I’m up to stuff at ALA Annual (a.k.a Researching #alaac14)

On Thursday, I’ll be among the thousands of librarians attending ALA Annual in Vegas! This is my second appearance at Annual and first in Vegas. Last year I won one of ALA’s Student-to-Staff program grants to attend Annual in Chicago. I’m not sure how well known this program is among students, but there are a surprising number of grants to go to all sorts of conferences for free or low cost. I would recommend MLIS, even PhD, students to apply to this program next year. It’s a great way to go behind the scenes at Annual and it looks look on a resumé/CV. My work placement was in the Networking Uncommons, helping with spontaneous programs and dealing with tech issues. Which is incredibly amusing if you know my level of tech skills.

But this time I will be at Annual mainly as a researcher. As part of a larger study, I’m interviewing librarians about how they use social media to engage with young adult patrons. I’m surprisingly nervous about conducting research interviews for the first-time. Maybe because I’m expecting to find most of my interviewees while at sessions and roaming the convention center. Approaching complete strangers is not one of my strengths. This will be especially difficult at a busy and chaotic conference like Annual. But a conference like this is a too-good-to-miss opportunity to chat with librarians. Learn a bit more about what I’m investigate here.

Some of the sessions I’m planning to attend: Annual Unconference, Data Driven Decision Making (LRRT), YA Author Coffee Klatch, Teaching Teens How to Fail, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens, Creativity and Innovation (LRRT), Deciding What’s Next for YALSA, Teen Space 201, LRRT Committee Meeting.

Please say hello to me! I’ll probably try to interview you…Fair warning.

If you are interested in being interviewed by me (and who wouldn’t??), please e-mail me at alp07@my.fsu.edu. These interview will be short and very informal (I promise!). Think of participating as one small step towards bridging the theory-practice divide. (Yes?)

 

Diving Into Real-Live Research Headfirst

Last semester I began my first official (at least that’s what I’m calling it) research project. It began with calls for participation via social media, list-servs, and blogs to librarians across the United States. Slowly but surely, people began respond to my little online survey. I’ve snuck a few peeks at the responses, but I’m looking forward to actually digging into them. There has been some surprises! But what I’m been most surprised (and pleased) by is how enthusiastically and positively librarians have been responding to my pleas for help. This is a good reminder of how motivated, thoughtful, and engaged our community can be. We librarians are helpful by nature, but this is a step beyond what I expected. Hopefully, those who participated in the survey believe that research like mine can add something to our field. These librarians have been very giving with their time and input, especially since they aren’t received any compensation for taking my survey. I have no money/stuff to give them. Maybe one day? I’m relatively sure that once/if you get a tenure track position, the money just flows in.

In this study, I’m investigating how librarians engage with young adult patrons through their library’s social media profiles; and what role(s) do librarians see social media as playing in marketing and promoting library services. Surprisingly (to me anyway), there hasn’t been much in the way of scholarly research into the perceptions and attitudes of librarians have towards social media. Especially public librarians. Although public libraries are well covered in the practitioner publications (American Libraries, Library Journal, etc.), there is a significant gap in the LIS literature about public librarianship. This study is my first step into doing my part to add to public library and librarian focused research.

Over the next two months, I will work on the second step in this project: conducting interviews with librarians. This is my main reason for attending ALA Annual this year. Besides the social events and general funness of Annual, it seems like a good place to find willing interviewees. Well, that’s my game plan anyway. This will also be my first experience conducting interviews. I’ve heard that it’s not an easy process, particularly for introverts. The intense focus that interviewing demands will be challenging for me. But I’ll survive! I’m not the first introverted, non-talkative person to conduct research interviews. And I probably won’t be the last. Expect a blog post during Annual about my experiences – good or bad.

Of course you can still help me out!

In case you would like to participate in the survey, there’s still time. Here’s the link: https://fsu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_22YzFRW6XwThz8h

If you are planning to attend ALA Annual and would be kind enough to sit down for a brief interview, please e-mail me at alp07@my.fsu.edu or comment below!

I’m a Newbie Published Author!

