Tag Archives: new library professionals

Professional “Thank You” Not Required?

Quite often I receive emails from students in MLIS programs asking for advice. This can be as simple as help with a paper, a cataloguing question or long-term career advice. Sometimes these emails also involve in-depth questions regarding the future of cataloguing, areas of the profession that are growing, my professional opinion on certain topics or participation in studies, research or interviews.

Receiving these emails on an almost monthly basis, I continue to take the time to answer them, thoughtfully providing responses, direction, opinions or, when I have no answers, other resources or individuals that I believe will be helpful. However, what always stands out when helping these individuals is that I rarely, if ever, receive a “Thank You”. It’s easy to send an email. Easier than picking up the telephone or writing a letter. While I am not so long in the tooth, I had it drilled into me from an early age that a simple Thank You letter goes a long way. And, to me, it does. When a new professional wants something, how easy it is to send a quick email or text. And then — “ding”– their smartphone goes off when they receive a text or email back, providing them with answers to their queries. But how much effort does it take to send a simple “Thank you” in return? Apparently, a lot.

Within the past two weeks, I received two requests for assistance. And, given my ongoing experience with young professionals who are used to instant gratification (in this case, quick and “easy” answers with no thought to the professional’s time on the other end), my knee-jerk reaction was to say “no”. How terrible of me. Why should these students face the consequences of their peers’ actions? So, of course, I am taking the time to do it. Why? Because I am a professional who believes in mentoring and growing the profession through working together, sharing information and building relationships. Because, for every 1 out of 30 young professionals who take the time to say “Thank You”, I know that perhaps, one day, I will meet or read about that young individual making a difference in our profession. And, by some small chance, maybe I made a positive impact in their career choices and path.

However, I do find the lack of a professional “Thank You” troubling. Why are our young professionals not learning about how to conduct themselves professionally? Should they have to be taught about professional conduct (which in this case, seems more like common courtesy) at the graduate level? Should we be addressing this behaviour at conferences? In the classroom? While I am not sure where this needs to be addressed, we certainly need to take note of this or someday, an aspiring mover & shaker may write an email that is never responded to; never answered because the respondent no longer takes the time to respond to emails and is no longer interested in mentoring or sharing their expertise. What a shame that would be.

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Bridging the Gap between New Generation Librarians and Boomers

How do you view your new librarian? Would you have more faith in a librarian who is older but a recent graduate, or a younger librarian with a few years behind her?

Bridging the gap between the different generations of librarians is a difficult issue to tackle. No matter whom you ask, the finger tends to be pointed at the other party and often, the real problem is a lack of wanting to compromise on opinions and ideas. After all, the assumption is that “the problem certainly can’t be me!”

This concept of bridging the generational gap was first introduced to me at IFLA this past August. Since then, I have joined the New Professionals Special Interest group and have taken a considerable interest in this area of librarianship.

Are you a “boomer” or “new gener”? Where do your biases fall? Whether you’re a boomer or a new gener, biases work both ways. As a next gener, you don’t want to be looked at as a “wet-behind the ears you have so much to learn” librarian. But, as a boomer, you don’t want to be seen as a “washed-up, your career is over” librarian. So, how do we meet in the middle? And, how do these biases present themselves in the workplace?

I once heard a sermon where the priest reminded the older parishioners “that they weren’t born martyrs”. Basically, while you have lived a few more years and have life experience, you’ve had a chance to try out your ideas and to make your mistakes. It’s not up to you to judge the younger folks and their ideas. Obviously there was some sort of generational gap issues happening at that parish.

Personalities, perceptions, insecurities and experience all play a role in dealing with these situations. For myself, whenever I feel slighted or pushed-aside because of my age, I set out to achieve something. I’m kind of an “I’ll show you” type of person. I’ve achieved some of my best accomplishments due to someone’s offhanded comment about my skills, my age or their lack of faith in my abilities. You could say that’s my “RED” button – danger, do not go there!

However, other individuals withdraw, ceasing to take advantage of opportunities that are presented, severing professional relationships or declining to contribute new and innovative ideas. In some cases, these professionals might never recover or reach their full potential. That is a shame and a problem.

Here are some simple facts (as I see them) about generational gaps and bridging them:
Age. No one wants to be reminded how old they are and no one wants to be reminded how young they are.

Frequent reminder of age. While an occasional comment meant to lighten the mood regarding age might be regarded as funny once, continual comments about age serve as a reminder to that individual that they are either a.) Older and perhaps their knowledge and ideas are outdated or b.) Younger and their ideas are not developed or worthy of consideration. Either way, it’s a put down and it’s inappropriate.

Acknowledge that a gap exists. This is not a new concept and can be found in workplaces, organizations, clubs, teams, social groups and so on.

Gaps occur in experience as well as age. There are new professionals who are 50 and more experienced professionals who are 40. Taking pains to point out levels of experience or exhibiting actions to create “barriers” is just as much of a gap as the age factor.

Perceptions and Insecurities. Believe it or not, your job can be done without you. You are replaceable. This goes for boomers and next geners. While there is only one you (and of course you’re special!) your job requires someone with a skill set – and we all learn this skill set when we go to library school. If you have the opportunity to work with a rising star, don’t feel threatened by their potential, nurture it. If you’re a next gener and you have the opportunity to work with a talented and energetic boomer, don’t make remarks about taking their job or stressing how you would do things differently if you were them. Learn from each other.

Arrogance, insecurity, self-preservation, jealousy and envy are all at play here. An off-handed comment, your own insecurity about your age or even doubt about your skills are all it takes to create a gap.

