Reading Resolutions for 2017

After three years, I believe it is time to return to this blog and perhaps change it up a bit. This will turn into a place for me to record my reviews of books I read. I might continue to discuss library programming ideas. It might occasionally devolve into discussion about knitting. I mean, llamas (and their cousins, alpacas), make lovely fiber and yarn. I’m just staying true to my name.


Stacked book picture from Wikimedia Commons

What better way to return to a blog that left off on resolutions than to state new resolutions? By revisiting my previous goals, I find that I still have a lot to learn. Many of my goals for this year, which I made before deciding to revive this blog, will be similar to those from three years ago. Apparently.

  1. Goodreads Challenge = 60 books. This number is significantly lower than the number of books I read in the past couple of years (80 and 77). I listened to a fair number of audiobooks during those years, but I don’t have as much time to do that as I used to. I’m listening to significantly more podcasts and doing other activities which do not allow me to read with my ears. The lower number also reflects my desire to write more reviews and annotations on the books I read, which will take away from my reading time, too.
  2. Each month, read an author from the ARRT Popular Fiction list. As NoveList puts it, this list is “a straightforward and enjoyable way to evaluate and broaden anyone’s reading experience.” Since becoming a librarian, I have had the opportunity to expand my reading horizons, but I still have gaps to fill in.
  3. Each month, read a book that fits into the Iowa Readers’ Advisory Roundtable genre. For 2017, the Iowa RART has chosen Narrative Nonfiction for reviews. I did not participate last year, but, in an effort to continually grow and expand my reading horizons, I need to make an effort to read and review for this group. It is a good opportunity to practice my review skills with a group that can give me critiques on the quality of my reviews.
  4. Write a review for each book I read. Self-explanatory. The more I write, the better I will get. The more I evaluate the books I read, the better I will be able to discuss books with library patrons.
  5. Don’t freak out. I probably won’t be able to do all of the above all of the time. It’s okay. Every little bit helps.

There you have it.  Some changes to the blog.  Some changes to my reading habits.  Some changes to my review-writing abilities.

Library Student Day in the Life – Round Two, Day Five

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts to participate in Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life.  For the week of October 28 – November 1, 2013, I will be posting each evening to share with prospective library students what a day in my life as a library student at Florida State University’s iSchool is like.  Regular posts will resume November 2, 2013.

The Job Search

A couple of weeks ago, Julia Feerrar wrote a great post over on Hack Library School about the Tools for an Organized Job Search.  If you haven’t read it, you should go check it out.  It is very informative and has tons of great tips in it.

I am getting to the point in my schooling where I am about six months away from graduating.  I actually started looking at job listings before I even began classes just to get an idea about what specializations may be needed for the jobs that interested me.  That way I was able to tailor my electives towards the subjects that were most important for my career.

I spend a good portion of every week looking at jobs.  I check the local jobs daily.  Now I am looking at job listings for different reasons, though.  I am looking for positions that I want to apply for, searching for tips on writing appealing cover letters, and refining my résumé.

My Job Search Techniques

Many of my strategies coincide with the ones Julia mentioned in her article.

