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Library Information Technology

Program Newsletter

 

Library Information Technology

Program Newsletter
Volume 4
Spring 2021

"Enrolling in MCTC’s Library Information & Technology (LIBT) program was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I had decided to make a career change, but could not afford the high cost of graduate school. I found the LIBT program to be academically rigorous and the instructors to be engaged and committed to their students. The flexibility of the online class structure allowed me to find a healthy balance between school, work, and family life. When I was halfway through the program, I was hired for a library-related job that I love!"

-S.L., Public & Technical Information Services Certificates, 2012

We publish our newsletter 2-3 times per year (Fall, Spring, sometimes Summer) and would love your suggestions and contributions for future content. Please share this newsletter and invite others to subscribe. We hope you enjoy!

Greetings...


Hello everyone,

My name is Wesley Seaberg, and I am a second year student in the LIBT program and will be graduating in the Spring. As my time as a student at MCTC comes to an end, I have been thinking about what I have learned about libraries and how vital they are to the communities they serve. For many people, the library is where they go when they need to learn something new or access the resources that they wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise. The library is also a place for a community to gather together and share experiences, as well as a place where anyone can go and not be expected to buy anything or spend money to be there, which is increasingly rare these days.

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the public library’s ability to provide many of these services that their patrons have come to depend on and has forced library staff to adapt as best they can. Seeing how the library field had been affected by the pandemic, I felt myself starting to worry about the potential future of the profession, but then I finished reading Michael Gorman’s "Our Enduring Values" for Tom Eland’s Information Ethics and Legal Issues class. On the last page of the book, Gorman makes an inspiring statement about the future of libraries:

“I believe with all my heart that we librarians and our libraries will continue to carry out our historic mission, not least because that is what society and individuals in society demand. We will profit from existential debates about the future of libraries and the meaning of librarianship because introspection- if positive in attitude-brings strength.”

As long as there are communities to serve, there will be a need for libraries, and for the passionate, dedicated individuals who maintain them.



Image Credit: East Side Freedom Library

Fall 2020 & Spring 2021 Events 


Late Fall 2020 and into Spring 2021, LIT continued its programming focused on anti-racism in librarianship and on career development.

COMING UP...

Friday, April 16 Career Services Event

The Library Information Technology program, in partnership with Career Services, is hosting several sessions, including:
  • 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., Networking Presentation
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Employer Panel
  • Join the sessions
  • 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Learn the do's and don'ts on how to write an effective resume 
  • Join the Resume Presentation

Thursday, April 29th Resume Roundup!

Fall 2021 Events


We do not have any events finalized for Fall 2021 yet, but are collecting ideas. Please watch the LIT blog for updates, or contact Jennifer.Sippel@minneapolis.edu with event ideas and collaboration requests.

In the News! 


Here is a list of links a former LIT student sent to us, and we are excited to share them with you!. Check them out. And if you like these, you might want to sign up for MetroNet MetroBriefs.

Meet our Faculty: Amanda Mills


Hello, my name is Amanda Mills. I am a faculty librarian at Minneapolis College and teach both INFS and LIBT courses. I live in South Minneapolis with my kiddo, doggo, & spouse(o). I moved a fair amount while growing up, but mostly to various parts of Minnesota (mostly in or near the Twin Cities), though there was one brief stint in Wisconsin. Clearly, I was not in America’s DairylandTM long enough, however, as I have been vegan for over two decades now.

I love being with people, socializing, laughing with and making people laugh (remember when we could be with people?); music (remember when we could see live music?); going to my favorite dance night (it’s been happening online since the pandemic started, but it is very much not the same thing); being in and appreciating the beauty of nature (oh hey, we can still do that one!!); riding my bike (oh wow, I’m *on a roll* #bikejokes); spending quality time with my family and sharing magical moments with my son/seeing the world through his eyes. I really miss traveling and my family that is spread across the country. I miss museums and going to the movie theater. I miss play dates for my kiddo. I like walking, driving, or biking with no specific destination and discovering new places/seeing things I’ve never seen before. I am passionate about information literacy, learning, social justice, parenting, politics, and animal rights/veganism.

I have been Faculty at Minneapolis College Library since 2008, but, due to the pandemic, I have been working from home since March 2020. It has definitely had its challenges but, life got a bit easier this semester as we sent our kiddo back to preschool. It’s been so great for him as well – socially/emotionally/educationally. As I already mentioned, I teach both INFS and LIBT courses, but I also work in the library in other capacities that, over the years, have included: providing assistance at our research help desk & via our chat service, collection development, a bit of cataloging, and outreach, including working on the library’s social media team.

