deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2014-03-20 09:01 pm

changing my career without changing my role

I've left Tufts DCA after the longest tenure I've had at a job to become a support engineer at Safari Books Online. Among other things, this means that after nearly a decade, I've left academia for private industry.

Well, for publishing. Which is like private industry, but for people laugh at profit.[note]

I want to talk briefly about my career trajectory. )
[Note] I snark; Safari does just fine, online tech books being a popular item even before you get to all the reference book contracts. Though after a decade in academia, my scales for what is considered financial success are all off. Academic institutions measures success not by quarterly profit, which can be low, but by the size of the endowments they sit jealously and often uselessly upon like learned Smaugs.[back]
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2013-04-07 07:16 pm

a highly qualified blind professional in a bind

My friend Jeanette needs your help. This is a letter from my friend Jeanette Beal, a blind Assistive Technology Specialist. Repost, link, let us know if you can help with publicity/media or legal aspects. If you do repost, please repost in full without cutting or summarizing.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2011-10-18 09:48 am

startingly ignorant post

Roy Tennant has dashed off the startlingly ignorant "If You Are a Library Sysadmin, You Are Toast". I really hope it was tongue-in-cheek and just missed its mark as far as humor goes.

There's a certain extent to which I think if you are a library sysadmin, you are making poor career choices. If you have that skill set and feel like sitting alone in a basement closet all day interacting with nobody but computers, why are you working in libraries when you could have a real job that pays actual money? (Said the pot to kettle.)

Tennant says:

When I, as just a moderately savvy librarian, can learn maybe five to ten very specific steps and be able to deploy any application I would likely want to deploy, why do I need to talk to my system administrator ever again?


Roy, in this day and age, 90% of what system administrators do is something that you, as a moderately savvy librarian, could figure out how to do. Most systems administrators aren't writing device drivers and patching kernels all day long. But you know what? 90% of what librarians do is something any moderately savvy patron could figure out. 90% of what office administrators do is something any moderately savvy office employee could figure out. You don't have specialized employees because they have access to the supersecret field knowledge that only guild members, with their club handshakes, can discover. You hire specialized employees because in order to have something done well in a time efficient fashion, our society has decided to specialize.

Sure, you could set up an externally hosted ILS, hack Drupal in the cloud all day, store all your data in Amazon S3. And then either:

  1. You will be doing a bad job of managing that information and making sure it is backed up and reliably accessible; you don't have a lot of time because you have your own actual job to do, or

  2. You will be doing a bad job of your own actual job, because you will be too busy making sure that all of your cloud-hosted material is backed up and reliably accessible and managed to actually do the tasks you've been paid to do, or

  3. You will wake up one morning and discover you have become a library sysadmin.


"I can find books and articles myself with Google scholar, what would I ever need a librarian for? LOL your job is in danger!"
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
2011-04-05 12:34 pm

what's the correct LCSH term for "rock hard abs"?

On my private list labeled "really? I wanted my coworkers and colleagues to know these things about me?" is that I apparently write parody romance well enough to win ArchivesNext's hilarious archivist romance contest in the "Cold-Hearted Career Woman" category. Thanks so much for running the contest, Kate and the panel of intrepid judges!

On an entirely different note, the Archivist of the United States just posted "How to Be a Smooth Criminal", archival patent secrets of Michael Jackson's dance moves. Archives are awesome, yo.

And Karen Hellekson over at the Transformative Works and Cultures symposium posts about "Persistence and DOIs, addressing the reasons why one could want to use an external persistent URL provider but the difficulties one can run into when doing so. Thought-provoking.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2011-03-22 01:20 pm

Doctor, I think my purity is burgeoning

How much time do I spend singing the praises of interlibrary loan? Because of ILL, my coworkers and I are currently passing around the marvelous Protected by the Prince, an absolutely terrible Harlequin about the Prince of Lusitanalpsvillia (or something) and a mousy, bespectacled archivist.

This LOLcats version of the book (irritatingly lacking alt text; come on, people, get with the program) is actually a pretty accurate rendition of the plot, and possibly better written. ArchivesNext is running a hilarious quiz/contest about the book and its premise.

ROFLMAO.

