Truly a Community: Brittany Jones Reflects on the 2013 LAMP Summer Institute

Before arriving in Urbana-Champaign this past May, I held a number of expectations regarding my first LAMP Institute. I expected to meet professionals in the field of library and information science and to have ample opportunity to ask them questions and learn from their experiences. And yet, I also expected to feel uncomfortable as a new member of the LAMP community and for encounters to be immensely intimidating and awkward. I can happily say that my latter expectation went unfulfilled. Rather than a weekend full of awkward moments and discomfort, I experienced a weekend full of fun activities, informative sessions, and above all great conversations. For the first time, I felt understood as both a minority student and an individual who is interested in library science (not a single person asked the annoying and slightly condescending question: “Well, why would you want to do that for a career?”). One moment in particular is especially memorable. On the last evening of the institute, a number of scholars congregated near the elevators of the Union after a busy day of sessions and campus tours. Although we each initially planned to go back to our rooms, we somehow ended up having a conversation that lasted close to an hour. We talked about everything from LIS graduate programs and favorite courses to a-cappella groups and plans for later that evening. The level of camaraderie among this group of people – some of which most had only known for a day – was astounding; and the fact that we each chose to stay and talk instead of simply returning to our rooms indicates that we honestly enjoyed each other’s company. By the end of the institute, I had exchanged telephone numbers with other scholars and expressed the desire to meet up some time in the near future. I had not expected to feel such a sense of community at the LAMP institute, but I am so happy that my expectations were incorrect. At the institute, I met some of the most welcoming, compassionate, and fun-loving individuals that I have ever known; and such encounters solidified for me yet another reason why I am so honored to be a part of LAMP – and that is because it is truly a community.

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Reflections on LAMP Institute 2013 from Katrina Spencer

LAMP was an experience that showed me how diverse the librarianship field can be. This was highlighted in our “Speed Dating” session in which students chatted with archive librarians, IT librarians, public librarians and many more. Our “Innovation Kitchen” skit was fun: my group worked with Martha, a librarian from Kenya, Naruhito, a librarian from Japan, and Frederick, a librarian from Uganda. We worked together to design a library service that would be useful to a specific demographic via the use of tablets. This exercise opened our minds to thinking about how the library and technology can address real-world challenges. More than anything else, however, I valued the sense of fraternity and support that developed among our cohort. The same people who sat next to me during our sessions were the same ones who helped me to move into my apartment and to get to the grocery store as I made the transition of making Urbana my new home. Thank you, Amani, Alonso, Alaina and Kinyetta. I’ll see you in class, in the halls and in the future.Image

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Blog from LAMP scholar Jonathan Kuik

My primary motivation for going to library school was that it provided specific skills for a specific profession; you went to library school and afterwards you became a librarian. After almost a year and half of library school, however, I’m pretty sure I will never work in a library.

So what happened? If I’m not going to be a librarian, what is it I’m going to do with a library degree? This is a question I get all the time. I’m planning on working for a business doing either information management or business research. I’m still working on refining an elevator speech that effectively explains this confusing situation, but a short blog entry should afford enough time to fully explain my about face in career plans.

Once I began taking courses, I realized I was most intrigued by the technology and innovation in the realm of information science. I enjoyed the technical challenges of learning a programming language, and the dynamic, fast-paced environment of business. I appreciate the values and goals of traditional libraries, but I found the questions raised in the business environment to be more intellectually stimulating.

So what are these questions being asked by business that I found so stimulating, and how can library students address them?

In my experience, I’ve have found that there are two basic questions related to information science being asked by businesses:

1. What can we do with all the information available outside our organization?

2. What are we going to do with all the information we’re producing inside our organization?

I confronted the first question while working as a Graduate Assistant for John Deere where I performed business and technology research. Again, you might be asking, what is a library student doing working at John Deere?