I like to joke that if you’re a hopeless know-it-all, being a librarian is the career for you! But, it’s kind of true. I have always had a hard time letting a question go unanswered or making decisions without ALL THE INFORMATION. I have always been interested in a lot of different things, have always loved libraries and have worked in them since I was a teenager. It all sort of snowballed from there! After I gradated with my MLIS in 2008 (my degree is technically from Dominican University in Illinois, but I took all of my classes at St. Catherine University in St. Paul), my dream job opened up at Minneapolis College Library and I have been here ever since! I have been lucky to work with so many amazing colleagues and students and I still feel incredibly fortunate to be here!

You can contact me by email at: amanda.mills@minneapolis.edu

Featured Student Project: Reader Advisory

by Wesley Seaberg


As part of my internship with Anoka County Public Library, I was given the opportunity to write a reader advisory article for Anoka’s ABC Newspapers. I chose to make some recommendations for one of my favorite types of media: graphic novels.

I am a long time comic book fan, and I love introducing people to the titles I enjoy. Since most people associate comics and graphic novels primarily with Marvel and DC superheroes, I decided to branch out and pick some examples of the medium that tell other kinds of stories with adult readers in mind. It was a really fun experience, and hopefully got some people to visit the graphic novel sections at the Anoka County library. Click the link below to check out my recommendations for yourself!

Library column: Graphic novels for grown-ups

Interview with Antonio Backman


What is your current place of employment and your position there?

I am an adult services librarian at Hennepin County Library’s Plymouth Branch.

What are your primary duties at your library?

My primary responsibilities are answering reference questions, creating adult programs, troubleshooting web/computer issues, engaging adults out in the community and handling collection maintenance. During the pandemic I have also needed to have a more active role in ensuring the safety of the patrons in the building and helping support staff with materials handling.

What is your favorite aspect of working in libraries? Your least favorite?

It is 100% corny to say, but it’s the people that I work with and the people who I help at the library. I have some great co-workers that make my job fun and engaging. It can be tremendously fulfilling when I am able to help a patron find something they need, answer a tough reference question or be able to create a program that people find meaningful or helpful.

How did your time in the LIBT program at MCTC prepare you for a career in libraries?

It was incredibly helpful to attend MCTC’s program and work at the college library there as a student worker. From the program I was introduced to searching/basic reference skills and strategies which helped me in college courses and helped me at my job now. From working at the library I was able to see how librarians planned collections, reference services and how to proactively respond to patron needs.

How has your library adapted to the current situation regarding COVID?

The Plymouth Library is currently in grab-and-go mode. That means a limited number of people are welcome to come inside the building to browse, pick up requests or use the computer. There is an expectation that people keep their visits as short as possible, keep on their mask and try to distance themselves from others as best as they can. We had previously a curbside model where we put things outside for people to pick up. We are currently not offering any programs or places for study inside but we are still offering virtual programs.

How do you think COVID will affect how libraries operate for the foreseeable future?

It has been a huge shift for the library. Money for eBooks and other digital formats has drastically increased due to an unprecedented amount of interest. COVID also forced the library system to cut a number of unfilled positions that will make staffing a challenge in the coming year. I don’t think virtual programs will replace in person programs but I hope library staff offer virtual programs as an option as we move forward. I have my fingers crossed that my library system and other systems will see the benefit of remote work and offer more flexibility to library staff to work from home some of the time.

Any advice for MCTC grads on breaking into the library field?

Take advantage of scholarships and grants (Metronet Community Education, ALA Spectrum, etc) that will help you attend conferences or workshops. Prepare yourself for a lifetime of learning new things. If it is possible try and spend time in all kinds of libraries as a volunteer, intern, patron, etc. If nothing else that time spent will inform you on what kind of library work appeals to you.

An Informational Interview With Stacey Hendren


During my internship at Anoka County Public Library, I was lucky enough to get to work with Northtown Library branch manager, Stacey Hendren. Since my time there, Stacey has been elected president of the Minnesota Library Association. In November of last year, I was able to interview Stacey about her career in libraries and how aspiring library workers can succeed in the field. Here is what she had to say:
 
How long have you worked in libraries, and what is your educational/professional background?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/staceyrhendren/
Feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.  My education and professional history are listed there, as well as the coursework I took as a graduate student.
 
