October 26, 2010

Using the Wellness Wheel in Libraries

Posted in Resources at 9:04 am by melissaautumn

I am very interested in how libraries can reach out to patrons, either by drawing people into the library in creative ways or going outside the library walls to serve people. A lot of what I learned about programming and outreach, especially with undergraduates, came from working with student affairs colleagues at my last institution.

This interest in programming, outreach and the work of student affairs professionals is something I share with Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe. We co-teach a course together at Illinois, 590HEL: Higher Education and Information Professionals and one of the topics we cover is student affairs.

All of that is to say that some of my readers, especially those who took LIS590HEL, might be interested to know Lisa and I recently authored an article on using the Wellness Wheel, a model from student affairs, to develop programming and support holistic student development in the library. Using the model has helped me think creatively about programming, especially in collaboration with other (non-library) folks.

Hinchliffe, Lisa Janicke and Melissa Autumn Wong. “From Services-Centered to Student-Centered: A “Wellness Wheel” Approach to Developing
the Library as an Integrative Learning Commons.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 17 (2010): 213–224.

We’re also co-editing a book on library collaborations with students affairs (due out from ALA in early summer 2011). The chapters profile exciting collaborations at a variety of institutions – our colleagues are doing great work! So if this topic interests you, stay tuned for more.

October 14, 2010

Portfolios – General Advice

Posted in Interviewing, Professional Success at 8:32 pm by melissaautumn

Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts on portfolios. You can search for “portfolios” in the handy search bar to your right to find the first three.

I thought I’d wrap up this series with some last pieces of advice that did not necessarily fit elsewhere.

  • Write for Non-Librarians: Hiring committees often include people who are not librarians. Avoid professional jargon and school-specific abbreviations they may not understand.
  • Be Succinct: Although a portfolio provides you additional space to elaborate on your skills, remember that potential employers have many resumes and portfolios to review – select your evidence carefully and write succinctly. Your portfolio should be easy to skim, not overwhelming.
  • Ask for Feedback: Have a mentor or friend review your portfolio; ask for honest advice about what works well and what you can do to make it even better.
  • Edit Carefully: Just like your resume, your portfolio needs to be error-free. Proof and proof again.
  • Maintain your Portfolio: Once you have a portfolio, you will need to maintain it by updating the content when appropriate and periodically checking links to be sure they are still working.
  • Start Simple: You don’t have to have an elaborate portfolio or a fancy site with all the latest plug-ins. Start simple – if you have the time and interest, you can grow it into something bigger. Or, you can just keep it simple.
  • Start Now: The time for job hunting may seem far away, but it really isn’t. And I know you are busy, but you won’t be any less busy then. If even a simple portfolio seems overwhelming, break the process into small steps. Start by getting your resume online, then add a simple introduction to yourself, then add a few pieces of evidence. Commit to spending a little time each week – once you get going and build momentum, it’ll be easier to keep going.

Good luck with your portfolios! You know I love to hear from former students, so send me a link to your portfolio when you’ve finished it.

And now, I think I’ll go get started on my own online portfolio!

October 8, 2010

Portfolios: Selecting the Form

Posted in Interviewing, Professional Success at 1:26 pm by melissaautumn

Note: This post is the third in a series on portfolios. The first post was on why you might want to create a portfolio and the second post was on selecting content. The last post will be general advice and tips.

Traditionally a portfolio was a collection of print documents that an applicant would present as part of the interview process. One advantage of a print portfolio is that you can refer to specific documents during the interview process without needing a computer – thus the evidence in your portfolio becomes a natural part of the interview process. If you decide to create a print portfolio, be sure your documents are printed on good quality paper and the entire package is presented neatly. A three-ring binder with a cover page, divided and labeled sections, and documents hole-punched or in clear plastic sleeves works well.

Of course, these days online portfolios are much more common. Not only can potential employers and search committees access your portfolio at any time, the online format provides evidence of your technology skills. Once your portfolio is online, you can add the URL to your resume, cover letters and/or business card.

There are a variety of ways you can get your portfolio online:

  • Personal Website: If you have the web authoring skills (or access to web authoring software), creating a personal website is an ideal option. Not only can you completely customize the look and content of the site, it will provide evidence of your authoring skills.
  • Google Sites: You can use Google Sites or a similar service to create a simple, attractive website. The advantages are that you do not need sophisticated web authoring skills and you can demonstrate your ability to adapt freely available products to support library services.
  • Blogs: Some blog sites, such as WordPress, will allow you to create additional, non-blog pages where you can post information about yourself. This option might work well if you already blog professionally (or plan to start) and want to link your blog, resume and portfolio.

Regardless of the method you use to create your online portfolio, remember that your page should be neat, attractive and well maintained.

  • Add Hyperlinks: The advantage of an online portfolio is that you can link out not only to your own documents, but to other websites. Consider adding a few selective links to former places of employment, online publications, etc.
  • Build an Image: The style of your portfolio, particularly the font, colors and images, should be professional. Avoid anything too garish, juvenile or trendy.
  • Experiment Elsewhere: Not only should your portfolio look professional, it should be stable – you don’t want features to be “here one day, gone the next” or poorly executed. If you want to experiment with add-ons, test out new technology, or simply think about a redesign, set up a second site or a hidden page and do it there.