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.


Expanding career potential: strategies for information professionals

In this second post that reflects on the “Expand your career potential” seminar/webinar hosted by DC/SLA and presented by Deb Hunt and David Grossman, I describe the basic career-planning strategy I learned from this presentation.

The second half of the presentation was the most helpful and inspiring, in my opinion. Before the presentation, participants were given four worksheet handouts with the skills I listed in my previous post, and more. Each worksheet covered (in order) the topics below:

  1. Current skills assessment
  2. Skills I want to acquire
  3. How I will acquire these skills
  4. Phrasing what I do to show value

In my next post I’ll provide my responses to these worksheets, but in this one I want to reflect on how useful they are in general. They demonstrated the truly valuable skills in information professions in the 21st century, which are often skills learned outside the traditional LIS education. They answered the question, “How do/can I distinguish myself from other LIS graduates?”

Asking myself these questions, in the order presented by the worksheets, really simplified for me the mess of brainstorming I’ve been doing recently about where I want to go in my career, and how to get there. The questions highlight the necessity of working independently towards individual professional (i.e., career) goals, but more importantly, they provide a framework and strategy to apply to following my dreams.

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

Expanding career potential in the information professions: notes from an SLA seminar

Last week, I attended a DC/SLA seminar/webinar on “Expanding your career potential,” by Deb Hunt and David Grossman. In this post, I’ve highlighted some of the most important skills and listed my takeaways from the presentation.

Both presenters shared great tips and advice for information professionals to expand our career potential. The focus of the presentation was skills and skill-sets for the 21st century. They also talked a bit about personal branding.

Important skills for information professionals

  • Digitization. Technology has advanced so that all types of organizations (even public libraries) can afford to digitize. Skill set includes: Acrobat, Photoshop, managing or implementing digitization projects, working with databases.
  • Electronic skills. Indexing, archiving, metadata. Applying hierarchical and classification schemes, formatting fields for data entry.
  • Taxonomies. Classifying data, familiarity with descriptive metadata, building a taxonomy from scratch.
  • Document management. Tagging, permissions, security control, workflows.
  • Enterprise content management. A fancy (and widely understood) way of saying increasing the findability of and organizing files related to organizational information and content.
  • Knowledge management. Defined as generating value from information (e.g., generating, collecting, and sharing information).
  • Records management. Controlling records throughout their life cycle.
  • Digital asset management. Useful for special collections and museum collections. Creating and working with finding aids/pathfinders. Familiarity with EAD.
  • Web site design. Know enough to make updates, edits, and to determine how users use sites.
  • Web 2.0/Social networking. Also part of personal branding strategies.
  • 21st century cataloging skills. I would have liked to learn more about what these skills are.

Other important skills

  • Research and analysis. Analysis is key. Be specialists, go to consumers (proactively), provide expertise, answer complicated requests, and provide total solutions.
  • Business management skills, e.g., marketing, sales, people management/supervisory, volunteer recruiting and management (increasingly important in today’s economy), budget management, communications, project management, public speaking and presentations, grant writing, meeting and event planning.
  • Strategic knowledge/advantage. See the big picture, think outside the box.
  • Results-driven problem-solving.

* Lastly, be able to quantify and project your own value to management and decision-makers.

Basic strategies for acquiring new skills

  • Read
  • Take classes
  • Attend webinars
  • Write or blog about it (become an expert)
  • Mentoring (find one or be one)
  • Volunteer
  • Intern (mid-career internships are becoming more common)

Remember, some organizations do allow volunteering/interning outside of regular business hours.

* Define yourself in terms of your contributions to the bottom line.

Resume tips

Many job searchers have already discovered these tips, but they bear repeating.

  • Focus on accomplishments
  • Quantify the value you bring to the organizations you’ve worked with

Final words

  • Network, network, network
  • Tell everyone you’re searching to expand your career potential (this was new to me, and somewhat surprising)
  • Broaden your search beyond “librarian” positions. There are some useful lists on SLA’s website and on INALJ.com
  • Don’t fall into the “I’m too busy” trap (I’m discovering just how difficult this is!)
  • Ask for what you want, and show what you can do.

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

The AODA and Hart House

Yesterday morning I attended an AODA workshop at Hart House, since I have been asked to take on the responsibilities of the curator of the Hart House Library until Hart House is able to hire someone officially to fulfill that role.

I expected an interesting and educational workshop, but found it to be more entertaining than I had expected. The host of the workshop provided us not only with valuable information, but activities and critical exercises to draw out how we think about disability, and what we know about it. One of the most striking exercises involved defining the words “charity” and “equity.” What it really reaffirmed for me is the need to respect every individual equally and to be tolerant of differences in others.

In the end, I learned that although I have not read the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act), I already knew most of what is on there, since, according to our instructor, its principles are mostly determined by common sense.

We were given handouts with summaries of the AODA and other important information, which I plan to leave with the library and the next curator.

After the workshop, I participated in an interview to discuss in more detail what I know about disabilities, and what experiences I have had with disability at Hart House. I mentioned a few areas for potential improvement. One of them came to mind only because I attended a symposium last semester in which a speaker discussed the challenges she faces everyday trying to use her computer and read for her degree with a vision impairment.

I look forward to hearing more about the initiatives planned for Hart House, and hope to get the library involved in any activities or events related to this issue.

ACA and MISC Conservation and Preservation Crash Course

Last Saturday, 12 March 2011, I attended a workshop organized by the ACA and MISC (U of T’s Masters of Information Student Council).

The two instructors, Sue Maltby and Sylvia Lassam, gave very interesting presentations, one of which was on “conservation concerns,” and the other on rare books and paper conservation. Both did very well in giving us a two-hour overview of material that takes months, if not years, to learn. I happily discovered in the opening credits that the first talk was museum-oriented, while the second was archives-oriented, which provided an interesting contrast and balance between two different, but related, fields. Museums and archives deal with similar pests and concerns, and this workshop highlighted that fact.

At the end of the afternoon we were given unprocessed archival files, and instructed in how to prepare them for processing: removing staples and paper clips, unfolding folded sheets (pages with creases will tear more easily than pages that are uncreased), taking opened letters out of envelopes. I found an envelope that was sealed, and asked Sylvia Lassam what to do. She instructed me not to open it, since the owner of the envelope had not opened it, and there may be some value in keeping it as the owner left it.

Getting to work directly with the materials capped the excellent morning and afternoon spent in learning about conservation and preservation at different heritage institutions.