Librarian How To: Preparing for Department Accreditation

Dear Internet,

We’re gonna shift a bit from existential crises and go into work details. One topic I have yet to see covered in my trolling of academic librarian Internet is putting together support for academic departments when they are in accreditation years. Since I completed such a thing and recently took a survey that was pushed out to an academic mailing list on this very topic, this proved to be an opportune time to get something written up.

In my current position, I am a liaison to many departments on campus, which align with my education background and interests. One of those departments is the Visual Arts department along with certain sections of Fashion and Interiors (Interiors) and Computer Information Systems (web design) are accredited by National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). What does accreditation mean? NASAD explains:

…is a process by which an institution or disciplinary unit within an institution periodically evaluates its work and seeks an independent judgment by peers that it achieves substantially its own educational objectives and meets the established standards of the body from which it seeks accreditation.

To clarify: in addition to making sure that the department and programs associated with that department are academically on par for what they are being promoted as, it also makes it whole lot easier for students transferring from one accredited school to another.

What the hell does this have to do with the library? As the often main support unit for these departments, the main function of the library is to illustrate and provide documentation, usually in written form, of that support.

For MPOW’s 2014 accreditation process, my documented support came in at a 15 pages. Your mileage may vary.

Now  I will tell you that as someone whose academic life has mainly been in the humanities, I am the effing champ at writing tight copy in cases like this, so I knocked the writing out fairly quickly. However, I was foolish enough to not prepare this long before I should have and blindly/naively believed previous years documentation was going to be readily available. Let us be surprise that it wasn’t, so in the end it was the gathering of data that dragged on rather than the writing itself. This guide is geared to those who will find themselves in similar situations and need help.

Before You Begin
This guide is being written having been the basis for the NASAD accreditation. If you’re not writing for NASAD, you will need to check with your department to find out the accrediting body and what they require for support. NASAD had very specific formats and formulas for their documentation, so the onus is on you to make sure you get the right guide and format for your documentation.

Budgeting Time
I am going to assume you have already spoken with your department head that is under accreditation to find out due dates. You may also need to have regular meetings to go over details. In my example, I received a packet from the department support in mid-November 2013. I met with the department chair within a week and was told the final due date for submission from me was January 31, 2014. I gave myself a soft deadline of January 15. I turned in the documentation on January 29, 2014 and had zero revisions.

You should budget roughly 40 hours between research, meeting, and writing the support. It will vary from department to department and school to school, depending on how hands on/off the department is and what has already been done. Some departments schedule a year for data collection and writing, mine was only a few months.

Another note: In addition to the library’s support, the Visual Arts department also has a private library available only for VARTS students and faculty. This may vary from institution to institution. Thus, many of the collection and monies spent was separated by what the college library (me) spent and cataloged in addition to what the VARTS department bought and cataloged.

Data You Are Collecting
For the NASAD, I was not only collecting data on entire Visual Arts department, but also sections of Computer Information Systems and Fashion and Interiors. Now our set-up does not allow for splitting out titles from Fashion and Interiors that are only for Interiors, so I had to lump those together unless I wanted to count by hand, which was not going to happen. Now going forward I could manually track specifically what I was buying for that side of the department, but when running stats, it would not be possible.

  • Total volumes This refers to print and ebook, which I was able to separate out by department and then gave the combined totals
    • This also includes a subject inventory, broken down by call number (print) and LC subject (eBook) and the number of holdings for each section
  • Total periodicals This refers to print, electronic, and microfiche, again separated out by department and then a combined total
    • I broke this down by access type (print, online, microfiche, or some combination) and access years
  • Audio/Visual This was not required by NASAD but I provided it anyway, with just the combined total
    • Similar to the volumes set up, broken down by call number (physical copy) or LC subject (streaming) and the number of holdings for each section
  • Streaming Audio/Video Again, not required by NASAD but I provided it anyway with combined total
  • Slides Required by NASAD, but the library does not have them, the VARTS library does
  • Databases Listing of subject specific and general databases, with direct links to our holdings
  • Other libraries available This was an in-depth list of all local libraries, special history, archives, museums, and consortia our students and faculty could freely visit. So this list included titles, URLs, and a brief description of each. In my list I included local library systems, colleges, public museums and the like. Since this list more than likely won’t change much, this is easy to pull and update.
  • Budgets You’ll need to pull reports on money spent for each department (in my case there are three) individually for designated years and the projected budget for the current year. You will also need to note current fiscal year budget for the library as a whole and money allocated to staff, maintenance, and other areas as dictated by the accreditation agency.
  • Volumes per year In addition to how much you spend per year, you’ll need total number of volumes bought per year per each department you’re supporting for the accreditation.
  • Number of staff assigned/liaisoned to the department and their credentials In this section, you’ll add your name, titles, and your education/expertise as well as any other persons from the library who act as support to collecting, budgeting, etc.
  • Policies and procedures for collections, preservation, and replacement of materials Pretty self-explanatory. Here you will give a brief overview of your library’s collection policies, preservation of the collection, and how materials are replaced plus any other related materials

NASAD wanted a listing of ALL volumes owned by the library to support documentation. I wrote something along the lines of, “with nearly 13,000 volumes, it would be unrealistic to produce a listing due to the sheer mass of material.” I did, however, break down the volumes section by call number and the number of holdings for it for print titles and combined the LC subjects associated with each major section (Visual Arts, Interiors, Web Design).

