Archive for July, 2009


Giving it away

If there is something you can do but no one will pay you to do it, give it away. If you know you are the best at something, give your all and give it for free.

My current job is the result of volunteering and a sprinkle of very part-time work. When I moved to NC immediately after finishing library school out West, I knew I had a lot of work to do to become part of this state’s network of special collections librarians and archivists.

After coming in second for a number of exciting and very interesting jobs but remaining unemployed for the first month or two, I decided to take matters into my own hands. When I wasn’t job searching full time, I would volunteer at a local library to strengthen and develop my skills. I ended up working 4 hours a week as a metadata technician for Digital Forsyth and volunteering 6 hours a week at my local branch of the public library doing circulation and a bit of reference.

It turns out that both “jobs” tied to special collections, since Digital Forsyth is a collaborative project between a number of institutions in Forsyth County including the public library and Wake Forest. When a job suddenly opened up at the public library in the local history room, I knew I had the connections and experience to get at least an interview.

The rest is history. This isn’t a story of how “lucky” I was to land the perfect job, nor a tale describing the value of being overworked and unpaid. I know that if I had not put myself out there for free, even for a few hours a week, I would not have been able to get to know folks with whom I would end up working.

If you are unemployed, I suggest giving away your skills for free at a facility that needs you and cannot currently pay you. You will soon become irreplaceable and, at minimum, instantly attractive to potential employers.


ALA Chicago musings

I am still trying to figure out my place in ALA. Perhaps it would help to have an iPhone or laptop to keep in touch with folks doing contemporaneous updates…

My Emerging Leaders group’s final presentation in Chicago went really well. Following a long workshop about leadership, we were given the chance to put together our poster boards and prepare ourselves for the small rush of ALA elites on their way to witness our leadership experiments. I took to calling it a science fair.

After the poster session, I was asked to present my group’s project at an informal gathering of our sponsoring committee, the Joint Committee on Archives, Libraries, and Museums (aka CALM). Our project was defined as “ALA/SAA/AAM Combined Committee on Archives, Libraries and Museums (CALM) is seeking to extend its impact in speaking on broad issues of access, preservation, and advocacy for the value of archives of all types,” which we refined with mentor Christian Dupont.┬áThe group was really excited that we updated and simplified the CALM wiki and created a delicious page as a source for convergence literature, both web and print. Best of all, I was able to sit in as a guest during the meeting, where I was able to participate in a rather passionate discussion about Preservation Week, Archives Month, MayDay, and the preservation education needs of community-based archives. I also brought my group’s suggestion that CALM consider future projects for EL’s such as marketing LAM issues through 2.0 technologies (my colleagues suggested creating a podcast with guest speakers). The committee was very appreciative of our work.

Other than that, I was able to attend some great sessions on preservation and special collections. In the Exhibits area I was able to get my copy signed of So You Want To Be a Librarian by my friend and colleague Lauren Pressley. Of course, my first trip would not have been complete without a trip to Millennium Park and the Bean, a meal of Chicago deep-dish pizza pie, and a high-rise view of downtown. Good times!