art journaling

Last Wednesday I attended a free travel journal workshop offered by the Bubbler, Madison Public Library‘s creative programming group. The workshop was led by Laura Komai of Anthology, an amazing craft shop located on State Street.

I will admit that I was wary of this concept of “art journaling.” The thing that stressed me out about traditional scrapbooking in the past was my perfectionism. I couldn’t stand spending so much time on one layout. I didn’t feel creative, I felt overwhelmed.

Although the workshop’s aim was to give you a place to add the photos and ephemera from a trip you had taken, I already put that stuff in other albums. Instead, I just made stuff from the paper, stamps, and other miscellaneous stuff lying around. I didn’t measure anything. I followed my “more is more” style philosophy and acted rather than planned (a major victory).

What I started with:

What I came up with in an hour:
IMG_6557 IMG_6558

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I have always been archival-minded, fixating on how something will hold up after x number of years. This was a bit more freeing since I wasn’t thinking of the final product, just the process.

things look a little different around here

I started avoiding this space these past few months. I was seeing, learning, and thinking about a lot of things – but I avoided my website. On a whim this week I changed it up. I just don’t need to keep the portfolio structure I had as a grad student. I loved my website then, but it has a lot of associations of stress, worry, trying to adhere to this very strict version of myself. I’m over it. I needed something new.

Lots of things have been happening.

I graduated from IU with my MLS and MIS in May. Sometimes I forget I have two Master’s degrees. I haven’t gotten my diploma yet, so I suppose it’s not quite official.


(Above photo taken after I finally figured out how to affix my hood to my gown.)

The day after graduation, I chopped off all my hair and took off on a road trip of the southeast US. I met a lot of new cities for the first time, including Clarksdale, MS; New Orleans, LA; Pensacola Beach, FL; Savannah, GA; Charleston, SC; and Asheville, NC.

The road trip was one last hurrah for Neil and I before I headed north to Madison and he headed south to Nashville.

Now I’m just about two months into my new job. Times flies! I am now a salaried employee trying to get my bearings in a new library. My colleagues are great and Madison is insanely beautiful in the summertime.

Some professional miscellany:

Overall, I feel so much more balanced right now than I ever did in library school. I am so glad I did the things that I did during that time because they paid off in all the right ways, but I needed to rediscover my personality. I didn’t even realize how different I was until I emerged from that stress.

job announcement

I’m really pleased to share that I have accepted the position of Digital Curation Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Starting in mid-June, I will be responsible for managing UW’s institutional repository and working across the university on data management and digital preservation issues. It is exactly the type of position I dreamed about when I first decided to pursue a career in library technology. I applied for jobs that dealt with many different facets of library work, from digitization to digital scholarship, and I don’t think I could have written a job description that I would enjoy more. Working with data is a fascinating and challenging undertaking.


UW is familiar to me and yet brand new at the same time. My parents live in a Madison suburb and both of my younger siblings attend UW, so me coming back to Madison will be somewhat of a family affair. I’m eager to experience the city as an adult.

When I was a senior in high school applying for college, I applied to UW-Madison as well as a few other state schools. I wasn’t really a high achiever; I was well-liked by my teachers and got mostly A’s with a few B’s but I wasn’t aiming for the honor roll. I journaled through most of my classes. I ended up getting waitlisted by UW, something that wasn’t a surprise necessarily but still gave me pause. My whole attitude changed when I got waitlisted because I recognized that it didn’t matter if I thought I was smart enough to attend UW-Madison. What mattered was proving it through tangible actions.

I went to UW-La Crosse, a state school, and had a fine time. I began exploring librarianship as a career. I applied for admission to the Midwestern library schools, finally narrowing it down to UW and IU. When I chose IU, I remember saying to my dad, “I want to be competitive for a job at UW when I graduate.” Now, strangely, that sentiment has become my reality. UW shaped my attitude about building a career so it feels like I’m coming full circle.

