Staying Informed, One Listserv at a Time

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything besides funding updates (grad school will do that to you!) but I have been wanting to post something on listservs for a while. I’m of the opinion that listservs are a stellar way to stay informed about the field, learn about funding and conferences, and more. In fact, several of the publications I’ve been involved in were ones I learned about through listservs. This is especially great for students and new professionals, who are still feeling out their place in the field and want to learn from others. They are also great for anyone who wants to keep up to date on funding opportunities and calls for papers (two of my big focuses right now!)
Below is my “list of lists”–websites that you can go to and sign up for listservs that interest you. Since my focus is in LIS, Social Sciences, and the Humanities, that’s where I have focused my attention–if you know of a similar site I haven’t included, feel free to add it!

ALA Mailing List Service: All the listservs run through the American Library Association. I am an ALA member, but it looks like non-members can sign up too. Just follow the instructions when you hit ‘subscribe.’ After you complete the steps the first time, your e-mail address will be subscribed to other lists with one click.

H-Net Discussion Networks: H-Net (Humanities and Social Sciences online) is an awesome resource. They have calls for participation, conference alerts, and a heaping helping of listservs spanning just about every interest. By adding yourself to the lists you are most interested in, you’ll get updates from H-Net (which is very extensive and daunting to browse through) that are relevant to your chosen topics.

Conference Alerts: Most people I know haven’t heard of this one, which makes me feel like I am sharing some great secret with them. This site is incredible–it lists conferences from all over the world and across disciplines. You can search by country or topic. You can also sign up for e-mail alerts that you can customize to include whatever topics you want and whatever countries you want (I have mine set to tell me about conferences in all countries.) Then you’ll get occasional e-mails with a list of upcoming conferences that meet your criteria. I like to browse the list not only to find what conferences I might attend, but also to see if any of my current projects might fit into a call for papers.

WikiCFP: A resource for calls for papers in science and technology. You can sign up for an account, and create your own list of topics you want CFPs for. They also alert followers to new CFPs on Twitter (@WikiCFP.)

Subsidized Loans: A Relic of Our Past?

 
For my readers who may not be following the Hack Library School blog, I wrote this post earlier today about changes in the US budget that change student loans for graduate students. I would love to hear from students and educators (and others!) in the US and abroad about your thoughts and experiences:

Subsidized Loans: A Relic of Our Past?.

Publishing in LIS: Marrying Theory and Practice

Today B Sides Journal hosted a lunchtime presentation by Dr. Jim Elmborg about publishing for LIS students. Jim is incredibly insightful and deeply passionate about the success of his students, which meant that we walked away with some great perspective on publication in our field. I wanted to share my notes from the talk so other students and professionals can benefit from his ideas! The talk was incredible, and I am going to focus on a few of the big take-aways that will help me as I continue to publish and encourage LIS students to do the same.

1. Examine your motives: *Why* is it that you want to publish? Are you just doing it because you’re required to or want a line on your resume, or are you doing it because you love to investigate problems and share ideas? It’s important to check your motives to make sure that it’s something you genuinely want to do (as Jim said, you don’t want to be in a place where you’re required to publish but don’t have a desire to.) Once you’ve decided you want to write this research, start looking at ways to build up your writing habits. Jim draws from fiction writing tools that I plan to draw on as I continue writing. First, never quit writing for the day without knowing what your next paragraph will be. When you start writing next, it will be much easier because you already have a clear direction and know what you need to do next. Also, look at the iceberg metaphor (what you’re writing is only a part of the knowledge that you have that’s informing your perspective.) The more you write, the more you’ll feel frustrated (or at least I do) by not having a chance to put in every piece of information you know. For most things you write, no one will want to read a 5-10 page lit review, a detailed description of every theory that you’re drawing from, or an agonizingly long and tedious breakdown of your library’s usage statistics. These things have their place (enter, footnotes) but you are going to have a lot more going on than will fit nicely in the paper. If you find that your paper represents your exhaustive knowledge of the topic, it’s time to go back and look at it further.
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LIS education, Advocacy, and the Future of Librarianship

A lot of discussion has been circulating about the future of librarianship in response to comments made by Jeffrey Trzeciak (of McMaster University) indicating that he wouldn’t hire any more librarians, preferring instead to give certain positions to people in IT or with PhDs. I agree that in many instances you might want to consider candidates from a variety of backgrounds, but to discount librarians (especially coming from the University Librarian himself!) is an indication of how deeply our field is misunderstood. I first read about it through Jenica Rogers’ post, which I think provides a great intro to the subject and some awesome perspective on why we need advocacy as professionals (not just as a profession or as institutions.) My fellow Hack Library School editors, along with Courtney Walters and a few others, began discussing the topic via Twitter (I was at work, so didn’t get to jump in until after the fact!) If you’re interested in seeing the discussion, look for #savelibrarians. In addition, some blog posts have started going up to discuss our future as professionals–a great post in particular is Courtney Walter’s discussion of our identity crisis as librarians/info pros.

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I’ve Chosen a PhD Program!

Hello readers!

As some of you already know, I’ve chosen a PhD program to attend this fall. I made the decision a while back, but I’ve been trying to hold my tongue until I heard from everyone (now I have, although I think one school still has me on their waiting list.) I am very excited to announce that I’ll be attending Florida State University’s  School of Library and Information Studies! I had some other great offers to work with some awesome faculty, and it was a very tough decision! I’m looking forward to continue sharing my research and my experiences as a student in this new stage, and I hope you will all join me and continue reading. As for the moment, I’m finishing up my MLS and my Center for the Book certificate at SLIS–I just got my poster printed for our upcoming poster presentation, and I’m finalizing some work on my UICB project too. Only about a month left!