  • I use an RSS feed to follow sites that post jobs.
  • I constantly go to (I Need a Library Job) to see if there are any new and interesting jobs available
  • I keep a spreadsheet of the jobs I have applied for, including information about when the position was posted, when it closed, when I applied for it, where the position was located, the position title, and whether I got an interview or not.
    • That spreadsheet also has worksheets that keep track of individual library job sites.  I go through and open up those sites about once a week.  I have found that sometimes the smaller libraries may not post to the state or regional level and may get missed in the mix.
  • I keep my resumes, cover letters, and job descriptions in the cloud so that if I am ever in a location without my computer, but have access to a different computer, I can still apply for jobs that I may find that are closing soon
    • This happened to me this summer when I traveled to Chicago!  I found a job that was closing before I would be getting back home, but I was able to apply because I could access all of my resume and cover letter information.
  • I keep a document that has all my previous work and education history.  I find this to be extremely helpful when I am filling out application after application.  When I find something on an application that I do not have in this document, I add it.  There is surely another application out there that will ask for the same thing.  It includes
    • address and contact information
    • Number of credit hours and GPA (education)
    • position title
    • organization
    • supervisor and supervisor’s title
    • starting and ending dates
    • job duties and responsibilities
    • starting and ending salaries
    • you get the idea
  • For the libraries in my surrounding area, I have a folder in my bookmarks.  I open up that folder in the bookmarks manager, then open every tab en masse.  Chrome gets angry (“Are you sure you want to open 17 tabs?”).  Yes, yes I am sure.  It is probably overkill to do this because most of the positions end up on INALJ or the state job sites, but somehow it makes me feel better.
  • If you can, you may need to expand your job search radius.  There seem to be a consistent number of recent graduates who stay in Tallahassee and not nearly as many positions opening up.  I have expanded my radius to include surrounding counties.  I wouldn’t really mind the drive most of the time.  It is important to factor in gas expenditures when considering if the salary would be sufficient in this situation.
  • I also look across the country for positions of interest.  Again, this is not always an option for everybody.  I cannot guarantee that my husband would be able to move with me right away if I found a great job somewhere else, but we have discussed this possibility and he is very supportive.  He knows that currently my opportunities are limited.
  • I have started trying to actively network with librarians on Twitter, if only to build up my Personal (or Professional) Learning Network (PLN).
  • For skills I feel I do not yet have, I do whatever I can to learn them.  I have used Codecademy to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  When I have time and inclination again, I will learn more coding from it.  I work on perfecting my French and improving my Spanish.  I want to learn other languages, particularly German and Italian to improve my chances of becoming an academic music librarian. I try to practice readers’ advisory skills like determining appeal terms, writing annotations, “speed reading” a book, determining Read Alikes.  One day all of these skills will come in handy.  Knowing the small amount of code I know or the French I know or [insert other skill here] may one day be the determining factor I get chosen over other candidates who do not have those skills.

Everybody has their own ways of doing things.  This is just how I do mine.

My Final Job Search Recommendations

The last bits of information (and two songs) that I will share:

  • Stay positive.  It is not always easy when you know you would be great in a position and you don’t even get an interview.  It is not easy when you DO get an interview, which you think goes really well, and then you don’t get the job.  This is the one that I have the most trouble following.  But I try to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
  • I have to believe that everything happens for a reason.  If a job didn’t work out, it means there is a better one out there for you.  If life seems to be giving you lemons, make lemonade.  If one door closes, another one opens.  Choose your own cliché.
  • Something better will come along. Although the theme in this song is about relationships, a lot of it is still true: “There’s no use complainin’ / It’s pointless to holler.”  And most of all “I hope that something better comes along.”

Library Student Day in the Life – Round Two, Day Four

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts to participate in Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life.  For the week of October 28 – November 1, 2013, I will be posting each evening to share with prospective library students what a day in my life as a library student at Florida State University’s iSchool is like.  Regular posts will resume November 2, 2013.

On Being a Music Librarian for an orchestra

A photo of the center of a violin

Violins are the signature of an orchestra
Photo by dyet on RGBStock

I joined the community orchestra almost two years ago.  When I told my fellow horn players that I was going to go back to school to become a librarian, they told me to talk to the music librarian at the time.  We’ve chatted a few times while I’ve played with the orchestra.  In May, she told me she was going to resign because she had a lot of other things going on.  I offered to take over, if the board would approve.  Thus began my volunteer work as a Music Librarian for a community orchestra.

Duties of a Music Librarian for an orchestra

Clearly these apply to my specific community orchestra and probably do not go across the board for all orchestra music librarians.  So take from them what you will.

  • Finding out if music the conductors want to play is in the public domain
  • Posting the parts into a password protected site so that only our players can access the music
  • Printing out and binding scores for the conductors (well, actually only one)
  • Ensuring that the rehearsal marks from the players’ parts align with the rehearsal marks in the score
  • Verifying that all music on the repertoire and library list is actually in the library
  • Ordering or renting music that the conductors want to play that is not in the public domain

Other insights about being a Music Librarian for an orchestra

Violin sheet music

Making sure everyone has their music is the most important thing

There were many things I did not know going into this gig.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy it, but it can be a difficult at times to play and be the librarian.