What drew you to a career in libraries?
Librarianship is my second career.  I was previously a music educator and was ready for something different.  I reflected on the places, people, activities and more that I loved and was passionate about and started to investigate libraries.  I secured a job in a library and after 6 years decided to take the next step and become a librarian.
 
What are your day to day duties as Branch Manager?
Management
Daily and weekly staff schedules
Coordination of building maintenance and improvement
Meeting
Leadership
Guide direction of library building
Connect mission to daily activities
Support staff growth
Public Service
Assist patrons with a variety of needs
Reference
Reader’s Advisory
Technology help
Connect to social services
 
What is your favorite aspect of your job? Least favorite?
Anoka County uses the coaching method of supervision and a favorite part of my job is supporting and guiding staff in their decision making, professional growth, and when moving an idea into action.
When someone is angry or behaving inappropriately – staff or public - the manager needs to be the one that solves the situation.  While I have significant skill in this area, it is never fun.  Also, sometimes I need to clean up vomit or pee.
 
How involved are you in your library’s hiring process? If you are, what do you look for in a prospective hire when staffing the library?
I hire all staff that I will then supervise and have participated on several hiring panels for other managers.
One part is ensuring the individual has the skills or capacity to learn the skills for the position.  The actual skills vary depending on the role.  Another part is related to building a strong team.  A team with diverse strengths that can collaborate to meet the mission of the library is important.  The final part is enthusiasm for the position.  Regardless of your personality type, put in effort to learn about the organization and show your interest in the position.
 
What educational pathway would you say is most beneficial for someone looking to start a career in libraries?
The educational pathway will vary depending on the end goal. I encourage everyone to get a little experience in the type of library that you are interested in.  Conduct an informational interview (learn about them, don’t talk too much about yourself), volunteer, intern, work.  These activities will help you figure out exactly what type of work you are interested in and how different people got there.  If you don’t have a network, connect with the Minnesota Library Association to meet people in a variety of positions.
 
Have you worked in any other types of libraries besides public libraries? If so, how do they compare to public libraries in terms of work environment?
I completed a cataloging internship at a community college library, and an archives internship at the UMN- Twin Cities.  Otherwise my work has been in public libraries.
The main difference I have noticed is audience and type of work.
Public libraries - community and commissioners/council - public service (front lines or backroom)
Academic libraries – teachers, students and administration – research, teaching, academic support
School librarians – teachers, students and administration – curriculum support, information literacy training, technology training
Special librarians – lots of variants
There are also - Information Architects, Archivists, Metadata librarians, Digital collection librarians, and many other ways Information Science is used!
 
What trends do you see in libraries and society at large that you think will have significant effects on the profession in the future?
I encourage you to visit the ALA Center for Future of Libraries (http://www.ala.org/tools/future) and sign up for their newsletter.  Their trends library (http://www.ala.org/tools/future/trends) looks at societal trends, provides resources, and gives information regarding the potential impact on libraries.  The newsletter.  The newsletter is a weekly list of things that are happening in the world that might impact libraries.
 
Is there anything you would change about the library system you work for? Do you think the system operates in a sustainable manner?
I am not really answering this question, but…
Change in a government system is often slow and incremental.  If you are interested in changing something, I encourage you to do your research, talk to stakeholders (listen more than talk), and get a firm understanding about why something is done a certain way.  Then come up with solutions that align with capacity and the mission of the organization.
Communication is also very important.  Don’t complain without potential solutions, or if you don’t have solutions, work with some people to find solutions.  Sometimes changes can be made quickly, but learn who and when to ask. 
Also, consider action steps.  Ideas without action steps are just wishful thinking.  If you want to make a change, clearly write: what the problem is, what success looks like, and what actions would get you there.
 
Any last pieces of advice for aspiring library professionals?
Get involved.  In my first career I didn’t join the professional organization or build a professional network and that negatively affected my work.

Build your network.  Find likeminded people, and people who challenge your ideas. 

Read.  Cliché I know. Read about your profession, but also information from related fields.  If you are pursuing being a library technician, learn about process improvement (LEAN and continuous improvement).  If you are interested in management, read about leadership and management. And so on.
i. I just finished “Lead from the Outside” by Stacey Abrams and it has an excellent chapter on networking.
ii. I am currently reading “Robert’s Rules of Order In Brief” because I am going to be MLA president.
iii. As a female leader “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg was an influential read.
iv. In a high task environment “Getting Things Done” by David Allen helped me organize my work life.
v. “Palaces for the People” is a great title to reduce social isolation in your community.

