Week 15: The End by Ann MacNamara

Last Saturday was my last orchestra concert and this week is my last week of classes at Earlham and as a Kenlee Ray Fellow. It’s bittersweet, but I’m excited for the future. I’m even more excited now that I have a job after graduation! I’ll be working part-time as a Technology Assistant at the library I interned at last summer. I’m excited to have definite plans after graduation - and I’m so glad to be back at Heights Library!

I feel that my experiences as a Kenlee Ray Fellow definitely prepared me for a career in librarianship. The hands-on projects Colin and I completed during this semester have taught me skills that I can definitely use in my future job. We also have been able to explore the whole spectrum of librarianship, from archives to technical services to instruction and reference. This experience also helped me confirm that, while I love learning and have enjoyed my time in academia, I am more drawn to becoming a public librarian. There’s something about the combination of openness, detective work and activism of public librarianship that speaks to me - not that these aspects don’t exist in academic librarianship as well, but in a different way.

We’ve been continuing to meet with Neal and discuss various aspects of librarianship and higher education. One particularly interesting topic has been library budgets. I had no idea journal subscriptions were so expensive! I was also able to talk with him one-on-one, where we discussed things I can do now (volunteer! learn about marketing! learn Spanish!) that would be beneficial in my future career. We also talked about the future of libraries (Slate recently had an interesting article on the subject). It was great to get his perspective on things and hear about librarianship, management and Earlham from someone deeply embedded in all three areas.

It’s hard to believe this experience is coming to an end and even harder to realize how quickly my time at Earlham is ending. I’m immensely grateful to Anne, Amy, Jane, Kate, Mary, Jose, Neal and all the rest of the library staff for the support and guidance they provided. The Kenlee Ray Fellowship was a great way to end my Earlham career by combining theoretical and practical components. It’s helped me build skills and relationships that will benefit me greatly as I begin my career in libraries.

Week 14: Kristin Vogel Visiting Alum, by Colin Andrews

 

 We are now undoubtedly in the home-stretch.  I feel like so much has come to fruition in the past two weeks, but simultaneously there is so much more that I wish we could have done.  It’s bittersweet because in this coming final week, all we will have time to do is tie up loose ends.

We began the past week with a superb conversation with Neal Baker (the director of Earlham’s libraries) who was explaining his path to librarianship, and the ‘ins and outs’ of being a library director.  I was inspired by Neal’s attention to equity in the workplace and his insight into how institutions operate.   

In the latter half of the week we turned our attention to our visiting alumni, Kristin Vogel (graduated from Earlham’s PAGS department in 1989), who is now the director of libraries at St.Norbert College.  Kristin was the ideal person to bring to Earlham for this fellowship, as she is very much on the progressive wave of librarianship and has had a thriving career both here in the states and abroad.  

The assignment that Kristin sent us in advance was a testament to her progressive philosophy.  It was a video by David Lankes, a professor at Syracuse University’s i-school, titled, “The Good, The Bad, and The Great.”  Lankes key point was regarding libraries’ orientation; whether they are collection focused, or service focused or community focused— as this makes the difference between a bad, a good, and a great library.  His take-home point about libraries as a place to facilitate community really resonated with me.  

When Kristin arrived on campus it was only a few hours before she gave a lecture about the intersection of her PAGS education and her vocation in libraries.  Her presentation spoke directly to so many questions and concerns that I have also had about bridging my education into my vacation after Earlham.  Later that night we all enjoyed a meal at Galo’s where were were able to continue the conversation for a few hours.

On Friday we all met up again, and Kristen gave us some nuts and bolts career advice.  Considering that she is the director of a college library system, and has made numerous hires—needless to say her advice was golden.

At the end of the day we were able to strike up some informal conversation and I found out that Kristin used to roe, and has recently gotten into sea Kayaking.  This conversation was extremely important for me in envisioning my life as a whole, and not just as a vacation.  It seems like one of the beautiful things about library work is that it allows one to maintain an enriching life outside of work, while simultaneously engaging in a meaningful vocation.  Bringing Kristin to Earlham was a truly enriching experience for me.  She provided perspective, inspiration, and great advice for me moving forward from Earlham

Week 14: Neal and Alumna Visit by Ann MacNamara

Week 14: Neal and Alumna Visit

The semester is definitely winding down - there are just over two weeks before graduation. This week has been primarily focused on the visit from Kristin Vogel, an Earlham alumna and library director at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI.