  • The same people will always forget their music.  To help alleviate costs for the organization, before I started they had instituted a policy where players would print their own music (in general) and bring it to rehearsal.  For a while they had even instituted charging $0.10 per page for the librarian to make copies.  When she was passing me the torch, she told me it never really made much money and did not seem to be worth it.  So I am not doing it this year.
  • Printing on the small little printer the orchestra owned ate a lot of toner.  For the first rehearsal of the season, I needed to have the scores prepared for the conductors.  Little did I know that one of the conductors has copies of most of what we’re playing, or he obtains it elsewhere.  When I printed the score for one symphony from the public domain, it ate whatever was left of the cartridge from before I started, plus some of my personal cartridge.  Another score we were using used another cartridge plus some.
  • Some weeks, no one forgets their music.  As a brass player, I am not needed for all of the pieces we are playing (some are strings only).  The player in me wishes I could come late or go home early, depending on what order we rehearse.  The librarian in me knows that there may be someone who forgot to ask me during break for a certain piece.  Or that at the end of rehearsal someone will remember they were sharing with their stand partner and they actually need their own copy.
  • Finding out what we are playing for a concert can be like pulling teeth.  The previous librarian had warned me that the conductors have a habit of not finalizing our pieces until even a week or two into rehearsals.  This can make it difficult for me to make sure everyone has access to the music.  So the first few weeks are certainly the most hectic.  Also, because we are generally still recruiting players, sometimes the reason people don’t have their music is because they were never given the password to download it.
  • The librarian doesn’t get to keep track of the music in the library.  Weird, I know.  I’m not really sure why, but there is someone on the board who is in charge of maintaining a list of all the repertoire the organization has played as well as all the music that is in the library.  I had to ask him to send me his spreadsheet in order to go to the library and double check that everything is present.  And the absence of authority control on that list is bewildering to behold.

Although it wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, it is definitely a neat experience.  I will be creating a manual so that whoever takes over after me does not have to start from scratch or try to remember what I tell them.  It’s not a typical librarian position, but it’s a necessary one.

Library Student Day in the Life – Round Two, Day Three

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts to participate in Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life.  For the week of October 28 – November 1, 2013, I will be posting each evening to share with prospective library students what a day in my life as a library student at Florida State University’s iSchool is like.  Regular posts will resume November 2, 2013.

A picture of several different icons from social media applications

Social Media Icons
Source: JNFerree on Flickr

Thoughts on what I have learned from my Social Media Management class

As I began writing my post for today (well, Wednesday, even though I will finish and post early Thursday morning), I was just going to do a quick bullet-point list with some of the things that happened at work today.  However, as my Social Media Management professor put so aptly just yesterday, “No one cares about us.”

I mean, technically this is supposed to be a post about what a day in the life of a library student is like.  So, theoretically, someone cares about what my day was like today.  But, no matter how hard I tried, as I was writing about my day, his voice was haunting me, making me think about how no one is particularly interested in reading a blog post about what happened to me today.

Even though this particular post is not one that I will submit as part of my final project, it is hard not to want to apply everything we have learned in class to this post, too.  What kind of headings and subheadings should I use for the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on this post?  What will draw the readers in?  What kind of feature image should I have?  How to balance a personal tone with a more professional tone on  a given topic?

What has changed about me after taking a class on social media?

  • I have stepped outside my comfort zone.  Part of what I love about library school is that there are so many different aspects of librarianship.  In order to be a great librarian someday, I am going to need to push myself outside of my comfort zone sometimes.  This Social Media Management class?  Definitely outside of my comfort zone.
  • I am (hopefully) beginning to develop a PLN.  Prior to taking this class, I had a Twitter account, but I did not really check it, nor did I follow that many people, and I certainly did not tweet.  Although I still do not tweet as much as many people (it hasn’t yet become engrained in me), I have started replying to people, retweeting things, and following a lot more librarians and libraries.  The people I follow give me great ideas and keep me in tune to what is happening in Library Land.  I think that is really important for me as a future librarian.  Also, developing relationships with even a few of these librarians would be great, too.
  • I use a social media management application.  For all you HootSuite people out there, I like the owl logo.  I do.  I like how HootSuite integrates with Facebook.  But I don’t like sponsored tweets and I feel like the viewing area is less flexible than I would like.  I can see more columns in TweetDeck, and since my social media needs at this time are not so advanced that I need anything beyond TweetDeck, I’ll stick with it for now.  But I like that I have been exposed to both applications.

