Posted in blogging about LIS, web 2.0 tools

A Beginner’s Guide to Library School

This past weekend the OR-12 cohort had orientation. As OR-10 moves from library school and fully into the world of information professionals, it’s time to let the new kids take over, but not without some parting gifts. Those gifts: lots of links and information to help you out as your journey begins!

Congratulations! You’re in library school. And if you’re with Emporia’s School of Library and Information Management (SLIM), you are very lucky indeed.  It can be very overwhelming after orientation. There’s a lot of information (appropriate as Information Overload Day is in August) and two years can seem like a long time. First things first: it’s okay to be overwhelmed. There’s a lot coming at you all at once. Recognize it for what it is and then start to parse things out. Once you get into a rhythm, it becomes much easier.

Now some tips and tricks.


  • Get a Twitter account. Right now. And follow us @SCALAoregon. There’s a ton of information out there and Twitter is an amazing way to get a lot of information in small and easy to digest pieces. Are you stuck looking for a topic for a paper on reference? Tweet to your followers and get some feedback. Find out about events and goings-ons in your neck of the woods or follow live tweets from conferences and events you couldn’t get to.
  • Start a blog (like Turner). Or at least start following a lot of blogs. Share your ideas with the world, get involved in the comments, and connect with your community. I follow the Public Library Association (PLA), the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) blogs because I am interested in public youth librarianship. Where are your interests? Find the association relevant to that and start following their blog. Other great blogs to follow include:
  • Be like Jim Carrey in the middle of this movie. Say yes to every opportunity even it seems like you maybe don’t know how to do it (thanks to Rachel Bridgewater for this advice). Go to that conference. Speak up in class. Present that paper. You can do so much more than you know and even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, there are learning opportunities at every turn. This is how you start to network.
  • Listen to your adviser (especially if it’s Perri). She knows the system, knows how to help you, and can get you to the end. In fact, she is what will get you to the end and you’ll feel a sense of pride on graduation day when she calls your name.
  • Get a library job or a volunteer position. Like yesterday. Volunteering is a fantastic way to find out what you want to do with your degree or maybe what you don’t want to do. Libraries love volunteers and they love library students. Multnomah County’s Volunteer Services has a number of options for those who want to work in libraries. Go ahead and ask around.
  • Sign up for list-servs. Your school one, a job list, one for your state. If you’re in Oregon, Libs-Or is invaluable. You may want to filter them into a different folder so it doesn’t overwhelm your in-box, but this is a great way to get information about conferences, articles, what’s going on with your school and state.
  • Back up your work. Save it on your computer, then again on a jump drive or external drive (or both). Load it up into Google Docs (which changes the formatting, but the content is still there) or Dropbox (which doesn’t change formatting). As an aside, these last two are great ways to collaborate with your classmates on projects.
  • Read Turner’s advice for new students.
  • Join your student organization. Want to do more than attend events? Lead them! Gain leadership skills! Make friends! Learn how to fund raise and do it some more! (PS: Elections for the new SCALA Oregon board are on Saturday. More information will be posted soon).
  • Join a national organization. As a student you get a great deal with combo ALA/OLA memberships.


  • Bemoan group work. You’re going to have a group project nearly every semester and likely one per class. Librarianship is about collaboration and what you do in library school is great practice. It teaches you how to work together, how to lead, and how to present. You will get very comfortable with your classmates and they are the easiest audience you will every present in front of. Cherish this time.
  • Freak out if you can’t do any or all of this in the first semester. Give yourself time to figure out how to organize your life. You’ll get there.
  • Forget your friends and how to have fun, but “I have a project due” is a great way to get out of anything. They’ll understand.

Good luck to OR-11 as they move into their final year and to OR-12 as they plunk away at the first months of library school life. You’re now a member of an amazing community. Welcome!

Rebecca Chernay is a member of the recently graduate ESU’s OR-10 cohort and specializes in children’s and youth librarianship. She is the current Web Presence & Social Networking Coordinator for SCALA, but is excited to hand the post off this Saturday.

Posted in blogging about LIS

What We Love About Library School and Libraries, Part 2

Here are some more responses about why SLIMsters love library school and libraries.

