Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Changing the Science Library Perspective

Note: For my friends and family: This posting is homework. Colleagues and Classmates, read on.

Even though I've only worked in the science department since February, it's been interesting to see the changes that have been happening. We're in the process of condensing our reference section since a lot of material is being put online. We're also becoming more technology-based, I'm creating department blogs, and we're offering more courses on how to use online databases. We're also considering some changes that I can't discuss here. Throughout the library, we're becoming more technology-focused for the patrons. We've revamped our Information Commons and trust me, you can do anything there! Video editing, format conversion (including LPs, Videocassette, film negatives, etc.), software classes, conference rooms, scanners, etc. It's crazy! We've also put in a lot of lounge chairs and study tables, especially around the world classics and sampler room collections. We're also migrating to an OPAC that is more google-like and hopefully will do federated searching within all our database subscriptions!

We're not the only library doing changes though. Temple University recently closed all of their Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematical Sciences libraries and built a new Science Engineering & Architecture Library (SEAL). This library is well-lit and aesthetically appealing for students and faculty. The collection policy has changed. They have an extensive reference collection, computers, and only the most recent 10 years of monographs in architecture, biology, chemistry, engineering, geology, physics and general science. To aid patrons in using library resources, they also house a library instructional services. Also directed to the new technological generation are several new online services such as Instant Messaging reference, new book lists, and a blog site featuring new tools, resources, library events and news.

Temple, BYU, and many other libraries are certainly becoming more user-centered. Online reference is a big help since many people cannot, don't have time, or prefer not to go to the library to do their research. These libraries are also migrating towards more open and inviting spaces and workstations that invite collaboration. This helps the patron feel invited to the era and more likely to study and do research in that area. The Shhhhhh! Era has ended. We have moved on to focus more on the individual user so that their needs are met and they leave with a positive experience. Science is becoming more cross-disciplined. Temple showed they could address that patron issue by combining its science libraries. I'm sure there are other ways we can be more user-centered, but this is a start.

Resources used:

A Changing Profession

In 2002, shortly before I left on my mission, I was working in the BYU Bookstore. It was fun and the whole campus knew me (except my fellow Freshmen who can't use their mealplans in the Bookstore) because 1, I worked the lunch rush shift in the Twilight Zone, and 2, I was the happy Canadian bag boy with the permagrin. :)
I remember about a month before I left for Brazil, Russ Taylor, one of my frequent customers, asked if I would return to the bookstore after I finished my mission. I said that I was actually hoping to find something that would look a little better on a resume. He said to look him up in Special Collections and he'd give me a job in the library.
Two years later, I found myself working in the library and that was the start of my short career (thus far). I worked in Special Collections for three years as a student, gaining experience and responsibilities to the extent that they hired me back as Collection manager upon my graduation.
It's funny. I had never thought of going into library work. Actually, I was debating between law or business and truthfully, I will probably still pursue an MBA and/or JD, but for now, I'm half-way done my MLS - partly because it guaranteed me a job for awhile, partly because it is good experience that will help me in the future, and partly because they offered me a nice little scholarship which means I won't have to pay for the degree.
Now, I'm working full-time in the Science Department as Science/Maps reference specialist. At least I'm making use of my pre-med courses and chemistry minor. It's fun, but we're seeing a lot of changes and we're going to be seeing more in the future. Students are using the library less. Methods of research and requirements for study are changing. If we can't reach the students soon, we will send many into the workforce unprepared for what needs to be done in areas of research (particularly in the sciences). We'll see how it goes.
This post is prepping for the next one, which I will warn you, is a requirement for a class I'm taking in my Masters of Library Science degree. I'll try to make it interesting. :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Helping People Get Jobs

Last Saturday, Eric, Matt and I taught the Career Workshop at BYU. I was recruited to teach the Sunday before and they told me that their last workshop that they tried to put on was a bust. Even with that torrid history, we were still optimistic. We had had over 55 people respond to the advertising and were confident that we would have at least 20 of those show up.

Getting there bright and early, we set up for the conference and slowly people began to trickle in. They did so for some time and we ended up having 64 people (who signed in) attend our four-hour workshop!

Now, it is difficult to squash a 12-hour workshop into 4 hours, but we divided the workshop into parts, created a strict time limit for each section and went to work. I wish we could have included all of the practice time that is normal and we cut out a few sections, but overall it was very successful!

My favorite sections are the 'Me in 30 Seconds' and 'Power Statements'. Me in 30 Seconds is almost like a trailer at the start of a movie. It tells you about yourself and it tried to get the audience hooked - without giving away too much. The audience could be an interviewer asking, 'tell me about yourself' or a CEO who you randomly meet in an elevator. 'Power Statements' take a quality or attribute, a specific example from your life, and the result and put it into a statement that has power! These can be used to answer almost any power statement!