Going from being on the job hunt to suddenly not having to spend hours on application materials is blissful. I feel as though I’ve been given the gift of enjoying my last fleeting months here at IU. I will wrap up my classes and student jobs, travel, and spend time with my partner of seven years, who is moving to Nashville, TN, when I move to Madison. I’m also exploring ways to find a place within the digital curation community. There are lots of big changes coming up but I can truly say I couldn’t be happier.

phone interview strategies

[Reblogged from Hack Library School]

I recently began the process of applying for jobs. When I found out I was invited for my first phone interview, I was given a lot of fantastic Facebook-solicited advice: shut your (distracting) pet out of the room, ask “Did that answer your question?” after answering a question, dress like you’re going to an actual interview so you’re in the right mindset. I practiced a mock interview beforehand. I felt reasonably well-prepared. I had eager cheerleaders telling me I could do it.

But after my first interview concluded, I felt ashamed. Like a failure. I recognized that I had had good answers to relevant questions about the specifics of what the job entailed, but I had rambled an incoherent mess of words in response to a simple question about a problem within a team and how I dealt with it. Oh, how I replayed those words over and over in my head after the brief interview had concluded. Someone I respected was on the search committee, a fact which further embarrassed me. It was a few weeks of near-constant cringing as I recovered.

Since that first phone interview, I have had additional phone interviews. I’ve learned something new from each one. Be reassured that it does get easier! Here are some of my tips for doing well in a phone interview.

Prepare. No, really prepare.

Before my first phone interview, I scheduled a mock phone interview with my career services office, which is staffed by students. When I got there, the person working (who I already knew) asked if we could just do a face-to-face interview because of the complicated logistics of setting up a mock phone interview. I said sure, thinking it was no big deal. We did the interview and it was fine. It wasn’t particularly nervewracking.

In retrospect, I should have had a mock phone interview that was a) With someone I didn’t know already – definitely not a fellow student, and b) It should absolutely have been over the phone. When I had my actual phone interview, I was way more nervous than I anticipated and felt totally unprepared. If doing a mock interview isn’t possible, you can at least check out the Hiring Librarians interview questions repository – don’t forget to sort by phone interview questions!

Anticipate and accept the awkwardness.

Phone interviews are notoriously awkward for all involved. You can’t read the search committee members’ body language, so you and someone from the search committee will likely interrupt each other. It’s okay. One thing that has been conveyed to me over and over again is that the search committee wants you to do well; they’re rooting for you. The best thing you can do when awkward things happen is just to have a positive attitude.

Have stories ready.

I don’t consider myself a very good storyteller. Speaking off the cuff is not my strong suit; I prefer time to think and analyze. But with interviews, reflection is key. You need to have stories focusing on a few predictable themes ready to go: a time when you dealt with a conflict, a time when you worked with a team, a time when you faced a conflict in a team setting. And of course, you have to be ready to answer questions about how your knowledge/experiences tie in with the job responsibilities.

Phone interviews made me recognize that I have been really busy over the past few years working in libraries, but I haven’t necessarily taken the time to reflect upon my experiences. It’s worth taking the time to really think about these broad themes and write them down. You won’t necessarily remember your stories off the cuff if you’re super nervous.

Try not to speculate too much about the interview.

As a job hunter, there’s a lot you may not know: who you’re up against, the salary, and often, when the institution expects the successful candidate to start the position. I’ve felt a level of vulnerability I didn’t expect when faced with all these unknowns. Adding a phone interview into the mix can be just another confusing aspect of the process, leading to all sorts of fixation and speculation about what it will lead to, if anything.

As much as you may want the position, don’t over-congratulate yourself or berate yourself about the phone interview after it’s over. Try to be objective: what did you do well, and what could you improve upon? The intelligent questions I couldn’t answer in phone interviews gave me clues as to what I need to learn to be competitive. Now that I’m past the embarrassment of not having a good answer, I can recognize how to be better next time.

Know you’ll get better with experience.

Once you know how phone interviews go, it will get easier. You’ll be less nervous. And in-person interviews are even better than phone interviews because you can make a real connection with the search committee.

Be nice to yourself.

Everything about applying for jobs is a humbling experience. If you’re on the job hunt, your emotions are probably all over the place: nervous, excited, depressed. You’re probably a bit crazy, right? It’s easy to feel that familiar sinking gut feeling: I will never learn everything I possibly need to know to be successful. How will I ever get a job? Be nice to yourself. Forgive yourself for making whatever mistake is hanging over your head convincing you that you’re 12 years old and nowhere near a hirable professional! (Hopefully I’m not the only one out there who feels like this from time to time.)

