It’s been a while since I posted here; I have to chock it up to the frenzied nature of my last semester of grad school and travel-filled summer. But I have been maintaining a list of topics I want to write about, so expect to see more content over the coming weeks.
My biggest news right now (and also part of the explanation for my long absence) is that I finished graduate school and have started my first professional position! It’s been a series of transitions, endings, and beginnings over the last six months, so I wanted to take some time to note the changes and reflect on some of the roles I’m moving away from.
Graduate School (GSLIS, specifically)
It’s been 4 years since I started at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science. I came into library school not really knowing what my specialty would be. I knew I enjoyed research, public service, and working with interesting resources. And I knew I liked the people, both patrons and colleagues, that I’d worked with in archives and libraries in the past. I didn’t know I would end up staying past my MLIS to complete a Certificate of Advanced Study, much less on library marketing and outreach. But luckily life can take you to interesting places and I ended up meeting wonderful people along the way who pushed me to push myself: I was able to present some of my research in Spain; I helped create the first student-led conference at GSLIS; I became an active board member in the student chapter of ALA and went to ALA Annual as part of the student-to-staff program; I gained so much experience and so many amazing LIS skills; and I connected with so many wonderful students and faculty. I also came to think more critically about LIS education (through my involvement with the Symposium on LIS Education and other commitments). Despite the fact that I’ve graduated and moved on to the workforce, LIS education continues to be one of my major interests.
The culmination of my time at GSLIS was finishing my CAS project, which is now accessible online through the University of Illinois institution repository: Library Marketing: Education & Practice. It was a labor of intellect, passion, and love, but I am glad that it’s finally finished. I am currently seeking out publication opportunities and will hopefully have more news on that front in the coming months.
Funk ACES Library
Oh, the Funk. I ended up accepting a graduate assistantship at the Funk during my second semester in grad school and stayed there for 3.5 years. It was a long ride that involved developing a number of skills (e.g. instruction, exhibits, digital exhibits, marketing & grant writing, reference services, virtual chat reference), meeting fabulous people, and growing so much as a library professional and a person. While perhaps not as structured as other graduate assistantships, my experience at the Funk really allowed me to dive into my interests and work on projects that contributed to the library in meaningful ways. Also, as the eventual “lead GA” I was able to contribute to the training efforts and materials for future generations of Funk GAs.
Leaving the Funk ended up being slightly more emotional than I predicted. It was the longest running position I’d ever had and the connections I made there are still very important to me. My last major contribution was to create a GA Project Management wiki that will act as project portfolios for the new GAs. I hope it serves them well!
Hack Library School
While I was in grad school I also became part of the Hack Library School community. I started following the blog during my first year and then when they opened up a call for new writers in 2012 I applied and was accepted! I stayed on for nearly three years, through the summer of 2015. I was able to write about a variety of topics within an incredibly supportive community that continually produced high-quality content both online and elsewhere (HLS has hosted events and conversation starters at ALA, as well as producing an ebook!). I’ve turned to people within the HLS community (current and alumni) for advice, assistance, and even speaking engagements (we ended up with an awesome HLS alumni panel at the Symposium on LIS Education). It is an amazing, evolving community of engaged students and I am very happy to have been a part of it for so long. It definitely enhanced my writing skills and also allowed me to experiment with social media outreach in my position as the blog’s Community Manager. This past summer I turned over the social media reins to a new Community Manager; now my involvement in HLS is just as a supportive alumnus and new writer mentor. But I look forward to connecting with past and future HLS writers throughout my career!
My New Gig: Reference & Information Services
So, needless to say, it has been a summer of conclusions and wrapping things up. It felt very strange to step down from roles and move away from comforting, familiar places. However, I’ve also been able to start a number of new things, the most exciting of which is my new position: Reference and Web Services Specialist. My position is within the Research & Information Services department of the University of Illinois library. I get to work on all kinds of fantastic projects, most of which have to do with web services (e.g. page redesigns, internal pages/services, etc.); more on these to come! I’ve only been in the position for a few weeks but I’m already enjoying it immensely. The environment is full of collaboration, innovation, and hard-working, passionate people.
Transitions are bittersweet, but so far I’m happily embracing the variety of new beginnings in my life right now. I have high hopes for a lively semester of productivity, teamwork, and a more consistent writing schedule. 🙂