Honestly, who would have ever thought that I would even be using any sort of social media management application?  Both applications allow you to schedule your tweets, which is something I really like.  As I said, I am still getting used to tweeting regularly.  If I can tweet something that drives traffic to my blog (one of the main aspects of the class) when I’m not even thinking about it, great!  Also useful since most of the time when I think about tweeting, it is 2 or 3 in the morning and no one would ever see it.

  • I think more consciously about clicking on links and visiting blogs.  My thoughts tend to run along the lines of: I’m providing statistical data for this person/company/entity to pore over and determine their SEO.  I tend to read my blogs through Feedly, so I don’t know how that plays into their statistics.  For the times that I want to see more, though, and I click through, I am more consciously thinking about how they would see that someone from the U.S. was referred by Feedly, etc.  And now when I click on links from Twitter, all of these thoughts go through my head.
  • I appreciate the work of the bloggers I read.  I don’t think I thought it was easy to sit down and write blog posts, but I find that it takes me awhile.  I want to get the wording just right, and I never think I do.  I try to think through everything we learned in class about effective blog posts: title, headings, subheadings, lists, featured images, metadata, short paragraphs, supporting images, links, image attribution, etc.  For those of you out there who have been blogging for a long time, does it get faster?  Does it get easier?  Do these things start to become second nature where you no longer have to think it through every time you post?

In Conclusion

While this didn’t tell you anything about what happened to me today, I hope some prospective library school student out there is interested in how this class can affect something as simple as a “Day in the Life” post.

Who knows?  Maybe I will submit this as part of my project after all.

Library Student Day in the Life: Round two, Day Two

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts to participate in Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life.  For the week of October 28 – November 1, 2013, I will be posting each evening to share with prospective library students what a day in my life as a library student at Florida State University’s iSchool is like.  Regular posts will resume November 2, 2013.

Today I will give you a brief overview of my day, discuss a study skill I have been using to combat procrastination, and chat about the music I’ve been listening to while studying.

#HLSDITL – Day 2

Squares of paper, a glue stick, and scissors used when creating display for Radiologic Technology Week

Arts and crafts day at the library as I create the display for Radiologic Technology Week

  • Random song entering my head when cutting out four of the letter “I” (Eighteen Wheels on a Big Rig by Heywood Banks)
  • Helped a student printing a PowerPoint – she needed to save to a PDF in order for it to spool properly to the printer… we’ve been having issues with that recently and the tech guy is constantly working on it
  • Cancelled a PowerPoint print job for a different student – she wanted it to be 6 slides to a page, front and back, but it ended up just printing one slide per page front and back
  • Contemplated our public access computers – starting today they appear to be reserved for a student library survey only… but then what about the public users who come in?  Aren’t we doing them a disservice by eliminating the only computers available for them to use?  Is there another way we could encourage students to complete the library survey on computers available for student use?
  • Checked a lot of headphones in and out to Respiratory Care students
  • Wore the shawl I knit at ALA Annual because I got cold and I had actually remembered to bring a shawl!  Even got complimented.
  • Assisted a student with sending a media file via email – had to save it as a different format before it sent properly
  • Just got finished with Social Media Management class (which is the reason this blog exists, and that I actually tweet on occasion)

When Procrastination Hits Hard

Procrastination comic

Source: cheerfulmonk on Flickr

I know I am not alone in the world of procrastinating.  And last week I was bit by a particularly nasty bug of it.  I had no desire to work on any homework, despite having plenty of time to do it.

