I take a lot of pictures. I can’t help it. I have always been a documenter. Here are some random photos, mostly from in and around Memorial Library and the SLIS Library.
I take a lot of pictures. I can’t help it. I have always been a documenter. Here are some random photos, mostly from in and around Memorial Library and the SLIS Library.
Last week I got a really nice mention in Michael Rodriguez’ farewell Hack Library School post.
It made me think a lot, particularly about the fact that we need to be real about our messy lives. Or at least I feel like I do. I want to share the libraryland rejections in my recent past that you don’t see if you look at my CV. Anyone who has done anything has left a ton of rejections in their wake – but we don’t usually talk about them publicly.
Then there were many phone interviews that I did not get a follow-up interview (not by a long shot). I even wrote this post after a particularly embarrassing phone interview.
And then, the big one. The one that hurt the most. The one that’s actually really challenging for me to put out there right now, but I’ll do it anyway because it happened and why not tell you the story?
In July 2011, a month before I started library school, I heard about the NCSU Fellowship. It paid well, seemed challenging and interesting, and I was endlessly inspired by the library director, Susan Nutter. I read everything I could get my hands on about her.
From then on, that fellowship was my ultimate career aspiration. Everything I did, I thought about how it would reflect in my application. Every year, current fellows came recruiting at IU (I went to every session: 2011, 2012, 2013). Conferences that I went to found me talking to current or past fellows. A library student I met as an undergraduate ended up getting the fellowship one year. This thing loomed large in my life. I wanted to be competitive. In spring 2013, I even got the chance to visit NCSU’s Hunt Library. I was in awe, as anyone would be.
And then my final year of library school unfurled. In late October 2013 I submitted my fellowship application – my very first professional job application. Then it was time to wait and see what happened.
I was back in Wisconsin for winter break when I next heard about NCSU. It’s Christmas Eve and I’m in Best Buy when I get the text from a peer: “I just got an interview at NCSU! They’re flying me out in February!” Chatter around me fades to a low buzz. I can’t move, see, remember what I’m doing in this aisle. My dad is right there and I suddenly feel transparent with fear. Quickly, I check my missed calls: nothing. Email: nothing. I feel my heart thudding in my chest. I feel my cheeks coloring. I am afraid I might lose it but I know I can’t yet. I’m in the middle of a bustling store filled with happy people doing last-minute shopping.
Crying came later. I knew just in time for Christmas that I did not get an interview for the job I had pined for. It was hard to feel good about myself. Instead I felt deeply disappointed and humiliated. I had an in-person interview at UW the very next week; I knew I needed to pull myself together for that at least.
Post-interview, I headed back to IU for a new semester, utterly vulnerable as word of who got the call back and who didn’t spread through the department. My failure, known to my parents and partner thus far, was now revealed to mentors and peers. It was a low point. I was very keen on hiding, at this point; no interest in making anyone who had gotten an interview feel bad, I just didn’t want to discuss it. I wanted to survive the next few months, quietly healing.
Unfortunately, frequent reminders proved inescapable. For example: It’s around 8:30pm mid-February and I’m sitting at a computer in the lab, working on yet another cover letter. It had been a day filled with class, jobs, and multiple cups of coffee on a mostly empty stomach. I was still waiting to hear back from UW and I felt doubtful about my prospects. The person who texted me on Christmas Eve walks up to me, starts talking. “I’m just so worried about my NCSU interview. X also got an interview; I’m worried X might do better than me. And what will I do if X gets it and I don’t?”
I’m not even going to take the time to share how this made me feel. I’ll let you imagine.
I just recall my bus ride to the safety of home that dragged on, stumbling in the front door furious and heartbroken, wine sloshing in the glass as I poured, hand shaking. To say those things to me. Knowing. I couldn’t parse out the intention of this person. The first text was innocent. But bringing it up to my face more than once, despite my lukewarm trying-to-be-polite-clearly-not-enthusiastic reaction? How could that be innocent?
Library school is so small and word travels fast. I was privy to the whole story. The people in my program who were invited to interview, the people who weren’t. The people who were offered the job, those who weren’t. So by the time I got a form letter from NCSU in the spring, duh, I knew I wasn’t being offered the job. In fact, I had already accepted a job at UW. It was laughable.
