The Impact of Our Work on Ourselves

While interviewing rural librarians and young adults for my dissertation over last summer, I had the most surprising conversation with one high school librarian. We’ll call her Mary to maintain confidentiality. Our interview turned to the topic of how our work with patrons … 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 These interview will be short and very informal (I promise!). Think of participating as one small step towards bridging the theory-practice divide. (Yes?)


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