Now that’s the general jist.

And yet there is more! Of course there is! NASAD also wanted:

  • Governance/overall requirements/facilities Example would be: size of the facility, how many computers are available for students to use in the entire library, is there WIFI available, printer/copiers, what software is available on the machines, any special software (Adobe Creative Works, CAD, etc) available specifically for VARTS students, what is available on each floor in terms of collection, and the breadth of the library’s collection as a whole. So essentially all of the library’s services and what/when/how/why.
  • Administration of the collection What parts of the collection are available at the library proper versus what is being kept at the VARTS library
  • Needs of student/faculty How can students/faculty get materials on/off campus, type of access that is available, how can they make suggestions for new materials, and so forth
  • Services How long the library is open each week in total hours, how the library’s resources are divided between print and electronic (ex: X books are in print, X books are online, we have X number of databases) and so forth. How the library operates its communication channels of new materials, and here I mentioned the library’s use of social media and listed our social media accounts with links.
  • Value of the collection By this it is meant, how can the campus community get access to and find materials? I wrote about keyword searching, using LC subject headings, using Dewey Decimal System, and Subject Guides. I broke down how each worked and for the Subject Guides, included all of the tabs we streamline across the guides themselves and links to each department’s own Subject Guide.

Problems
Here is a list of things I came across that put a hitch in my giddy up:

  • Support from the last accreditation in 2003 and the follow-up in 2007 was sparse. I was given a binder of printed off emails which was essentially chatter going back and forth between people in the various departments but not a lot of substance. I found one document from 2007 for follow-up support but there was no full report written from 2003 available electronically or only pieces of it in print. I had to start from scratch. Solution: I saved everything from my go round in clearly labeled text documents in a centralized location on the library’s intranet and backed up copies to a cloud service. This also includes the finalized document I turned in to NASAD.
  • We changed how we track funding for various departments at least twice between 2003 and 2013. We now use fund codes for each department to track spending but before, not so much. Solution: I, with the help of our cataloger, created complex search routines in the ILS to find items purchased between specific dates for various call numbers and/or LC subject headings to get what I needed. This also solved the problem with getting the totals of what was spent from each department. Going forward, I will be running yearly searches to have materials easily on hand.
  • Electronic books do not include call numbers but only LC Subject Headings, which slowed down searching for items. Solution: Again, using search routines in the ILS, created often dozen plus long lines of search queries to get list of items. Saved list of items can be re-used in the future to update on the fly.
  • The departments were without a liaison for a few years, collection development and maintenance was erratic. Solution: Noted this in the support, but since I came on in 2011, I’ve been furiously buying to support all of my departments, replacing what is damaged, and keeping in touch with my faculty to make sure their needs are met.
  • Support documents available from the past reviews was filled with flowery language and supercilious commentary. Solution: Cut that shit out. Literally. This is not a creative writing contest, you do not need to describe your collecting process done with “great and overly joyed enthusiasm.” Be direct and to the point.

With all of that being said and done, here a process I would recommend you should be doing to keep this up to date so you’re not scrambling when the time comes to write-up the support. It should be noted again that you should have the found and formatted the accrediting body’s requirements into a working document.

  • Most of the above can easily be collected at any time because the values are not going to change. You are more than likely not going to lose computers or you are not going to suddenly lose a whole floor. So even if it is not your accreditation year, you can start gathering the easy stuff first and writing it up so it will be on hand when you’re ready to rock.
  • Harass your faculty as often as you feel comfortable with on requests for new materials as your buying materials. Example: one of my photography professors recently sent me a list of over a 100 photography books he wanted. I was able to order over 50% of those (the rest were out of print or unavailable or yet to be published). Stress they can make suggestions for ANYTHING: books, ebooks, film, journals, databases, etc. Many of my faculty are often surprised at what how in-depth we’ll get for their needs
  • Keep your faculty abreast of what is coming in by sending them monthly reports of materials that have arrived so they know and can tell their students. Use social media/Subject Guides to advertise the new materials
  • Run yearly reports of each department of funds spent and items received so you have them easily available for the yearly breakdown
  • Find ways to streamline your searching in the ILS. Would appending call numbers to electronic materials helped? Hell yes. Creating search with dozens of lines to match the LC subject headings took forever and could have been made a lot easier.
  • Weed often. Weed with care, but weed often. I have titles about the Internet going back to 1994 but I could not pull from the print stacks because I did not know if my totals were going to be high enough. NASAD required for a BA level school to have 10,000 volumes combined, and we’re an AA level school with 13,000 volumes combined so I would have been beyond okay. But with lack of liaison for several years before I came along and how the job has changed, there has been no real time to weed. Now I make time so next time this comes around, the collection is fresh and currency is high.
  • Take copious notes on everything; make those notes available at a shared and central location. We have a shared accreditation folder since several librarians are liaisons to accrediting departments and the NASAD folder was sparse. I created a child folder specifically for FY 2014 and dropped everything from NASAD’s notes on prep to pulled lists to the finalized document.

