How’s the job search going? (Every academic’s favorite question)

The academic job search process is…complicated, to put it mildly, especially since many programs don’t prepare folks to think about their work outside of the context of one (or maybe two) career paths. There are many, many studies and media articles related to the lack of tenure-track positions, postdocs, etc., and it can feel (really) overwhelming. I’ve gone through the academic job search in tandem with alt-ac and non-ac searches multiple times, and it has given me some great tools, both in terms of practical resources (e.g. which jobs databases I like best) and a healthy perspective about all the great things academics CAN do with our degrees beyond working as tenure-track faculty.

Gir
My cat (Gir) making the same face I made during most of the job hunt.

As some of my readers know, I’ve been doing one-on-one career coaching informally for some time. With the new year, I’ve decided to refocus on this work, after hearing the concerns of many fellow academics whose searches have them feeling unmoored and frustrated, and unsure how to begin feeling unstuck. My approach is highly personalized and collaborative–I tailor my recommendations to each person’s situation and together we come up with a set of goals and actionable items related to those goals.

The thing many clients struggle with most is the feeling that they’ve somehow failed (I get it, I felt the same way too when I started searching for TT jobs). I’m here to remind you that 1. you haven’t and 2. Your degree and yourself still have immeasurably great value no matter what career direction you choose. My goal with each client is to help them identify what matters to them in a career, and how to get over the paralysis of the job search to start moving in that direction.

JChild
The thing to keep in mind during the job hunt: It’s your career and happiness, not anyone else’s!

Stay tuned for some exciting updates, and if you want to talk with me more about how we could work together, get in touch!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Interview up on Hack Library School!

I’m so excited to have the chance to go back to Hack Library School for a minute to talk with Stefanie about my experiences bringing rare books to the prison classroom, advocating for work with underserved communities, and what I’m hoping for the future.

You can read the article here!

Citation milestone!

Do you know when you don’t look at your paper citations for a while, then you do, and think ‘wow I had no idea I had reached this huge milestone at some point this year?’

I hadn’t checked my Google Scholar profile for a few months, and during that time my citations shot up to over 100 (as of this writing, I’m cited in 104 places).

I’m cracking open a bottle of champagne (ok, sparkling wine) this evening to celebrate.

Rare books and archives instruction resources

Today one of my colleagues asked for resources on teaching book history and teaching with rare books in university classrooms. This is one of my favorite things to do (and something our outreach archivist, JoyEllen, and I do very regularly), and her listserv post got me thinking about our approach to instruction.

When the two of us started, we had enjoyable and (hopefully) useful instruction models to work with, but were concerned about two things: First of all, that our sessions seemed to not fully engage students. It was a lot of talking and show and tell, and not that much hands-on experience or critical engagement with concepts. Second, was that we felt like we were coming in and showing students ‘cool stuff’ but not making it relevant to their lives and scholastic careers.
This was particularly an issue for our freshman seminars, where we felt that having two separate tours and talks (one for archives and one for rare books) could feel boring and repetitive, and didn’t give students the opportunity to synthesize an understanding of what primary sources are and why they matter. To address this, we developed a new freshman seminar instruction model that combined the two, and gave students some experience identifying and working with primary sources, while also thinking about when those sources could be used in their own research.

We also developed a second module for other courses, based largely on my background with book arts and book history, and my experience thinking of the book as a technology. One thing that I think is very important when working with rare books is not to simply think of them in terms of their contents, but to also consider their structure, traces of use (marginalia, etc.–also fun fact, ‘traces of use’ is my favorite term on the planet), and what these tell us about the book’s intended vs. actual function. To do this, we talk students through the development of the book as a technology with a focus on how technological innovation can help or hinder information access, and how that access (or lack thereof) might have broader societal implications.
Both instruction session types are highly flexible–we have a basic idea of what we want to cover, but we adjust what materials we bring and some of what we cover based on a particular course (e.g. spending time at the end to talk about book art for a design course, vs. spending time talking about the publishing history of a given author for a literature course). Both types also include a hands-on component: Our materials were purchased with the intent to be used by students, researchers, and community members, so it’s exciting to get them out of the stacks and into people’s hands.

For the most part, I’ve done these kinds of presentations (particularly the second one) from memory, and have not written down much of my process. Today’s Exlibris thread, however, inspired me to write it down and share it with colleagues. To help more folks who are designing instruction sessions, I’ve put what I have in this Dropbox folder. It includes:

  • Two in-depth handouts covering the history of the book. These were made for my instruction sessions with Common Good’s prison education initiative this spring, and are too detailed for most classes, but I find them valuable to pull from to make smaller, more focused handouts as needed.
  • An outline document giving a step-by-step of how we run our classes for 1101 classes (freshman seminars) and for our technology of the book sessions.
  • Two handouts that JoyEllen brought in to our 1101 sessions for students to use in analyzing primary sources.

I hope these are helpful for colleagues–and if you use our materials, I would love to hear how they work for you! I am always evaluating our instructional offerings to make sure we’re teaching the best classes we can, so knowing what works and doesn’t elsewhere is a huge help.
Next up I’ll be making a standardized handout for our book as technology sessions that I can add to as needed: It will be a timeline that maps the specific artifacts we use to larger historical contexts. I’ll add it to the same folder when it’s ready!

An Announcement (Drumroll please)

I’m beyond excited to announce that I’ll be serving as the new Editor for the Fine Press Book Association’s journal, Parenthesis. The journal combines theory and practice in a way I really enjoy, and I have some big shoes to fill from the previous editors, who have cultivated a journal known for its strong reviews and compelling writing. Is there something new you want to see in the journal? Something we’re doing already that you love? Let me know in the comments!

Not so rare any more: Reaching new special collections audiences through unlikely collaborations

I just finished giving a presentation for NFAIS on building expanding audiences and empowering community members through unlikely collaborations. The audience, as well as Marcie who was the moderator/cat wrangler/problem solver, were all fantastic and I had a great time chatting with them. I wanted to offer a few highlights from the talk for folks who weren’t able to attend but who are thinking about their own outreach programs.

NB: I focused on rare books since that’s the area I work in, BUT these guidelines could be used for outreach with all sorts of artifacts across many cultural heritage institutions.

Why talk about this? Because outreach is critical for increased access and community empowerment

  • Special collections historically very exclusive
    • Often limited to those doing research or in academic/special library settings
    • Historically excludes those without access to education and other resources
    • Often we do not reach beyond these walls, meaning most potential visitors are not aware of what we have to offer.
  • Physical access is also an issue (e.g. can someone get to campus? Do they need a certain ID or enrollment/employment status to use your services?)
  • Even for those who have access, perceived access may be a totally different matter. Special collections often feel intimidating for the uninitiated, and concerns about whether one has access or what expectations are in a special collections environment can overshadow the desire to engage with collections and programs.  

Continue reading “Not so rare any more: Reaching new special collections audiences through unlikely collaborations”

Dissertation Link + Updates

I defended my dissertation on May 29th (the day before my birthday!), and since then it’s been quite the thrill ride over here. I’ve moved to Atlanta and started a job as Rare Books Curator at Kennesaw State University, bought a house, and am doing tons of awesome work (as well as some fun travel). I have a new book in the works (two, actually) that deal with culinary history and Colonial England, exhibits, and lots of other things that I’ll share more detail about later. For now, here’s the link to my dissertation, now that I’ve graduated and it’s gone live. I also just had an article based on my dissertation accepted in Library Quarterly, so that’s great news too! It’s crazy to think it’s been almost a year since I defended (and about 10 months since I ended my panic-inducing job search). I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for me!