September 29, 2010

ACRL e-Learning Scholarships

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:34 pm by melissaautumn

More scholarships available! These scholarships cover registration in an ACRL e-Learning webcast.


September 22, 2010

Conference Scholarships

Posted in Professional Success at 9:47 pm by melissaautumn

California Academic and Research Libraries is currently taking applications for its Ilene F. Rockman CARL/ACRL Conference Scholarships, which provide financial support for LIS students to attend the CARL and ACRL conferences.

You need to be or become a member of CARL in order to apply, but membership is inexpensive and this is a great organization to join if you want to learn about academic librarianship and meet academic librarians (it sponsors excellent conferences and local meetings, or one day professional development events).

September 21, 2010

Portfolios – Selecting the Content

Posted in Interviewing, Professional Success at 11:14 am by melissaautumn

Note: This post is the second in a series on portfolios. The first post was on why you might want to create a portfolio and future posts will focus on how to create one.

All the elements of your portfolio should work together to present a consistent vision of your professional skills and goals. Although your resume or vitae can list all of your work experience and skills, your portfolio should be more selective, focusing on only a few areas of strength or professional interest. For example, a student striving for a public service position might emphasize her skills in reference, instruction and marketing, while a student striving for a position in technical services might emphasize his skills in cataloging, electronic resource management and database construction.

Once you’ve identified areas to emphasize, you will need to select artifacts that provide evidence of your experience or skills in each area. These artifacts can be class assignments, pieces of professional work, something created for a volunteer position or personal interest, or professional publications.


  • For each area, select only a few artifacts. The goal is to demonstrate your best work, not overwhelm your reader. Quality is more important than quantity.
  • It can be helpful to add a short introduction to each piece in order to give it context and connect it to the rest of the portfolio (e.g., “I created this LibGuide for my reference course in spring 2010.” or “This LibGuide, created for a reference course, demonstrates my ability to use the LibGuide software and to write for an undergraduate audience, as well as my familiarity with resources in the field of molecular biology.”)
  • Look for documents that highlight multiple skills. In the example above, the student demonstrates not only her ability to create a research guide, a common responsibility of reference librarians, but also her familiarity with a popular commercial product.
  • Proofread and edit your artifacts carefully. If you are using a course assignment, use the instructor’s feedback to revise it once again before adding it to your portfolio.


  • Elizabeth Matkowski’s portfolio includes the work she’s done for various courses. Rather than linking to every assignment, she highlights the course projects that are similar to the work she expects to do professionally (white papers, handouts, a collection policy).
  • Janice Wien’s portfolio is very selective in the examples she presents. Notice her introductions to each artifact- they are very succinct, but provide important context for each item.

September 15, 2010

Rhythm of Online Learning?

Posted in School Success at 12:31 pm by melissaautumn

Joshua Kim writes really interesting stuff about technology and online learning for Inside Higher Ed (he also addresses library issues from time to time).

Yesterday he posed a model outline for online learning. Since his outline follows what I do – organizing the course into weekly blocks with due dates for participation and assignments spread out across the week, I like this outline.

But, I’m curious what students think? So, students and former students, what do you think?

September 14, 2010

Creating Portfolios

Posted in Interviewing, Professional Success at 9:21 am by melissaautumn

I’ve had a lot of questions about creating portfolios, especially online portfolios, so this will be the first in a series on the topic. Today’s post focuses on why you might want to create a portfolio. Future posts will address selecting content for your portfolio and options for creating an online portfolio.

A portfolio is a collection of documents that provides evidence of your professional skills and experience. Typically a portfolio includes your resume or curriculum vitae and samples of your work. It may open with a short, narrative statement where you describe your experience, skills and professional goals. If you are seeking a career in higher education, you may want to include a statement of your philosophy of librarianship or teaching philosophy in place of or in addition to the narrative statement.

Because portfolios allow you to provide additional information related to the experience and qualifications listed in your resume/vitae, they are most useful in the job seeking process (academic librarians may need to create a portfolio for promotion and tenure, but those portfolios will follow an institution specific framework and are best created after starting a position). Whereas your resume might include a brief mention that you’ve created a LibGuide or an archival finding tool, your portfolio can provide a link to these documents, allowing potential employers to both confirm what you say and see the quality of your work. In addition, an online portfolio can demonstrate the ability to use technology to accomplish a professional purpose, as well as strong written communication skills, both qualities that are highly desirable on the job market.

In my experience, portfolios can be particularly helpful for presenting oneself to non-librarians involved in the search process. As an experienced librarian, I can read between the lines of a resume to understand what a candidate learned during an internship or through specific coursework. However, many candidates are interviewed by non-librarians such as school principals or deans, teachers or faculty, and human resources representatives. These individuals may have no idea what an archival finding tool or collection development statement is and appreciate seeing examples of a candidate’s work.