One last thing. NASAD had two sections required to be filled out that were both damn near repetitive in the questions. The idea, apparently, is the first section would be a brief intro while the second separate section would be the in-depth, so you may end up repeating yourself. NASAD does prefer you reference other sections if need be, so keep that in mind.

And seriously, one last thing. Keep in touch with your department head spearheading this for any questions you may have while you’re writing. Get clarification to your answers before committing and make sure to also follow-up with them after the report is submitted.

Now go forth and get accredited!

queen’s cushion

Lancelot rescuing a lady from the bath, from British Library Add. 5474, 13th c.
Lancelot rescuing a lady from the bath, from British Library Add. 5474, 13th c.

Dear Internet,
Monday I had a massive panic attack that came out of nowhere and incapacitated me for the entire day. I did breathing exercises, 5 minute meditation, and various other exercises and nothing changed. I called on TheHusband who had me run through a few mindfulness exercises, several times, but it was almost utterly useless. My heart beat so fast and loud, you could watch the skin on my chest bone wiggle.
Somewhere in all of this, I took a shower — for I was to get ready for work, see — and found myself having a hard time breathing in the shower and my fingers were starting to go numb while my heart raged on. I climbed out of the shower, turned the taps off, and padded down the hallway and called in sick. There was no way I was going to be able to dress myself, let alone make it full a full day at work.
I downed a half a Klonopin, waited 30 minutes, and then took a full dose.
I was back in bed wearing jim jams, hair wet, glasses on, and waited for my heart to subside. It took nearly an 1.5 hours from the first dose to that blissful moment when the rapid beating just becomes a quiet murmur and my body is at ease again.
I slept for six hours.
I woke sometime in late afternoon, TheHusband brought me lunch in bed, and  this was the rest of my day. At various points I used the bathroom and the watched TV, but I mostly dozed and  stayed off the Internet.
I took another Klonopin sometime around 9:30PM and was asleep within the hour. From the time I went to bed on Sunday night and to the time I woke on Tuesday morning, I was only awake for 6 hours. Maybe 7.
What caused it? I’ve been known to have had panic attacks while I was in midst of joy, so on one hand, it is hard to say. On the other, I can start to pin point various things that are making me insane. Projects that need to be done, but won’t get completed without me even when other people are attached. Things that I attempt to pass off to other people to take the load off of me, but which are getting dropped and forgotten. My own passions are getting wrapped up in various things that are pulling me away from my goals, but which are more lucrative so I chase them and not my dreams. Then I start to feel guilty for not putting the time in for those dreams because I’m too busy wheeling and dealing over something else.
Then there is the Internet of course, for you are never far from the drama laden land of high school cliques. I can’t seem to shake you no matter what I do.
So it is everything and it is nothing at the very same time. It has the smell of the past, for it reminds me of that very awful time in 2002 when I cut out the cancers and ran far away to reinvent myself. It is clear now no matter how much good work is being done and how forward I push things to make changes, I am forever tilting at windmills. With very little backup to support me, I am running against a system that refuses to change or won’t change or finds the necessary changes to be unnecessary.
But it is interesting how little public support I get on projects yet privately I am told are worthwhile cases to push for. Hardly a single fucking person wants to get their hands wet or upset the status quo. Because it is easy for them to say such things to me privately, they have nothing to lose. But supporting me publicly is a sin means they might get their knuckles rapped and shamed for going against the grain. And I am tired of  the hyperbole being laid at my feet on an almost daily basis, dressed up as supportive words. Either you stand with me or you don’t. If you don’t, get the fuck out of here.
What I can control, and what I can create and thrive, is work that is related to me and only me. That rejection of this work will only make me better, stronger, whereas with the other work, it strips you naked and forces you to submit to a system that steeped in history and heredity. That work, where only the like will talk to like, who will navel gaze until they have become contortionists, and who will only give props to those of their ilk, their kind. Celebration for things that aren’t really all that important but can be dressed up and taken out as if it was the most important things in the world. Work is not important, but showmanship IS. This is what I’ve learned. If you suck enough cocks, drink with enough vendors, and finger fuck everyone else, you too can be part of the inner elite. You too can have BS awards for superficial things that have no meaning other than to a select few. I don’t have time for such foolishness. My time has become, now, ultra precious.
Maybe it is time for me to burn the walls and plant a fuck you kiss to my detractors, and start anew.
Yeah, maybe it is time.
x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2009