“Even the most boring classes are made fun because I am making so many new friends.  To learn with them is an inspiration, and anyone who will work with them will have a great time.  And – I have had the most exciting class last weekend.  We learned how to repair books!”
-Tyrene Bada (OR 10)

“Library school has confirmed my faith in my desired profession. Everything seems to be changing, but the ambiguity that we live in feels charged with energy and creativity. Everyone I have interacted with as a student – from classmates and instructors to professionals in the field – has allowed for an amazing exchange of ideas, making me believe that every thing is going to be okay.”
-J. Turner Masland (Blogger extraordinaire of Dewey’s Not Dead, OR 10)

“I love libraries.

When I walk through the aisles of books, I can’t help but think of all the different people who have
touched these books: who have stayed up late reading them in bed, who have learned something new,
who have read them to their children, who have contributed to the history of these books by borrowing
and returning them for others to enjoy.

I think about the child who says just one more chapter before bed. I think about the little boy who
scoffed at getting his own library card until I told him that with the card he can learn about anything he
wanted. “Even garbage trucks?” he asked. As I answered yes, he ran off calling his mom and shouting
excitedly that he was going to get a library card and learn about garbage trucks. I love the possibilities
that present themselves for readers and I love that I get to be a part of that.”
-Amy Relyea (SCALA Treasurer, OR 11)

Posted in blogging about LIS

What We Love About Library School and Libraries, Part 1

Valentine’s Day was Monday and it’s got me in the mood for love…of libraries. I want to make this a week of library love on the blog, so I asked the SCALA board and the current two cohorts what they love about library school and libraries. This is what they had to say:

“The smell of old books, the soft click of a mac book, and work worth waking up for.”
Rachel Arkoosh (SCALA Secretary, OR 11)

I love library school because not only am I learning but it gives me many opportunities to research, network, participate in conferences, practice innovation, be creative, and discover.  I love libraries because they represent the definition of community within education.”
-Kirsten Himes (SCALA Co-Vice President, OR 10)

“Library school has given me a direction in life. Every project I work on, every paper I write, every discussion I participate is guiding me in my career and helping me grow. I want to be a librarian because I love libraries. I love the opportunities the provide to people who might not have a lot of resources. I love the face on children when they find the book they want to read over and over again. Libraries are amazing community resources and I am glad to be a part of that.”
-Rebecca Chernay (SCALA Web Presence & Social Networking Coordinator, OR 10)

Posted in blogging about LIS

Shushing and Shelving: Librarians in Pop Culture

“Wait, you need a master’s degree to be a librarian?” “Why do you need that to shelve books?” “Oh, you’re going to be a librarian? You must love books and reading!”

Being a library science students means fielding questions and comments like these. Even before OR-10 started their first semester with SLIM, they were like bombarded with these misconceptions as I am sure OR-11 is now. It is hard to blame the public as popular culture has helped misconstrue the career we are working toward.

When the public imagines a librarian, what do they see? Likely the image they conjure will be an older, bespectacled white woman in dowdy clothes and her hair tied back in a bun. What’s she doing? Shelving books. Where do they get this idea? It’s everywhere! Very rarely do we see a representation of a librarian or the library that does not involve this image. In Recasting the Debate: The Sign of the Library in Popular Culture, an article OR-10 read for our first course (LI801 – Foundations of Library and Information Science), the library in popular culture was discussed by examining the representations of librarians in three movies. For the majority, this representation of the librarian

be it female or male, is overwhelmingly stereotypical and emphasizes negative features such as lack of imagination, dowdy appearance, excessive orderliness, indecisiveness, and, generally, a “mousy” character.'” At the other end of the (still) negative stereotype is the Nazi librarian who guards the books he or she is entrusted with to the point of absurdity and whose sole purpose in life is the humiliation of the main (sympathetic) character (Tancheva, 2005, p. 530-531).

