In the Library with the Lead Pipe
Lead Pipe has gone through some transitions. You may have noticed recent additions of regular authors Eric Frierson and Leigh Anne Vrabel. We were just featured on the very cool Librarian Wardrobe blog. We’ve also been kicking around some ideas about future directions for our little community here, trying to figure out if there are ways we can support library-related projects in addition to our blog/journal.
Kim Leeder (by Lead Pipe proxy)
MLS University of Arizona, 2006
MA in English from University of Nevada, Reno, 2000
Director of Library Services, College of Western Idaho
Just a few weeks ago Kim started a new job as Director of Library Services at the College of Western Idaho. She’s jumping right into her new position and loving it, but she’s so busy that we’re reporting for her! Please help us congratulate and support Kim in this venture. Don’t worry, you’ll continue to hear from her at Lead Pipe.
MLS and MIS August, 2007 from Indiana University Bloomington.
Interim Librarian to the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University
This July I transitioned from having two temporary part-time jobs to one. Yes, still temporary and yes, still part-time. I feel lucky to have a job, especially when libraries in my metro area have laid off tenured library faculty. It’s a nasty job climate out there even without economic woes. I’m grateful for what I do have.
The transition from a part-time hourly position to an Interim fixed-term faculty position has been great. I’ve been learning a lot–soaking it all up like a sponge. Instead of just doing my job(s), I’m able to be more engaged with the university community. I have the emotional energy and the time to do so and have been feeling much more like a nice and pleasant person. I’m happy to know where I am at all times and I’m sure my colleagues are, too.
The switch from institutions has also been a cultural adjustment for me. Now I’m a proud union member at a large academic institution in a state university system. Previously, I worked at a public corporation with a smaller student body, a smaller library, and a completely different organizational culture. Change is good.
To complement my work transition I’ve rotated off of a few (3 or 4!) committees, joined different ones, and even decided to change my division membership in ALA to further explore and grow my professional self.
Prior to my job change the spring and summer were busy as I worked closely with a great team of people to organize the 2011 Oregon Virtual Reference Summit. It’s a local conference that I thought was one the most engaging librar* conferences even before I served on the planning committee. I got to give a lightning talk and I’d be tickled if you watched it and let me know what you think.
MSIS in May 2006 from The University of Texas at Austin
Reference Librarian, Normandale Community College
My partner accepted a position at the University of Minnesota, so this May we relocated from Austin, Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota and I switched jobs from Austin Community College to Normandale Community College (in Bloomington, MN). I also got married. My new position is very similar to my last one, but the environment and the student populations are different. NCC is a more focused transfer institution, while ACC had a very strong workforce program. NCC had three librarian retirements (all reference and instruction librarians), a part-timer take a full time position elsewhere and another librarian on sabbatical leave (the cataloger), so we have five new librarians and only one returning librarian (the acquisitions librarian). My new position also has far fewer librarians per student, so I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what the typical workload had been and how we want to distribute it now.
MS, Biology 2000, University of Missouri, St. Louis and Missouri Botanical Garden
MLS, 2004, University of Missouri, Columbia
Associate Head, Collection Management, North Carolina State University Libraries
The NCSU Libraries is in full-swing preparation for a new flagship library, the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library, set to open in late 2012 or early 2013. With much of the collection being split between several locations, I’ve been helping to strategize how to redistribute the collection in a way that (hopefully) optimally meets patron needs and complements exciting new learning and collaboration spaces. I’ve also been lucky to be involved in our local team of librarians who are participating in the ARL/DLF E-Science Institute, with the aim to develop a strategic agenda for supporting e-science/e-research.
On the SLA (Special Libraries Association) front, I’ve assumed the role of past-chair of the Science-Technology Division this year, which means I get a chance to continue to work with some really great folks in SLA and review the division’s Recommended Practices for updates and revisions. And I become part of the vast network of people who have stepped up to lead the Science-Technology Division, a large and diverse group of corporate, legal, government, academic, and solo sci-tech librarians across the globe.
