Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reflections - Part 3

I was enjoying my first class, LIB 101, while learning a great deal in a short time as we covered what seemed a vast amount of information about the library field. Through many guest speakers from various libraries, field trips, homework, and multiple projects, I felt I was getting a solid grasp of what opportunities were out there for the taking. But questions were still haunting me.
  • Could I really get a job in the library field with my hearing loss?
  • Would someone be willing to hire me for Circulation since that's heavy customer service?
  • Should I stay in the PCC program or just go on to Graduate school?

Bravely, I shared my questions and fears with our instructor, Ann Dallavalle. She was quite patient in answering my questions and calming my fears. She told me that she didn't think my hearing loss would be a hindrance in getting a job in the field, even in an entry level job such as working at a Circulation desk. As for staying in the program, I wondered if it would be like double work and time wasted if I decided to go on to get a MLIS later. While she said the decision was ultimately mine, she did say going through the Library Tech Program at PCC would make the journey through grad school easier.

In addition, I got some additional inspiration from Jan Sanders, Library Director of Pasadena Public Library, on our field trip to their library. We were lucky enough to have her come and take some time from her busy schedule to speak with us. During our short break, she spoke with me and told me of a wonderful deaf librarian she had known years ago. This was the third deaf librarian I had heard of. Those numbers along with my confidence was growing.

I will admit even though I knew the journey was probably not going to be an easy one by any means, I decided to keep going. One thing I mentioned briefly in Part 2 was the many friends and acquaintances I have made while being in the program. Ann Dallavalle had encouraged us from day one to get to know our classmates as it may be very likely that in the future, we'd be working with each other whether on school projects or in actual jobs. In cultivating friendships with my classmates, I came to see that I wasn't so alone with my fears and everything else that came along with being back in school. And hopefully, others who go through the program will see that as well, no matter what you feel your shortcomings are or the fears you have.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reflections - Part 2

Remember how you felt your first day at a new school? That's definitely how I felt my first night of class in the Library Tech Program. I was nervous about so many different things.

Here is a list of some of them:
  • Would I enjoy the class?
  • Would I make any friends?
  • Could I handle the workload with having a full-time job?
  • Would I be able to understand the teacher?
  • Would the class really be able to help me make the decision of whether the library field was for me or not?
I can say a lot of my fears were needless but understandable. I hadn't been in school in over 20 years. I found out that I wasn't the only one which helped make the start of my journey back to school bearable. On the first night, our instructor for LIB 101, Ann Dallavalle, had us all say a little something about ourselves, why we were taking the class, etc. She made it a little easier on us by starting it off by telling us about her background which was nice as well as very informational.

You may wonder at my question of "Would I be able to understand the teacher?" For those of you that don't know me and haven't picked up on the subtle clues I've left in my posts, I'm hard-of-hearing. So it's often a concern of mine if a new teacher or even new people will be easy for me to understand or not. Granted, I did utilize captionists for my first class but this was my first time using this kind of technology.

Before when I was in college, I had used sign language interpreters and notetakers. But I decided to try this new technology so I could compare what I liked best. Considering that I was going to be in a program with the word "technology" in its name, I felt I owed it to myself to try it out. After trial and error, I found that I prefer a combination of using an interpreter and a captionist usually. In addition, I also tried using a voice captionist which is even newer technology which hasn't been perfected yet but it was exciting to be the first student here at PCC to utilize such services. Basically, with this technology, the captionist speaks into a voice box and it turns the spoken word into type onto a laptop. Even though voice recognition is nothing new, this device wasn't working up to what we hoped its potential would be.

Ironically enough, later on I ended up volunteering in a test/focus group on helping improve this new technology. Surprisingly, I was the only one in the group who had been exposed to using this technology before. But I was glad I was able to give feedback based on actual usage and not just as a test respondent.

In an effort to keep the post from getting much longer, I will elaborate more on the other questions as I will continue next Tuesday. But a few quick answers for you. I enjoyed LIB 101 thoroughly and would probably have to say it was one of my favorite classes in the program. I was quite sad when it had to come to an end. I was able to manage the workload in spite of having a full-time job by using a few hours of accrued vacation time every week to do homework, projects, and studying. I have been blessed in that I have made many new friends in coming back to school. As for the last question, tune in on Tuesday.

