I am currently a student in UCD studing information systems to attain my Msc. What this involves is studying, carrying out research in a development capacity and working with different groups of people in a wide variety of classes and subject topics. It is completely different from when I studied economics for my BA. Its a hand on approach to learn skills that are transferable to the job market. I have worked in quite a few different part time jobs really exploring what it takes to actually be successful, from a banana factory to a catering system and working at events such as Bloom garden show in an organisational capacity and Electric Picnic music festival as bar staff. I find these jobs through a business interest I am involved in which Stepone Permanent Solutions, a recruitment agency where I am learning first hand experience at what it takes to run a successful business and develop my leadership and managerial skills. Going forward I want to bring these experiences with me and carve out my own unique path which begins in the upcoming year.
This week was all about asking the question if not a librarian what else can I be? For me though it’s asking a lot more than just that. It’s asking what am I going to do with my life? That is a terrifyingly daunting question for anyone but for me who is so unsure, it leaves me feeling uneasy.
The first reading this week Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science left me a bit bemused. While many of my fellow students are taking the M.L.I.S, I am not. I am doing a MSc in Information systems but I take the point of the readings and offering alternative careers. For me the article outlined the weaknesses of the L.I.S course and in particular how poorly it is viewed within the library community. A line that struck was that a lot of jobs are looking for the skills that are taught but they want someone with a different degree. However those skills were passed off as something you either have or you don’t and the fact you are being taught is neither here nor there. It didn’t have a positive spin at all.
The second short piece 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads basically pointed out that you that there are options outside of working in a library and that you have to look for jobs that may not be advertised to you but are asking for the skills you have. This is all well and good but to tie into the first article, that in order to get these jobs you need to have other qualifications and that librarian’ constantly have to be improving themselves. To me it stank that your degree is worthless and you have to make it better. Well what’s the point in even doing it in the first place then if you are potentially working outside of the librarian field? The fact there was even an article on the matter was off-putting. What other field has to justify themselves?
While I may agree or disagree with the message I got from this topic is irrelevant, it was just the message it sent that sat uneasily with me. From a personnel point of view as I said I’m not actually doing an L.I.S but my degree doesn’t hold much more weight. I couldn’t honestly say what type of job my degree will get me. It’s all a bit of a mix bagged and while people will sit there and tell me, you can do x,y & z I would have to argue against them. I will have to justify myself getting a job more than anyone else coming off a different degree.
Its a question I am not looking ready to answer because I worry if I even can. I don’t know whats next but it is something I cant ignore for much longer.
Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science
This week’s selected readings were highly interesting. I started off the Howard and Davis article which looked at how problems are solved. It took ideas, firstly evidence based practice (EBP) which deals with solving a problem with previously thought out solutions. Looking at what is already in place to solve upcoming problems essentially. Secondly was design thinking which brings in the concept of iterations which was an extremely important concept last semester in a class I took called system analysis and design. This idea is to go beyond what we already know and come up with new creative solutions to solve new creative problems. The article continued to try and create a hybrid between these two solution ideologies by taking the best of both.
This brings me nicely to the second reading Bowler et al, It was quite a long reading but honestly the most interesting and one I know I am going to come back to again and again. It didn’t particularly throw up any new concepts I haven’t come across before but it did amalgamate them in to one piece. The corner stone of the article was user centred design (UCD). This idea is based on creating a solution by involving the user in the process. Quite often the user is ignored even though they are the one who will end up using whatever the product will be. In this article it looked at how the user searches for information. The idea of using social tagging was very interesting and kind of ties in to the crowd sourcing I spoke about last week. By combining the power of a lot of people you can eventually create a solution that benefits the greater majority.
Some of the best solutions are quite often the ones you are not thinking about. It is not always simple. I suppose that’s why people say geniuses tend to be a bit mad. So I am not sure if it is good thing to be sane all of the time. Even in the Bowler et al, article when they looked at participatory web interface design with children you can see the logic behind it. Children think in a completely different fashion to adults and come out with some extraordinarily creative thoughts. When trying to solve a problem or come up with solutions, it is important to think outside the box, or even think like a child or a mad man or a bit of both. While some of the solutions that are thought will be utterly useless by applying the thought process in the Howard and Davis article eventually a solution will created and it could be great.
“You can document it but you can’t capture it.”
As good a place as any to start this week is with “The 21st Century Library” by Terry which can be linked in to my blog post from a couple of weeks back. This piece had to do with the design process of the Rhode Island School of Designs library. While only so much of a picture can be built from the description a converted old protected bank building in to a library it still lets the imagination run. Going beyond the actual process of design, the real point is how you adapt the library to fit the need. In order to do that you must first understand the need and that was the most important part of this story for me. All the planning and meetings, the endless consultations with staff students and stakeholders in order to create this wonderfully functioning space that went on to inspire other builds and win awards.
The next two pieces explain my tag line. Firstly the heritage outlook which looks at cataloguing images from the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) which ran from the 60’s until the late 80’s. The second was the MacMahon document review which can’t be linked a long with the others at the end of this blog due to access only being made through UCD on this occasion. This newspaper piece looked at an exhibition which was held by NIVAL, which documents events’, exhibitions, artistic displays or whatever term you feel would be most suitable. “You can document it but you can’t capture it.” This comes from a point made in the review that while you can document an event, the date, the artist, where, what and when you can never quite capture the feeling of being there in person. This point resonated with me. While there are obvious reasons to document and archive such events the question remains how much are you losing out on and in turn what are we really gaining. The KDW archive which falls under the NIVAL umbrella also poises the same question. It allows you to look in the past but only through a key hole of a door that can’t fully be opened. It is so important however to hold on to these events of the past and as alluded to when people need to study them for whatever range of reasons if they can get their hands on original documents and a wealth of information to go along with it then it is a pretty good second best to being there in person and getting to experience it for yourself.
The final reading I did this week was the Tate Library Electronic ephemera. The collection of digital material in email format ranging from newsletter to promotional materials for artists, charities, events and beyond. A step too far in my opinion perhaps. The work that it takes to manage such a repository surely outweighs it benefits but who am I to draw a line in the sand and say as much. However it did bring up the copyright and storage issues which sometimes are wrongly overlooked in such cases. A particular favourite line of mine was the digital collection gathering dust which it can do if it is abandoned to a PDF file never to be looked after or at again. While this article highlighted the more or less failure of this project it did lay down the foundations for future work should someone take up the mantle. I don’t however think it will be me.
Terry 21st century library
Callaghan tate ephemera 2013
Walker heritage outlook 2011
MacMahon document review 2012