Edited to add: Rebecca at Derangement and Description, creator of the LOLcats comic, is going to be adding transcript or some kind of alt. Given that I rather gracelessly snarked in public instead of privately asking her to add alternative text, this is my public apology and recognition of her coolness.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2010-11-01 12:09 pm
Entry tags:

can you think of anything more fun than working with me closely every single weekday?

No! You cannot think of anything more fun than working closely with me every single weekday! I will bring in candy! I will go swimming with you! I will let you play with my large collection of librarian action figures! (Photograph to come as soon as I remember to bring a camera.)

Archivist for Digital Collections

job description beneath the cut )

Please pass it on.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2010-07-28 03:45 pm

20 years of the ADA: Accessibility good and bad

Two links today which were both partially inspired by the 20 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

First, the depressing one: Via Jennison Mark Asuncion, Dennis Lembree identifies several accessibility gaps on the home page of the new section508.gov web site. The site was launched partially in celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the ADA, and some of the accessibility gaps Lembree finds are whoppers: overly styled text instead of heading tags, for example. As Jennison said, what does it say when the chief US gov agency promoting IT
accessibility is not where it needs to be with their own site?


But let's follow with a much more inspiring post: [personal profile] jesse_the_k: "20 Years and a Day for the Americans with Disabilities Act". This essay inspires me to see all the good we've done in two decades. From [personal profile] jesse_the_k:

So, thanks for my life, ADA: many mundane things, and a few great big ones.

The law is not enough; as Cal Montgomery taught me:
Discrimination is always illegal; only activism makes it unwise.


And something I don't say very often, because I'm still pissed off about certain comments about atheism, But thanks, George H. W. Bush, for signing the ADA into law. Because of that law, I have a job.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2010-03-26 01:08 pm

nobody is objective, but book blogging advice sometimes scares me

YALSA Blog had a post I mostly liked about Blogging as a Professional Development Tool, but the opening paragraph concerned me greatly.

"Last month I posted an interview with Perry Moore, the executive producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films and author of the Y/A novel, Hero, to the YALSA blog. Did I know Moore personally before interviewing him? No, I didn’t. How did I get to know him? I blogged about his book. Yes, you read it right. I posted a blog entry on my own blog about his novel, Hero. Moore read my review, liked what I had to say, and suggested an interview."


I know a lot of book bloggers who treat their online reviews with the same sense of professionalism as professional reviewers. They write positive, negative, and mixed reviews, depending on what the book deserves. I know bloggers who have received angry mail from authors or editors and have taken it as a mark of pride. But this opening paragraph from YALSA Blog, in all its well-meaning optimism, exemplifies everything that worries me about encouraging people to become book bloggers.

This post explicitly states that the author (a) did important professional development and (b) met a successful young adult author and film producer because she wrote a review the author liked. I'm sure most people start out with every intention of integrity but it's hard to keep that when you know publishers are more likely to send you galleys* if you say nice things about the books. It's hard to remember when authors are coming into your blogs themselves and praising you every time you say something nice. A lot of people work very hard to keep that level of integrity, and the YALSA Blog article inadvertently but actively discourages that. I'm sure Perry Moore would not have suggested the interview if the blog post have been a negative review (although I can't swear to that, because I can't find the original blog post anywhere).

I had to take [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman's excellent advice and unsubscribe from most author blogs after one author had gotten in the habit of posting squeefully along the lines of "wow, anonymous Kirkus reviewer, you are the best person in the world and I love you love you love you." That just felt too good, and compromised my integrity when I was reviewing that author's books. My hindbrain would send little reward signals every time I wrote a sentence in a review that I thought would make the author say nice things about me. (Yes, some of you are authors. Hopefully I will not be sent any of your books to review, and if I am, I will figure out what to do then.)

First of all, you should only book blog if you love books and love talking about them. Secondly, it can indeed succeed as a professional development tool -- although keep in mind that a reviewer who only writes squee might have prospective employers think twice about that blogger's ability to do collection development and selection. But you should NEVER be encouraging people to do book blogging in order to get the attention of authors or to get galleys from publishers, because both of those goals will result in intellectually dishonest reviews. The blogger with the best intentions cannot override the hindbrain's desire for free stuff and the friendship of famous people.