Talk to others about what you are reading.  Whether it is a GoodReads review, a post on social media, a formal cohort, or just sharing a title with someone you think might like it. Conversation helps solidify learning.

Support your team, advocate for yourself, and do great work.
 
All the best to you all. 

Feel free to contact me: Stacey.hendren@co.anoka.mn.us or via LinkedIN (see above).

PS-
Stacey also asked us to share the following information about the planned LIT Student Round Table:
 

The draft petition for the Student Round Table has been written and will most likely be approved at the March 19th Board meeting.  After that we will work with the group on an announcement and web page.  Here is the purpose statement that was created:

 

Purpose:

To foster connection and mentorship between students and established professionals. To promote diverse perspectives in the library profession by creating space for discussion and practice. To advocate for the voice of students and encourage opportunities for professional involvement and development.

 

It would be great to have MCTC students involved in the group.  At this point, if any member wants to join the petition or be added to the leadership we can do that.  Otherwise we are waiting until after it is approved to broadly promote, then I would be happy to help communicate opportunities to students.

 

Right now we have 2 co-chairs, a secretary and 2 members at large for the leadership, but the secretary is willing to be a member at large if someone is interested in that role, and we can probably take on a few more members at large. 

 

Thank you,

 

Stacey


 

Accessibility in Libraries

by Ashley Martinez


Providing equal access for persons with disabilities to library facilities and services is required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA was created to eliminate discrimination in many areas, including access to private and public services, employment, transportation and communication.
 
Accessibility in libraries is important for patrons and librarians. Most libraries have been able to serve patrons with a variety of disabilities. They have done this by increasing the amount of space in shelving aisles, installing ramps and elevators, as well as making bathrooms wheelchair-accessible. Most librarians receive at least some training in working with patrons with disabilities. Librarians know how to provide a good environment in which a disabled patron can have equal access to the materials available. Yet, it's interesting to hear that some libraries do not have to follow ADA policies due to their historical status. To explore this uncommon situation, I did a quick interview with Rene Niemczyk, an intern at The Carnegie Library in Minnesota. This is what she had to say regarding accessibility in her Library:
 

Carnegie Library was built in 1912 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Because it is a historical building, the exterior cannot be changed in order to keep the integrity of the basic architectural design intact. This means that with steps going into the building and another set of steps leading up to the library itself, there is no wheelchair-accessible entry into our library. There is also only one bathroom in the lower level, which means another set of steps going down to get to a small bathroom.
 
As you can guess, patrons of all ages can have a difficult time using the library. Due to the historic significance of our library building, there isn’t much we can do to remedy the issue of the accessibility for us. We have tried to work with the local historical society to figure out a way to make the library handicapped accessible but have come away with no results. We have discussed the possibility of an addition but, again, an addition would detract from the original design of the building.
 
Although our library is a lovely historic building, it leaves much to be desired as a library in this day and age. It is not cost effective, in my opinion, to continue using as our library and as a community we need to find an alternative building to accommodate the needs of our younger families and our senior citizens.

This information brings into question a moral dilemma: is it okay for a library building to be inaccessible to some patrons if it means maintaining its historical value? As a history lover, I understand that there are things that should remain preserved instead of being altered. But is a library one of those?
 
On one hand, there are very few libraries that are exempt from the ADA policies. This specific library meets all the qualifications needed to be added to the National Register of historical places. Thus, it's reasonable to argue that any patron who finds this library inefficient could go to another. This would result in the patron being served while preserving a historical monument. On the other hand, a library's sole purpose is to provide information and materials to all patrons.
 
I am all for preserving history but I am also all for libraries being non-discriminating and available/accessible to everyone. In the end, I have no answer to this moral dilemma all I can say is that a library that is not efficient in serving all patrons needs a second look.

Adapting to Online Learning in a Pandemic

by Ashley Martinez


Many schools in the US have adapted to the turbulent times we are experiencing. Most schools have adjusted their curriculum to be home-based internet learning. This is to help stop the spread of coronavirus, while still allowing students to continue their education. As someone who has been taking online classes for years, I would like to share some advice for readjusting to online classes and maximizing efficiency. Online learning may seem simple and not having to drive or dress up for a class is definitely a perk. Yet, online classes do need a level of commitment and organization.
 
Number One: Have an Office Space
 
Schooling from home can be hard because you're used to a certain environment. I would recommend creating an office space to help mimic that environment. Doing your schoolwork on the dining room table or in the family room can be more stressful than you might think. The office space does not have to be big, but it should be large enough for your necessities. It should also be as far away from distractions as possible.
 