What have your phone interview experiences been like? What did you learn from them?

2014 already?

Like many people out there I can’t quite believe it’s 2014. I’m still typing (then quickly deleting) 2013 almost every day when adding the date to anything. But somehow we’ve crossed the threshold and it’s here: the year I graduate from my LIS program and get a job.

Last week was the first week of classes. This semester I’m taking Human-Computer Interaction, Database Design, and Directed Readings focused on data curation/scholarly communication.

Beyond school, other things have been happening, of course.

  • I published my first real article in December: “Organizing, Contextualizing, and Storing Legacy Research Data: A Case Study of Data Management for Librarians” in Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. This article was a byproduct of a class I took this past summer; my classmates and I collaborated to write the article and I’m very happy with it. I adore reading case studies when I’m trying to solve a problem so I can only hope we’ve added something of value to others.
  • Here’s a cheery blog post about me on the Avalon Media System blog.
  • This week is DH week at Hack Library School. DH week is the brainchild of Anna-Sophia Zingarelli-Sweet, Courtney Baron, and myself. Check it out!
  • Last summer I co-wrote a survey with Emily Weak of Hiring Librarians. This week’s survey response caused a veritable uproar in the LIS community when the respondent claimed that librarianship is a dying profession.
  • I’m co-teaching a workshop this spring called, “An Introduction to Social Science Data Visualization Using Gephi.” I’m still pretty new to Gephi so the next few weeks will consist of me scrambling to develop some convincing Gephi skills.
  • Something that’s not happening is that I have no conferences on the docket. I invested a lot of time and money in attending and presenting at conferences in 2013. As a result, I’m depleted financially, and to a lesser extent, emotionally. Money is the biggest factor, though. I don’t have any more of it, so no more conferences until I get a job. Speaking of…
  • I’ve been applying and interviewing for jobs! I’m not a prolific writer on this blog by any means but more so than ever I have kept quiet because I’m on the job hunt. Saying nothing seems safer than saying something – which is actually quite counterintuitive, I know. So this is me coming back out from hiding to say hello.

Let me leave you with this photo of Francine, because, well, she’s the best.


Free Tools to Visualize Your Data

[Reblogged from the IU Scholarly Communication blog]

Data visualization has grown in popularity as datasets have become larger and tools have become more user-friendly. This area is eagerly being explored by researchers in a variety of disciplines. Although many people think of numbers when they consider types of data, data comes in many forms–including text! In fact, for many researchers, especially those in the humanities or social sciences, text is their primary data source.


This example of a network visualization could be created using a tool like Gephi or Sci2. Image: Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science. Johan Bollen, Herbert Van de Sompel, Aric Hagberg, Luis Bettencourt, Ryan Chute, Marko A. Rodriguez, Lyudmila Balakireva.

Here is a brief list of freely available tools you can use to explore and visualize both numerical and textual data. This list is by no means comprehensive; to check out additional tools, try the visualization tool list at Bamboo DiRT.

  • D3 - A JavaScript data visualization library. While you would need to invest the time to learn basic JavaScript, this introductory tutorial breaks down steps to learn D3. You can also check out the array of impressive visualizations resulting from its use.
  • Gephi – If you only wanted to invest the time to learn one visualization tool, this open source software for visualizing networks and complex systems is a great choice. Take a look at one of the many available tutorials to get started.
  • ManyEyes – This tool allows users to easily upload datasets and create basic visualizations. To get a feel for the types of visualizations created, view the ManyEyes gallery.
  • Sci2 Tool - This tool, developed at the Indiana University Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, is billed as “a modular toolset specifically designed for the study of science [that] supports the temporal, geospatial, topical, and network analysis and visualization of scholarly datasets.” Its strength lies in its ability to handle network data, similar to Gephi.
  • Tableau Public - This free, limited-functionality version of the popular software Tableau simplifies the act of creating charts and graphs.
  • Voyant - This is a browser-based platform for analysis and visualization of texts. It is a beginner-friendly tool with modest functionality: visualizations created within Voyant are limited to charts and graphs, though it would be easy to plug the data generated by the program into another platform with greater capacity for visualization, such as Gephi.
  • WordSeer - WordSeer is a textual analysis and visualization tool comparable to Voyant. The latest version, 3.0, has not yet been released publicly.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the important role that data management plays in data visualization. Poorly managed data may hinder your ability to create effective visualizations, so learn a few simple steps to manage your data more effectively. For more information, contact Stacy Konkiel, Science Data Management Librarian, at to schedule a consultation!

