September 2011 Archives

Notes from the Field #1

Part One: Reference Desk:

Now that I talked about my job search – I figured I would talk a bit about my job as a “Research and Instruction Librarian”

I spend a significant amount of time at the Reference Desk, either as a direct contact or a “backup”. As the direct contact I sit at the reference desk and wait for questions. While I wait I am normally working on other projects such as LibGuides (I will be posting about LibGuides later) or other projects and planning) but I always try to look as warm and as available as possible. Because our reference desk is part of our larger “information desk” I often stop confused looking students and ask them if I can help them with something. It is important to be as welcoming as possible because many users are hesitant to ask questions. One of my favorite things about this “Information Desk” is the fact that the Reference desk section is lower – more like a normal sized desk. The computer at this desk has two monitors – which are great for helping students see source comparisons, and it lets me keep the library chat box open and not hidden behind windows. When students come for reference questions I am able to have them sit down next to me – which I prefer over my past experiences at a high-up desk and turning the monitor. This allows for what I feel as a much better user experience. The students can sit next to me and take notes. I feel that I am getting more significant reference interviews with this set up. While we work on addressing their information needs I often open up an email and begin writing out the different steps we took. I also include different searches we construct together and links to vital articles. This way I get to reinforce the skills I taught the students and I also get to open a line of communication between the student and myself outside of this one interaction. Once the reference interview is over and I do my little wrap up, I send the email and ask the students if s/he has any follow up questions to either stop by or email me the questions. At my library we record every interaction with our patrons on an online database. Sending the email to the student also gives me a record I can duplicate onto the database. We use this to track what we do here at the library (to justify our existence) and to use for training. For the student workers (Research Assistants) we give them some of the real reference questions and ask them to answer the questions as part of their training every year. As a new librarian this feature has helped me grasp the type of research done by patrons of this library and has also informed me of some of the lesser known databases offered at the school. Every week each librarian brings his/her difficult reference questions to a meeting where we discuss best practices and suggest different measures to take in the future. This helps educate us all as well as provide effective team building exercises. As the new librarian I must say that I love this feature and I learn new things every single meeting.

I took Reference my 2nd semester of GSLIS and after that class I knew I wanted to be a Reference Librarian. I love working one on one with researchers as well as providing training on different resources available at the library. If you are thinking about Simmons GSLIS and sit in a class, I suggest sitting in on a reference class because you will learn so much about how we librarians remain vital to academic pursuits even in the age of Google.

Well that is all I have for now - I will follow up later in the week with some more notes from the field. If you have any questions feel free to comment below and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Any questions about Simmons GSLIS itself can be addressed to

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Hey Remember me?

Of course you do! No? Well - I'm Jason and I used to be the Graduate Student Ambassador for Simmons GSLIS. I graduated this past May and I wanted to tell you about what I have been up to since graduation.

Job Searching

While I was an immensely busy individual during school it was my goal to have at least 1 interview booked before graduation. Before the finals rush of work I applied to every job I was remotely interested in. Before graduation day I had 2 interviews and the following week I got a 3rd. With the economy the way it is, I had a back up plan as a paraprofessional librarian (where I worked throughout school)

Phone Interviews

Does anyone actually like phone interviews? How can people see my stunning personality over the phone? On top of that, I think I use the phone 5 times a week. Cell phones aren't for talking people - they're for texting /web-searching /IMDB'ing /social networking - but for talking? Let's be honest the only reason why I talk on the phone is because texting and driving is illegal (and unsafe). But, phone interviews still happen. Two of my three interviews were over the phone. My favorite part of phone interviews (Yes, it is possible to enjoy phone interviews) is the fact that I could have notes in front of me. I felt very prepared and did not have to stress about addressing the entirety of a question because I wrote it down. I got a lot of advise on what I should be doing during the phone interview. I was told to stand up that way I would more easily command attention. I was also told to wear a suit as if I were going to an in-person interview. I tried that with my first interview and I did not feel any different. While I do think I did well and I did make it to round two of these interviews (another phone!) I was not offered the job. For phone interview for job number 2 I rocked (wore) shorts and a t-shirt and I sat down at my desk. I was significantly more comfortable with myself and I was able to crack some jokes and think more about my delivery than my posture. I was offered this job after second interview.

In person interviews

I like talking - so in person interviews do not terrify me. Yes I get nervous, I think everyone does, but I don't worry about heavy breathing when I am in person - like I do when I am on the phone. There are obvious things: wear a suit, be on time, etc. but I want to stress the importance about being yourself. In the end of my process I had two job offers to choose from. One as a Research & Instruction Librarian and one as a Medical Researcher. I chose the former not just because I liked the job details more, but also for the team. I chose to work in this library because I wanted to be part of that team. All of our personalities seemed to work really well together and I had no doubts in taking the job.

Working as a Librarian

I have been here over a month now and I must say I absolutely love being a Research and Instruction Librarian. I love to teach (I've written about that in past blogs) and I get the opportunity to meet with students in a one on one basis as well as providing "research consultations" for groups of students. Later in the year I will start working with entire classes but I am still getting acclimated to the workings of this Library/University.

I will be attending the Admission Event/Session October 12, 2011 as an alumni panelist - so if you like to meet your truly - come on down! There are Admission Events all year (if you want to avoid meeting this guy) check here for more dates.

I am sure I will write more throughout my first year as a "Big Kid" Librarian so stay tuned!

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