* I really don't understand why adults get so excited about galleys. First of all, they are often full of errors, and rarely read as smoothly as the finished copy. Secondly, yes, you get the book early -- but if nine months are going to pass between the finished version of book 1 and the finished version of book 2, those same nine months are going to pass between the galley of book 1 and a galley of book 2. And if you aren't guaranteed to get the galley of book 2, you will be waiting even longer between books than the people who waited for the finished version. If it's just the "free", than I would like to recommend to all these people their awesome local public library and its interlibrary loan program.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2010-03-01 10:26 pm

(1) digital discovery (2) meritocratic myth

In "Descartes Letter Found, Therefore It Is", I learned that a long-lost stolen letter of Descartes' has turned up in my alma mater's archives:

If old-fashioned larceny was responsible for the document’s loss, advanced digital technology can be credited for its rediscovery. Erik-Jan Bos, a philosophy scholar at Utrecht University in the Netherlands who is helping to edit a new edition of Descartes’s correspondence, said that during a late-night session browsing the Internet he noticed a reference to Descartes in a description of the manuscript collection at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He contacted John Anderies, the head of special collections at Haverford, who sent him a scan of the letter.
...
Scholars have known of the letter’s existence for more than 300 years, but not its contents. Apparently the only person who had really studied it was a Haverford undergraduate who spent a semester writing a paper about the letter in 1979. (Mr. Bos called the paper “a truly fine piece of work.”)


Guys, this is awesome. This is why I do what I do! Putting collection guides online is a royal pain (ASK ME HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE EAD STANDARD), but this is the kind of story that makes it all worthwhile. Archival collections are full of hidden treasures the archivists themselves don't know about. It takes a dedicated scholar to find these lost and hidden (and rarely digitized) gems, and digital collection guides, followed up by e-reference, followed up by spot digitization, solved the puzzle.

Viva la Ford!

On a more somber note, from "Why diversity matters (the meritocracy business)":

Now, whenever I screen resumes, I ask the recruiter to black out any demographic information from the resume itself: name, age, gender, country of origin. The first time I did this experiment, I felt a strange feeling of vertigo while reading the resume. “Who is this guy?” I had a hard time forming a visual image, which made it harder to try and compare each candidate to the successful people I’d worked with in the past. It was an uncomfortable feeling, which instantly revealed just how much I’d been relying on surface qualities when screening resumes before – even when I thought I was being 100% meritocratic. And, much to my surprise (and embarrassment), the kinds of people I started phone-screening changed immediately.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2009-10-23 03:17 pm

working while disabled: it's really just fine

For Disability Blog Carnival #59: Disability and Work:

Liz Henry tells us that October is Disability Employment Awareness Month in the United States. Who knew? I guess this is why my university's human resources newsletter this month has an article called "Accommodating Our Valuable Employees", all about the wonderful ways in which the human resources department jumps through hoops to adapt the environment for employees with disabilities. Someday I have to meet this department of which they write. </snark>

Anyway, I've written plenty on the frustrations of being a working person with disabilities, but I wanted to talk about some of the ways in which it's actually pretty awesome. Even I can't complain all the time. )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2009-02-22 05:03 pm

this is a very small violin you are playing for me, isn't it?

I am honored to be a presenter at the forthcoming Diana Wynne Jones Conference, in Bristol this July. (Except now I have to write the paper.)

I am honored to've been asked to teach Fantasy and Science Fiction at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature again this Fall. (Except now I have to prep for the class again.)

If only my time-consuming avocational successes paid well enough to support me, so that making time for them could be easy.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2008-07-31 09:12 am

immigration, libraries, and that evil Library of Congress

Why isn't the library blogosphere abuzz over the to-be-deported librarian (or library employee; the new stories are inconsistent but seem to imply a library employee) Marxavi Angel Martinez? 23-year-old Martinez has been married for two years, works in a library, is attending college, has a 15-month-old son, and plans to become a kindergarten teacher. She didn't criminally race across the border in hopes of stealing jobs from hard working Americans -- that is, unless as a three-year-old she decided to swim the Rio Grande.