LITA Forum 2013

On November 7-10 I attended the LITA Forum in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is just under two hours away from Bloomington and I was lucky to be able to carpool with my conference buddy Annie. Overall, LITA had a very welcoming atmosphere. The conference was only a few hundred people, so it felt very much like LOEX. Very accessible. Lots of wonderful, friendly people, plenty of whom I’ve “known” on Twitter for a while. It was nice to make the in-person connection.

I contributed to a presentation spearheaded by my boss, Stacy Konkiel, and our colleague Eric Snajdr. I shared my perspective on data management projects here at IU. It never fails to amaze me the effect that adrenaline can have. I felt completely calm–and actually quite eager–to present, but initially I was scrambling to remember my name and job title as the adrenaline threatened to wipe out all thoughts from my mind! I tell myself that every experience is a learning experience; I try not to be too hard on myself. (Especially these days as I apply for jobs, which feels incredibly vulnerable. So many ups and downs. But more on that later.)

I have only small criticisms of the conference. The food was the sparsest of any conference I’ve ever been to. Lunch was okay, but breakfast was unimpressive and what was billed as “refreshments” in the conference program turned out to be a table of soda–no water, coffee, or snacks. This was particularly eyebrow-raising for me because LITA had the most expensive registration of any conference I have ever attended. There isn’t a student registration rate, though if you submit an application to volunteer you get a reduced rate of $300. This is at least double any other conference I’ve attended at a student rate without volunteering. Granted, there wasn’t much expected of the volunteers: be available to help, sign up to moderate sessions. I have no complaints there. I really do just wish that there had been snacks available and fruit at breakfast.

I went to various meetups, including a LibTechWomen meetup at Down One Bourbon Bar in their secret telephone booth speakeasy room (best food I’ve had in a long time!) and a gathering at Hillbilly Tea followed by a hotel bar meetup with the ACRLTechConnect writers. Everyone was incredibly nice.

I drank my fair share of bourbon over the course of the weekend. I had an old-fashioned, a sidecar, and an assortment of bourbon cocktails. On our last night, Annie and I went out to explore Louisville and ended up finding the historic Brown Hotel. We got our sole passport stamp there! The weekend also involved posing with/as a number of famous Kentuckians; see below for proof.

One last thing–check out this post for an analysis of the tweets from LITA. I’m on there!




Data Visualization and Management: The Basics

Our October 25 workshop, “Data Management and Visualization: The Basics” went wonderfully! You can access some of the workshop materials here if you want to get your hands on them now, although Stacy, Ted, and I plan to clean them up and release a version with more detailed instructions for other libraries that may want to replicate our workshop. We gathered survey data from participants, so we will also be working on coding and analyzing that data over the coming months. Hopefully we can find areas to improve in future workshops. We do plan to publish on our experience at some point.

My particular section of the workshop focused on topical analysis: visualizing a corpus of TEI-encoded texts from the Victorian Women Writers Project (VWWP). The VWWP texts plus many other digital collections that have been encoded at IU were recently made available by Michelle Dalmau, Interim Head of Digital Collections Services at IU. They are available for download on Github and I would strongly encourage you to check them out.


Originally I hoped to use the HathiTrust Research Center tools to perform topical analysis but when we were planning the workshop they weren’t yet available. Instead, I turned to Voyant, a browser-based tool that allows users to upload texts and interact with them in various ways. Its functionality is limited, but it’s great at measuring word frequency. The interface consists of multiple panes to dig into the text/s you’ve uploaded. Overall, an excellent fit for our beginner-level workshop.


A screenshot of the Voyant interface. Stop words have been applied to the corpus. The Word Trends pane is automatically displaying the five most frequently appearing words across the corpus.


This screenshot shows the term “love” being selected with the Corpus Reader, causing the Word Trends to visualize the term frequency only with one of the texts rather than across all the texts. The Keywords in Context pane allows for closer inspection of these terms.