Think about this for a moment and think back on TV shows and movies you’ve seen with a librarian in it. How many line up with Tancheva’s statement? There are two parts to this stereotypical representation that seems to have the public befuddled about our (future) profession: image and activity. When first thinking about this blog post, I made a list of all of the movies and TV shows I could remember in which librarians were featured in some way and I come up with eight. Three of them really stood out in comparison to Tancheva’s statement: Ghostbusters, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (which was one of the films discussed by Tancheva). In these three films, we have a group of older female librarians, dedicated to order, and generally mousy. When we first see the (living) librarian in Ghostbusters, what is she doing? Shelving and in a frumpy sweater, no less. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the woman behind the counter hates noise and seems generally annoyed that anyone, particularly someone like Audrey Hepburn, would want to look at a book (it’d be out of order then, after all) and is billed as a librarian even though our only indication is that she holds power of access in the library. In Star Wars we have a woman, even in a technologically superior galaxy far, far way, so committed to her classification scheme that when something isn’t where it should be, it is deemed not to exist. Finally, when the titular characters happen upon the ghost librarian in the basement in Ghostbusters, what is she doing? Reading. And shushing. Even when we’re dead we’ve got our noses stuck in books and our fingers stuck to our lips!

While it may be seemingly hip to be a librarian these days (even though people don’t know what it means), the image is still stereotypical. Take this line from the 2007 film Juno discussing  “girls who play the cello and wear Converse All- Stars and want to be children’s librarians when they grow up.” We’ve got our quirky, counterculture character conjuring up an image of a severe looking white woman, hair in a bun, glasses of course, sitting behind a desk, and looking generally alternative and not friendly. As someone who does wear Converse and is going to be a children’s librarian, this doesn’t look like a children’s librarian to me. The word children seems to just be a throw away concept because, of course, a librarian will always looks like that, despite the multitude of specialties and interest areas. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in archives, are going to work in a music library, do cataloging, be the master of access services, or anything else. If your title is librarian, this is your image. You’ll be delightfully befuddled by the world outside your library like Evy in The Mummy. If you’re in the library, you’ll always be filing and wearing glasses like Lynn in Major League. And you’ll be a woman, like in seven of the eight examples I came up with.

This isn’t to say that all popular culture representations of librarians are negative or totally stereotypical. Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a man (surprise!), a mentor, and uses the library as a center for learning. Plus, he doesn’t spend a whole lot of time shelving books or shushing. The movie that really inspired this post was Party Girl, an independent film from 1995 staring Parker Posey that centers around the library in a positive, mostly nuanced manner. This is one film I know of that talks about the virtues of academic versus public libraries, the need to go to school to be a librarian, the importance of cataloging, and how to really help a patron through reference interviews and thorough service. Though Mary does get obsessive with Dewey Decimal Classification (because it’s a library and shelving must be shown!), at least she has reasoning behind it. However, even this movie is exempt from librarian stereotypes. When Mary decides she wants to be a librarian, how does she show it? By ignoring her idiosyncratic tastes in fashion for a pulled together suit and her hair pulled back.

Unlike Party Girl, which differentiates between librarians and library paraprofessionals, for many people, anyone working in a library is a librarian. Just see this article from the Oregonian last month about the Heathman Hotel’s library regarding their special collection. The undergraduate student working in the library is referred to as a librarian even though her job duties are described as pulling books for guests, building a collection database for the hotel, and talking to guests about books and writing. The comments section includes a note from someone also confused about the supposed librarian status of the undergraduate, which is unfortunately followed by the a comment including the aforementioned assumption: anyone working in, managing, doing anything related to a library is a librarian, special certification not required.

So what does this mean for those of us studying and striving for that special certification? It means we have got work cut out for us. Libraries are losing funding, losing professional-level staff, losing hours, and their buildings. After all, why pay someone that much money to shelve books? We have to inform the public about librarians and what they actually do. We know they are important, but instead of just bemoaning the misconceptions, we should correct them, let people know there is  so much more to being a librarian than shelving books. We are future information professionals, so let’s disseminate! We should be passionate and shout, like Mary, “I want to be a librarian” and then show the world what that actually means: we don’t all shush, we aren’t all women, some of us enjoy fashion, some of us aren’t into literature or books. We’re (future) librarians and we’re as diverse as the people we serve.

And sometimes we might want to yell about classification schemes. As a bonus, here’s one of my favorite scenes from Party Girl. Classification is important!


Birckmayer, H. (Producer), & von Scherler Mayer, D. (Director). (1995). Party girl [Motion  picture]. United States: Sony Pictures.

Brillstein, B. (Producer), & Reitman, I. (Director). (1984). Ghostbusters [Motion picture]. United States: Columbia Pictures.