Scholarship Opportunity for School Library Paraprofessionals

(NOTE: These scholarships were just brought to my attention and unfortunately the deadline for this year is Jan 15 (tomorrow). You may want to keep this in mind for next year. kg)

California School Library Association Scholarships and Grants:

Southern Section Paraprofessional Scholarship CSLA Southern Section recognizes the need for trained and qualified library technicians in Southern California. Therefore the Southern Section of CSLA has established an educational scholarship in the amount of $500 for library paraprofessionals. The purpose is to assist school library paraprofessionals in completing a school library technician/paraprofessional certificate program or obtaining a teaching credential with the ultimate goal of pursuing a Library Media Teacher Services Credential. Download the 2009 application. pdf word

Southern Section Library Media Teacher Scholarship Recognizing that there is a need for professional school library media teachers, the California School Library Association-Southern Section offers scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each. The purpose is to assist those persons seeking preparation leading toward a degree or credential which will qualify the individual to work as a professional in the library media field in a school setting. Download the 2009 application. pdf word

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reflections - Part 1

As I ponder graduating from the Library Technology Program, I can honestly say, "Never, say never." Even though I had made the decision many years ago never to come back to school unless it were purely for fun, here I have been since Fall 2007. "How did she get here?" is a question that may cross your mind.

I had known for quite some time that I needed and desired a new job, preferably an actual career. I had gotten a B.A. in English that seemed to be collecting dust while I usually worked simple data entry jobs which allowed me to do all those mom things with my kids that I wanted to. After enduring the world of medical billing which lasted a total of 6 1/2 long years, I had been tossing a few ideas in my head but none seemed the perfect fit.

Less than a month before the Fall 2007 semester began, a close friend/mentor/graduate of the PCC Lib Tech Program, Terry Cannon, knowing of my dilemna suggested that I take LIB 101 just to see if it would be something I might be interested in. Even though he admitted that he started out with Mrs. Kim's LIB 104 class, he said that LIB 101 would give me a wonderful overview of the library world. Indeed, it did but more on that later.

Naturally, I had a list of objections and obstacles. I really didn't relish the idea of homework, studying, worrying about grades, deadlines, group projects, all those things that go hand in hand with academia. But Terry persisted. He called me quite a few times to see if I had gone down to PCC to enroll and register as time was ticking away. I looked online to see how many spots were still available about two weeks before classes begun and the numbers were dwindling with every day. As you can see, I was considering it but all those obstacles!

He still had the textbook which he so kindly offered to loan me. Economics was still an issue as I really didn't have the money as a struggling single mom to pay for even one class. When a fellow co-worker found out that I was thinking about maybe going back to school too, she told me about applying for a fee waiver. Also, with my 2 kids being in college and last year of high school respectively, I felt like I had no more excuses to not at least give it a try. So I trudged down to the grounds of this community college and did all the necessary paperwork.

Was I nervous? In so many different ways! I'm glad I couldn't remember all the reasons I was so glad I was done with college the first time else I probably really wouldn't have come back. Tune back in on Wednesday, January 14 for the next installment of my reflections.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Few Spoonfuls of Job Hunting Advice

While it can be tempting to just take any library related job that comes your way when you're starting out, it is just as important to make sure that it will be a good fit for you. I will admit though on a recent interview, the library manager revealed that she once took a job that she knew that her boss wasn't going to be quite a good fit but she decided to overlook that in an effort to get more experience. I found an article in Library Journal titled, "How to Find the Right Fit". Even though it may seem it's more related to recent MLS graduates, I found a lot of insightful information in this article.

One thing that hadn't really occured to me think about is if the library's mission and vision would be compatible with my vision of a library. But even as a library page or assistant, that can be quite important in the long run.