You know, at some level it disgusts me that the main defense of Martinez I've seen in the news is, effectively, she had a skilled-labor job and white friends ("To go after productive citizens who have been our neighbors and friends for years? It's insane"), but if that's what it takes to make people realize that undocumented immigrants are also human beings, fine, I will take it. Although what the heck is up with this news story? "Alamance County ? Thousands of people use the internet at libraries around the Triad everyday, but it might not be the safest place. Sheriff Deputies in Alamance County arrested Marxavi Angel Martinez earlier this week. Martinez was employed by the county library system. She is facing federal charges for alleging aggravated identity theft, false claim to U.S. citizenship, social security fraud and fraudulent or misrepresentation of a material fact. This comes less than 24-hours after MySpace had security breach. ... Can the internet be trusted?"

Also, note to self: NEVER read the reader comments on immigration stories in the news. I simply don't have enough Sanity Watchers points to go around.

In more entertaining crazy news, LibraryThing has gotten a warning from Google AdSense for the "adult or mature content" in -- wait for it -- Library of Congress Subject Headings.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2008-06-10 04:53 pm

Techies in Libraries

Library Garden posted on The New IT Librarian Application.
Librarian in Black responded with How to Test Applicants' Tech Skills.
Caveat Lector responded with Testing Your Techies.

Full disclosure: Before I went to library school, I spent ten years as a systems administrator in large corporate environments, and I was damn good at it. I still run my own small ISP. So I'm speaking here as a librarian/archivist but also as a sysadmin.

Library Garden's post is misguided: "If the person's resume and cover letter meet your standards, TEXT their cell phone to set up an interview. Unorthodox? Perhaps, but part of the IT personality is embracing modern technology. Texting is one of the most popular means of communication with our younger population and, if we want to stay current with our patrons, then we need make sure our IT people are familiar with it as well."

This is maybe good advice if you are trying to hire a Library 2.0 guru, but is it good advice to hire IT personnel? No, no, and no. Your IT people need to be able to make sure your servers are backed up. They need to make sure you have fast reliable networks. The need to make sure you have all of the rights you need to administer your data, and all the right tools at your fingertips. They need to make sure that your data are secure. They need to be on top of improvements in file systems, aware of security alerts, knowledgeable about server-class hardware. They probably need to be capable database administrators in a pinch. And if the library staff believes the best way to communicate with users includes setting up text notifications, then your IT people need to be able to set up a good infrastructure for sending text notifications.

Does that mean they need to take in text messages themselves? Maybe you think so. Maybe you think that nobody can set up a good infrastructure of a tool they don't themselves use. But I will tell you, there are plenty of fantastic sysadmins who are complete Luddites about personal technology. Are you really going to hire a sysadmin because she uses twitter? Or are you going to hire her because she writes Debian Linux kernel patches in her spare time? I will give you a hint: there is only one right answer to this question.

Librarian in Black hits it: "And testing an IT person's skills is a lot tricker, but it can be done...assuming you have someone on the other end who can verify the accuracy of the responses. I advocate for essay questions and actual problem-solving questions that present a real problem and ask for code,or a project plan, or a network diagram."

There are two hugely important points here: testing and having someone in-house who can verify the accuracy.

I have no idea how people do real interviews without doing skills tests. My favorite sysadmin test is to hand people this snippet:

crw-rw-rw- 1 root tty 3, 175 2008-06-07 23:43 ttyzf
prw-r----- 1 root adm 0 2008-06-10 10:04 xconsole
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 202, 2 2008-06-07 23:43 xvda2
drwxrwxrwt 7 root root 5120 2008-06-10 15:56 tmp
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 2008-04-24 15:48 lib64 -> /lib
-rwxr-sr-x 1 root mail 395107 2008-06-09 10:07 elm
-rwx--x--x 1 root staff 15340 2008-06-09 10:07 mmencode


I ask them to talk about it. It's a great piece, because if you have any UNIX admin experience at all, you should be able to at least give a four-word description of that whole class of text. And there are lines in there of some fairly intense levels of complexity, which in many cases only an experienced administrator would be able to describe. It's not a Pass/Fail test, it's a Show Me What You Know test, which is a far better kind. Alternately, I would ask problem-solving questions: "User calls up yelling about [situation]. Fix it." This gives you the opportunity to watch both problem-solving skills and at least the job applicant's stated user-communication skills.