Our “reading” this week was actually more of a viewing: Kristin suggested a presentation by David Lankes titled "The Good, The Bad, and The Great." Lankes sums up his views on good, bad and great libraries in a Tweet-length statement: “Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.” In Lankes’ opinion, many libraries are too collection-focused - the quantity of their collections is considered the most important part. Good libraries provide services, which help connect patrons or, as Lankes calls them, members, with the collection. Great libraries go beyond connecting members with only the library’s resources and connect them with those resources available within the community. These resources may not be books or databases, but rather people with particular interests who are willing to share their area of expertise. Personally, I can see these ideas being applied to public libraries more so than academic libraries, though Kristin had an excellent argument about how they can be applied to academic libraries.

For the next two weeks we’ll be working with Neal Baker, the director of Lilly Library. He had one of the “straighter” paths to librarianship - he decided in his senior year to become a librarian. We haven’t had much time together yet, but he’ll be a great resource for information regarding library management, Earlham and higher education in general.

I wasn’t able to make it to Kristin’s talk on Thursday about the connections between PAGS (Peace and Global Studies for the non-Earlhamite readers - we love our acronyms!) and library science. It sounds like a fascinating topic, but my last(!) orchestra concert is this weekend, so rehearsal comes first. Colin and I had dinner with Kristin, Amy and Neal on Thursday night at Galo’s. We had great conversations about Kristin’s experiences abroad and as a library director.

On Friday, Colin, Kristin and I went to lunch at El Rodeo. Afterwards, I was able to pick her brain one-on-one about grad schools, interviews and transferrable skills. Transferrable skills is one thing I’ve been particularly struggling with when working on job applications. How exactly can I describe what I’ve learned at Earlham? Kristin was incredibly helpful with reframing skills I’ve learned in college into skills that are helpful (and sought after) in the workforce. We also discussed lowering the bar for resumes and interviews. Resumes (and cover letters) are conversation starters - you need to continue the conversation to get the job. And if you’ve gotten to the interview stage, your potential employer probably already knows you can do the job. They are trying to make sure you are a good fit for their organization. Considering resumes, cover letters and interviews in this manner definitely helps lower the stress surrounding them.

It was great to get Kristin’s insights on libraries, management and higher education overall and I’m very grateful to the Kenlee Ray Fellows program (and Kenlee Ray!) for bringing her to campus.

Week 13: Annual Research Conference and Happy National Library Week! by Ann MacNamara

On Monday, Colin and I presented our lovely poster at Earlham’s Annual Research Conference. Our poster came out well and we had a lot of positive responses to our presentation. It was fulfilling to have our work recognized and to receive so many positive comments about it. Other than that, it’s been a fairly quiet week.

Our interview this week was with Jenny Freed, the new archivist. She was a history major in college and, after deciding she didn’t want to teach, settled on library school. She didn’t set out to be an archivist at first, but her graduate assistantship in an archive confirmed that path. Before coming to Earlham, she worked at an archive at a public library, got her second Master’s in history and taught American history for three semesters. Earlham is pretty much her dream job and we’re glad to have her here. Jenny had lots of great advice about selecting a grad school and making sure the program is the right fit for your interests.

I had the opportunity to sit in on a planning meeting regarding what is currently the upstairs 24-hour computer lab in Lilly. The space is being reimagined as a cross between a lab and a classroom. Our space project has been a lot of theoretical, relatively abstract planning. We haven’t needed to worry about making sure things fit or where the outlets are located. It was therefore interesting to see the other side - trying to figure out where to place screens and how big monitors should be. I’ve been told that once you have your MLIS, you’ll likely end up in a supervisory role within a couple years. These are the types of decisions supervisors have to make, so it was nice to observe the process.

We met with Mary again to talk about book processing. It’s a pretty straightforward process, but with a lot of steps. As patrons, we don’t often think about how books end up on the shelf. It was interesting to hear about the process and consider the amount of labor that goes into providing resources to patrons.

This week is also National Library Week! Thank you to all the librarians and library staff out there for making sure these wonderful institutions continue their mission of providing communities with information and resources. I hope to be joining your ranks soon!

Week 13 ARC, Follow Up, and Jenny Freed: Colin Andrews

 

We began our week by presenting our project “Library as Place: Redesigning Library in the 21st Century” at the Earlham’s Annual Research Conference.  The responses to our poster were overall very positive, and we received some interesting questions.  Mostly, it was fun to explain both the project and the fellowship to students and faculty, while munching on the provided snacks.