>Rehashing #unpackLIS

>Friday was “Unpacking the ‘Library’: Exploring Works in Progress Across the Field of LIS.” This conference was significant for me not only because I had a blast as an audience member, but because it was the first conference I have helped to plan and run. Our goal with the conference was to use it as an extension of B Sides Journal‘s dual mission of professional development and education, and it was a resounding success! I’m planning on writing another post on the process of planning a student-run conference, but for this one I wanted to focus on sharing some of the takeaways from all of the awesome presentations!

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>E-book readers’ bill of rights

> This awesome post has been bouncing around the internet, where I saw it on Andy Woodworth’s blog and Sarah Houghton-Jan’s blog. For those who aren’t aware, discussions about e-books have been taking place after Harper-Collins’ announcement that they would be limiting e-book circulation at libraries to 26 uses. This causes tons of problems for access, and while I understand publishers need to make money to continue functioning, my main concern is for library patrons, readers (including students) and for authors.
LIS students–this is a must-read and the topic is one we should all follow. If for no other reason, as a patron who wants to read e-books or even share a book with another student, you want to know that you can use those texts. I have seen a number of people say that e-books are not paper books, and that we need a new set of rules to deal with them. Maybe, but whether or not the suggestions they make are the be all and end all, they are an awesome start because they deal with access and with getting books to readers: the purpose for which they were written in the first place. Since digital books open up the potential for even greater access and sharing because they can be copied almost instantly and without the overhead and resources necessary to create print books. I’m keeping my eyes peeled to see what happens.

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Open Access Resources

>I am doing a presentation in one of my classes (Search and Discovery with Cliff Missen) about OA vs proprietary journals. In order to keep all the sources I use in one spot that students can access later on, I’ve compiled them into this blog post. Another bonus? LIS students (and everyone else) can use this post as a way to learn more about Open Access too!

Here’s the article I’m reviewing for the class:
The Importance of OA, OSS, & Open Standards for Libraries
Basically, the author discusses the benefits of ‘open’ models (Open Access, Open Source Software, Open Standards) for libraries. I chose it because it covers the basics without being intimidating, and is a good way to nudge those who are scared of giant, wordy research papers toward an understanding of the topic. What I like about it is it’s short and to the point (probably as long as most of my blog posts) and gives a great, easy-to-understand overview of how libraries can benefit from implementing OA and OSS into their day-to-day running.

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>Diversity in LIS Education

>A couple things have happened lately that have caused me to spend some serious time contemplating diversity issues in LIS. The first was a post made on a professional listserv I follow. One individual shared a letter she had written to Iowa legislators about a number of issues, including library funding. She mentioned that the letter included other issues, but that she shared it on the list for those who were struggling to find words when talking to elected officials about libraries. For those of you who aren’t from Iowa, you may or may not know that a lot of people here are very divided at the moment over the issue of gay marriage, and the fact that this woman’s letter included mention of her support for gay marriage was upsetting to some other list members.
One member’s response was basically, “if she wants to go against what THE BIBLE says, that’s her right, but keep libraries out of it.” I tend to stay away from angry listserv discussions (people get riled up about everything from tuna fish to book boards on the lists I follow, and most of the time I just sigh and delete the thread), but this instance was one where I felt compelled to respond and say that the list included non-Christian individuals, and that not only did that response make them uncomfortable, it took time and attention away from the library issues the list was created to discuss. I did not mention my stance on gay marriage in the hopes that I could diffuse things rather than add my own anger to the discussion (but, for the record, I’m an ardent supporter!) I also wanted to avoid belittling the author’s views, because she has most likely formed them with as much care as I have formed my own.

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>Analytics and You

>Stephen Abram just put this post on his awesome Lighthouse blog, and I wanted to pass it along to my readers. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: if you aren’t following his blog, you should be. And follow him on Twitter too (@sabram)–there really are few people out there who post so frequently on so many timely topics that impact wide portions of the LIS field. I *love* tracking my stats, and Topsy seems like another great tool to add to the arsenal. I just checked my Twitter mentions, and it allowed me to see what days were most active over the last two weeks (which, if checked regularly, can help me see what posts are having the greatest impact and are being shared the most).
Why should you care about keeping track of your stats? As an LIS student or new professional, it’s a good way to know what social media actions are drawing attention and thus to be able to use social media tools more effectively. It also helps you manage your online presence (for a really great post about ‘listening’ in social media, see Dierdre Reid’s blog!)
Thanks largely to Dierdre’s post, I started keeping tighter track of my online presence through Google Alerts: if you have a Google account, I recommend setting them up. I set up alerts for my Twitter accounts, B Sides journal, both my blogs, and my name. I get an email for each one around noon each day, and while many of the links are false positives, there have been quite a few links that ended up being accurate and led me to mentions of myself and my work that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about! I also check my blog stats daily, and I check my Twitter mentions and retweets multiple times a day by making columns for them in my Hootsuite account. I’ll be adding Topsy to this list!
Fellow LIS students, what are you using to track your stats? And what impact has it had on your online presence and your use of social media tools?