It’s worth noting that our use for the purposes of this workshop doesn’t do the corpus justice. While TEI is recognized by Voyant, the tool only removes administrative information such as who encoded it and other details that are not semantically relevant for analysis and visualization. Unfortunately, the tool cannot select individual TEI elements and explore them in detail.

I’ll be sure to post our final slides and workshop materials when they become available!



Q & A, part 1

I’ve been lucky to be able to correspond with several readers over the past few years that I’ve been blogging. Just this past month alone, I’ve communicated with prospective LIS students in person, through Skype, and quite a few via email.

I get similar questions, so today I thought I’d share my answers to them in the hopes that other readers may find them useful. Bear in mind that these are just the opinion of one library student out of a huge pool of us, so take my answers with a grain of salt. Feel free to ask for any clarification in the comments.

This post is already quite long so I’ll schedule the second half for next week. I hope it’s helpful!

How did you know what library program was the right one for you?

There were many factors that contributed to me choosing Indiana University over UW-Madison, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and the University of Michigan. You can read more about those in the article “Hack Your Library School Application” in the HLS Guide to Library School. In a nutshell, they are:

  • IU’s well known digital library program, digital humanities know-how, and dual MLS/MIS
  • Fell hard for lovely, wonderful Bloomington after visiting
  • Had a few connections from a mentor who was a previous IU ILS student
  • IU ILS offered me a small scholarship
  • Boyfriend got into the IU Jacobs School of Music (meaning that if we moved in together, we could get a cat!)
  • The competition fell short:

UIUC was by far the most disappointing program I looked at. I got terrible vibes from the program, namely that they didn’t feel the need to support students during the application period because they were ranked #1 by the questionable US World News Report so they knew they’d get applicants no matter what. I have no doubt that the program is great, but you’ve got to sell me a little bit when that’s what your competitors are doing…

UM was shiny and enticing but I couldn’t live with myself to go into that much debt for a degree.

UW-Madison was within my comfort zone. It was tempting because it would have been in-state tuition. I’m from a Madison suburb, so my parents even offered to let me live at home and commute to save even more money. Also, my sister was starting as a freshman at UW. I love Madison, my family, and the idea of saving money, but I knew I wanted more of an adventure.

Picking a library program is a very personal choice. Think about what is the most important to you. Maybe it’s funding, location, finding an institution that fits what your significant other is doing, curriculum, or faculty research areas… the list is endless. I do recommend visiting, if you can. When I visited IU, I knew.

I’m worried that my personal statement sucks. Any advice?

Again, there are a few brief thoughts about personal statements in the article “Hack Your Library School Application” in the HLS Guide to Library School.

I hear from a lot of people who are worried about not having library experience yet. I wouldn’t worry about it. Many applicants don’t. I had only an internship and a job as a museum docent on my resume when I applied.

Now, I’m saying this with the assumption that you’ve thought long and hard about why you want to go to library school–and that you’ve decided you will work your tail off so that it’s not a wasted investment. Not having experience when you start a program doesn’t doom you forever, but if you go to library school and don’t start working harder than you’ve ever worked it truly will. You will have a hard time working within the field. But as you’re writing your cover letter, don’t focus on this. Your job is to sell the application committee on your enthusiasm and promise within the field, so share what you want to do, not just what you have done.

Another thing to remember is that many LIS programs just aren’t that hard to get into. Some are competitive (UW-Madison springs to mind), but from my understanding IU certainly isn’t. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try, of course, but you might not have to feel as worried.

Can you tell me more about Bloomington?

Yes! I relish the chance to talk about Bloomington. It’s definitely a college town and very IU-centric. At a population of around 100,000, it’s cozy. Pretty safe, amazing food, lots of live music, great weather, low cost of living. It’s an hour from Indianapolis, 3-4 from Chicago, 3 from Columbus, and 1-2 from Louisville, so road tripping is easy. Lots of nearby conferences, which has been incredible. I think if someone loved big cities they would maybe find Bloomington boring, but as someone who loves to be able to go hiking and run around outside AND have access to awesome cultural events, it’s amazing. I would love to come back here someday. It really is an oasis.

Can you tell me more about Indiana University’s library school?