I’m looking forward to participating in the TRLN (Triangle Research Libraries Network) Management Academy in October, presenting a talk at the Charleston Conference in November, and helping to integrate the Hunt Library with our existing and evolving library collections and services. If you’re interested in joining the team at the NCSU Libraries, we are looking for qualified candidates for the position of Reference Librarian for the Physical and Mathematical Sciences!
MSLIS, September 2007, Drexel University
Director, Collingswood (NJ) Public Library
I chaired my first ALA presidential task force, Future Perfect, and presented its report to the Executive Board and to Council at ALA Annual in New Orleans this past June. You can get a pretty good sense of what we recommended by watching a short video interview with me, though the report itself is succinct, and we worked hard to make it both clear and jargon-free. While it’s nice to have completed the report, I really miss working with the other five members of the task force, Kawanna Bright, Margaux DelGuidice, Candice Mack, Ross Singer, and Rachel Van Noord, as well as Roberta Stevens (I still have no idea how she managed to make so much time for us), and hope to work with all of them again, both soon and frequently.
In its July/August 2011 issue, Public Libraries published “Getting Paid,” the first article I’ve written for a publication other than In the Library with the Lead Pipe since we started Lead Pipe almost three years ago. As of August 13, 2011, it carries a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license. If you’re interested in the HarperCollins boycott, you might find it interesting.
I was recently nominated as a candidate for the LITA Board. If you’re a LITA member, I hope you’ll vote for me. And if you’re not a LITA member, but you’re interested in both libraries and technology, I hope you’ll join.
I’m now a few months into my second year as treasurer for the New Jersey Library Association. It’s far more difficult to understand how a professional association’s finances can and should work than I would have imagined, especially given the unpredictability of our economy. I haven’t done nearly as well as I would have liked, though grappling with NJLA’s finances has made possible one singularly energizing experience: working with Peter Pearson, President of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and lead consultant for Library Strategies, on a fundraising strategic plan for NJLA. We put together a committee during the spring and early summer, and Peter flew out to meet with us in August.
I’m now a few days into my second year as a Ph.D. student in Library and Information Science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. There are more required courses than I was expecting, and fewer people interested in libraries, but the faculty and the other students are bright and interesting, and I’ve been given plenty of freedom to investigate questions I’m happy to invest time in answering. The big challenge this year is to publish and present work that’s more readily identifiable as traditionally academic. If all goes well, I’ll find out in a few days that I’ve been accepted to present at my first academic conference.
Of course, doing “real” research is one of the reasons I enrolled in a Ph.D. program. The other reason is my interest in teaching library school students, a desire to teach that Meredith Farkas put into words for me (and perhaps for a lot of us) during my final weeks in library school. This summer, I taught an on-campus course in web design through Drexel’s library school, where I was mentored by the fantastic Vanessa Morris (read parts one and two of her interview at Tame the Web) and fourteen smart, dedicated, and patient masters students. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, and you have an opening for a superstar intern, part-time librarian, or someone with a newly minted masters, please let me know.
My job at Collingswood Public Library remains incredibly fun and rewarding. In the next three weeks, we’re having a town-wide party to celebrate the Library’s 100th Anniversary, hosting the Library’s third annual 5K, and supporting the 9th annual Collingswood Book Festival. We’re also in the midst of installing new lights and ceiling tiles, trying to move to a virtual desktop environment for public workstations, and investigating grants to preserve the Library’s archives and begin the process of making the collection available digitally. It’s been an interesting summer in Collingswood, and the fall promises to be even better.
Leigh Anne Vrabel
MLIS, August 2004, University of Pittsburgh
Senior Staff Librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Main – Reference Services)
I’ve spent most of 2011 trying to expand my repertoire as a reference librarian and contribute to the public service team in different ways. The traditional roles for which I was trained in library school have evolved almost beyond recognition, and I’m determined to keep pace with that evolution and stretch my professional boundaries, especially in collaborative situations.