Portfolios are also useful if you are trying to create a professional identity for yourself, since they can be viewed by colleagues outside your immediate institution. In these cases, portfolios are often an expanded version of your resume with the focus being on your professional accomplishments, publications, etc.

Creating an online portfolio is also an opportunity to develop your technology skills. Some students will develop one as a way to practice authoring web pages or experiment with a particular online tool such as Google Sites.

Keep in mind, creating an attractive, quality portfolio will take time; and once created, you will need to keep it up to date. A slap-dash portfolio may give the impression that all your work is slap-dash, which is not what you want when you are job hunting!

Here are two examples to give you an idea what an online portfolio looks like. I have some additional examples for future posts as well – a big thanks to all my former students who shared their portfolios will me!

Still interested in creating a portfolio? In my next post, I’ll discuss selecting content for your portfolio. In the meantime, if you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll use them to guide future posts in this series.

September 13, 2010

NMRT Mentoring Program

Posted in Job Success, Professional Success at 8:53 pm by melissaautumn

ALA’s New Members Round Table is currently accepting applications for librarians with less than five years experience who would like to be paired with a mentor (and if you are an experienced librarian, you can volunteer to serve as a mentor).

I haven’t participated in this program myself (although I’m thinking about volunteering as a mentor for this year). However, a know a lot of new librarians are seeking mentors for career advice – this might be the place to find your mentor!

September 9, 2010

Networking and Socializing

Posted in Professional Success at 7:21 pm by melissaautumn

Many students ask me how to network at conferences. Let me start by saying, I’m not a big fan of the term “networking.” To me, it implies I’m trying to meet people just to add them to a network of people who might be useful to me one day (yeah, yeah, I know we all may need help finding a job or whatever one day, but still the idea rankles). Instead, I like to think of it as socializing – if I go to a conference or other professional event, I want to meet new people and generally have an enjoyable time, which requires socializing.

As a naturally shy and introverted person, I have to make a concerted effort to socialize. It did not come easily (and still doesn’t), but I’ve learned that others at these events feel equally shy and awkward. If you act confident and start up a conversation with a stranger, chances are he or she will happily talk back to you.

Step 1: Pick a Target.

  • Look for people who are standing or sitting alone and who are looking around. If they make eye contact with you, they are probably open to having a conversation.
  • People in a twosome can also a good bet since you’ve now got three people to maintain the conversation.

Step 2: Introduce yourself and extend your hand.

Step 3: Initiate the conversation.

  • Other people feel awkward at these events, too. If you start a conversation, they will likely jump at the opportunity to talk to you.
  • People generally find it easy to talk about themselves (and they’re flattered you asked), so I start by asking about the other person.
  • Use open-ended questions. Remember what we learned in reference? These are the questions that can’t be answered with yes or no and are designed to get people to talk.
  • Look for something you have in common – similar work responsibilities or professional interests, having lived in the same area – and build your conversation from there.

Step 4: Have a graceful exit.

  • You aren’t required to spend the next two hours talking to the same person. If the conversation succeeds and you talk for the rest of the night and get a job offer to boot, great. If the conversation falters, feel free to excuse yourself politely and move on.
  • A simple, “It was so nice to meet you,” works well, but you can also excuse yourself to find a drink/napkin/appetizer/restroom/colleague.

Bonus Feature: Questions Guaranteed to Start Conversations at Your Next Conference

(feel free to laminate and save in your wallet for quick reference)

  • “Where do you work?” Or, if their place of employment is right on their nametag, “How long have you been at Big State University?” Either one of these questions can be followed by “And what do you do there?” (This is like “what’s your major” in college – not real original, but a dependable opening line.)
  • “Have you seen any good programs/exhibits/posters at the conference?” A variation on this for smaller conferences is “What session did you attend this morning?” Either one of these questions can be followed by, “Oh, how interesting. What did you learn?”
  • “Did you travel far to get here?” followed by, “How was your trip?” If the person flew to attend the conference, you can commiserate about the horrors of modern air travel; if the person drove, you can commiserate about bad traffic (big city variation) or good traffic (small town variation).
  • “Have you been involved with [insert sponsor of program here] for very long?” If the person has been a member of PLA/ACRL/etc. for a long time, you can pick their brain about the benefits of membership, how to get involved, what they’ve learned through the association, or what not to miss at the conference. If the person is also new to PLA/ACRL/etc., you can pick their brain about why they joined and what they’ve learned so far. Either way, you are safe – old timers love to share their hard earned wisdom with the new folks (that’s you), while new folks love to find other new folks to hang out with (you again!).