nippy sweetie

Death and the Fool from the Book of Hours. Use of Rome, MS Douce 135, 16th century. Via Bodelian Library
Death and the Fool from the Book of Hours. Use of Rome, MS Douce 135, 16th century. Via Bodleian Library

Dear Internet,
My ToDo list for Sunday looked like this

  • Return the growing pile of phone calls
  • Clean out my personal inbox and respond/follow up to emails
  • Pay bills
  • Get .ca/.us passports prepped to send 
  • Get caught up on work related readings
  • Start draft of article due in a little over a week
  • Do laundry
  • Get caught up on reading
  • Write letters (Pete, Alice, et al)

That’s what I wrote down at least.
What was completed are the items with a strike through and those three items took up most of my day — and I started after watching Canada kicked Sweden’s ass in hockey this morning.
The passport stuff was daunting as I thought I had lost my US social security card and my short form CA birth certificate, which sent me into a tizzy for an hour ripping things apart until I realised they were binder clipped together with other important cards that I had moved to another location on my desk.
TheHusband cheerily quipped, “Don’t worry! I won’t let them deport you!”
The US passport stuff is ready to go and that will get dropped in the mail on the morrow. CA stuff, however, is a bit confusing. I had to provide two non-relative references, an emergency point of contact of someone whom I don’t travel with so that became my brother, and then I need to track down a guarantor to prove who I am. The confusion is the wording on whom the guarantor is because it alludes it could be my husband but that he must hold a position [list of positions] in addition to knowing me for at least two years. It’s not clear then if I choose to do a guarantor by profession, such as a notary, why the sworn statement on the application states they must have known me for at least two years while the documents say this is not true. I aim to call Canada’s passport office in the next few days to get this all sorted so that I can get my passport updated.
So while I felt tremendously pleased with myself for getting the big stuff out of the way, my email was a brute, I couldn’t believe it took me almost the entire day to get completed. Because I knew I was going to spend the day working on cleaning out my ToDo list, a few days prior, I spent a few hours getting my office sorted. What this really came down to was shifting piles of paper everywhere.
If Wednesday was here, she’d be having a fit she couldn’t get to some of her regular lounging spots.

««««»»»»

wednesdaysurn

Wednesday has been gone for three weeks. I picked up her urn last week, with TheHusband in tow. I cried when they handed me the bag that contained her urn and paw print, TheHusband was sniffling in the car when I came out of the vet’s office.
There is a very definite stillness of the house without her here.
We’ve been doing okay, says the girl tearing up writing these words. TheHusband started writing Requiem for a Pug, which was to be her life story starting from her birth as a poor Spartan Pug up to her death, but he got as far as chapter two and then stopped because he got too depressed. I’m prodding him to continue because the photoshop jobs he’s done of her on various famous figures through history alone is worth the posts.
The house is quiet and I still catch myself looking for her in her usual haunts or hearing her nails click on the floor. We’ve started barking at the other when we return home from outings, because that would be what Wednesday would do to admonish us for leaving her alone longer than 2 minutes.
I had to stop looking at my personal Instagram and Flickr feeds and moved all of her pictures to a cloud storage so I couldn’t randomly stumble upon them, for when I did, I would burst into tears. I put her tags on a chain to wear around my neck, and it has now become my touchstone when I need comfort.
Even if in slight silliness, it this all sounds sounds slightly sad and pathetic, but you cope.
To help with the grieving, TheHusband bought me Fat Tuesday from squishables.com:

fattuesday

Fat Tuesday is perfect for snuggling, doesn’t tear holes in the bedsheets, hogs the bed, or randomly farts you out on a daily basis. We don’t have to feed her, walk her, or worry about being gone too long when we leave the house. She also fits perfectly in-between the two pillow mountains on the bed. And there is not a quick flash of guilt if you accidentally kick her if she gets under your feet.
She also has no personality and is filled with stuffing.
Yet having Fat Tuesday has helped, tremendously, with our loss.
We’ve decided to hold off on getting another pet at this time, until we know what my job situation is going to look like in a few months. Even more poignantly if we need to move or travel considerably. Plus Wednesday was beloved by all that met her and incredibly special, replacing a living being that loved you so unconditionally seems crass and maybe a tiny bit cruel.

