Thursday, July 20, 2017

Upping Your Library Intelligence: Words Matter

Thinking statues
Thinking
In this first post of this series, I noted that expanding your library intelligence is important for MSLIS students.  I'll note now that it is also important for the rest of us, because we are in a changing field. Yes, it is changing, whether you recognize the changes or not.

Every field, industry or area of focus has its own vocabulary.  While some words are the same as in other fields, their meanings in the library context may be specific.  We don't, however, give new people to the profession a long list of vocabulary words for them to memorize. Yes, we may give them words related to a specific topic/class, and then hope that through reading and professional engagement that they will learn the rest. However, that combination may not teach a new person enough vocabulary.

I have been in situations where an emerging professional assumes the definition of words/phrases without ever looking them up or trying to discern their correct usage from how others are using the words.  Sadly, when someone talks about a topic and uses the wrong vocabulary, it can be a turn-off to those who are listening.  If that occurs in a classroom or on an assignment, there is an opportunity to make a correction. When that occurs on a job interview, it will likely lead to an unhappy ending (no job offer).  So for no other reason than employment, working to understand a field's vocabulary is important.  However, it is also important in the day-to-day work environment because it assures that we're communicating well.

The Internet has provided a way for all of us to discern the correct meanings of words through web sites, dictionaries, trade and peer reviewed articles, and eTextbooks.  For those resources to be helpful to us, we each need to take a few steps:
  • Keep track of those words you don't understand.  Write them somewhere, so you can look them up later.  I used to write words I didn't understand in the margin of my notes, so they were easy to find.
  • Look of those words you don't understand.  You can start with a dictionary, but you may want to check usage by seeing how the word/phrase has been used in an LIS journal.  By the way, your assumption will be that the way the word was used you heard/read it originally was correct; however, you might discovery that it had actually been used incorrectly!  (And, yes, faculty do sometimes use vocabulary incorrectly.)
  • Use the word - correctly - so you learn it.  That use might be in a conversation, a paper, or elsewhere.  As our K-12 teachers reminded us, when you use a word correctly, you are deepening your learning.  
Besides using words correctly, there are three other things to do:
  • Understand what the acronyms are in the profession.  While it is important to use them, it is also important to use their definitions.  For example, not all librarians work with youth and thus recognize the acronym "YA".  Show you library intelligence  to other LIS professionals by both using the phrase "young adult" and the acronym "YA", when you're talking about this group.  You are demonstrating your ability to talk without jargon and your ability to use jargon.By the way, remember to limit your jargon with your library community.  They should not have to understand our jargon in order to talk with us.
  • Spell library vendor names correctly, which includes capitalization and spacing.  For example, it is "LexisNexis," not "Lexis Nexis" or "Lexis-Nexis."
  • Recognize if specific words (jargon) are associated with a specific library vendor. For example, while some seem to use the word "libguide" generically, it actually refers to the SpringShare content management system.  If you're not using SpringShare, consider what word or phrase you might use instead.
If you are an MSLIS student, you might wonder how many new words you need to learn. The answer is "a lot."  The good news is that you do not need to learn them all at the same time. You will be adding new words each week as part of your classes.  If you also add words outside of class - and I'll be talking in the next post about how you're going to find them - then you should be in good shape.


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Monday, July 17, 2017

Upping Your Library Intelligence: An Area You Need To Focus On

Thinking statues
Thinking
Late in the spring, I had a short conversation with Rachel Clarke about MSLIS students and in which areas we thought they (the generic "they") needed to grow.  A number of people are attracted to M.S. in Library and Information Science programs who do not have deep library experience.  For them, their lack of library experience may inhibit these students from learning and applying new concepts quickly. Rachel and I realized that these students would be helped by engaging in activities that would allow them to increase ("up") their library intelligence. While we promised to continue the conversation later, I've decided to develop a series of blog posts as a way for me to explore the topic and - hopefully - create content which will help current and future MSLIS students, and LIS professionals.

Let me reiterate an important point.  A number of people come into the LIS profession because they realize that the work is calling them; however, they may have only seen what library staff do and not actually done that work themselves.  This is unlike some other professions, where students may be required to have experience before entering an academic program.  For example, in the past, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has required that applicants have some food service experience before starting at the CIA.  While that does create a hurdle, it assures that students have work experience to draw upon while in class.  Without experience to draw upon, LIS students need to work to gain the library intelligence they will need to be successful in their academic programs.  That means doing work outside of the classroom, so they have growing foundation for what is occurring in the classroom.

So this is the first in a series of blog posts on upping your library intelligence, recognizing that each of us need to do this.  I hope this series gives you ideas and if you know of someone else who could benefit from the series - like a current LIS student - please tell the person!


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Monday, July 10, 2017

Signage, Digital Signage, T is for Training

Rolls of hay in Pennsylvania
My last post here was June 20.  Since then I've been on the road for work and vacation, and then catching up from being "out of the office."  Blogging has not be on my mind.  However, I do have a series of blog posts in the works on increasing your library intelligence.  My goal is to begin to release them next week.

I am not the type of librarian, who must visit libraries while on vacation.  However, I do notice libraries and during the last T is for Training podcast, I started the conversation by mentioning the signage at one public library.  That opened an hour-long conversation on library signage, signage audits, and the digital face of a library. If you haven't thought about your signage (or web site) in a while, you might use this podcast episode to prompt a review.  The T is for Training web site contains show notes for the episode.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

EFF International IP Infosheets: Temporary Copies

In 2012, the Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) published an information sheet on "Temporary Copies."  Temporary copies are made automatically by computer systems and are very necessary.  However, having a temporary copy could be seen as an infringing on copyright.  This three-page document provides background, the EFF stance on the matter, and even an overview of a relevant U.S. court case.  If you find yourself talking about temporary copies, this document might be one you will want to refer to.



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Video: What is a copyright? (Canada)

This three-minute video is an introduction to Canadian copyright. Because of the impact of international treaties, you will find that Canada's laws are similar to those in other countries (like the U.S.), but you will also notice some differences (e.g., the length of protection). Still this is a good introduction and worth viewing/using.