Last Thursday for class we attended the launch of the Health Sciences Libraries Group’s report on the Status of Health Librarianship and Libraries in Ireland. At the moment when budgets are tight and each department needs to fight for a chunk of the budget, librarians and information professionals need to make the importance of their jobs clear. One of the speakers at the HSLG launch noted that nobody else is going to explain the importance of the information professionals to the CEOs. That is our job. Afterwards one of the speakers came over to talk to a few of us MLIS students and reiterated the importance of getting out there and marketing our skills to future employers.
Later on after reading up on what an e-portfolio is I realised that it is itself a form of articulating the need for and importance of the information professional in this ever changing and uncertain world of library and information services. It will allow me to write about my skills and keep up to date with changes and trends within the profession. An e-portfolio is itself a way to do what the man at the HSE report launch advised information professionals to do: to state very clearly the skills and the knowledge that we possess. It is also a place to record lifelong learning.
After the HSLG talk on Thursday we went to another talk at the RIA. This time the speaker was Carol Maddock from the National Library of Ireland who spoke about the National Library’s experience with Social Media. The NLI has had great success in using social media. It uses flickr to post ephemera and photographs and uses the collective knowledge of its followers to increase its knowledge of the photographs in its collection. This is a good example of the possibilities of ‘The Third Order of Order’, which is mentioned in a class article The New Order of Order. The third order of order (as opposed to the first: the organisation of things themselves, and the second: metadata that points to physical objects) is the digitisation of content into bits, which removes the limitations associated with organising physical collections and shows that “the solution to the overabundance of information is more information.” The library also uses facebook, twitter and its blog to communicate with readers and increase its web presence, which is proving to be successful as virtual visits to the library now exceed actual visits. Carol pointed out the importance of being present on facebook and twitter: instead of relying on people to seek them out the library is now present where people already are. The NLI adopts an informal voice on facebook and twitter . Carol explained that this is not ‘dumbing down the brand’ but puts a human face on the NLI and makes it more approachable.
A lot of people still perceive librarians, in a stereotypical fashion, as middle aged women who wear their hair in buns, who stamp books and shush people but this is changing in libraries all around the country. In fact the term ‘librarian’ is now often replaced by ‘information professional’ and the concept of Librarian 2.0 is emerging, which is fundamentally an attitude but is also heavily reliant on IT and the need to constantly seek out new and better ways to do things within the profession.
Through reading Professional Development 2.0: Take Control of your Own Learning I realised that the way this module is being taught is actually a new and innovative way of teaching which is known as professional development 2.0. The book states that this isn’t just a phase in fact it’s the future of the way that we learn. It’s not an approach to teaching that I’ve come across before. There are so many classes I’ve been in where you are simply given a ball of facts and asked to remember these facts and regurgitate them for an exam at the end of term. The problem with this is that often times you are more interested in remembering and regurgitating facts than mulling them over and reflecting on them. What I like about this class is that it forces us, by asking us to update our e-portfolio weekly, to read the given literature, to reflect on it to discuss it in class, and to integrate the knowledge that we have learned from one topic to the next.
The building of a Personal Development Network is one of the assignments we were given for this class. So far I’ve joined diigo.com where I can bookmark any interesting blogs or websites I come across. I can also follow other people on this site and therefore have access to the many interesting resources that they have read.
I can see this module really benefitting MLIS students, particularly students like me who have limited experience in working in libraries. I have lots of varied work experience but still don’t have full time experience that would give me a real insight into the changing role of the information professional so it’s good to be aware of the issues that surround the profession before I’m out on my own hunting for a job.