««««»»»»

In other cruel things:
Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 1.10.43 PM
That’s our weather forecast for the week, in the last week of February. Where the fuck is spring??
xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2013

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for February 22, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,

Watching

Weekly watching: The Musketeers, Mr. Selfridge, Black SailsTop GearStellaUniversity ChallengeHouse of LiesEpisodesArcherChozenTrue Detective, Under the Gunn, Justified, Banshee, Reign, DraculaElementary

Links

  • Rare gaming piece found at Anglo-Saxon Royal Halls

Reviews

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for February 15, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
 
Dear Internet,

Writing

The Lisa Chronicles

Ephemera – Prose Companion to The Lisa Chronicles

Watching

Weekly watching: The Musketeers, Mr. Selfridge, Black SailsTop GearStellaUniversity ChallengeHouse of LiesEpisodesArcherChozenTrue Detective, Under the Gunn, Justified, Banshee, Reign, DraculaElementary

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2010

The Fine Art of Creating An Online Professional Presence

excellentthing
I am big in Canada!

Dear Internet,

Before I begin, I need to note some changes that have been going on. First big change is that I migrated all the blog posts over from my professional site to this site. I was not updating the blog portion of my professional presence in a meaningful time frame AND I talk a lot about professional stuff over here so combining the two became a natural progression. I have put the posts relating to the professional stuff on its own page, which is automatically updated as new content is published. I also have a widget in the right navigation bar for easy access.

The second change is that I reorganized the professional site to be more transparent on what my goals and career plans are, and took away the features that were geared for current MPOW by putting them on its own portfolio page.

Lastly, while I was working on this, I found out from my favorite John that at the recent Ontario Library Association, I was a THING OF EXCELLENCE (see photo at beginning of this piece) on online portfolios. I found the accompanying wrap-up of the presentation, which has a lot of good info.

That’s it for the news.

This all ties into when I started writing this post on developing a profesh librarian site last year, geared to illustrate my own experiences and giving examples of others. MPOW originally required faculty, of which includes librarians, to have a Faculty Performance Evaluation portfolio (formerly known as the FGIP) in place and on paper. My work is nearly all in the digital world, so thus my portfolio was digital. In the fall of 2013, MPOW moved over to an in-house digital product to manage and did away with paper and also making my site obsolete.

I came to the conclusion this was a good time to make my profesh site more robust and provide all the things! I changed the layout and theme a few times until I got something close to what I liked and started filling in more content, primarily stuff from before I started working at the college and more details about professional projects I was currently working on.

Yet, I felt like no matter how much I tweaked, I was still not satisfied with how the site was turning out. I came up with the brilliant idea that I needed to see what other people were doing, so I headed to Google and searched:

librarian -“ask a librarian” -“annoyed librarian”1

Time frame searched: Within the last twelve months

Criteria: Professional-esque site, with something that resembled a resume/CV, with a list of projects/presentations/papers or something resembling professional development. It was fine if they had a blog, were linking to other sites they frequented, or provided content that was more relevant to personal than professional.

I rejected sites linking to LinkedIn for resume/CV information since that required a LinkedIn account, which I don’t have and will not get. I rejected sites about librarianship that were portal or aggregation sites. I rejected book review sites.  I rejected the use of the word “librarian” in the title or URL by people who were not librarians.

I rejected a lot of content.

I combed through 56 pages of Google results.

I found very little. Maybe two sites, possibly three that fit my criteria.

I sulked about this for awhile because how was this even possible? There were a gazillion librarians, no one has a professional site? I knew creating digital portfolios was the rage at most library and iSchools, so why were these not coming up? Why weren’t people I knew who had professional sites coming up? My search was pretty broad and I did not discriminate against any type of librarianship.

Someone suggested I should look at the websites of people I know, which was a fine idea! I went through all 500+ people I follow on Twitter and added their names to my now growing list. Several people made recommendations. Of the roughly 50 people listed below, less than a handful are ones I do not know.

Margaret Heller
Becky Yoose
Jodie Schneider
Bohyun Kim
Christiane Evaskis
Chealsye Bowley
Mita Williams
Rob Dumas
Amanda Goodman
Emma Cragg
Annie Pho
Phil Bradley
Frank Skornia
Loida Garcia-Febo
Dennis Nangle
Heidi Steiner Burkhardt
Val Forrestal
Andrew Shuping
Tiffani Travis
Sara Mooney
Ned Potter
Cynthia Ng
John Pappas
Ann Clark
Andromeda Yelton
Dorothea Salo
Matthew Reidsma
Sarah Houghton
Nicholas Schiller
Coral Sheldon-Hess
Mackenzie K. Brooks
Leah White
John Jackson
Jenny Levine
Erin Dorney
Stan Bogdanov
Kate Kosturski
Marie Elia
Lynda Kellam
Emily Clasper
Jessamyn West
Andy Burkhardt
Cathy Cranston
Anne-Marie Deitering
Ian Clark
Jacob Berg
Emily Drabinski
Lauren Bradley
Michelle Kraft
nina de jesus
Ruby Lavallee
K.G. Schneider
Ruth Collings
Ginger Williams