Number Two: Have Everything Within Arm’s Reach
 
It can be super easy to get distracted by a sudden thirst for water or a pang of hunger for some snacks. If you have to go into the kitchen, it's possible to run into obstacles that will delay you (i.e. children, messes, conversations, people seeking your attention). The best thing to do is have a drink and a small snack within arm's reach. This also helps when it comes to reading materials and school supplies. If you keep your book in one location you always know where it is when you need it. It's a big time-saver and a good habit to get into.
 
Number three: Carve Out a Time and Day
 
Like with normal classes, for most online courses you can create a pretty consistent schedule. As a matter of fact, I would say that online courses are better than in-person classes in one way in particular. Why? Because of the constant availability and access to materials. A smart thing to do would be to set a time and day for which you will focus on those classes. During this time you should make sure you have nothing scheduled so you're not in a rush. Also, the consistency of the time and day will help others remember not to bother you while you're working. It's important to notify anyone living with you to leave you alone during that time and be quiet and respectful. If possible, lock the door and turn off your phone.
 
Number four: Read Through Everything Twice
 
A downside to having online classes is that you often can't get an immediate response from your professor or classmates. Sometimes people may even get a little insecure about asking so many questions at once. This can result and you falling behind or completely misunderstanding your tasks. I've come to realize that by reading everything twice you can answer most questions on your own. However, that is not to say that you shouldn't ask questions, even if there's a multitude of them. In my experience, a professor would rather answer a lot of questions than have you feel lost and incorrect.
 
Number 5: Ask For Extra Help if You Need It  
 
For some reason, there is a certain amount of shame or fear that comes with taking an online course. There is a feeling that comes with not knowing something simple and having to take extra steps to understand it. It can make the whole process seem unappealing. In a classroom, if you don't understand something you could raise your hand and ask for the professor to say it again or elaborate. With online courses, responses aren't direct so you may need to ask your classmates for advice while waiting for a response from the professor. Having someone explain to you how to download a certain file as not the same as watching them do it yourself. You should never feel ashamed to ask for demonstrations, explanations, or examples.
 
Online learning is not for everyone. Once more courses are available in-person, I'm sure a lot of people are going to consider that in-person learning is the better choice. Online learning has a reputation of being either easy or hard, when in reality it just takes a little adjusting and discipline. If you take my advice, I’m sure you'll find that online learning can be very agreeable for some. At the very least it'll help you make the best of a different situation during these troubled times.

Stories for (Little) People

LIT student and East Side Freedom Library Intern, Karla Tapia Vizcarra, reads "The Word Collector" by Peter H. Reynolds, "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" by Maya Angelou and "Island Born" by Junot Diaz.

Metronet Series: Real Life Librarianship


Last fall, Metronet (one of seven state-funded multitype library networks) launched a series of webinars, featuring panels and interviews of Real Life Librarianship! You can check the recordings out on Metronet's YouTube channel. The series is still going, so visit the Metronet website for more information. 

jenny also recommends you sign up for MetroBriefs, a Metronet and MELSA collaboration to keep Twin Cities library staff up-to-date on library news and activities, staff news, continuing education opportunities, and more. 

Change the Subject 


During Spring of 2020, just before the global pandemic changed our world completely, the LIT program was in the process of co-sponsoring alongside the St. Catherine University's MLIS program and Library, the screening and panel discussion of Change the subject / a film by Sawyer Broadley, Jill Baron, Óscar Rubén Cornejo Cásares, Melissa Padilla. Sadly, we had to cancel the MLIS Summit. But, we recently learned that the film is now available for free online. LIT Faculty highly recommend this documentary, and please share widely!
The story of a group of college students, who from their first days at Dartmouth College, were committed to advancing and promoting the rights and dignity of undocumented peoples. Sparked by an instance of anti-immigrant sentiment in their library catalog, these students carried their advocacy all the way from Dartmouth Library to the halls of Congress. The film shows how an instance of campus activism entered the national spotlight, and how a cataloging term became a flashpoint in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.

Dan Marcou's Pandemic Inspired "Fun Pages" Project


 
Daniel Marcou, Outreach Librarian for Hennepin County Library, generously offered his time as a guest speaker for the LIT program's Outreach course LIBT 2310 during Fall 2020. During our conversation, Dan mentioned a special pandemic-inspired project he started called "Fun Pages", and when I asked if I could share a sample, he responded by putting them up on his website and offering them up for others to use in their libraries! Thank you, Dan!

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