Making connections within the international community

ImageFor the past week or two, I have been diligently researching and writing a digital preservation policy for the DC/SLA. By now, I have a much better idea of common elements in digital preservation policies, and a better understanding of all the pieces. While I will post about my latest experiences with this project soon, this week I want to take a break and share a different experience.

I have always an international mindset, and I enjoy connecting with and learning from information professionals in other countries and regions from around the world. Stepping outside my own cultural and professional sphere has so many professional and personal benefits, and I find that I learn a lot from people with different perspectives and backgrounds.

Recently, I connected on Twitter with a group of students and new professionals in Ireland, who write a blog (New Professionals Day Ireland) that helps library and information students and new professionals to build their networks and share experiences. They graciously allowed me to share my experiences as a library student and professional.

Read my story at New Professionals Day Ireland. While you’re there, check out some of the other stories written by new information professionals.


Reference librarianship in a collegiate environment

After quite a long hiatus, I have returned to Cultural Heritage and Information. I aim to get back to posting regularly, every Wednesday or Thursday.

Today’s subject is a personal one – what I’ve been learning in my newest position as a reference specialist at a small library in a large community college library network.


The library I work in has a very diverse population of users, with students and community patrons from around the globe. My evening shifts coincide with some of the busiest hours, since many students work during the day and attend school at night. The library is smallish, with a main collection of non-fiction, academic books, a designated computer room as well as computers on the main floor, access to several large and subject-oriented databases, a DVD section and a small section devoted to rotating fiction books. Continue reading

How volunteering moves me ahead on my professional development road map

I’ve written before about my professional development quest, to build the skills, experience, and knowledge base for the career I want in digital preservation and stewardship, archives, and cultural heritage. Well, I’m back at it, and in a big way.

Last month, I became the Archivist of the DC chapter of the Special Libraries Association. Through a combination of being in the right place at the right time, networking, and being persistent in pursuit of a dream, I took on a volunteer position that offers me the opportunity to plan and implement archival and digital preservation strategies and policies. With a wide network of information professionals to learn from, I’ll develop my skills and experience in digitization, digital project management, developing strategic plans and policies, and a host of other skills that are on my road map. Already, I’ve learned more about the goals of the association and its members by attending a chapter board meeting. I’ve been in contact with a community archivist, and received a reference question. I’ve conducted a preliminary assessment of the collections and their formats, in order to determine the materials and digital artifacts that need to be preserved.

This experience has reminded about the importance of networking, planning, and persistence. It has bolstered my confidence in my professional abilities, and in my ability to find/make opportunities to grow. It puts me back in charge of my professional and personal development. And I’m getting right into the driver’s seat.

Expanding my career potential in digital stewardship

As the last post in this series on expanding career potential, I’m going to get personal, sharing my own responses to the worksheets and questions asked in the DC/SLA webinar I recently attended.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been fine-tuning my career plans. I have:

  • An abiding love of history and cultural heritage
  • An interest in emerging technologies
  • Experience in project management and volunteer supervision
  • A dedication to preserving our history and heritage for future generations

This reflection led me to conclude that I want to work with and develop digital preservation strategies and projects.

Many of the “21st Century Skills” for information professionals are also key skills for digital stewardship, which I’ve learned about by reading job descriptions for digitization, digital preservation, stewardship, special collections, and related jobs, as well as articles about digital stewardship and preservation.

The following are my responses to each of the worksheets mentioned in the first post of this series.

Current skills assessment

  • Cataloging (competent)
  • Communications (competent)
  • Digital asset management (novice)
  • Digitization (novice)
  • Effective writing (expert)
  • Financial/budget management (competent)
  • Meeting and event planning (expert)
  • Metadata (competent)
  • Public speaking and presentations (competent)
  • People management/supervisory skills (competent)
  • Quantifying and projecting value (competent)
  • Research and analysis (expert)
  • Programming/coding (novice)
  • Project management (competent)
  • Taxonomy (novice)
  • Volunteer recruiting and management (competent)
  • Web 2.0/social networking (expert)
  • Web site design (competent)

Personal road map/Skills I want to acquire and enhance

  • 21st century cataloging
  • Communications
  • Develop strategic planning/policies
  • Digital asset management
  • Digitization
  • Finding aids/pathfinders
  • Knowledge management/services
  • Public speaking and presentations
  • Quantifying and projecting value
  • Results-driven problem solving
  • Taxonomy
  • Programming/coding

Personal road map/How I will acquire and enhance these skills

  • 21st century cataloging: Take online courses, read, and blog
  • Communications: Practice, find opportunities to write and speak (blog, submit articles, proposals for presentations and posters)
  • Digital asset management: Read, build skills through volunteering
  • Digitization: Volunteer
  • Public speaking and presentations: Find opportunities to present posters and papers at conferences, symposiums, and at work
  • Programming/coding: Learn using online programs, practice, develop projects
  • Quantifying and projecting value: Practice: at work, track & record progress; present to supervisors & decision-makers.
  • Others: Read, write, blog, attend webinars, take classes, and volunteer for opportunities on and off the job.

For anyone interested, the second webinar in this series is “Reach your maximum career potential” on March 20th. Viewing in-person and online.

New Adventures in Familiar Spaces

At the end of this month, I will be moving back to Washington, D.C.

After a long and challenging struggle to begin my career in Toronto, and a tough decision-making process, I can honestly say that I am looking forward to returning to D.C. I have recognized that my ambition has overreached my limitations in Toronto, and instead of viewing the past 8 months as a failure, I am learning to see them as a character-building experience. I have achieved a few milestones in my professional development, volunteered in cultural heritage, taken on extra responsibilities, and gained valuable experience. I have learned to deal with adversity and disappointment and have gained a new perspective.

I have had a wonderful two-plus years in Toronto, and there are many things (and especially people) that I will miss when I’m gone. Downtown city life for one, the TPL for another, and for a third: all the amazing people I’ve met here, including my fellow U of T students and graduates, faculty, staff, SLA and other information professionals, the people I’ve interned and volunteered and worked with, and other random lovely people I had the great fortune to meet and get to know.

Challenges lie ahead of me, as well as behind me, but I believe that opportunity also awaits. Washington, D.C., with the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and similar institutions, is a great hub for cultural heritage and information development, practice, thought, and professionals.

In particular, I am looking forward with great excitement to attending the International Summit of the Book, hosted by the Library of Congress and presenting lectures by, discussions among, and conversations between some of the great book history and print culture scholars, librarians, and thinkers of today. Interested? Find out more (and register) here. Registration is free and open to the public. Maybe I’ll see you there.