I’m officially a published author as of last Thursday. My first peer-reviewed journal article has been published in the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA). It’s a very exciting/intimidating experience to see your name in print, out there in the world for anyone to read. The peer-reviewed publication process is (unsurprisingly) long and challenging. After submitted a paper, there’s the sometimes lengthy wait to hear whether it has been accepted, accepted with major/minor edits, or rejected. Then there’s the peer-reviews, which are a delightfully agonizing read. After a back and forth of changes and corrections, your paper is okayed for publication. Copyright forms are figured out (I’m confused by legalese) and signed. Followed by another wait for your article to actually be published.

Luckily, I’ve had terrific experiences with JRLYA, Journal of Education for Library and Information Studies (JELIS), and Public Libraries Quarterly (PLQ). The editors are friendly, encouraging, and understanding. This is exactly what I (and probably many other writers need). Having your writing read, judged, and openly critiqued is uncomfortable. I blogged about my experience with the peer-reviews I received from this JRLYA article back in November. As a perfectionist by nature, I’m already prone to intense self-criticism and doubt. Peer-reviews rarely help ease these feelings. But I’m learning to make peace with peer-reviews. Well…as much as I can.

I’ve also deposited my article into the Diginole Commons, FSU’s virtual repository for electronic scholarship. I love the idea of providing open access to my work. For some reason do this makes me feel even more a part of a research community. I look forward to depositing more in the near future. My article in PLQ comes out in September, and another article will appear in JELIS in October. Hard work can pay off. I could gush more about writing and publishing, but I’ll contain my enthusiasm. I’m only jumping up and down a little bit right now. And nobody can see….

Read my article, More Than Just Books: Librarians as a Source of Support for Cyberbullied Young Adults, via the link below. You know you want to! Yes you do.

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/2014/05/more-than-just-books-librarians-as-a-source-of-support-for-cyberbullied-young-adults/

Social Media-ing the NASA Space Apps Challenge

Tomorrow, another doctoral student, Julia Skinner, and I will take part in the NASA Space Apps Challenge. (Julia’s also a blogger –http://juliacskinner.com/ !) We will be tweeting, facebooking, instagramming, and other social media-ing during the two day hackathon challenge. Julia and I look forward to responding to questions, comments, thoughts, encouragements, and/or suggestions directed to us.

How Can You Follow Us??

Twitter: @abigailleigh (me) & @bookishjulia (Julia); hashtags – #spaceapps & #spacecats.

Instagram: antiquatedabby & bookishjulia

Tumblr: I’d Rather Talk About Books (me) & Bookish Julia

Vine: abigailleigh

We’re EVERYWHERE! Maybe even more. I lost count.

Why yes. This is our team logo. Image courtesy of Blayne White.

Why yes. This is our team logo. Image courtesy of Blayne White.

Our team name is Cats in Space (naturally). Also naturally, our project involves cats and space images. Our team is a mixture of FSU and FAMU college students, teachers, local professionals, all interested in science, technology, and arts. The local location for the challenge will be Making Awesome, a Maker Space in Tallahassee. It will be a long (but fun!) two days, fueled by coffee and weird cat related space jokes. Please check out what we are creating and cheer on Team Cats in Space!

More information about the Space Apps Challenge:

2014 NASA Space Apps Challenge – Official site

Media Invited to 2014 International Space Apps Challenge Main Event in New York

 

Twitter & Librarianship

Recently, I’ve found myself reflecting on how librarians use Twitter as a source for professional development, encouragement, and support. (I’ve discovered that everything become researchable once you begin a doctoral program.) For me, Twitter is a professional tool. I use it to solely as a way to engage with librarians, libraries, researchers, and colleagues. I’ve only been actively engaged with Twitter for just over one year. During this time, I’ve participated in librarian related discussions, such as #libchat, and watched library trends rise and fall. I feel more connected to libraries and librarians through my Twitter use even though I’m not currently working in libraries. Unlike Facebook, which I consider my “personal” social media profile, there’s a strong sense of community among librarians and libraries on Twitter. A similar sense of community exists on Tumblr, FriendFeed, and to a lesser extent, Facebook (at least for me). I’m sure there are more examples of librarian communities on social media, but I can only be engaged so much.

