How I Got My New Library Job – Part 2: Organizational Success

New Year, New Job

My new job at John F. Kennedy University Libraries is going well. I genuinely love it. I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my primary job duty of cataloging (50% of my job), and am little by little, getting introduced to everything else. I find opportunities to learn and think all the time. It is quite satisfying. I mean, how lucky am I?

But Does Luck Have Anything to do With it?

It doesn’t hurt. But, honestly? Between the external and internal factors that affect hiring in libraries and archives (the economy, administrative priorities, etc.), luck is not to be relied on. More important, is self-awareness, organizational efficiency and focus.

Initially, my job search was unfocused. However, after I assessed my strengths and weaknesses, needs and future goals, I was better able to target my search to positions that were a better match for me. Because they were a good match for me, I was also a better match for the organizations hiring for these positions. This gave me a better shot at landing an interview. An added bonus, was the time saved by targeting my search more narrowly. Once I began getting short term jobs through a temp agency, time was in short supply, and I needed to get organized in order to increase my efficiency. My approach was methodical, and involved the use of organizational tools, my mobile device, and cloud computing.

Finding Organizational Success

To get organized, I started by prioritizing my job search activities, and making sure they were accessible to me where I was, whether at home or on the go. Because I was now working while searching for a job, this meant I was very busy, and at times, needed to use my commute (via light rail and bus) and breaks as productive parts of my day. I found myself needing to use my mobile phone, as well as computers at home, and on occasion, at work.

Bear in mind that to me, the job search is a process much broader than just looking for job postings and sending out applications. I include thorough research about each hiring organization as well as social networking online and in person, keeping abreast of current LIS issues, staying informed about related areas of interest, and other professional development activities.

Finding Focus: Reducing Distractions and a Consistent Daily Routine

In managing all of this, I organized my personal space and my digital space, and kept both as clutter free as possible, to decrease potential distractions. I also developed a consistent daily routine (as much as possible while working temp jobs) which helped me to fit in all the various activities I wanted to get to. For example, I used my daily commute for social media use and reading LIS and technology themed articles and blog posts.

These activities for me were closely related, as I like to discover and share information on Twitter. But this can be a big distraction for me, if I don’t deliberately limit how much of it I do. When I used social media in the morning, I could use the rest of the day to focus on my job and job search.

Each day, I also needed to recharge. As much as possible, I would use my lunches for just that, lunch. This gave me a chance to clear my mind and relax. Even enjoy, and get outside. Sometimes, I’d lunch with a colleague, and sometimes alone. Either way, lunch was often refreshing and reinvigorating, which allowed me to stay focused and motivated. However, there were times when a deadline was looming and I would use this time to work on an application packet, instead. In those instances, it was really important that both my physical and digital spaces were easy to use.

Efficiency through Organization

Physical Space. This may seem very basic, but I made an effort to keep my physical space neat and tidy to reduce distractions while I worked. I also kept my desk well stocked with the supplies I needed (printer paper and ink, for example) so I wouldn’t run out when they were needed most. I kept a binder with print-outs of the information for the jobs I had already applied for (filed by application date), a folder for those I was planning to apply for (filed by priority/deadline), and folders as necessary for information about jobs I was in the process of applying for.

Digital Space. Cloud computing tools such as Google Apps and Diigo proved very useful to me as I navigated the use of my phone and multiple computers during my day to day job search. With Diigo, I was able to manage bookmarks from wherever I might be. I regularly used Gmail, Docs, and Calendar as part of my daily regimen, but also used Reader to manage my RSS feeds. My best use of the cloud was an Excel spreadsheet, which I uploaded to Google Docs so I could access it on the go. It included three tabs: 1) an application status sheet, with a prioritized, detailed listing of each job I planned to apply for; 2) a job search resource list; and 3) a volunteer position information and status sheet. The application status sheet included fields for position information (job title, location, keywords, links, full time or part time, etc.) and application status (references, dates, deadlines, notes, etc.).

Another useful document I created for each job I applied for was a fact sheet, which served as a tool to organize my research about each position and hiring organization. I then used it as a checklist when writing my cover letter and resume or c.v. for each application packet. This proved useful as an easy reference, so I could address each point in the job description and requirements. Additionally, because there is no guarantee that the person doing the initial application review and screening is an information professional or specialist in one’s field, I believe it is important to match the language of the institution from the website, mission and vision, and job description as best as possible. I mirrored this language in each fact sheet, so I could accurately reflect this language as part of my application packet.

Conclusion

Finding tools that work for you is important. I recommend job seekers take some time to discover the best tools for their routine. Organization, efficiency and focus all work together to make the job search process more successful.