Here is what the sites above have in common:

  • Clearly identifies who the person is
  • Provides a resume/CV or some kind of professional biography about the person
  • Presents publications / papers / talks of works either completed and/or in progress
  • Contact information is clearly made available in some form (email or social network)

It is now a nearly a year later and I repeated the same Google search. I combed through nearly 14 pages of links and found that only FOUR of the names listed in the table above showed up, as opposed to two in 2013. I found another 11 people who matched my criteria but were not in the above for a grand total of 15 people out of hundreds of hits as opposed to three in 2013.

In my search, I learned:

  • A large number of librarians really love using about.me and tumblr.com for their portals
  • Librarians of all flavors really love doing book review blogs
  • Almost all were “something” librarian (sneezy librarian, scratchy librarian, and so forth)
  • Librarians really love using “uncategorized” as their default category taxonomy on their blogs (WHY??)
  • Despite doing a global search, I had a hard time finding English language non-American librarian sites
  • With the exception of the four in my list, none of the librarians listed above came up in my search despite almost all of them having “librarian” somewhere in the title of their site, URL, or on their landing page
  • Despite using the word “librarian” on my landing page and using good SEO, I did not come up in the searches performed in 2013 and 2014
  • Search performed in April 2013 came up with 56 pages of results. Same search and Google settings in February 2014 came up with 14 pages of results.

This outcome really surprised me. I went searching for other sites to get ideas for design and content, and now I’m thinking about the fallacy of Google and search in general.  Primarily with Google, their new algorithm now leads news and products pushed to the top over sites with content.

But what this discrepancy says to me more is how we’re valued as a whole. We can’t project who we are, the diversity in jobs AND the people in the profession, if the term “librarian” is continually used to have such fluid meaning. My favorite John responded,

it’s both a desire for that authenticity and an implicit belief that the work librarians do is not very hard.

And he’s right. This is what frustrates me that we tell people who are going into the field to go search for librarians online but if a librarian themselves can’t find those like her, how on earth are we to expect the young bloods coming up in the field to connect and outreach to those they want to be mentored by? How are we able to connect and collaborate if we cannot find each other?

We keep going on about marketing to outside our profession, but exactly how are we doing that? If you’re not utilizing social networking and are relying your website as your main presence, then how are people finding you if even the most basic searches reveal nothing? Are we really putting together sites that make it easier for others to find us or are still projecting the cool kids club attitude by unintentionally putting barriers around ourselves?

P.S. I did find and fall in love with the Oh, So You’re A Librarian tumblr while doing this search as their gif curation is exquisite.


1. This search means, “Google. Please find me all sites that have the word “librarian” in them but does NOT contain “ask a librarian” (a common phrase used on library websites to direct users to ways they can ask a librarian) or “annoyed librarian” (the anonymous writer for a column in Library Journal).

Traversing the #libtechgender landscape

Dear Internet,

In the weeks since ALA midwinter, and the #LibTechGender panel, conversations have shifted all over the place. Much, I believe for the good. I have been attempting to be mindful and listen, read and listen more. Becky Yoose’s post, Gatekeeping the table full of cookies, and recent conversations with others have prompted me to put out there what I have been thinking for discussion.

(This is being fueled by vegan White Russians, so be forewarned.)

