Exploring alternative models for professional LIS

In this article for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Brenda Chawner and Gillian Oliver aim to stimulate discussion about whether the current structure of postgraduate library education, largely unchanged for over sixty years, is still the best option, given the ways in which professional library positions increasingly require specialised knowledge and skills.

Brenda and Gillian touch briefly on the history of training for librarians in education before discussing the changing nature of library work today, offering alternative models for LIS education to meet this changing landscape.

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New Professionals’ Perspectives (3 of 3)

In her paper for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Celia Drummond writes about diversity in the library profession (Embracing diversity: when is a librarian not a librarian?) and about using traditional library skills in non-traditional roles.

Celia argues that LIS educators should better showcase the wide range of roles in different sectors that are available to librarian-trained graduates.

New Professionals’ Perspectives (2 of 3)

In this article, Becoming a librarian: from Sydney to Hong Kong via a LIS degree, published in the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Joanna Hare reflects on her personal journey to become a librarian, and on her first two years as one.

Jo shares the results of a brief survey of new librarians working in academic libraries in Hong Kong regarding their experiences of LIS education and first years in the profession, and concludes with some recommendations for other new librarians entering the workforce. She explains that although “Imposter Syndrome is a significant factor for all new librarians”, her journey has been successful because it has been based on learning by doing, and working outside her comfort zone.

New Professionals’ Perspectives (1 of 3)

In this paper, The new librarian’s roadmap: at the crossroads of expectation and reality, from the last issue of the Australian Library Journal (v. 65/4), Rebecca Dale provides a sobering view of some of the not-so-ideal stages of new librarian status, once the shiny excitement has worn off a little.

Rebecca’s travel romp journey details the formative years of a new librarian’s career trajectory, with a no-holds-barred look at different roadblocks along the way, such as “engine trouble” (using strategies that don’t pay off) and “potholes” (realising you’ve taken on the wrong job).

A big year in digital preservation

With my thoughts increasingly turning reflective about the year gone by, one thing I am grateful for has been moving into the world of long-term thinking, specifically through my work on the University of Melbourne’s digital preservation strategy.

If you’re interested in reading more about the University of Melbourne project, I recently wrote a blog post version of a presentation for the Library Forum.

One of the biggest highlights for this year (and an excellent opportunity for personal growth) was presenting the university’s strategy at the iPres 2016 conference.

jwatipres2016Being surrounded by the intelligence and passion springing out of the melting pot of minds that is the international digital preservation community at iPres was truly inspiring.

It was an exciting achievement to be voted in the top three poster presentations at the conference. The poster winners (Matthias Töwe, Franziska Geisser, and Roland Suri from ETH-Bibliothek, Switzerland) had an excellent contribution, To Act or Not to Act – Handling File Format Identification and Validation Issues in Practice.

And I was most impressed by the poster from my fellow runner-up Susan Braxton and her colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose project Should we keep everything forever? Determining long-term value of research data is one I’ll be following with much interest over the next few years.

Slack and dispersed community building #digitalhumanities

Today I came across an article in the LSE Impact Blog titled How the Digital Humanities are using Slack to support and build a geographically dispersed intellectual community.

We’re still figuring out how Slack can be useful: Can it allow different kinds of conversations than Twitter? Can we use it to teach and support people interested in DH who don’t have mentors geographically near them, or who aren’t inside academia? Like Twitter, Slack allows coexisting formal use (posting job opportunities, discussing theories) with informal socializing (which is really part of professional work, since it lays good foundations for future collaboration and problem-solving).

Dr. Amanda Visconti

It got me thinking about the digital preservation world and global communication channels. I’ve had great Twitter conversations that result in sometimes weird but fun things. I actively follow worldwide developments, events, and conferences online from afar here in Australia. I’m lucky this year to be attending iPres 2016 to present the University of Melbourne’s digital preservation strategy which means I’ll get to meet and talk with the international digital preservation community in person.

But what if there was a dedicated global online channel for digital preservation discussion, debate, and mentoring? A two-way discovery and sharing flow?

Dr. Visconti reports on interesting uses of the digital humanities Slack channel:

A user creating a channel around their specific research interests, and chatting in that channel as a sort of live-blog of the different approaches they’re trying and how they address issues as they arise (other Slack members can read or ask questions in the channel, too)
If an interesting discussion on Twitter starts to feel stifled or miscommunicated because of Twitter’s size constraints, moving the conversation to the DH Slack allows more freedom while also keeping the conversation semi-public (it’s more public than moving to an email conversation, but anyone wanting to follow the conversation does need to join the DH Slack first)
Mentoring and socializing: I’ve seen Slack members walk each other through fixing a coding bug or suggest lesson plans, and we use the #weeklies channel for weekly sharing around a fun theme (e.g. what’s a book that changed your way of thinking?)
A user sharing a digital humanities method tutorial, then offering to be available on the DH Slack for a certain evening to answer any questions about the tutorial (with the idea that people are encouraged to try working through the tutorial, knowing they will have help if they get stuck or have a question)

I’m wondering, does anything like this exist for the digital preservation community currently? And if it doesn’t, would it work? Would it flourish?