Drake, J. (Producer), & Reitman, J. (Director). (2007). Juno [Motion picture]. United States: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Hallman Jr., T. (2010, September 21). Portland’s Heathman hotel library is one of a kind. The Oregonian. Retrieved from

Jarre, K. (Producer), & Sommers, S. (Director). (1999). The mummy [Motion picture]. United States: Universal Pictures.

McCallum, R. (Producer), & Lucas, G. (Director). (2002). Star wars episode II: Attack of the clones [Motion picture]. United States: Twentieth Century Fox.

Rosenberg, M. (Producer), & Ward, D.S. (1989). Major league [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

Shepherd, R. (Producer), & Edwards, B. (Director). (1961). Breakfast at Tiffany’s [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

Tancheva, K. (2005). Recasting the debate: The sign of the library in popular culture. Libraries & Culture, 40(4), 530-546.

Whedon, J. (Producer). (1997-2003). Buffy: The vampire slayer [Television series]. Los Angeles, CA: Twentieth Century Fox.

Rebecca Chernay is a member of ESU’s OR-10 cohort and plans on specializing in children’s librarianship. She is the Web Presence & Social Networking Coordinator for SCALA, a lover of movies (and movie trivia), and a baker of cupcakes and other goodies. As of yet, she has not yelled at anyone about shelving books or classification schemes.

Posted in blogging about LIS, resources

Ten Practical Tips for New Library Students

(Many thanks to Monique Lloyd for contributing the following article. The SLIM-OR SCALA Blog welcomes submissions relevant to library and information science. If you would like to submit an article, please attach it to an e-mail and send it to: VintageRedhead22[at]gmail[dot]com. We look forward to your contributions! –Laureen Burger, Web Manager)

by Monique Lloyd (OR-7)

If you really want something, and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities and never give up, you will find a way. ~ Jane Goodall

Here is a list of ten tips I’d like to have had when I began library school.I hope you find some of them useful.Please feel free to add others by using the comment function.

1. Be generous and gracious.

I never lost anything by giving things away. ~ Anonymous

  • If you come across an article on a topic one of your classmates is interested in, email the citation.Do the same with information about scholarships, opportunities for publication or positions in professional organizations, informative blogs, wikis, or book reviews.
  • If you discover a classmate has landed a great job, been given a promotion, awarded a scholarship, or had a paper published, send a congratulatory email.
  • Send handwritten thank you notes from the heart to those who have, in big or small ways, inspired you, encouraged you, and advised you.

2. Network.

The way of the world is meeting people through other people. ~Robert Kerrigan

  • Get business cards printed now with your basic contact information. Keep a half-dozen behind your nametag when you go to a conference and you won’t have to fumble around to find them.
  • Go to as many conferences as you have time and money to attend. Wear something distinctive like a pin, scarf, or tie every day you are there; it will help people remember you.
  • Volunteer.Join roundtables and sections and be an active member.
  • Be bold. Stand up and ask a question or make a comment at a session.
  • Be brave. Go up to someone you admire, offer a brief introduction, compliment or comment on their speech, article, or book, and ask to exchange business cards.

3. Do what works for you.

Know thyself. ~ Socrates

  • Some thrive on stress and others need order and calm.Some like to carefully chunk out small pieces of time to do their assignments while others like to do the research early and then give themselves plenty of time to think before sitting down to write.Some like to work on multiple projects at the same time while others like to concentrate on each individually.Figure out what works for you and then do it.
  • Examine your writing, presentation, and technological skills critically. Highlight your strong areas while working on your weak ones.

4. Life intervenes.

The essence of wise living is anticipating the unanticipated and expecting the unexpected.~Kevin A. Woolsey

  • No matter how well we plan, life happens; someone we love dies, we lose our jobs, we become ill or injured. Sometimes life throws something at us and all we can do is catch it, deal with it, and move on.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Be flexible and adaptable, remain aware of what might go wrong, and try to have backup plans in place.

5. Don’t tell. Show.

What you will do matters.All you need is to do it.~ Judy Grahn

  • Actions count.Go above and beyond what is required or expected.
  • Translate what you know how to do to actual projects.

6. Be professional.

Always dress for your next job.~ Karen Diller

  • The library world is a small one and your reputation is important.Future employers will very likely Google your name to see what they can find out about you. Be careful what you reveal on social networking sites.
  • Be aware of and conform to professional ethical standards. Do your work skillfully and well. Always represent your employer, your fellow workers, and yourself with dignity and respect.