ILS has comprised about 10% of my overall library school experience. I came to library school because that’s just the way this field works: I need an MLS to get a professional library job. I was told by a mentor when I first came to IU that the classes were easy, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it allowed you to work a lot. And since practical library experience is really all that matters when you’re on the job hunt, I am okay with this. I’ve had some useful classes, but for the most part they have just been something to get through. The MLS core curriculum is very traditional and public services-oriented.

I’ve had great experiences with people in ILS and the IU Libraries. Formal advising through ILS doesn’t seem to work out to well; mainly it’s students who find mentors outside the program who feel like they are getting useful advice. This makes sense because most students want to be librarians or other professionals, not academics. Luckily, there are lots of librarians that are willing to mentor if you develop a relationship with them.

Overall, ILS is lovable but old-fashioned. I look at programs like the University of Michigan, Syracuse, and UIUC and I can clearly tell that we are falling behind. We have to be more innovative, especially when it comes to updating the curriculum.

So I don’t just repeat what I’ve written before, check out my thoughts on ILS (formerly SLIS) in my Hack Your Program post and this post.

Do you really dislike your program so much? (yes, I get this question a lot)

Ha. It might seem that way sometimes–I have been critical of the curriculum and the apathy I occasionally see in my peers. I have tried to be very reasonable in my criticisms; after all, I have wonderful relationships with so many people affiliated with ILS. However, I have to call it as I see it, and I wish I saw more practical skills, advice, and coursework coming from the program. I won’t back down from the fact that I see the cost of the degree hugely outweighing the benefits for many students.

I think it’s necessary to be vocal about the vast number of unprepared library school grads out there who will never work in the field. The job market is just so tight. When I see IU’s missed opportunities to help grads compete, I get frustrated.

I’m not sure whether I want to do a dual degree, or a degree with a specialization, or some other combination. Any advice?

This is tricky. Most people who ask me this are coming at it from the tech skills angle: How can I ensure that I get the oh-so-important tech skills out of library school? Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee–these options all differ significantly in different programs, so the best advice I can give is to try to find people in the programs you’re applying for and ask them. They can give you the real info that you need, not just the supposed benefits recited from the program website.

I wanted to do the dual MLS/MIS at IU because I knew I wanted a job in an academic library working with technology. I told myself that if I came to IU and found a way to get tuition remission, I would pursue the MIS side in earnest. I valued that it would give me an additional year to work, present, and build my library experience. I knew it would be useful if I ended up at a tenure-track institution.

As for the specialization, at IU you can either be a free agent and take a bunch of electives or you can sign up for a specialization and have those electives pre-packaged for you. There are benefits to each. With a specialization, you can benefit from the wisdom of the specialization adviser (and hopefully develop a strong relationship with them), picking classes is easy, and you get that extra little qualification stamped on your diploma. There are drawbacks, though. Specializations can eat up a lot of your free classes and some may not be that relevant to you. The digital libraries specialization was appealing to me because I liked the adviser, Dr. John Walsh, and the classes were more or less what I would have taken on my own. It has worked out well for me and I don’t regret it. However, I do know some people who thought they wanted to do archives when they came to ILS and started the specialization. By the time they realized they didn’t like archives at all they were halfway through and had a hard time pulling out of the time investment they already made.

One mistake I see people making is to burrow comfortably within their degree/specialization when they need to make sure to branch out and get other skills. THIS IS HUGE. You have to do your own research as to the skills you’ll need and make a plan to get them–do not expect a degree or specialization to erase this responsibility. To get a job, you need to stand out from the crowd, and to stand out from the crowd, you need to have skills that go beyond your area’s cookie-cutter specialization.

I don’t have tech skills and I know that I need them. But how do you know what type of technology skills to get? I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to focus my energy.

I understand this. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but know that you can’t possibly tackle everything. As long as you’re working toward something, that’s all that matters. Don’t get paralyzed by the amount of stuff out there to know.

I had a few strategies to deal with this.