Documents

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Dwight C. Steele Papers: Finding Aid is Now Available via the Online Archive of California

For my final semester, Fall 2010, at the SJSU School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), I interned at the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. I arranged and processed two collections and wrote finding aids for each one: the Dwight C. Steele Papers and the Gladys Worthington Papers. I am so glad to have helped make these collections accessible to researchers in the U.C. Berkeley community.

As of April 2011, the finding aid for the Dwight C. Steele Papers (BANC MSS 2005/195 c) is now available on the Online Archive of California (OAC).

Researchers can contact the Bancroft Library for access to the collection.

The Job Search and The Temp Job

So, as a recent graduate from the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University, I can officially append MLIS to my name. But, as three months have passed since my graduation and I still (like so many other recent grads) haven’t yet landed the perfect gig in my field of choice, I have decided to explore the world of temporary employment. I get a paycheck, and can look for the perfect gig (I truly believe it exists) on my own time. Which, as it turns out, is more difficult to find when you are working full-time–but I’m adjusting to this as I work away, at my new job.

The title of my current temp position–administrative assistant–doesn’t sound as though it is related to library and information science, but in fact, I am happy to say that much of my work rather resembles my manuscript processing internship at Bancroft Library last fall. Well, it is of course, different, because, for one thing, I am working with documents generated as part of a corporate environment. So I’m dealing with archival documents, rather than manuscripts. From an archival perspective, you could say I’m on the records management side of things, as many of the documents I handle are still active as part of the document life cycle. Nevertheless, they are being archived and stored at Iron Mountain, and I am helping to manage the transition of these documents from the creation and active use stage of their life cycle to the inactive and ultimate disposition, either disposal or storage.

In launching my library and information science career during a difficult economy and job market, I know how important it is to stay relevant. Finding the time to do it while temping can be a challenge. But I can think, read, and write LIS. I plan to keep bringing it. As I navigate this process, I hope to bring stories of my adventures and tips for making the most of it.

So, stay tuned…

LIS Lady’s Statement on Federal Copyright Protection of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings [PDF]

The U.S. Copyright Office, under direction from Congress is conducting a study on the “desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under Federal jurisdiction,” particularly as it relates to the ability of cultural heritage institutions to preserve and provide access to this class of recordings. For those of you not in the know, this class of recordings is not currently protected by Federal law, and instead is covered by a bevy of conflicting and confusing State statutory, criminal, and common laws. Unfortunately, this means that nearly no pre-1972 sound recordings are in the public domain in the United States.  This is problematic for libraries and archives charged with caring for and ensuring continued preservation of and access to these recordings.

This topic is near and dear to me, as it relates directly to my summer internship at the Graduate Theological Union’s Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, where I assessed intellectual property concerns and developed metadata requirements for the digitization of a pre-1972 sound recording collection. Further, I developed a research proposal on the topic for my Research Methods course. I appreciated the opportunity to submit my comments to the U.S. Copyright Office.

The extended deadline for submitting comments to the U.S. Copyright Office was today, and replies to the comments will be open until March 2, 2011. Attached is my statement to the U.S. Copyright Office.

LIS Lady’s Statement – [PDF]

Continue reading

Gladys Worthington Papers, Bancroft Library

Wow, it is hard to believe my internship at U.C. Berkeley‘s Bancroft Library has come to a close. Thursday was my last day, and I will truly miss my time working at the archive. I haven’t updated the blog recently about my internship experience, and so much has been accomplished since my last post. I’ve completed the processing and finding aid for the Dwight C. Steele Papers (BANC MSS 2005/195 c), which are now available in OskiCat, the online catalog for U.C. Berkeley Libraries, and soon the Online Archive of California. Further, I processed and arranged my second collection, the Gladys Worthington Papers, and finished all of the front matter for the finding aid (biography, scope and content, etc.). Only the container list remains, which will hopefully be finished soon, so that this collection will also be available for research.

Gladys Worthington (c. 1911-1982) was a Bay Area social worker who was primarily active in providing services for senior citizens, although she was active in other areas as well. She spent time as a relief worker with the American Red Cross during World War II, when she was stationed in France. She wrote an unpublished autobiographical account of her time in France, titled Not a Donut Dolly. This manuscript is accompanied by fascinating photographs from this period.

I used the More Product Less Process (MPLP) mantra quite effectively while processing this collection due to time constraints. The idea is to make these important collections that have been backlogged available for researchers as soon as possible. Although the bulk of the processing work and finding aid was completed, I was disappointed that I was not able to finish the container list. I do hope that someone else is able to complete this list soon, so that access to the collection is not further delayed.