In my search for more helpful job hunting advice, I came across "Some Hard Lessons on the Job Search ". This showcases one of Library Journal's Student Affairs bloggers, Staci Elliott, on her long, rocky road in job searching which she still travelling on. You can find out more about her job hunting trials and tribulations at the Student Affairs blog on Library Journal's website. In addition, it was wonderful to read about others as well who commented in response about their experiences in job hunting as well.

It's nice to be able to get some perspective from those who have been there. So take some of this inspiration and continue on what feels like a solitary road in the job search not quite so alone.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Quote of the Week

Book lovers never go to bed alone. - Unknown

When I found this quote among a list of library related quotes, I thought perhaps this doesn't pertain to library technology but I can tell you that it was my love of books that helped bring me to the Library Technology Program at PCC. I will admit that I keep a couple of stacks of books on my bed that I'm reading or will be reading in the very near future. Don't get me wrong, on almost every possible available space in my bedroom, I have books lined up on bookshelves or stacked up. As the quote says, I definitely don't go to bed alone and I feel like my books are my companions.

Over the break, I spent quite a bit of time reading in bed as that's one of my favorite things to do. It felt like a guilty pleasure but after pushing aside my book friends for some serious studying the last month of the semester, I felt had to catch up with them during this precious free time.

One thing I have encouraged students at the elementary school where I work is to look at books as your friends. You can take a book with you just about any place. It's a quiet and constant companion. How can you go wrong with that?

Anything that encourages reading gets a thumbs up is my philosophy. So if you haven't done so lately, curl up with a book tonight or even in the morning before getting up. You know how some people will get up early to exercise, well I'm not one of them. But I will wake up a little early to read a few pages of a book before starting my day. Happy Reading!

Library Tech Jobs Blog - Centralized Job Search

It is rough out there. It has been a struggle for some of us to take the next step into library employment. We all know the story. Libraries are being shut down, hours cut or having to make due with less and less.

But that doesn't mean that there are no current positions. One place to check out on a weekly basis is the Library Tech Jobs Blog. It is a listing of part-time and full-time library job leads from city, state and area libraries.

Keep the faith and most important, keep looking. Easier said than done but you never know when your next opportunity will come from.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Europeana - Online Library, Museum and Archives

Americans do have a problem. We tend to forget we are not the only people on the planet. It does help that we have Canada to the north and Mexico to the south but still, we need to work on expanding our world education, awareness and perspective.
He is an opportunity to make amends by introducing you to Europeana. This is a a combination library, museum and cultural archive for Europe. This is a good news, bad news and great news story.

The good news is in November 2008 10 million people an hour tried to visit the site. The bad news is that they crashed three distinct servers. As of January 3, 2009 the site is still down. You can visit the Europeana Developer's page to learn more about the project. I will update this page when the site becomes fully functional.

The great news is that there is a massive hunger for this type of information and research. If you build it they will come. This will be a multilingual search into the culture, history and societies of the continent of Europe.

It is an ambitious undertaking. This will not just be the antiquities of old but views into European societies, race relations, health, television and the various rolls that prisons played in the society. In the meantime, check out the developer site and the video. It think it will be worth the wait.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Children's Book, Reference and Nonfiction Blog

I used to know kid books because I was a kid. I'm a little older now so I need help to find materials for the young ones. There are a lot more questions around than when I was a kid and I had a bunch even then.

I happened to find this blog, Children Books, Reference and Nonfiction blog about books, reference materials and non-fiction for young people.

Book-Oh Yuck, the Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty
This is a relatively new blog but Donna has been busy stock it with books that curious minds need to answer their questions. I'll keep an eye out for it and see what new items there are in kid references.

Uncontrolled Vocabulary Library Podcasts

Uncontrolled Vocabulary is a library podcast by and for librarians and the people that hope to work for them.

The podcast covers a wide range of topics such as:
  • Episode #62 Library students bill of rights that was generated by a Tame The Web guest post by Char Booth,
  • Episode #63 What Happening to Library Blogs in reference to Pegasus Library's concern that folks are burning out or Tweet happy,
  • Episode #66 On how a parent was concerned when he noticed that the new public school plans being did not include space for an actual school library.
There is plenty in the archives to feast on and you can listen on-line or download the program into your media players that accept the .mp3 format.