The librarian community looks slightly different on each social media platform depending on the users, capabilities of the platform, and how engaged its users are. I’m addicted (in a professional way) to Twitter. The conversations on Twitter move quickly, are more focused (perhaps because of the character limitations), and encourage participation outside of a narrow set of users. It feels as though users are engaged in real time, dynamic discussions within a group of people. I’ve experienced this in a limited way on Facebook as part of the ALA Think Tank group. Yet, for me, Facebook is more exclusive and geared towards drop-in discussions (I’m thinking of discussion boards). This isn’t a  critique of Facebook, but just an observation and something to reflect on.

I’ve become fascinated with the controversies, uproars, and hypes that can spring up on Twitter. If you are part of a community or network for a decent amount of time, you can watch these events rise and fall from beginning to end. Last Thursday, Rainie (2014) from the Pew Research Center discussed the six types of Twitter conversations. This report inspired me to think about how the trends, hypes, controversies, etc. could be classified in the librarian Twitter community or even if they could fall neatly into one type. I’ve spent some time attempting to figure out where the conversations within this community would fit best. My guess is ‘tight crowds’, especially during conferences and other organized events. But then again, when disagreements occur within the librarian community, could this conversation be considered ‘divided’. Are these conversation categories all or nothing? Can a community shift from one to another or balance between two types? What type of Twitter conversation is missing from this list (if any)?

References

Rainie, L. (2014, March 20). The six types of Twitter conversations. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/20/the-six-types-of-twitter-conversations/.

Guest Blogging for Overworked TA

I’ll be guest blogging for Overworked TA over the next couple of months. My first post, published last Friday, is called Don’t Panic! It’s Only Your 1st Semester as a Doc Student.

Blurb about the post:

“This guest post provides guidance and suggestions on what to expect and how to cope during the first year of a doctoral program. Although this experience can be challenging, stressful, and anxiety provoking, don’t panic! This post will provide some words of wisdom(ish) from someone who has survived and thrived during that first year.”

I’m looking forward to writing more about my experiences as a doctoral student for this wonderful blog. Please keep an eye out for my future posts!

On Structured & Unstructured Chaos

Now that I’ve completed the coursework portion of my doctoral life, I’ve lost the structure of designated class meetings, assignment due dates, and syllabi. Now I’ve entered the unstructured world of independent study and writing. This semester I’ve been gearing up for my prelim statements, working on a pilot study, and writing (writing, writing, writing….). It’s been a significant adjustment from the first year and a half of the doc program. I have been surprised at how much of a challenge this change has been for me. I’ve always prided myself at being an independent worker, working best without a rigid schedule. I struggled in a 9 to 5 work environment, so more flexible schedule of the doctoral program has been a welcomed relief. But with this freedom has come more responsibility and a bit of chaos.

For the most part, my educational career, from elementary school to PhD, has been designed for me by an instructor. Usually, I didn’t have much input into what the assignments were, how the information was presented, or how I could organize my time. Over the course of this semester, I’ve learned (slowly) how to develop my own schedule, complete with self-imposed flexible deadlines. Last week I shared some of  my anxieties over the unstructuredness of this semester with a couple of doc students. It seems to be a shared feeling. I felt much better about myself after learning this! While we have always been good students, it has been within the confines of an organized and pre-planned coursework. At first, this relatively complete freedom is somewhat terrifying. It’s an intimidating load to take on, especially after an intense couple of semesters worth of coursework. For me, it feels as though I’m trying to multitask at an nth degree. I’ve never been a believer in multitasking, but I keep finding myself trying to juggle all these different tasks. Over and over again I would construct a to-do list that would only result in stressing me out more. The opposite of helping me get anything done. But after this initial nervousness and confusion, I think I have figured out how I can organize it all (for the most part). My approach is not easy, pretty, or even logical to other people. But it works for me and I’m finishing stuff. The chaos has been managed(ish).

Part of my approach is to cut myself some slack. My perfectionism has a habit of sneaking in and preventing me from working as confidently as I’d like. Nobody expects perfection, so why should I?