On Tuesday we interviewed Jenny Freed, Earlham’s brand new archivist.  Upon entering Jenny’s office it was apparent that she has really made the space her own— pictures, posters, and stuffed animals are crowded on to nearly every service.  Jenny talked to us about her path to archival work, beginning her childhood that was steeped in history (her dad is a scholar of Medieval History).  She graduated from Carleton College having studied British history (she’s an expert on the textile industry) and went right away to get her MLS from University of Illinois.  It was fascinated by Jenny’s experience at U of I, particularly what she had to say about practical courses and more theoretical courses (the former being taught by adjunct professors, and the latter by tenured professors).  I was interested in how much archival work seems to bridge the two, in that an archivists needs to be able to engage in the history and methodology of curation, while at the same time being able to deal with things like mold (Jenny seems pretty attuned to this kind of thing).  

We also spent a day or so taking down our test spaces, and organizing the feedback forms.  I spent a while learning how the use the photo studio with Knoll and Wes, and then took some photos of our qualitative feedback form.  I have four potted plants from the zen space that need homes (let me know).

Finally on Friday Mary took us through the process of getting a book into Lilly’s system.  Even though she said it is a relatively simple process it seemed like quite a complex process to me.  It was good though because we were able to load up on candy from Debby’s desk while Mary was talking to us— a great way to end the week!

Week 12 ARC Preparation: Colin Andrews

    This week in the library Ann and I really put the petal to the metal.  We spent the bulk of our time synthesizing our space project and putting it into poster form, which we will present next Monday at the ARC!  It was cool to compile our project onto this very visual format, and in a way it brought both of us into a reflective place (even though there is still a good chunk of the semester left and we have more in store for the space project).  We pulled our student feedback forms from the test spaces, readdressed articles on library space that we read earlier in the semester, and uncovered old documents and tied them all into this poster.

    While the poster kept us busy through most of the week, we had some time at the end to tie up some loose ends from our two week module from the science library.  We created a few more charts out of the Wildman patron use data and made an analysis summary.

    WIth every thing that is happening, I expect the next few weeks will be as much of a whirlwind as this one was.

Week 12: Poster Making! by Ann MacNamara

This week has been our prep week for the Annual Research Conference. Most of our time has been dominated by creating our poster. I’ve never created a poster before, but observing and teaching poster creation with Jose last week definitely helped with the process. I’ve enjoyed the process - I considered becoming a graphic designer in middle and high school, so this has allowed me to return those interests. Creating our poster has definitely caused us to reflect on our space project and synthesize everything we’ve done into one cohesive document.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the semester has gone - we’re a month away from graduation! I’m glad that the Kenlee Ray Library and Archives Fellowship was part of my final semester at Earlham. The experiences I have gained are invaluable as I look toward a future career in librarianship. My current plan (I believe I’ve stated this on the blog before, but not for a while) is to take a year off and find some sort of library employment in the Cleveland area. So far, I’ve applied to 12 jobs and am (not so) patiently awaiting replies.

As I’ve been looking for library jobs, I’ve found a number of resources specific to libraries. One of them is I Need A Library Job (inalj.com). In addition to posting library and information service jobs, INALJ posts regular blog entries from contributors. A recent post I found interesting was 5 Things That People Don’t Realize Their Librarians Do by Rebecca Tischler. Tischler points out that librarians are a lot more than just “an older kind of frumpy woman wearing glasses on a chain, her hair up in a bun, shushing people with one hand while stamping books with the other”. She asserts that librarians serve (at the very least) five additional roles beyond their stereotypical duties: librarians are teachers, librarians are tech savvy, librarians are advertisers, librarians are event planners and librarians are researchers. Colin and I have seen all of these additional roles in action during our time as Kenlee Ray Fellows. Seeing librarianship described in this way only reinforces my interest in pursuing it as a career.

Some upcoming events for the Kenlee Ray Fellows:

  • April 14 - Poster Session at Earlham’s Annual Research Conference

  • The article about us on the Earlham website is being extended for Earlham’s alumni magazine The Earlhamite - we’ll be having another interview with Denise in the next week or so

  • April 24-25 - Alumni visit from Kristin Vogel, Library Director at St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI

  • May 10 - Graduation!