Using my knowledge of information resources available through the UIUC library and globally on the internet, I’m able to present information to managers and decision makers that they would have previously never seen. More specifically, my team and I research technologies and companies unknown to the company and provide analysis that is used to inform decisions. It might be surprising, but even a large company like John Deere doesn’t know everything! Perhaps less surprising, engineers are usually very good at doing a few very specific things, but can struggle when something falls outside their expertise or training. As an example, imagine an engineering team at Deere trying to develop the most comfortable chair on the market. They probably know a lot about past John Deere chairs or their traditional competitor’s chairs, but what if there’s a new company of China or Europe making the best chairs in the world? What if there’s a truck manufacturer that’s developed a chair that is so ergonomic that it eliminates back pain? This is where I step in, take a few weeks to do research, and then submit a report on the most innovative industrial machinery chairs in the world. I’m simply taking traditional library skills such as fulfilling reference requests, and applying them to the business world.

The second question is a little bit more abstract, but I think it’s currently one of the most interesting opportunities for LIS students. Businesses, like the rest of the world, are producing more information than they ever have before. As this information grows, all organizations are realizing that there is value in being able to find documents from the past and capture the knowledge inside of them. To further complicate things, businesses often have teams of employees working together on the same documents. Most of us have difficulty finding documents or emails we created and organized ourselves, let alone finding a document that was titled by someone else. Almost everyone has experienced the horrors that come with a shared drive where anyone can create folders and name documents inconsistently; it’s impossible to find anything! In the summer of 2012, I worked as an intern at State Farm where I helped a department of 100 better organize, name, and categorize the documents they worked on with one another. Without some structure and guidance, the place where they shared documents, a Microsoft SharePoint site, had become a mess where no one could find anything! Similar to John Deere, I was able to take the theories on information management and organization I learned in my library courses and apply them in the business environment in a way that was valuable to individuals and the organization as a whole.

These are just two ways that one might take the skills learned in library school and apply them in environments where librarians have not traditionally worked. The world of business is not for everyone, but it can be a fascinating and invigorating place with ample opportunity.

When I first came to library school, I would have never guessed that within a year I would have worked for two different corporations and was planning on working for a business upon graduation. It’s certainly not the well-worn path to a specific job that I had hoped for when I began. However, it’s been a pretty exciting ride and I’m looking forward to a very exciting career upon graduation.

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LAMP Internship Projects

Below represent a selection of the PR poster projects that I was able to work on while participating in the LAMP Internship at the Ohio University Libraries.

Document Delivery Promotional Poster

     

RefWorks Online Workshop Promotional Poster

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LAMP Internship at the Ohio University Libraries

As LAMP scholars we have had great and rewarding opportunities to apply and participate in valuable internship programs across the country. One of the current institutions offering such an opportunity is the Alden Library, which is part of the Ohio University Library System. As an intern for the month of February, I’ve had some great experiences communicating with library professionals and participating in library projects.

In my first week as an intern, I was able to participate in a library webinar session focusing on information research topics as well as participate in the library’s monthly Diversity Committee meeting. Along with these experiences, I have been able to meet and discuss with information specialists from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, and most importantly, work on projects focused on my areas of interest.

The current projects that I have been working on include designing promotional posters for library activities and events. I am able to utilize my experience with graphic design software, while learning about the different departments of an academic library.  Future projects include assisting with the Diversity Committee’s initiatives and collaborating with the Public Relations Committee. It has been a very exciting and rewarding experience, and I am looking forward to continue my internship here at the Alden Library.

 

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Mobile Devices in UK Academic Libraries

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Learn a new language with Tell Me More software

The University of Illinois Library licensed and now offers students access to Tell Me More language training software. Tell Me More programs are also suited to varying degrees of language proficiency by offering lessons at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels in the following languages (and dialects):

  • British English
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Spanish (Latin America)
  • Spanish (Spain)

The program tailors users’ lesson plan according to whether the user selects the primary reason for learning the language is for on-the-job (professional) use, or for everyday situations. Although the language list is fairly limited, this software is especially useful to librarians who want to serve specific communities, work/volunteer abroad, or will apply for positions with organizations including the European Union (EU), NATO, UN, and UNESCO that use English and French as the official working languages.

Follow the instructions below to access the software:

1. Start at the Online Journals and Databases tool. (Found under the “Quick Links” on the library homepage. Direct link here)

2. Search for “Tell Me More.” The language-learning resource is the second result on the page, labeled as “Databases DATABASES” (The first result is an NPR news publication)

3. Click on “DATABASES” to enter Tell Me More.

4. On the homepage, click on the message near the center: “New user, click here.” You will enter your name, email address and set up a username and password.

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