But the vitally important issue here is what Librarian in Black says: assuming you have someone on the other end. It's very, very difficult -- almost impossible -- for an entirely non-technical hiring committee to select a good technical applicant. You can select someone nice, and you can select someone who will fit in with your corporate culture, and you can select somebody who talks a good game. But without finding somebody else with a similar set of job skills to sit on your hiring committee? It's all luck. Trust me, no matter how smoothly the person comes off, no matter how competent he or she seems, you can't do an accurate assessment of technical skills without having the knowledge yourself. Technical people often sound extremely confident in their skill, oftentimes with no good reason. If it is at all possible for you to get an IT person from somewhere else in your organization to sit in on the hiring committee? Do so.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2008-01-02 10:33 am

Happiness in the New Year

There's a lot of been meaning to post about in my far-too-busy life:

  • There's my new position as review editor for the newly forming, Gold Open Access, peer reviewed journal Transformative Works and Cultures. And by the way, yay!

  • There is the research I have been doing into romance fiction and the wonderfully supportive blogging and mailing list community of other academics doing that research.

  • There's the sequel I recently reviewed where I realized that the sentiments of my negative review of book one had been given to a minor villain of book two, in a dubious but solidly entertaining form of fame.



But what I find I am primarily focused on right now is being happy at work. People keep offered me all these fabulous opportunities which I am turning down -- inviting me to present at conference panels, asking me to write papers, encouraging me to join committees. I know I'm turning down opportunities to make a bigger deal of myself in my career or my various academic avocations. Yet I find I don't care. I really like my manager, and I like my coworkers, and I like my commute. I'm not married to my day-to-day job tasks but that's really not a problem for me. I know what I'm doing is somewhat important, and if the actual tasks aren't overwhelmingly fulfilling, the environment I'm doing them in is so comfortable that I'm perfectly happy.

This is odd for me. I spent a long time wanting to Be Somebody. I read a lot of other librarian, archivist, and Library 2.0 blogs which are (quite reasonably) concerned with conferences and presentations and career building and networking at all of those things that I know are really important. And if I ever had any aspirations as a career academic, than all of the academic connections that I'm making would absolutely matter more than they do to me right now.

For right now I have a low-intensity job with people I like and respect in an interesting academic environment, and that's enough for me. Well, that and my thoroughly overloaded plate of extracurriculars.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2007-11-26 10:04 am

further thoughts on Henry Jenkins' acafan debate

After Henry Jenkins' male/female scholar acafan debate, he asked for feedback from the participants. I didn't contribute any, mostly because real life intervened, but I was so intrigued by the responses of those who did that I found I did need to say a little something, after all.

Here is what I sent to Henry, which will probably be added as comments to the above-linked post )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2007-09-20 08:39 am

gender and fan culture

It's odd to pull up your blogs in the morning and see your own name, you introducing yourself, at the top of the list.

Gender and Fan Culture, Round 16, Part One: Deborah Kaplan and Alan McKee, over at Henry Jenkins' place.

The generosity of Henry for making these conversations possible, the drive of Kristina Busse for rounding us all up and making this happen, and Alan McKee's all-around wonderfully funny smarts have made this entire experience a thoroughgoing pleasure. As an independent scholar, I get far too little opportunity to interact with others in media and fan studies outside of the sometimes stultifying atmosphere of conferences; this has been really a great experience for me.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2007-09-18 10:47 am

social networks and scholarship

I've been far too overwhelmed to post here recently, or even to read my blogs, and for that I feel immensely guilty. I've been doing so much: getting settled in my new job at Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, working on my research on romance fiction, working (far too little) on the project I'm doing with Rebecca Rabinowitz on subversive children's literature.

I've also been talking with Alan McKee in preparation for our installation of Henry Jenkins' fangirl/fanboy detente. That has been an absolute joy. It's so wonderful whenever you find another scholar who delights in examining the same kinds of questions that you do. Both of us have found such pleasure in talking about media fandom, and I confess it has been from both a scholarly perspective and a fan perspective. This, of course, is the most wonderful part about being an acafan; the shameless delight in the subjects of our study.