Respect and compromise. While there will always be a gap among the generations, there are ways to take advantage of it. Rely on boomers for their experience, knowledge and expertise. Rely on next geners for their enthusiasm, ideas, energy and drive. In essence, it is a great partnership because the gap provides qualities that complement each other.

One thing I’ve come to understand as a librarian working primarily with “boomers” is that a generation gap will always exist. I haven’t lived as long nor do I have the perceived life experience. I have my own experiences, perhaps more than some for my age, and a satisfactory list of professional accomplishments (with hopefully more to come!). I also do not apologize for my age any more than I expect my co-workers to apologize for theirs. I don’t want to be older, I don’t want to rush forward to get past this gap. And perhaps, this is where the gap is finally bridged – in an acceptance of where we are at in our careers and our lives. This comes from within and, as professionals it is our responsibility to attempt to achieve this.

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Library of Congress to Offer Junior Fellows Summer Internships

From the Library of Congress Press release

 

“Rare comic books, wax-cylinder recordings, novelty postcards,

hand-colored films and a tale told on a hooked rug were among the

treasures uncovered by the 2008 class of Junior Fellows Summer Interns,

who located them among the copyright deposits and gifts that have come

into the nation’s library.”

 

“This summer the Library of Congress, home of the U.S. Copyright Office,

is once again offering special 10-week, paid internships to college

students. For a stipend of $3,000, the 2009 class of Junior Fellows

Summer Interns will work full-time between June 1 and Aug. 7 with staff

specialists to inventory, describe, and explore copyright and gift

collection holdings throughout the Library. The focus of the program is

on increasing access to collections by making them better known and

accessible to researchers including scholars, students, teachers,

creators, and the general public. In past years, summer interns have

worked with both American and international materials related to a

diversity of subjects, and in multiple formats including books,

manuscripts, music, film, pictures, and maps.”

 

“The application deadline is midnight, Wednesday, March 11. Applications

will be accepted only online and should be sent to the 2009 Summer

Intern Program Coordinating Committee at interns09@loc.gov

<mailto:interns09@loc.gov> . Questions about the program may be sent to

questions09@loc.gov <mailto:questions09@loc.gov> , and for information

on how to apply, visit http://www.loc.gov/hr/jrfellows/

<http://www.loc.gov/hr/jrfellows/> .”

 

“The interns will be exposed to a broad spectrum of library work:

preservation, reference, access standards, information management and

the U.S. copyright system. The program is made possible through the

generosity of the late Mrs. Jefferson Patterson.”

 

“In addition to the stipend (paid in bi-weekly segments), interns will

be eligible to take part in programs offered at the Library. Interns are

temporary employees of the Library, and as such are not eligible for

federal employee benefits and privileges.”

 

“The Library of Congress is an equal-opportunity employer. Women,

minorities and persons with disabilities who meet eligibility requirements are strongly encouraged to apply.”

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IFLA 2008 – The third day

It’s now the end of day 3 for IFLA 2008. One of my favourite things about conferences is the ability to meet people and network. I’ve met some terrific professional gurus, as well as promising young library students who will soon be entering the profession. The students I’m meeting are eager to join the profession and make their mark – I love it!

This actually leads me to a session I attended this evening: “Mind the gap: bridging the inter-generational divide” which was presented by the New Professionals Discussion Group. Sounds promising, right? WRONG. This session was all about recruiting young professionals to join library associations. We were a captive audience – and all that was presented was how important it is that we join associations so that we can be mentored and groomed and introduced to the right people. I’ve been to a number of sessions over the past several days, and this is the only one where I felt I was being patronized. Because we are young professionals (by which, they assumed all of us were library students) they were laid back to the point of trying to be “cool” to connect with us. They did not present in a professional manner or provide professional insight into libraries, what’s expected of newcomers to the profession and what we can expect. They did not address how they are attempting to bridge the gap with existing professions and new professionals. And sadly, the biggest failure was that while there were a number of students AND young practicing professionals, there were very few (VERY FEW) older professionals. How can we bridge a gap when there is no dialogue between both parties? It is not up to the newbies alone to adjust, mature, and be molded into what the older generations want. The older generation needs to mold and adjust as well. That, sadly, was a great disappointment and many of the students I spoke with felt misled by the topic and the content (and, dare I say, propaganda) that was presented. Never was the inter-generational divide more apparent than it was in this session.

On a lighter and more positive note – I was able to attend a fabulous session yesterday on Bibliographic Control and what is being done in many libraries with regard to digital information. Beacher Wiggins presented LC’s thoughts on RDA and the future of bibliographic control from LC’s point of view. During his talk, Wiggins explained how LC was going to go about testing RDA. Not only will they be seeking the input of other institutions (including libraries, commercial vendors and archival institutions), they will be looking at such things as interoperability with existing software and methods (AACR2, MARC and existing ILS systems), financial aspects, training requirements and software/technology compatibility.

When the conference is over and I’m back in Halifax, I’ll have the time to write more fully on some of these sessions. However, I have to say that I can see a very promising future for cataloguers – if we can pursuade our management teams that we have knowledge management and information skills beyond creating MARC records.

The next two days will be full of sessions which focus heavily on cataloguing. Wednesday, I’ll be attending a Classification and Indexing session, a Knowledge Management session, a session on UNIMARC and Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning. Cataloguing and Bibliography sessions are on Thursday. I can’t wait to share what I learn!

As a final note, I would like to say that this experience is really an education. What I am really enjoying is the multicultural aspect. To see the excitement from a librarian in Croatia because they finally implemented an online catalogue in 2007 is amazing. That some of these librarians are facing much greater challenges than we are here in North America is really eye opening. It’s incredible.

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