've barely kept this blog updated for the last two years, and I think that's even more indicative of me no longer feeling that young.

I've been on the fence about retiring both the YL blog and YL site. Part of it is that I've built up a professional identity using "younglibrarian" on Gmail, Twitter, FriendFeed and a number of other services so I'm not ready to give up the moniker. The other part of me knows that I'm no longer contributing much to the original mission of the blog and site. I have other outlets where I let my creative energy fly free and I'd rather post in those venues.

What it comes down to is I'm recognizing that I'm in a period of professional maturation, and this part of my life may need to be placed on indefinite hiatus.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

ALA - Day One

Technically, this is my third day in California, but yesterday and Wednesday, I got a wonderful tour of the area from a friend of mine who lives here. We ended up in a few places she’s never been :) We spent Wednesday in the Long Beach, I got to see the Aquarium of the Pacific and touch sharks. Later, we went to the Queen Mary and took the Haunted Encounters tour. I didn’t see or feel anything, but my friend did get a weird picture that we discovered later that night at dinner (had on the water of Alamitos Bay, nice!). Yesterday, we visited the Getty Villa in Malibu. As an anthropology major in undergrad, it was fun and interesting to see all of the classical art on display. Checking my camera, I’ve taken 334 photos in the last two days and one video.

Last night was a great time, as after I got back from Malibu and said good-bye to my friend, I went out to dinner with some librarian friends who are part of my reader’s advisory circle of acquaintances. We discussed what’s been happening in our lives since we last saw each other, what we plan on doing during the conference, and other issues related to our careers. Situations like this is what makes going to conferences so valuable for me. There some things that just cannot be replicated over the Internet, though it’s a wonderful supplement to the building of those relationships :)

On today’s docket is registration, touching base with a few friends, and hooking up with my parents when they get in to town. I may go to a reception or two later tonight depending on how I’m feeling as I’m still dealing with jet lag. Waking up on my own at 6 a.m. is definitely not something I normally do :)

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Monday, June 23, 2008

ALA T -2 days

I received an e-mail earlier this morning from the lovely Kate Hahn reminding me of the need to keep a log of my ALA experiences as part of the requirements of the 3M/NMRT Leadership Award, of which I am a recipient this year. I’ll be posting my logs first to my new-ish professional life blog and copy them to here as a transition piece as I will be updating Digging Out more frequently than I plan on doing here.

So, ALA. This is my third ALA Annual and fifth ALA conference: Annual 2005 in Chicago, Midwinter 2007 in Seattle, Annual 2007 in Washington, D.C., and Midwinter 2008 in Philadelphia. I also attended the Public Library Association National Conference in Minneapolis this past March. This is my first time in the state of California and I’m using it as a great excuse for me to finally visit a friend after telling her for almost 10 years “I’ll try to come out next year”. Planning for the conference has been very elastic, time-wise. Once I received word I had been named a recipient of this year’s award, I made my general travel plans, but let my specific conference planning slide a bit. I’ve been playing around with my schedule for probably the past month and got serious about it roughly two weeks ago. I did get a bit distracted as a number of libraries in the area my office serves are located in communities greatly affected by the flooding in eastern Iowa, though there was no damage to our libraries. (Side note: if you’re interested in helping the affected libraries, please visit the 2008 Flood Resource Center or the State Library of Iowa’s update from June 23rd.)

The joy for me about conferences is I get to see friends I pretty much only see at conferences. However, that is also a bane for me. I have a wide range of friends and it’s hard to visit with everyone for as long as I want to and still be able to go to programs, visit the exhibits and do other conference related things. At this point, I’m about done with scheduling specific meetings with friends because I’m pretty booked and I’m tapped out with planning.

Right now, I’m simultaneously ready to leave for my vacation/conference time tonight and I’m in no way prepared. I was up until 1 am last night packing and sorting through everything I wanted to bring home with me for vacation and the subset of what I wanted to take with me to California. With all of the luggage restrictions, I’m only checking my one large suitcase and will have two carry-ons. The large suitcase felt a bit heavy, so I think I’ll rearrange and cull through what I’ve packed when I’m at my parents’ tomorrow. What’s the rule of thumb for packing for vacation? “Pack what you want to have with you and then take out half of it.”? I realize I’m going to have little space for books and other promo items, but I learned the joy of shipping stuff at this past Midwinter and I’m really hoping there will be a USPS area for us in the Exhibit Hall. At the Public Library Association Conference in Minneapolis this past March, there was only the FedEx/Kinko’s in the convention center and there was just not enough space and staff for the amount of people who wanted to ship. Plus FedEx is typically more expensive than the USPS and I’m all about the saving of money :)

Overall, I’m really excited for this conference. I’ll have a chance to cement relationships that I’ve been building since last year’s Annual and online over the last year. I feel like this conference is both a culmination of projects and goals I’ve been working in my first five years of professional librarianship and a kick in the pants to the next level of leadership.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Cover letters, the current one

Here's the cover letter I wrote for the job I currently have. As you can tell, it, along with my resume, netted me an interview where I nailed the job.

