Guest Posting for Letters to a Young Librarian!

On Thursday morning, my guest blog post, “Worrying About My PhD Life“, for Letters to a Young Librarian went live. I received so many wonderful comments from fellow librarians, library directors, and doctoral students through the LTAYL blog, Tumblr, Twittter, and Facebook. … Continue reading

Presenting Empathy at Annual

I had a wonderful time presenting my Conversation Starter, “You Have My Empathy: What Does Empathy Look Like in the Library?” during Annual. I’m slowly becoming more confident at presenting. I spilt up my session into half overview in presentation … Continue reading

The Mindful Presenter

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an almost paralyzing fear of speaking in public. Despite the fact that I sung, acted, and improvised on stage while growing up, the idea of presenting my own thoughts and opinions … Continue reading

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/

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/.

“Do We Really Need Libraries When We Have the Internet?”

While working as a professional librarian, I would frequently encounter questions like, “Do we need libraries anymore?”, “Is Google putting libraries out of business?”, and “What do librarians do now that you can just go online?” I imagine the majority of people asking these types of questions lack a solid understanding of what librarians do or how libraries operate. In my experience, these people are usually are not regular library users (if at all) or library supporters. But similar questions have been raised in popular media (For examples, see commentary below from The Guardian, NPR, and The Washington Post) so obviously other people are asking the same questions at public libraries across the country.

To the public, libraries often are believed to be only warehouses of books, documents, and other sources of information. More repositories than anything purposeful, create, innovative, or interactive. If libraries are seen as simply public attics where lots of different things can be dumped, organized, and preserved, then I can understand why the death of libraries seems imminent to many. As more and more books, documents, and other random formerly printing items are digitized and placed online, physical locations to collect, store, and retrieve these items doesn’t seem necessary. But libraries are so much more than warehouses and librarians do so much more than check out books.

Anyway, all of this and much more on the survival of libraries, librarians, and print books has been covered in newspaper, magazine, and journal articles, not forgetting  lectures, podcasts, panels, campaigns, etc. The words ‘relevant’, ‘digital age’, innovate’, ‘and ‘change’ appear frequently in the titles of these articles and presentations. I’m curious why these topics has been hyped so much in the press. The way “library survival” is discussed in the media seems almost doomsday-ish. “What will happen?!?! Panic!! Disaster!!” I wonder why. Is it because of the rise of e-Books, smartphones, and other devices? Or it is because of the budget cuts that so many libraries are experiencing across the country? Or something else entirely?

From where do you think this anxiety is comes? How much is based in reality and how much is just misunderstanding of libraries and the librarian profession?

Also, fellow librarians, what do you say when you encounter naysayers of the future of libraries? Have you developed an automatic response after hearing these questions so often?

Library and Librarian Positive Reads:

Who Needs a Librarians When You Have Google?

Neil Gaiman’s Why Our Future Depends on Librarians, Reading, and Daydreaming

The Digital Age is Forcing Libraries to Change. Here’s What That Looks Like.

What Can Libraries Do To Survive in the Digital Age?

Twin Cities Libraries Innovate to Stay Relevant in the Digital Age

Kansas City Public Library Missouri!

Kansas City Public Library Missouri!

The Information Researcher and The Librarian

While I was at ALA earlier this week, these questions appeared in my mind frequently whenever I tried to explain my research to librarians: How useful do practitioners see the work of information researchers? What impact do they perceive scholarly research as having on everyday librarianship? Are information researchers even thought of as librarians struggle with budget cuts, library closures, and other demands on their resources and time? I’m a relatively new academic, and I come from a public library background. I find myself trying to answer these questions drawing from my experiences on both sides: academia and library.

I hear myself saying this often (at least inside my head) that there isn’t enough scholarly research into public libraries. When I started the doctoral program I wanted to have more of a focus on public libraries, but I ran into a wall when trying to find literature I could work with. Mainly what I’ve found have been manuals, how-to guides, and marketing articles on library services, assessment, and design. I’m not entirely sure why this is so. From what I’ve heard (or made up/misheard/misunderstood), it’s difficult to find funding for research that isn’t focused on information systems, information management, knowledge management, and the like. The STEM fields seem to be getting the bulk of the research funding. More quantitative, less qualitative. I have leanings towards qualitative research so…..An example, I’m fascinated by library history research, but I wonder how difficult it would be to find a faculty position as a library historian and how worthwhile would others see my work. Is this why public library research is so difficult to find? Because funding and few potential faculty jobs discourage LIS researchers?

But would librarians see the value of research with the public library as the focus? Would professional librarians, who have been educated in LIS literature, relate what they are doing in their libraries to data-driven library research? To be honest, when I worked as a public librarian the concept of “scholarly literature” on information theory, information behavior, information access, and librarianship rarely crossed mind. Yet, if public libraries want to be taken seriously and seen as more than just book loaners by the public, libraries should engage in more research partnerships with iSchool or L-Schools. Am I on the right track here, completely clueless, or overly idealistic?

Random picture of Chicago

Random picture of Chicago. Because why not.

tumblr + librarians = tumblarians *

Somehow, despite my attempts to maintain a professional restraint on social media, I’ve become addicted to Tumblr.Over the past couple of months I’ve transitioned from lurker to a full blow devotee. It combines the freedom of blogging with the ease of Twitter. Basically it’s fun and a bit less intense than Facebook. Maybe what really drew me to Tumblr is the tumblrarian phenomenon. And I’m a part of it. A newbie tumblarian looking at with non-practitioner-at-the-moment eye. It’s been going on since 2011. Where have I been?

For me (and many other librarians) Tumblr has become a way to support one another, talk about the profession, advocate for libraries to non-librarians, and exchange ideas for library programming/collection development/other resources. As a social media researcher I would be curious to look into why some librarians are turning to Tumbr as opposed to other social networking sites? How has these librarians’ Tumblr use impacted how they perceive and present their profession? How has this impacted their professional duties? Has librarians use of social media improved library services?

As I writing this I’m attending ALA’s annual conference in Chicago where librarians are facebooking, tweeting, and tumblring (?) meetings, workshops, and social events. I’m curious what others think about social media and its uses as an information source for professional librarians. Are some sites more “education friendly” than others? How much of this use is social? How much is knowledge exchange or informal learning? How can LIS educators successfully use these tools to inform and educate future librarians? How can librarians successfully use these tools to inform and educate patrons?

*a kind tumblarian laura-in-libraryland let me know that the tag has shifted to drop the extra ‘r’ –tumblarian!

Tumblarian Reading:

Library Journal: The Library is Open: A Look at Librarians and Tumblr

The Digital Shift: Tumblarian 101: Tumblr for Libraries and Librarians