  • Job descriptions. This is the #1 place to look and prioritize. Find jobs in different areas you’re interested in and look at their required and preferred skills. You will most certainly find specific technologies (e.g., Drupal) or types of technologies (e.g., content management systems) noted there.
  • Resumes/CVs. I recommend trying to track down the resume/CV of a professional librarian in your field. Often a quick Google search will find what you need. Shamelessly peek at their document. This can give clues.
  • Free technology classes. When I started library school I took all of the free technology courses I could. IU has an exceptional technology education program that offers courses on all sorts of skills and software, including the Adobe Creative Suite, HTML and CSS, Microsoft Access and Excel, ArcGIS, and more. During my first semester I had a somewhat flexible schedule so I could fit a lot of these courses in. After taking the course, I would add the software/skill to the technology section of my resume and CV. People have different criteria for adding something to their professional documents; for me, as long I know that I have a solid understanding of a particular technology I will add it to my CV.
  • Library school classes. It’s possible that your classes might provide helpful leads on technology to learn–but it is also equally possible that your courses will be completely out of touch, unaware of technologies being used currently. As a new professional, you’ll be expected to know what’s going on in the library tech world. Do not trust that your courses are sharing everything you need to know. I found that my courses have accounted for an extremely small amount of my library tech knowledge.
  • Bamboo DIRT. An awesome website where you can explore digital tools that do all sorts of fun things!
  • Twitter. Twitter is an absolute gold mine when it comes to keeping up to date. I’m often overwhelmed by it but you can follow the best and brightest out there and often the info you’ll learn about will be new tech tools.

How to pull all of those technologies that you learn about together? I made a list; “Technology to learn” I think I called it. I added all the technologies I came across and looked for any opportunity to gain experience with them. As you explore technologies, you’ll get a better feel for what’s relevant to you. Some you’ll be able to learn on your own or through; others would require working on large projects or through an internship. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can be more strategic.

Also, you’re a life-long learner in this field. Nobody knows everything. Familiarity of core concepts and the openness to keep improving is vital.

DIL Symposium / Data Visualization & Management Workshop

On September 23-25 I attended the Data Information Literacy Symposium at Purdue University with the IU Science Data Management Librarian (and my boss!), Stacy Konkiel. Not only was it nice to see Purdue University for the first time and visit my friend Ilana, the symposium was absolutely fantastic. I’m quite indebted to Stacy for forwarding me the email about the DIL Symposium as soon as she got it, which allowed me to register as well. I know there was a sizable waiting list–I believe the number of attendees was capped at 100. It was great to meet so many people who are also interested in developing more effective ways to teach data management skills.

The symposium was facilitated by the original DIL project team, consisting of Purdue University, the University of Oregon, University of Minnesota, and Cornell University. The majority of the symposium content was structured around their research findings and case studies.

Stacy and I shared a poster  focusing on an upcoming data visualization and management workshop we will be leading along with David Polley at the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center (aka Ted – my co-conspirator for ACRL and LOEX in the spring).

DIL poster

Our idea behind the workshop is to lure in attendees with promises of pretty visualizations while incorporating vital data management skills into the mix. We’re hoping that going through a workflow that accounts for management and visualization of data will cement in attendees’ mind the relationship between the two… namely that if you don’t manage your data well, you might not be able to create a visualization at all, much less a good one that will augment your scholarship!

We will be going through four mini workflows that will result in topical, temporal, spatial, and network analyses. We wanted to use only open data sources so that attendees (or other institutions) could replicate the workshop workflows; we selected ISI/Web of Knowledge, Open Congress, ICPSR, and a corpus of TEI-encoded texts from the humanities.

Now that the DIL Symposium is over, we’ve made our poster, workshop outline, map of DIL competencies to learning outcomes, and visualization rubric available for download on IUScholarWorks.

Our workshop is quickly approaching: October 25 at 9am! I stopped teaching information literacy workshops this spring so I’m eager to get back into the classroom.


Here’s the abstract and way to sign up, if you’re interested!

Data Visualization and Management: The Basics

Oct 25, 2013 – 9:00am to 12:00pm in Wells Library Information Commons Instruction Cluster 1

Interested in using data visualization to enhance your research but don’t know where to begin? Learn how to use basic data visualization techniques and tools including Voyant, OpenRefine, Gephi, and Sci2 at our workshop, where we’ll give users the chance to test their skills using data from a variety of open data sources. Experts will also cover the best ways to manage your data throughout its lifecycle. No data visualization experience needed, but attendees should have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

Register here:

This workshop is part of Open Access Week 2013.


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