Dear Ms. ___________,

I am writing to apply for the position of Consultant with Southeatern Library Services. (Friend who knows my boss) referred this position to me. Currently, I am a Reference Librarian with the Westchester (IL) Public Library and a part-time Reference Librarian with the Tinley Park Public Library.

My experiences with these public libraries, along with working at the University of Illinois, have exposed me to issues affecting large and small libraries and public and academic institutions. I believe that librarianship is a field of constant learning. I have enjoyed continuing education opportunities with both the Metropolitan Library System, of which Westchester and Tinley Park Public Libraries are members, and the North Suburban Library System in Illinois. The ability to adapt is what will keep us relevant with the constant technological advances of our society. Having a strong support system, especially when working in a small library, is crucial.

I think that my familiarity with the Metropolitan Library System, along with the North Suburban Library System, gives me insights on what a strong library system can offer its member libraries. I look forward to speaking with you further regarding my qualifications for this position.

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Library cover letters, part deux

This is the cover letter I wrote for the job that I interviewed for the day before I interviewed for the job I currently have.

Dear Ms. __________,

I am writing to express my interest for consideration for the Librarian I – Adult Services position (#position) open at the __________ Branch of the __________ Public Library. I am currently a Reference Librarian with the Westchester (IL) Public Library, as well as a part-time Reference Librarian with the Tinley Park Public Library. I received my Masters of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In my position with the Westchester Public Library, I am able to participate in a wide variety of duties. I have gained experience in reference services, reader’s advisory, collection management of non-fiction, fiction, and audio-visual materials for adults, management of interlibrary loan functions, instruction of computer skills, and development of promotional material. I have also assisted with programming for adults and youth, grant management, and the assessment of the library’s strategic plan.

Due to the size of the Westchester Public Library, it is necessary for the departments to work in a highly collaborative environment. I have enjoyed the benefits of close working conditions both within my department and with other departments.

I have been interested in moving to (State of employment) for a number of years. When researching public library systems, I have encountered positive reviews of the ____________ Public Library from librarians in other systems and was pleased to note the position opening.

I look forward to speaking with you further on how my abilities and experiences can assist the Library’s Big Audacious Goal “to be the premier library system, recognized for delivering innovative services.”

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Cover Letter meme

It's not quite as good as having a whole database of Libraryland cover letters, but there are a few of us who are posting various cover letters we've written over the years. Check out Rikhei and Colleen for other examples. This is the earliest cover letter I could find when I was first hunting for a job in grad school. I know I had a couple more before this one, but they seem to be missing from my computer.

Overall, I don't think this was a bad cover letter, but it was written in early 2003 when the job market was especially tight due to a number of libraries downsizing at the time due to cuts in funding after the dot-com bust compounded by 9/11. At the time, from what I understand from people who were hiring at the time, it wasn't unlikely to have applicants numbering in the 3 figures for a position which the year before wouldn't have garnered more than 50.

Dear Ms. _____:

I am applying for the position of Reference Librarian – Science in the __(a university)___ Library. I will be graduating from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May. I am currently employed as a Graduate Assistant at the Veterinary Medicine Library and the Graduate School’s Instructional Technology Office.

I have long been interested in the sciences as I received my undergraduate degree in Anthropology, specializing in forensics, and minoring in Geology. I am currently taking the Science Reference course offered by the school, and taught by Linda C. Smith.

My work at the Veterinary Medicine Library has exposed me to various science-related databases, such as PubMed, CAB Abstracts, and BIOSIS. I have also staffed the reference desk for an average of 15 hours per week where I responsible for research assistance to students and faculty, library instruction for using the physical assets of the library and library web-based resources, and maintaining the library’s website. The Veterinary Medicine Library is a small 1.5 FTE Librarian staffed departmental library serving a specialized clientele. All employees are expected to assist where the need is, and I have been responsible at times throughout my tenure for circulation, processing of reserve material and serials, development of library policy, scheduling of staff resources, assisting with class instruction of new students on library resources, and assisting with student employee supervision. I have greatly enjoyed the large amount of time spent with users that this position has offered me.

The Instructional Technology Office position has afforded me the opportunity to work with users in a computer help desk environment. I have been responsible for technical support of distance education students in the LEEP program through real-time chat and bulletin board technologies and via telephone. I have developed a netiquette guide specific to the LEEP environment, and am currently developing a workshop on web page design with another graduate assistant to be delivered via audio and real-time chat. I have also taught workshops to students on Fireworks and web page design in a traditional classroom environment.

In my classes and assistantship, I have been exposed to collection development issues, and I look forward to learning more through reading current literature and speaking with other professionals.

I look forward to speaking with you further about how my experiences in reference and information technology in an educational environment can assist in the _________ Library’s mission of supporting the current and future instructional and research needs of the _________ University extended community.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I'm still at my office until later this afternoon when I leave for Iowa City, the first stop on my way to Minneapolis for the Public Library Association's 2008 National Conference. As usual, I packed more than I wanted to and still feel like I didn't pack enough. For this conference, I have the added joy of driving up four other librarians who we couldn't place on the 55-passenger travel bus my office helped to organize. I pick my first load up tomorrow at 6 a.m., my last person up about an hour later, and then we'll be on our way. This will be my first time in Minneapolis, so I've armed myself well with maps to help me get around. I only hope there won't be much traffic around lunch time tomorrow.