Attribute + Example + Result (with numbers preferably)

An example: I'm very creative. While working at a recreation complex, I was asked to create some new programs. By the time I finished I had created the plan for three new programs that we then implemented.

These two principles will help anyone present their skills to an employer and help them get a job.

It was a lot of fun. Even my Mom came. It made me remember the good old times in Brazil. By the way, I'm a very effective teacher. For example, while teaching the Career Workshop in Brazil, I taught weekly sessions for between 10 and 25 people per week. As a result, about 25% of them got new or better jobs within 3 weeks of taking the course!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Batman and Beyond

About 3 weeks ago, a group of friends and I decided that it would be fun to watch Batman: Dark Knight on opening night. Now, I haven't been to many opening night showings....I did see Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Transformers (pre-showing) and, surprisingly, the Ring II (which admittedly, I was invited to 5 minutes before and there was virtually no line). At no times, have I dressed up.

Batman is different. Batman is, well, Batman. And you dress up for Batman.

I had been planning on purchasing a Robin costume on eBay, until I saw how pricey those were. I should've started looking months ago. Then, I left my Batman shirt at my parents' house. I didn't even go home after work either, we went straight to Diana's to watch Invader Zim before going to the movie. Crazy, I know. So, puzzling over what I was to wear, while Diana was sewing a cape for Brandon and adjusting her t-shirt, I suddenly was struck with a stroke of inspiration.

On the way to pick up Steve, Diana and I stopped at Shopko where I purchased two pieces of poster board and a Sharpie. In tribute to the 1960s Batman show (which was amazing), I created my costume.

Yes, accompanied by 5 Batmans, I went as a giant POW sign. It was the best costume ever!

We got to the movie two hours before it started and played a 10-person game of Hand and Foot. In the movie theater. In our chairs. With 15 decks of cards.

The movie was incredible. Dark, yes, but very well done. Once again, there was clean language and no immorality, but there was quite a lot more violence than Batman Begins. I jumped once during the movie when a body slammed into a window (not a spoiler since I'm not saying who or when) and laughed at someone lamenting that nothing went right for Batman. It was really good. Heath Leger was incredible! I have never seen a creepier character and his little tongue twitch. Wow!

So, I got home at midnight. Exhausted. And not ready for eight hours of work the following day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What did I do?

So on Sunday, Eric announced that there would be a Career Workshop taught on Saturday at BYU. Having taught the Career Workshop in Florianopolis and Porto Alegre, Brazil (while managing the Employment Center in Floripa), I firmly believe that this is something all college students should take to prepare for getting a real job! Of course, I opened my big mouth in support of the program.

Let's jump ahead to today....

I just got home from our second meeting. I am one of four teachers teaching the workshop on Saturday and there is lots to do to prepare. We've had about 60 RSVPs which is double the largest group I taught in Brazil. We're also condensing the 12 hour workshop into 4 hours. I'm excited but also wondering how I got myself into this. You see, Eric happened to be one of the organizers, and when he realized that I was a certified instructor, he jumped on the opportunity to have me help teach.

So here I am, ready to teach Power Statements, Networking skills, getting past the Gatekeepers, Me in 30 seconds, resume building, etc. Just remember, the resume is the tip of the iceberg. It's the intangibles that employers want to discover and you need to show them exactly who you are beneath what they can see. That's what we teach!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Slip N'Slide

I remember when I was a kid, Crocodile Mile was one of the coolest things on the block. After school, we'd pull out the slip n'slide, turn on the hose, and race to see who could make it down the slide the fastest. As I've grown, I've determined that the toys are just the same as when we were kids. They're just bigger, faster, and a lot more fun.

Imagine a 65 degree slope, draped with a two meter by 100 ft. sheet of 4 pt. plastic, three hoses, and soap. Throw into the equation thirty college students, a little music, and a lot of up-man-ship and you have the ultimate slip n'slide party.

Kicking off the evening, Ryan soaped up his hairy body (trust almost rivals Dallin's) and soared down the hill. A bunch of the other guys sent down and we had to spend the next several minutes figuring out how to stop people before they hit the asphalt trail, upon which we left a few patches of skin. We'll be a little raw tomorrow. Some of the more spectacular displays included Tyler, who went whipping down the hill so fast that when a couple of guys grabbed the bottom of the plastic and pulled it up to catch him, he burst right through and kept on going! I was a little disappointed that no one succeeded in staying on their feet all the way down, although Mike made it about 3/4 of the way down before biffing it! We even got a few of the girls to go down - until Tyler broke his finger that is!

Yeah, good times. That's college for you.