7. Find a mentor.

Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight. ~ Anonymous

  • Take advantage of one of the mentoring programs offered by various professional organizations.
  • A mentor can advise and guide you by doing such things as reviewing resumes and cover letters, and providing advice on interviewing, salary expectations, and how to balance work and home.
  • When you are in a position to do so, give back by becoming a mentor to someone else.

8. Take care of yourself.

When your mother asks “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.~ Erma Bombeck

  • Remember all those things your mother told you about eating healthy foods on a regular schedule, exercising, washing your hands often, and getting enough rest?  Well, she was right.  And don’t forget
    to get a flu shot.
  • Don’t neglect your emotional and spiritual health.

9. Set aside time to think and reflect.

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~ Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun)

  • Thinking and reflecting provides an opportunity to integrate new ideas, commonalties, differences, and interrelations.It can include analyzing assumptions, becoming aware of contextual assumptions by realizing our assumptions are created socially and personally in a specific cultural context, imagining alternative ways of thinking, and questioning universal truth claims using reflective skepticism.
  • Consider keeping a weekly personal journal to capture and further examine your reflections.

10. Be aware of available resources and use them.

There are plenty of opportunities out there.You can’t sit back and wait.~ Ellen Metcalf

  • Begin examining resumes of those who have positions similar to one you hope to obtain and note what skills and experiences they have.Look also at job descriptions for positions you hope to apply for when you have earned your degree and note what skills, experience, and attributesemployers are seeking.Make a list and start working towards them.
  • Pay close attention to the techniques used by presenters you enjoy and strive to emulate them. The most compelling presenters have clearly defined goals, demonstrate mastery of content, proceed seamlessly from point to point, recognize various learning styles, and are original and creative. The very best presenters use humor, tell stories to illustrate points, and are passionate about their topic.
Posted in blogging about LIS, conferences

Robyn Ward shares her OLA/WLA conference experience

The showcases at the OLA/WLA joint conference covered a broad range of programs and initiatives being created and implemented around libraries in the Northwest. Showcases were presented in three categories. These being: outreach, training and instruction, and grant funded and innovative programs. The showcases represented a diverse assortment of programs from open access institutional repositories, to gaming, to grants for digital initiatives, and to literacy, just to name a very few. There were over 40 showcase presenters from public, academic, school, and private libraries. I was impressed by the quality of the showcases, the information that was provided, and the interest and enthusiasm of each presenter on her/his topic. This was my first time participating in a conference in such a format. I thought it a good experience and something upon which I could build either for further display or instruction in other environments. I would encourage other students to participate in poster or showcase opportunities, as these are really less of an intimidating way of participating in conferences. If you aren’t familiar with conferences at all, it is a good way to get your feet wet so to speak and to meet individuals that you would not necessary ever get to meet. Even if you may not work in a library, you have ideas and interests that are worth hearing and presenting. This is a good way to get your name out there and network.

Posted in blogging about LIS, conferences

OLA/WLA Conference Report

by Gordon Turner

SLIM-OR SCALA Vice-President

After sorting through the handouts and swag that I got from the recent OLA/WLA conference(thanks to the folks at Alldata for the spiffy mouspad!) I thought I would write a few words about last week’s conference. I arrived bright and early on Thursday and Friday to help out with registration, helped set up the Outreach Showcase with Candise Branum, and went to the SLIM reception on Thursday. In between doing all that stuff I went to some workshops and seminars.

The topics of said workshops ranged from setting up a content management system to advice on how to win a library bond election. The one that I enjoyed the most was by SLIM PHD student Brenda Hough entitled “Experts? We don’t need no stinkin’ experts! Authority, legitimacy and liability in a wiki world”. Brenda is researching how people use wikipedia, and has come to the conclusion that most of its users go to it for fast, quick information and probably don’t use it for advanced research. As a Wikipedia skeptic, I was struck by the fact that many people only use it to look up basic factual information–it’s kind of the information equivalent of McDonald’s.

Before I go, I would like to say many thanks to all the people who volunteered to help at the registration desk. Special thanks needs to go to Erica Johnson, who I think may have moved her address temporarily to the Vancouver Hilton, being as she volunteering pretty much all day Thursday and Friday.

We would love to hear from anyone at the conference about their experiences! Please post!!