February 23, 2011

Own Your Online Identity

Posted in Professional Success at 2:25 pm by melissaautumn

Whether or not you have an online portfolio, you will want to think about your professional online identity.

Susanne Markgren gives us a step-by-step guide to owning our online identity, starting with “Step 1. Accept that you have an online identity, that you exist online, and that people can find information about you.”

Markgren, Susanne. “Ten simple steps to create and manage your professional online identity.” College and Research Libraries 72 (Jan. 2011); 31-5.

Highly recommended!


January 26, 2011


Posted in Professional Success, School Success at 4:38 pm by melissaautumn

This video should remind us all of the importance of proofreading.

December 4, 2010

Illinois Information Literacy Summit – Call for Proposals

Posted in Professional Success at 9:59 pm by melissaautumn

Midwest folks…

A number of my students have attended this one day IL conference and found it very helpful. The conference isn’t until April (but keep your eyes open for registration in the spring), however there’s a call for proposals out and one of the coordinators specifically asked me to share it with students. So, it looks like this could be a good opportunity to lead a breakout session at a conference (and note the call is for proposals around creativity, so you could bring in previous work experience in another field).

10th Annual Information Literacy Summit
Inspiring Creativity


Monday, April 18, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Illinois State University (Normal, IL)

Tuesday, April 19, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Moraine Valley Community College (Palos Hills)

Wednesday, April 20, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
John A. Logan College (Carterville)


Creativity—designing, planning, producing, etc.— is the highest level of thinking on the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. This year’s Summit asks us to connect creativity with information literacy and instruction.


We’re seeking volunteers to lead interesting and interactive discussions relating to information literacy or library instruction. You can volunteer for one or more sessions at any of the three Summit locations. Each has its own breakout sessions.  You can also recommend someone else who may be a good breakout session presenter. Please consider recommending people from outside libraries.  We encourage all types of libraries, schools and other organizations  to participate.  For the Summit to be most effective, we need many perspectives.

Session topics may focus on anything related to information seeking and use. Special consideration will be given to topics related to this year’s theme of “Inspiring Creativity.”  Breakout sessions will be 50 minutes long and should include audience interaction or discussion.  Panels are encouraged.  Because of the limited amount of time, we encourage panels to be limited to three people.  Having more than three presenters limits the time for attendee interaction and questions. Sessions typically have 20-40 participants.

To propose a breakout session: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dE9PbDItOVBWSjhXYkttSW9qOVY2WlE6MA#gid=0

DEADLINE to submit proposals:  Friday, January 7, 2011

Not sure about your idea? Feel free to contact a Summit Coordinator for inspiration or help in refining your proposal.

Some ideas to get you thinking …

  • Youth or young adult programs that encourage creative use of information
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Infusing creativity and curiosity in information literacy
  • Assessing the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Librarians’ role in ACRL Standard 4 (“The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.”)



John A. Logan College
Coordinator: Judy Vineyard, Associate Dean of Library Services, judyvineyard@jalc.edu, 618-985-3741 x8404

Moraine Valley Community College
Coordinators: Barb Rys, Library Access Services Specialist, Rys@morainevalley.edu, 708-974-5467;
Leslie Warren, Information Literacy Librarian,
, 708-974-5734

Illinois State University
Coordinator: Dane Ward, Associate Dean of University Libraries, Public Service, dmward@ilstu.edu, (309) 438-3481

December 1, 2010

Professional Development, Professional Identity and Looking to the Future

Posted in Job Success, Professional Success at 1:43 pm by melissaautumn

I had an interesting discussion with a colleague the other day. We were talking about how we could position ourselves for the jobs we’d like to have in the future, even if we don’t know exactly what those jobs will be. How can we stay competitive on the job market? How can we demonstrate the versatility of our skills, particularly if like me, you’ve taken a very niche job?

For example, as much as I love my part-time teaching, I do miss being a library director and might want to return to a full-time job in a library one day. In addition, my husband’s job provides our health insurance and a significant portion of our income; should something happen to him, I would most likely have to return to full-time employment. So, while I do not have immediate plans to make a career change, I know I need to keep myself in a position where I am competitive on the job market.

As I see it, remaining competitive on the job market involves multiple things – engaging in professional development to keep my knowledge and skills up to date; creating a professional identity for myself; and maintaining connections with my colleagues.

A lot of thoughts keep cycling through my mind:

  • Professional development requires a combination of personal commitment, money and time. The most important of these is personal commitment, even though we tend to blame our lack of professional development activities on money and time.
  • There are multiple ways to engage in professional development, including professional reading, conferences and workshops. The first step is the find the combination that is right for us.
  • There are many ways to establish a professional identity – blogging, professional writing, committee service. While all of these take some effort, they are also easier to get into than I suspected.
  • As introverted as I am, creating and maintaining connections with my colleagues gives me great pleasure. In addition, it is the conversations with and support from those colleagues that motivates me to engage in professional development and building my professional identity. Everything is easier with a friend.
  • These activities are all self-reinforcing. The more that I blog, read or write, the more I enjoy it. The longer I go without blogging, reading or writing, the harder it is to get back into the swing of things.

As I bring some structure to my thoughts, a lot of these ideas will become blog posts in the coming year. I thought this was going to be a new series of three to four posts on professional development, but it seems I have a lot more to say, so perhaps this is just a continuation of my blog’s original purpose – practical advice on being a good professional. In any case, stay tuned!

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.

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 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!

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