    1. The conflict over the use of “storytelling”
      Becky, and Julia, make clear, concise arguments on why storytelling is often not a Good Thing. I wrestled with this a lot. I do a lot of storytelling here on the blog on a variety of topics that can, and are often, painful to read, let alone write. It is mentally and emotionally taxing to keep pulling at the same scab over and over, but it is something I often feel needs to be done because there are too many variations on how people learn. So how do you approach this with grace and be mindful of other people’s needs? Hard question, but my buddy Liz put it rather succinctly, “Some need to feel comfortable with their own story before they’ll ever feel comfortable at the table.” This seems like a great way to start those conversations.
    2. The conversation is going to be messy, whether we like it or not
      I am at heart an observer and a commentator on what I observe. I’ve seen people talk around each other. I have had people tell me that they or someone they know are afraid to speak up. I’ve seen people ignore other points of view because for whatever reason. I’ve seen people dominate the conversation for their own gain, personally and professionally. I’ve seen people get into the conversation to cause a ruckus and then leave, never to be heard from again. I have had people say they don’t want to talk about this or any related topic publicly because of potential ramifications, privately or publicly. And when I mean people, I’m talking about anyone who describes themselves as human and has opposable thumbs. What we’re not doing is talking to each other. I don’t have the perfect answer for this, but I do know we need to put aside our egos and personal interests (myself included here) and move beyond the personal to start working towards the common good. If we don’t, nothing is going to get changed.
    3. We are all human
      I am going to eff up. You are going to eff up. They are going to eff up. I’m not conjugating verbs here, I’m pointing out that no one, no matter who they are, is going to eff up. We’re human. We pick ourselves up, we apologize, and we move on. I have long been cognizant my own diseases1 warp some of my social interactions and have said this many times to people privately and publicly, so this is ripe for repetition: If I somehow offend / piss you off / am an asshole or any other combination on anything, please let me know what and how so I can fix it / apologize / clarify. I’m being sincere here. One of the biggest growth things I’ve been working on is swallowing my own pride and listening to people when they are critical of something I did and or said that has upset them and not taking it as an outright attack against my person. It’s hard to shut up and listen, but if I truly want to be a good ally, hell a good human, I (we) have to let the ego go.
    4. Gender 101 vs Academic/Structural Breakdown
      I’ve seen arguments fly for both sides and both opinions are equally valid. I do not believe this should be an either/or thing. There are a lot of people who need the Gender 101/Social Justice intro and those who want to tackle the higher level stuff. As we’re not all at the same level, we should be but we’re not, dismissing one over the other is counter-productive and in the end, makes the conversation much messier. There is definitely room for both sides, and everything in between, to exist until we get it right.
    5. This is not the Lisa Rabey show
      After Internet Librarian happened, I was approached about the following things:

      • Editorial in a major professional magazine on library/technology/gender
      • Potential to edit/write a book on library/technology/gender
      • Quoted in various places
      • Requested to be on numerous panels at various conferences on library/technology/gender
      • Requested/finagled to do an interview panel for Circulating Ideas on library/technology/gender

      I am not an expert on anything other than my own life. But what I am is brassy personality who is a bull in a china shop who asks the right questions, sometimes the hard questions, at the right time. I am not the only one talking about this and I am not presenting myself as being the authority on the topic. But I think because I’ve been writing about my own experiences for nearly two years on sexism/gender inequality in library land and I was vocal on the panel at IL AND after as well as I keep tweeting to keep the conversations going, I’ve been approached because I’m accessible. I’ve turned down / requested others to be at the table other than me but many decline, due to some variation of my second point, so then I’m being touted as the voice. I also get no matter how much I make clear my intentions, there are people who are going to wildly disagree with whatever I’m doing. There is room for critique but I do not take kindly to willful misreading of situations to suit someone’s agenda. This whole situation becomes circular at times and trying to navigate this is tricky and hard in any attempt to be mindful, so if anyone has suggestions on how to better navigate this AND make the conversation go forward, please pass those along.

    6. No matter what, someone is going to be mad
      LaToya Peterson, owner and editor of Racialicious, wrote transformatively on the value of work, mindfulness, and moving the work forward. While her conversation is directed as a response to the Jezebel / Toxic Feminism kerfuffles, I felt her wisdom was on par with what I was attempting to figure out and articulate my thoughts on lib/tech/gender and it has been my touchstone for me in the last few weeks. LaToya’s comments, coupled with a few other things I have been reading lately in the same vein make concrete an ugly truth: No matter how much you try to be civil, kind, and attack the evil, people are going to be assholes. People are going to attack you not because of what you’re doing, but because you’re being you. Because you’re not doing it right. Because you’re doing it too right. Because you farted in the wrong direction. In short, someone is going to get pissed over something no matter how hard you try to right the wrong. Someone is not going to be happy because you were not doing it their way.This book project weighs on me heavily – I do not want to be another cis/white woman eating all the cookies. I worry heavily about my writers and the ramifications of their bravery and courage. I worry my diverse group of writers will be criticized for not being diverse enough or too diverse. I worry that people will critique the call was not made at various spots thus we were ignoring other voices, regardless if the call was actually made or not. I worry that it will be seen too much as 101 and not adding to the conversation. I worry about these things because this is the behavior I’m seeing in conversation on Twitter, which is leading me to believe something in print will be amplified.What was drilled into my head is putting the book out there, acknowledging the book’s shortcomings AND its strengths, will go a long way to blocking the detractors. I also know if I am going to go forward with this, even with that caveat and being mindful of the content, there will be complaints. I had to decide if I can grow the skin to separate the personal complaints against the legitimate critiques, and I decided the answer was yes. There has to be a first book, to push others then to write/edit their own books to move the conversation along. To get voices that may not have been heard before out there. Yes. This needs to happen.
    7. Questionable need for conferences / panels / summits not held by those trained in the field could potentially do more harm than good
      This is a valid critique and one I’ve been musing on for a while. Using the Backup Ribbon project as an example, stopping to see if someone is okay is not the same as being a counselor / expert in the field and should not be touted as such. It is simply being human. The ribbon provides an entry way to let people know you are there when they need you and can pull them out of harms way if they need it and direct them to appropriate sources. It seems logical if someone is warning said ribbon at a conference, it should behoove them to be familiar with the conference’s particular Code of Conduct / anti-harassment policies to have that information on hand when it is needed. As for the panels, conferences, and so forth, my experience with IL was the panel did the following:

