Alternative Career Paths

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.
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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.

Sources:
Mia Breitkopf: 61 Non-Librarian Jobs for LIS Grads

Varejs, J. (2009) Careers and Education in Library and Information Science

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The interplay between individual and collective knowledge: technologies for organisational learning and knowledge building

The article further builds on what has been outlined in other studies but in relation to specific technologies. Social-tagging systems, pattern-based task-management systems, and wikis are all looked at in terms of how they can be used to build knowledge via collaboration. They are discussed in terms of the model that is presented which brings together Nonaka’s knowledge-creating theory and Luhmann’s systems theory. The authors argue that knowledge is built as a co-evolution of cognitive and social systems. By examining the methods listed above this idea is explored further with examples used to identify suitability depending on specific incidents. It takes it further and examines how individuals use previous knowledge and how organisations use it when addressing these technologies. A certain type of software that is useful for knowledge building will depend on its ability to cause cognitive conflicts. What is interesting in this article is the fact that not all technology will have a positive impact and that some technology will have a greater impact than others. Other articles tended to look at the bigger picture. This article in particularly useful for further defining aspects that other articles hit upon but don’t explore deeper such as the Networks, Digital Libraries and Knowledge Management article.

LINK: Kimmerle, J., Cress, U,. Held, C. (2010) “The interplay between individual and collective knowledge: technologies for organisational learning and knowledge building” (Electronic Version) Knowledge Management Research & Practice, Vol. 8, Issue: 1, pp. 33-44.

A Week in the Life

Another week has flown past and you would think getting more work done would lessen the load however it’s not the case. The more I chip away the more leaks that spring out and more work piles up.
I am doing my MSc in information systems which closely liaises with the MLIS course in UCD with many of the classes overlapping. My week is centred around three long gruelling days of lectures on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with Wednesday and Fridays off. I generally look at this and think I will use my days off to get assignments and other work done. Now that I am in week 7 of my second semester I find the week’s just dissipating before me. I am getting less work done on my days off and the other three days seem to be tiring me out. It is becoming more and more difficult just to keep up.
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I tend to ear mark time slots to get started on one thing and before I know it something more urgent pops up and in turn takes my focus. I am taking 6 classes and as well have my capstone project which is effectively my thesis. Although the capstone is earmarked for the summer months the work has well and truly started so it feels more like 7 classes. I do a wide range of classes from current trend in social media; human computer interaction to research practices and this blog is for contempory issues in professional practice. It being an MSc I am expected to go above and beyond what is asked of me but I am severely lagging behind on this front.

This week I have been transcribing interviews, working on a project which involves analysing online user communities as well as working on the UCD SILS website doing usability testing. Amongst other things I have the monotonous work of doing readings and following blogs for other assignments, not to mention the endless meetings with groups and individuals. I have much more I need to press on with but there are simply not enough hours in the week let alone a day. The question of how will I get through this is constantly floating around in my head.
Just keeping up with what is going on and checking emails and other sources is a chore in itself. Its a constant struggle to cement in my head what exactly I need to do. No matter what the weeks keep rolling on and I don’t feel any closer to finishing my work but I see deadlines starting to pile up.

It’s just a week in my life and they keep getting tougher as they go. There is still a strong belief on my behalf that I will somehow pull it of the bag and get it all done because I have to. I will have an unbelievable sense of accomplishment when I do. Its a long way off yet however.

Advocates & Change Agents

I didn’t enjoy my first reading of the week. Even though it was short it left a taste of desperation. The most provoking message I picked up in the readings was Librarians don’t know who they are. The Bernard-Barrett short article to me sounded like someone complaining they should be treated as equal just because what they do is a professional vocation. With any line of work it’s what you do and how you do it that gets respect and in this article it sounded like a dead horse was being flogged. If librarians want to get rid of the stigma that hangs over them, they need to be the first to drop it. The second reading got to the bones of a real issue. I am not denying the fact there is a stigma that follows librarians and it will be hard to shift. Until they deal with health care cuts services like health libraries, unfortunately they will be some of the first to go. Librarians will have to fight for every inch just to survive in an economy like the one we are stuck in at the moment.

In the HSLG SHeLLI Report it was touched upon how in America there had been some success stories and in their words it was not all doom and gloom. While this was obviously focused on the health sector libraries it is clear all sectors are suffering due to cut backs. I wonder how many Irish agencies are going outside their front door and abroad to look for possible solutions. I know from my study into South Dublin County Libraries last year they have adopted their strategic plan form Australia and in fact it has been a great success. I would be interested in seeing what is actually being done or is it a case like the first reading of moan, moan, and moan.
advocates
While the Bernard-Barrett reading obviously got under my skin because of how it portrayed the message, it isn’t completely lost on me. They have to show their skills and what they can do. I think last week’ “Helping people to manage and share their digital information” is a perfect example of that. I don’t think people know what it is exactly librarians do. I think a great way to get that message across is through the children that inevitable go to libraries either with school or parents encouraging children to read. I know from last year SDCL offer father/son activities. Once you have the attention of people whether it’s through their kids or whatever avenue, it is important to grab it. Another important point is librarians are no longer working as librarians. They have branched out in to a wealth of different fields such as C.I.O’ or Knowledge managers etc and this is a side I would like to explore more.

I think what has been emphasised is the message from the readings done back at the start of term on growing your PLN. Quite often it is a case of who you know and not what you know which might be extremely relevant to librarians. It’s important for them to weave their ways into the foundation of organisations and to become tangled within it. I do wonder if some librarians themselves know where they want to go or they want to do. While ideas can be big and wonderful, they will still remain on paper unless there is a definitive plan

Resources:
HSLG SHeLLI Report

Bernard Barrett- Brief Talk Description and Article