This conference is going to be a busy one for me as I'm trying to cram in as many programs as I can, as well as touching base with some vendors regarding products my office uses and book publicists I began relationships with back at Midwinter. For those of you who are going and haven't left yet, I leave you with the list of conference tips I sent to the people going on the bus trip:

Other general conference reminders:

1. Wear *comfortable* shoes. You will do a lot of walking at the conference.

2. Have a second choice program planned for each session as you may find your first choice is unexpectedly cancelled, is not what you thought it was to be, or is so popular the room is packed beyond comfort.

3. Plan which vendors you absolutely want to visit in the exhibit hall before you go. I find it easier to have a list with me, as well as questions or issues I want to discuss with the individual vendors.

4. Bring a reusable water bottle with you. Hydration is key to keeping your energy level up.

5. Visit the PLA conference website at to print out session handouts you want ahead of time, as well as a map of the exhibit floor.

6. Schedule some down time for yourself. Conferences can be quite overwhelming, and you will need time to process all of the information you’ll be gathering.

7. Bring your business cards as people will want to exchange them with you. When you receive a business card from someone, note on the back where you met them (ex. “PLA 2008”) and a note about what you talked about so it will be easier to remember them when you’re cleaning out your purse or pockets after the conference.

For more tips to a successful conference, check out this article from the New Members Round Table newsletter, Footnotes:

Trudell, Tapley. “Tips for a Healthy Conference”. May 2007. Page 2.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

BAM Challenge - Heart

I seem to be making a habit of posting my reviews on the last day of the month, aren't I?

Title: Hot
Author: Julia Harper
Genre: Romance
Age level: Adult

First, Julia is a friend of mine. Second, other than the fact I could see Julia's sense of humor shining through, our friendship had no bearing on my enjoyment of this book.

When Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber, aka SpongeBob and Yoda, decide to rob the First Wisconsin Bank of Winosha, Turner Hastings takes the opportunity to do a little thieving of her own. She knows the bank president is crooked and will go to any length to restore the good name of her uncle who had been framed for embezzlement.

FBI agent John MacKinnon always gets his man, or woman. Seeing Turner smile at the security camera after pilfering papers from the bank president's safe deposit box stirs his professional, and other, interest.

There were a lot of things I loved about this novel. I enjoyed the banter between Mac and Turner as they talked on cell phones during Mac's search for her. Also, they were older, well, Mac was. It's been a while since I'd read a romance where the hero was in his forties. And he wasn't one of those eternal frat boys who had a sudden revelation that he needed a serious relationship. We got to see a side of his character other than romantic leading man with the resumption of his relationship with his sixteen-year-old daughter. Then there was SpongeBob and Yoda: great comic foils! There was a ton going on in this story and Julia pulled it all together into a sweet, mature, and fun romance.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

BAM Challenge - Time

Yeah...kind of ran out of time on my own challenge. I'm a good book group leader, aren't I? The book I wanted to do is still sitting unfinished in the pile of books I brought back from Midwinter. However! I did gobble down a historical romance that I got as an Advance Reader Edition in Philly.

Title: Where the Heart Leads
Author: Stephanie Laurens
Genre: Romance
Age level: Adult

I've been a fan of Laurens' Cynster series since the second book when I was looking for new-to-me authors. The cover quotes referencing Catherine Coulter and Amanda Quick, two of my favorite authors at the time, caught my eye. Realizing I had a "second in a series" in my hand, I immediately sought out the first so I could read them in order. Devil's Bride hooked me like the crack *good* romance novels can be. I've stayed with the series through it's highs (Devil's Bride, A Secret Love) and lows (A Rogue's Proposal, which wasn't really all *that* low).

Why this build up? Well, Where the Heart Leads is the first book in a proposed spin-off series featuring Barnaby Adair who is a post-Regency aristocratic private investigator. He's made appearances in the last three Cynster related books as an important secondary character. Along with his three best friends, all proteges of the original Cynsters, he's never believed he'd get married. Barnaby's reasoning is much more sound as he's a third son of an earl and doesn't believe a woman would want to put up with his avocation. Penelope Ashford also feels a unique calling among the ton: getting her hands dirty with the running of a foundling home rather than leaving it to managers.

I savored the way Laurens built the story around these two reluctant lovers. I've enjoyed the development of Barnaby's character in the last few books, and he really stepped up to the plate as a leading man. Penelope is also an intriguing character because she's intelligent, stands her ground when she can support herself, but is willing to concede the field when it's more prudent to do so. Laurens' depictions of East End London in the 1830's create a rich background setting to the story and is a nice alternative to strictly showing life among the ton.

At this point in a series, some fresh twist is needed to keep it alive and Laurens has delivered the goods. I wouldn't say Where the Heart Leads is at the same level as Devil's Bride and A Secret Love, but it is a satisfyingly strong start to Barnaby and Penelope's future adventures together.

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