Tomorrow I am heading to The Alberta Library Conference in Jasper! For librarians and information professionals in Alberta this is THE professional conference of the year. But can you really blame anyone – it is in Jasper which is one of the most beautiful national parks you will ever see!
I was fortunate enough to attend ALC last year and even luckier to be able to go this year! But there is something different this time, and that is I’m going as a presenter. I of course put myself in this position as I submitted a conference proposal last summer and knew that it had been accepted early in the fall. However, that does not take away the slight feeling of panic I have about my presentation on Friday afternoon! First of all I have 75 minutes to fill! I’m aiming for about 60 minutes and hoping there will be questions. And second of all this is my first time presenting at a conference, ever. I am a conference presenter virgin! And while I feel as though I know my stuff (my topic is Engaging Customers Through Social Media) I am worried that I will not be interesting enough for the people attending the session or that I will make a fool out of myself because I’ll just forget everything I wanted to say once I stand up there. But really it’s the former that causes me most stress.
I am sitting in front of a slide deck that I have taken great care in creating. It has lots of pictures and not a lot of words – just what I like when I’m in the audience. I have lots of presenter notes for each of my slides. I am surrounded by notes and books. So… I will be ok! And I will just come to terms with the fact that I won’t be able to please everyone that attends my session and the best I can do is hope that at least everyone that attends leaves with ONE new piece of information they didn’t know before.
Wish me luck!
I know I’m not the first to post about this but I just had to add this to my blog as well and it’s something fun for a Friday!! This is some awesome library marketing!
Also check out this one from the “real” Old Spice guy!
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, in relation to the profession of librarianship. What is the why of what librarians do? What is the underlying value of the profession? Our core values. I’m not sure I know the answer to this myself, although I have some thoughts. What I do think I know is that as a profession we don’t actually have a clear understanding of our collective why.
I was at my better half’s Call to the Bar a few weeks ago. It was held at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto and as these types of ceremonies go it was quite formal with all the soon to be lawyers dressed up in their robes with fancy tie thingys. As can be expected at such an event there were some speeches with a whole lotta name calling in the middle. And at the end of the ceremony, all the newly minted lawyers had to swear an oath to up hold professional integrity throughout their career and to maintain the highest of ethical standards within the profession of law.
Professions are guided by a code of ethical standards as I witnessed first hand in the Call to the Bar ceremony. I know that my mother has taken the Hippocratic Oath as a doctor. But as a librarian I took no oath whatsoever upon graduation. In fact at my convocation there were more than just Master of Information Studies students graduating, there were students from multiple faculties, rather than the “private” graduation of lawyers or other professions. I believe that it would be a welcome addition to the ALA accredited degrees coming out of library schools across North America if all graduates were required to take an oath to uphold intellectual freedom and equitable access to information. These are the two core beliefs I feel to be at the root of the profession. While the Canadian Library Association has a statement on intellectual freedom, which I see as an attempt at a mission statement for Canadian librarians, as a librarian in Canada it is not mandatory that I belong to this association just as it was not mandatory to assert that I will uphold such values throughout my career.
There is a great chapter in This Book is Overdue, How Librarians and Cybrarians Will Save us All, by Marylin Johnson, that explores the USA PATRIOT Act and librarians in the US. Johnson shows us the importance of librarians standing up for the privacy of individuals. I just finished watching The Hollywood Librarian where there are multiple examples of the importance of librarianship in ensuring equitable access to information so that individuals may have an informed opinion and therefore be more able to effectively participate in society. As a current public librarian, I see the public library as a democratizing institution, yet within the library I do not feel as though the staff members, professinal or not have a cohesive view as to “why” the public library is important and the importance of our role within society. Having a set of professional ethics I feel would go far in helping us develop this understanding.
For those librarians out there, why do you do what you do? Why did you become a librarian? What do you see as the professions underlying core values?
Upon graduation from the iSchool in June of 2009, I became an Intern with askON (a part of Knowledge Ontario) providing virtual reference support to university students. Throughout September 2009-April 2010 I volunteered my time weekly to answer reference questions from any student, from a participating university, in Ontario. Not only was this valuable professional experience for me, I believe that each week I provided meaningful assistance to multiple students. It was not unusual to spend upwards of half an hour assisting a student with a research question and walking them through the process of creating effective searches within relevant databases. Often times students used the service in times of great need as they had a paper due the next morning, their own university library wasn’t open, and they just needed some guidance. That is what askON is there for.
It is disturbing to find out that Knowledge Ontario will receive no funding from the province this year to support its digital services and products. Read more here. The loss of this funding has serious implications for askON, as in, there will be no more askON. Unfortunately this appears to be some what of a trend. BC’s version of askON, named AskAway, has come to halt. Gordon Campbell’s 2004 planning document titled Libraries Without Walls, enthusiastically supported such digital technologies and access to information but appears to not resignate when the province is facing financial difficulty. You can read more here.
What I find interesting about the article discussing the end of AskAway is the idea that social media is some how able to replace a virtual reference service. I love social media. I use Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc daily. However, I don’t believe that these methods of communication come close to providing the level of service that virtual reference can accomplish. Yes you still email the library and yes you can tweet a question. But it doesn’t replace real time interaction where a librarian spends the time with a customer walking them through how to answer a question themselves. Virtual reference is another way of providing information literacy skills, and I do not believe that you can translate these skills through social media.
I do hope that Knowledge Ontario secures bridging assistance so that they can at least keep their programs running until the school years end of 2011. And hopefully during this time the government will decide that it’s too valuable of a service to give up on.
For those of you who work in public libraries you know that there is a constant battle to prove our relevancy and importance to a community. This isn’t a topic that is unique to public libraries, I even felt it while working in special libraries and often hear colleagues in different settings discuss this as well.
Here are some great links from Stephen Abram’s blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse. If you don’t already read his blog religiously you should! you’re missing out! This link summarizes all of the posts relating to the value of all different types of libraries. So check it out!