I wonder how much further I would have gotten in children's literature scholarship if the academic blogging community had existed 10 years ago. Would I have made further inroads there? I've made such friends in media and fan scholarship, real genuine friends, people I love and care for -- and I suspect I will be making similar friends in romance scholarship, based on what I've seen of that community. As an independent scholar, it is so discouraging to have no infrastructure for my fields of study. And it's not like I'm not busy, it's not like I'm not doing this scholarship in my spare time after work and dinner and gardening and feeding the cats. If it weren't for the social network of wonderful people who share my interests, I don't know if I would be able to keep it up.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2007-05-31 09:34 am

moving on: bittersweet

At the end of June, I will be leaving Brandeis to accept a position as Digital Resources Archivist at Tufts, and I'm experiencing major seller's remorse. Not buyer's remorse -- I am extremely excited about joining the team over at Tufts Digital Collections and Archives -- but seller's remorse. I don't want to leave my baby, my digital collections, with so much exciting work going on here.

The fact is that in only a year we've built the digital collections here from the glint in the milkman's eye to a robust and scalable program which will be ready to launch in a few weeks. What I'm most proud of is that I think we've built something which can live just fine without me while they hunt for a replacement, and what I am most upset about is leaving for somebody else all the great ideas for projects we've been forming as we've approached the finish line: Institutional Repository; ETDs; special faculty projects; integration with the University photography department. So all of you out there who read this humble blog and might have the skills to foster my baby? Apply for this job. The Brandeis Digital Collections deserve the best.

So, Tufts. Why am I so pleased about a position which looks like a step down? I'll be going from driving the entire digital collections initiative at one university to being responsible for a small component (management, ingest, and maintenance of digital objects) of the digital collections at a roughly equivalent university. (Not to mention that I will be moving from DSpace to Fedora, and so far, I very much prefer DSpace.)

Over the years that I've been working, I've learned something startling about myself: I'd rather be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. Which is not to say that I would rather be a peon or cog in the machine -- anything but. Everyone who knows me knows that I am chock full of opinions. But I want learning opportunities, mentors, people to teach me things. At the best working environment I ever had -- The Company Formerly Known As, as we like to call it -- I was smack in the middle of a large group of people which included both some of the best mentors I've ever had and some really terrific entry level people who were eager to learn. There was the opportunity to teach and learn from my peers.

I've had a great time over the last year at Brandeis learning by doing, learning by screwing up, learning by attending classes, learning by attending conferences, learning by reading blogs and mailing lists and conference proceedings. I've had my trial by fire, and now it's time for me to get some solid mentoring. The conferences I've attended over the last year have been chock full of presentations by people in the group I'm about to join. Now is my chance to really learn from people who've been doing this for a long time.

Also, I would be lying if I didn't admit that proximity to my home and a walking commute played a large part in my decision to change. One of the advantages of working in a university is gaining the University community. As a car-free person, I'm so distant from Brandeis geographically that I can't take advantage of that community. At Tufts, I can.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
2006-11-13 04:24 pm

style vs. substance

I've been seeing occasional resumes from librarians who've paid more attention to whuffie than to skills. Conference presentations, published papers, and frequent contribution to mailing lists and bulletin boards -- but an inability to answer direct questions in an interview. Candidates who are excited by the potential offered by new technologies and Library 2.0, but who can't talk about the practicalities of library work, even after several years work in a library. The whuffie might get a foot in the door, but it doesn't get anything after that. If it's clear there's no substance to a candidate, we don't continue with that individual.

I find this fairly reassuring, as I've been thinking lately about my own career and what I'd like to do with it. I've been given the opportunity to have a shift at the university's reference and information desk -- a fairly low-profile opportunity, as such shifts generally are. And I love it. Today I helped two students find the resources for semester-long projects, while showing them how to recognize from a citation whether something was a journal or monograph, how to read our catalog system to see whether or not we have the resources electronically or in print, how to find government documents... It was fantastic.

I know many people who are loaded up on social capital are *also* people of substance. But it's good to remind myself that the relationship between social capital and substance isn't 1:1, and that it's fairly easy to see when there is nothing behind a good dose of social capital.