”]Stephanie Roach at Bancroft Library's Regatta Storage Facility

Digital Preservation & Cultural Heritage

So, I’m still reeling from the completion of my e-Portfolio (the culminating experience for my master’s degree) late Monday (yay me!). So my post will be brief.

For my 2009 SJSU School of Library and Information Science LIBR 240: Information Technology and Tools Course, I put together the following website on one of my favorite topics, digital preservation & cultural heritage:

http://lislady.com/lislife/dpch/index.shtml

Please check it out!

Here is an excerpt from the home page:

This site explores the new and evolving methods of digital preservation along with potential strategies for ensuring value–no less than our cultural heritage–is attributed to digital resources in the public sphere from individual, organizational, national and international levels. Changes in technology have led to broader cultural change including an information environment that is constantly in flux. This cultural transformation reflects changes in technology and within online environments. However, in order to best preserve information content and context, the transitive nature of information created, used, and stored digitally must be recognized and made part of the larger cultural awareness, so that our emerging digital, cultural, heritage can be preserved, and ultimately made accessible to current and future user communities.

It is all a little dark web of me, as I haven’t yet finished my website that it is a part of, and it is a little rough around the edges, but I thought it would be nice to share anyways.

Thanks and have an awesome week!

Dwight C. Steele Papers: Manuscript Processing Lessons Learned

My internship at U.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library is coming along. The manuscript collection I am processing, the Dwight C. Steele Papers, is coming along, and I am feeling good about my work. I will finish labeling the folders and cartons and work on the finding aid next time I am in. Then it will be time to move on to the next collection.

Before I do, though, I realize I’ve learned so much through the processing of this first collection. The biggest difficulty I have had is in sticking to the institutional priority of “MPLP” or “More Product, Less Process” which reflects an approach to processing proposed by Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner (2005) published in The American Archivist.  While Bancroft is using a modified Greene and Meissner approach, meaning there is flexibility in processing, with much more detailed work allowed on a case by case basis, my natural inclination is to be very detailed in my work, which typically takes too much time, considering the backlog of materials that needs to be processed. So, as I’ve gone through the collection survey and processing process, I’ve been forced to seek strategies to speed things along. Some of the time, this happens after the fact, so that on my next collection, I won’t make the same types of mistakes.

Yesterday, while at the job site, I had to do some backtracking, as I was horrified to discover my collection had grown over the course of my processing due to extensive refoldering (the new folders were taking up more space than they were originally, as I wasn’t filling each folder as much as I should have been). This turned out to be unjustified by the time I had the collection arranged. As I’d been working, I painstakingly made chronological folders for each year for some series, as I planned to add to each folder and fill it as I processed. Unfortunately, the majority of these folders were not filled, some of which only had one or two documents inside.

This turned out to be a waste of space and resources. So, in order to avoid adding another box or carton to the collection, I began to consolidate some of these folders and was able to fit the collection into the original space allotment. I may do a bit more of this before I create the finding aid and add the container list. The fewer individual folders I have, the easier this will be to do, and the more time I will save. Of course, backtracking takes time, too. But the lesson is learned, and will save me time both in creation of the finding aid and in the processing of future collections. In just a couple of work days, I will be started on the next collection and able to apply all that I’ve learned along the way. I believe I will be much more successful in adhering to MPLP.

Further, I am excited that Mr. Steele’s collection will finally be accessible to researchers and the public. What a payoff. I get to see the collection move from a disorganized state, through to a neatly foldered and organized collection that will be of use to patrons of the Bancroft Library.

 

Midterm Election 2010: Have You Voted Yet?

Just a friendly reminder to get out the vote today.

Your vote matters.

How will your candidates support libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions?

Beyond current access to information resources including books, music, videos, images, etc., information organizations support learning and information literacy as well as our enduring legacy.

If you haven’t already, get out and vote!

Internship Update: the Dwight C. Steele Papers at Bancroft Library

My internship at U.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library‘s Regatta Storage Facility has continued in Richmond, CA, along with the three other interns working at the same site. Each of us is processing a different collection. Mine is the Dwight C. Steele Papers, which is comprised of 7 cartons, and two oversized boxes. Mr. Steele was a labor lawyer turned environmental lobbyist/activist. He was involved deeply in Bay Area and Lake Tahoe Region environmental causes (most activity is from the 1960s – 2000), through personal lobbying and work with groups such as the Save San Francisco Bay Association (also known as Save the Bay), the San Francisco Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), Citizens for the Eastshore State Park, the Sierra Club, the Sierra Nevada Alliance, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Tahoe-Baikal Institute and others.

The initial part of my internship was involved in surveying the collection and developing a processing plan based on the survey, and according to strict guidelines developed as a result of institutional priorities–the idea is More Product, Less Process or MPLP, an approach devised by Greene and Meissner to help assure access is prioritized when institutional backlogs are dominating holdings.