Outreach figures largely into that equation. Talking to people face-to-face about the library is still one of the biggest thrills of my job, so I’ve worked with my peers on a variety of outreach programs, including tabling local farmers markets and the wildly successful “30 Books in 30 Minutes” program. Repeated on multiple occasions, this program involves a team of six library workers delivering rapid-fire book talks; half the fun is watching the clock to see if we can squeeze them all into a half-hour slot, and the audience eats it up, as well as checks out many of the books afterwards! I’ve also been invited back to my alma mater to speak on the future of libraries, which just might evolve into a future Lead Pipe post.
My main responsibility, and first love, is editing the Eleventh Stack blog, which has been named a finalist in the Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards. Our competition—in the “Everything Else” category—is stiff, but it really is an honor to be nominated. Knowing that our collective hard work has earned the library a place at the table in the local blogosphere makes me want to work harder to keep the project fresh and exciting. That’s why I’ve signed up for Podcamp Pittsburgh, an annual social media unconference. I’m hoping to gain ideas and to network outside the profession, not only to spread the awesome, but to learn from folks who don’t think like we do.
Upcoming projects include teaching a resume writing class, being trained to help facilitate our wildly popular Gadget Labs, presenting with a group of my colleagues at the Pennsylvania Library Association’s Southwest chapter workshop in October, and helping out with a super-secret, amazing advocacy event I can’t talk about just yet. The really difficult work, however, is all interior. As Rilke would have it, I am “living the questions”; I have, after all, been a librarian for seven years now, and a library worker for nine. It’s definitely time to reassess, re-evaluate, and decide what I want now, and next, from my career. Stay tuned.
MSI, April 2006, University of Michigan
Library Digital Services Manager, St. Edward’s University
It feels like I’ve been turning dials on a control panel for life this month. Some dials I’ve turned way down: recently, I decided to drop off of Facebook (though I have recently reactivated my account briefly to participate in a contest from the Four Seasons in Austin; I will deactivate once the contest is over), resign from a couple of committee appointments, and take a hiatus from much conference travel, including ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual.
On the other end, some dials have gone up to 11. Like Brett, I’ve begun a PhD program, and mine focuses on leadership in libraries. I travel to Simmons College in Boston three times a year for week-long intensive course work. Throughout the rest of the year, I find time in my off hours to research, read, and write. Some of what I picked up in the introductory course informed my latest blog post. The first semester alone has proven that this degree will be the hardest, most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It has come with frustration, confusion, and that sense of, “Man, I don’t know JACK,” but I’m a firm believer that no real learning can happen without struggle.
In the same leadership vein, Kim and I are co-editing a book to be published by ALA Editions called The Library 2025. It will feature stories from new and aspiring library administrators and give the library world a glimpse at the vision these leaders hold. We are accepting chapter proposals now through December, so please consider submitting a proposal.
At work, I’m lucky to be a part of an exciting transformation. Our university recently received a gift of $13 million for a new library and learning commons. We were given a two-year time frame in which to plan the new space, close down our old building, and reopen in the new space. For one whole year, our library will be closed and our collections housed off-site. When we open, we will not look anything like what we are now, and the building project is serving as a catalyst for making other dramatic changes to how we define “library” and what we do for the campus. Our new director, Pongracz Sennyey, is guiding us towards a vision of a future library that will require new competencies and a willingness to let go of legacy services that no longer serve the campus effectively.
I’ve also spent the last year acclimating to systems librarianship. I’m employing my computer science degree more now than I ever have, grappling with new programming languages and new tools to develop solutions for our library. For example, I’ve recently had to learn how to use Solr and Lucene, implement Omeka, and manipulate photograph EXIF data to determine a photo’s geolocation attributes.