My assignments this semester are (mostly) due on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Last week Thursday came and I had barely read the assigned chapters for the week, let alone started on the assignments.  That’s when I had to implement a very structured Study-Break schedule.

Scheduling study/break time

I grabbed the timer from my kitchen, which has three separate timers on it.  I set the first timer to 25 minutes, the second timer to 5 minutes, and the last timer to 20 minutes.  Seems a little strange, right?  I had read somewhere recently that people are most productive or study best when they alternate working for 25 minutes, breaking for 5 minutes, and every third break is 20 minutes instead of 5.

Now, do I believe that it was that regimen that made more productive?  Not really.  It was the fact that I made myself sit down and do my homework that made me more productive.

As I said yesterday, I am trying to get on top of my end-of-term projects.  Last night I implemented this same study/break schedule with pretty decent success.  Since it wasn’t as imperative that I finish what I was working on, I allowed myself a little more leeway than I did last week.

Music choices

I like listening to music in just about every situation.  When there is no music playing, there is music in my head (see Eighteen Wheels on a Big Rig, above).  I use several music applications, all with different purposes.  For a while I had been listening to my Apocalyptica station on Pandora when I study.  But recently I’ve been craving something different.

Last week I used TuneIn to find good soundtrack and video game music stations, which worked pretty well.  I’m not even sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I recognized the Final Fantasy 7 tune that came on, even though I’ve never played Final Fantasy…

Last night I used Songza to find some studying music.  I happened upon a station called “808s and Brass“.  It’s description is

“Commonly referred to as jazz hop or jazz rap, this subgenre combines jazz samples with hip hop beats.”

I really enjoyed it!  Even though some of the songs had lyrics, it wasn’t overly distracting.  More distracting was just the fact that I thought the songs were really cool and I would be dancing in my chair to them.

Library Student Day in the Life: Round two, Day one

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts to participate in Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life.  For the week of October 28 – November 1, 2013, I will be posting each evening to share with prospective library students what a day in my life as a library student at Florida State University’s iSchool is like.  Regular posts will resume November 2, 2013.

Picture of the outside of the Nevada Public Library

Nevada Public Library

Marketing of Information Services project

When I was in high school, I had the good fortune to work at the Nevada Public Library.  Had I been as wise then as I am now (ha!), I would have realized that I was destined to be a librarian, I would have made different choices regarding previous degrees, and I would now be a professional librarian.  But I appreciate most of the things I have learned and the people I have met through those other experiences.  I would not be the person I am now had I not gone through these other routes.

For my Marketing of Information Services class, we have to choose a nonprofit organization to examine for our final project.  I chose to use the Nevada Public Library and, thankfully, the director has been very generous with providing information for me.  In order to appropriately examine the marketing practices of the library, I have been creating questionnaires for the director to complete.  She very quickly returned the first questionnaire.  I had not yet prepared the second questionnaire, so I was working on that today.

This selection of questions was heavy on marketing terms.  Since I am unfamiliar with how much marketing the Nevada library does, I spent a surprising amount of time trying to determine how much definition was needed for each marketing term.  I don’t want to just throw a bunch of marketing terms in there that may mean nothing (or next-to-nothing) to the director.  But I also don’t know that  I just want to use every day language for it?  I have not quite decided, but I am leaning toward landing somewhere in the middle.

The various concepts of marketing that we have been learning this semester have been eye-opening for me.  Nonprofit organizations have to approach marketing differently than typical businesses do.  The strategies need to be well-researched and focused on what the customer or user wants.  Very intriguing information.

Healthcare Library Job

I work part-time at a small library that serves the healthcare programs of our local community college.  The library has a very small collection.  The main use of the library is the computers.  Students frequently come in to print out a syllabus or PowerPoint presentations.  Sometimes they have to print out clinical paperwork.

There was was nothing particularly interesting as far as reference assistance today.  However, next week is National Radiologic Technology Week.  I began researching and planning an informational display for the library.  I will continue working on that throughout the week.

That’s it for today.  At least so far.  I will be working on homework later this evening, though.  I am trying to get ahead on my projects to make sure I am not stressing at the end of November.