The next phase–and I am still working on this part–is the actual arranging and processing of the collection. Unfortunately, strict deadlines weren’t given to us, and the processing plan form indicated I had much more time to work on this, as it was using non-MPLP time frames. Last Thursday, we were given a soft deadline to complete work on the collection by October 21, 2010. Technically that left only 16 hours of work. Yikes. I’m only 1/2 done now, and still have to produce a finding aid! Fortunately, I discussed my dilemma with my supervisor and was given another full day to complete my work on the collection. As a result, I am spending some time reviewing all of my survey notes and researching Mr. Steele’s connections and involvement so I can develop a revised strategy for completing the collection within the new time frame.

While the deadline is imminent, I recognize that a changing environment is a realistic situation. Communication sometimes breaks down, and plans have to be revised to meet the new criteria. Asking questions, checking in, and staying flexible are key. The internship’s first learning outcome specifically focuses on institutional priorities when creating processing timelines, and I have to balance my natural inclination for in depth work with the need for timely access to the collection. What a learning opportunity. I’ve shifted into high gear in order to get back on track. Continue reading

Bancroft Library’s Regatta Storage Facility

This semester I’ll be one of four interning for UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, at the Regatta Storage Facility which is one of their off campus storage and processing facilities in Richmond, California. The site internship supervisor is David de Lorenzo (also an instructor at SJSU SLIS), although we do not work directly with him. I have been really impressed with the organization of the internship and the presentation of orientation materials and the level of support provided at the job site.

On our orientation tour of the facility, David commented that Regatta is like the the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Ark of the Covenant is stored. I’d have to say I agree with his estimation, and would only add that it is a very modern version of the warehouse! Newly remodeled specifically to house museum (by David’s account there is a sarcophagus and a totem pole somewhere in the depths of the facility) and library materials (the Judaica librarian discovered a 1596? item printed in Bamberg, Germany in a box he was unpacking last Thursday), the facility is secure (we all have University issued badges that open the security gate and front door, and only have access to the portion of the warehouse storing Bancroft’s material–there are lots of locked doors and fenced off areas within the warehouse), with environmental controls for humidity and temperature, and it even has two bunkers built in for storage of volatile nitrate film. Needless to say, it is an exciting environment to be in. Our focus is processing archival collections, as one of the functions of the facility is as an archival processing center.

The goals of the internship are quite clear, as the backlog of archival materials at Bancroft is problematic. The problem has developed over time, as 20th century collections produce so much paperwork, and historically the processing approach taken by Bancroft Library has been thorough and thus, time consuming. David de Lorenzo is now using a modified Greene & Meissner approach to processing archival collections known at Bancroft as “MPLP” which stands for More Product, Less Process (see the article More Product, Less Process: Pragmatically Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal with Late 20th Century Collections”). With this new approach, access to collections can improve greatly. With grant funding, the Bancroft has hired four full time survey archivists (for three years) who are assessing the status of collections at Bancroft and are now overseeing us interns. Each of us is starting out with two of the smaller high priority collections.

My learning outcomes, based on Bloom’s taxonomy of learning are as follows:

  1. Develop arrangement schemas and formulate processing timelines for archival collections while considering institutional resources and priorities.
  2. Apply archival survey and arrangement methods to unprocessed manuscript collections.
  3. Compare, select and employ appropriate conservation methods and materials for archival objects.
  4. Appraise collection materials for retention and disposition based on institutional policies, research needs and archival standards/guidelines.
  5. Facilitate information management and retrieval by designing and constructing descriptive finding aids and accurate electronic records using archival methodologies.

To date, with only one week of the internship behind me, I have been focusing primarily on outcomes 1 and 2. For outcome 1, institutional resources and priorities have been made clear as described above, and I can see how it is important to fit processing into a timeline in order to best meet and follow through with these. I am processing the Dwight C. Steele (an environmental activist/lobbyist and labor lawyer) papers, which is comprised of seven cartons (although there are likely other materials associated with it, that I hope will be identified/delivered soon). For the survey I have a 16 hour timeline, and have completed cartons 1-3 already. I will tackle cartons 4-7 this Thursday, at which point I will be ready to create a processing plan and submit it for approval. I did struggle to stick with my timeline initially, as it is easy to want to go into too much detail at this early phase when it is actually more important to see the “forest for the trees.” However, I have a better sense of the pace I need to maintain now.

Outcome 2 focuses on the survey and arrangement methods of unprocessed manuscript collections, and well, I am up to my ears in it! I am really glad to be getting the experience and look forward to looking at the collection in a more in depth way when processing and arrangement begin.