      1. Created a public venue for people to interact in often “elephant in the room” topic
      2. Created a public voice, even if lopsided, to “elephant in the room” topics
      3. It was a point of entry for those who may not have pathways to discussing the topic

      I may be wholly naive on this, but I think as long as it is made clear what people’s intentions are and what the outcomes may be, presenting/discussing 101 and working on pointing people in the right direction to get training, additional information, etc can’t necessarily be a bad thing. It has to be done mindfully and with skill, but getting folks moving in the right direction is how they will move and think for themselves and carry their own conversations forward.

I am thankful for a lot of people listening and talking to me on these discussions, primarily Coral, Cecily, Emily, and Kristin. I’ll keep reading, listening, and reading and listening some more.


1. I’m Bipolar 1/2, with ADHD married with general anxiety disorder. At times when I am unstable, my behaviors are considerably more abrasive and alienating. Reconciling that sometimes it is the disease and sometimes it is me is hard work. I have had people say, later, that telling them to tell me when I am acting out in a way that is not acceptable is too confrontational. I can’t fix / clarify / apologize if I don’t know what I said/did that was intrusive. I am okay with doing the heavy lifting, but often I need to ask for help. There is, to me, no shame in asking for help.

Diversity Lecture Series: Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan

By Lisa M. Rabey
Systems & Web Librarian

Dr. Reza Aslan, acclaimed author and scholar, will be speaking on Youth Revolt: The Future of the Middle East tonight February 12, at 7PM at Fountain Street Church.

The event is free and open to the public.

Azlan, who has written four books, will be addressing the topic of the younger generation of Muslims and their acuity for being socially conscious, politically active, and technologically savvy. He will also be discussing the development of the new Middle East and his predictions for the future.

For more information about tonight’s talk, visit the library’s Subject Guide on the [Continue Reading]

Originally published at: Lisa @ GRCC

Safer Internet Day / The Day We Fight Back

TDWFBAvatar

 

By Lisa M. Rabey

Systems & Web Librarian

Today marks a special day on the Internet: It is the yearly Safer Internet Day, a day long event in which people from around the globe work together to provide a better Internet experience for all by sharing ways to “connect with respect” on being safe and having fun online.

It is also The Day We Fight Back, a worldwide protest against NSA’s mass surveillance protocol that is hot on the heels of SOPA and PIPA.

Both events are designed to bring awareness on privacy, cyberbullying, and security to name a few concerns. While you should always be safe and treat others with respect while you are online, it is always helpful to have a few guidelines. Below are recommendations, tip sheets, and organizational information on The Day We Fight Back and Safer Internet Day.

If you’re interested in learning more, the library has books / media on computer security, information technology – security measures, computer networks – security measures, computer crimes, data protection, and [Continue Reading]

Originally published at: Lisa @ GRCC

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for February 8, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
Dear Internet,

Watching

  • Doc Martin
    Finally finished up season 6. While on one hand I love the curmudgeonly doctor, the plot lines each season are exactly the same.
  • The Musketeers
    Nice retelling of Dumas’ story, that also expounds on the story. It’s coming to BBCA this spring.
  • Mr. Selfridge
    Season 2 of the hit show returns
  • The White Queen
    I just finished the BBC version and then found out the Starz version was edited to INCLUDE more sexy times! Argh! But that aside, while the slow pick up, it got really interesting and started ramping up as the moves happened across the throne.
  • Moonfleet
    Based on a beloved children’s story as a retelling of Blackbird, but the movie adaptation was bor-ring.
  • The IT Crowd
    THE INTERNET IS COMING! The last episode of the benevolent geek show.
  • The Bletchley Circle
  • QI
    K series has now ended and we’re ever more sad for it.
  • Black Sails
    Starz’s new show about pirates and it’s slow going. Choppy editing and writing. It’s pretty to look at, but kind of vaccus to listen to.
  • Top Gear
    The boys are back! YAY.

Weekly watching: StellaUniversity ChallengeHouse of LiesEpisodesArcher, Chozen, True Detective, Under the Gunn, Justified, Banshee, Reign, Dracula, Elementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 1999, 1999