That’s the story of the most painful rejection I have experienced. Undoubtedly I have many more rejections, big and small, private and public, stretching on ahead of me. If you try, you fail. I remind myself that moving forward is a good thing even if it’s not always easy. Writing about it makes me feel vulnerable again. All the bad things. Judged. Seen as trying too hard. Got what she deserved. Always so intense. (Is this just in my head or is this real? I can’t tell.)
There are a few things I took away from this.
Be kind and considerate to your peers. We are all scared, insecure, and trying our best. We need to encourage and help each other. It’s a fact of life in library school that a big pool of students will apply for the same job or opportunity and only a few will get an interview and/or job offer. It’s hard to manage your emotions and interactions with other people no matter what side of this equation you’re on. Talk about an awkward time. But seriously? If you get an interview and your pal doesn’t, just don’t bring it up unless they do. Certainly don’t seek out the chance to talk about it with them. It’s not okay. It’s not nice. And if you don’t get an interview/job, try to be happy for the people who did. Don’t hold it against them. Just let them be. Refocus on new opportunities and keep believing in yourself.
Knowing what I know now, I encourage you to have a big, scary goal to push toward. This was CRITICAL for me. If you are a library student, go find a job description that is entry level-ish but still challenging. Tell yourself, “I am going to be competitive for this job.” Give yourself a timeline. Start picking up the skills you need however you can. I am endlessly grateful that I had the fellowship to work toward throughout my three years in library school – the jobs I sought out to make myself well-rounded for the fellowship gave me a heck of a lot of options when I graduated.
Know too that great things happen even if you don’t get that dream job. I love my challenging, bewildering, and slightly mysterious job. Life goes on and it turns out it’s pretty awesome.
All summer I kept running across this amazing street art on the UW campus. You can see additional images by checking out #ftpart on Twitter.
I don’t know who the artist is but I’m hoping to archive these somehow. Spectacular.
“Hi, I’m Brianna and I’m the Digital Curation Coordinator.”
My job title is such that there’s no way I can get away without a little explanation. So today I thought I’d write about what my new job entails exactly. What does it mean to be a Digital Curation Coordinator? Am I a librarian? What do I do with my time?
(If you work in the digital scholarship realm, you already know the answer is messy.)
Technically, the classification for my job is that I am IT staff for the UW-Madison General Library System. According to my title, I’m not a librarian… but I am pretty much a librarian in practice: I work in a library, so funding and support for my initiatives comes from the library and I tap into my LIS background daily. Depending on the group I’m talking to, sometimes I’ll refer to myself as a data management librarian. It’s just easier.
The bulk of my position description falls under two categories: managing the institutional repository (25%) and building data management and curation services (70%) with an extra 5% thrown in for professional involvement.
Hats I’m wearing at this particular time include…
I am a sociologist. I decipher relationships, incentives, and organizational dynamics here at UW. When I think back on my English degree, the most important thing I took away was in terms of understanding audience and relating to other human beings. How does x character feel? What is the context? What is the action/reaction? This is really interesting to me. Learning how to work effectively with so many different people is hands down my favorite part of my job.
I am a therapist. The faculty, staff, and colleagues I talk to feel nervous about their digital stuff. They have so many other things to do, but they know their stuff is sitting there, vulnerable. They feel guilty that they aren’t sure what to do, especially since they’ve heard these scary terms “bit rot” and “media obsolescence” being thrown around. I come in and I listen. I think they can tell that I understand and agree: DIGITAL STUFF IS OVERWHELMING. We’re generating it so fast! It holds the same value but is so much less comfortable than the stacks of paper in the filing cabinet were. And we are all so busy already.
I can provide guidance but not much in the way of concrete, library-backed services – yet. But I’m gathering information. I’m taking the temperature. I’m gauging reactions. I’m learning about my community.
I explore options. I am encouraged to think creatively and to think BIG, then to bring that back to the reality of my university. The world of managing digital stuff is broad, shifting, and encompasses so many different needs and viewpoints. There’s nothing easy about it. I look at what my colleagues are doing or have done. I look at what UW’s peer institutions are doing or have done. I consider the particular setup of my institution and try to figure out how to make things happen here.
As a library student, I thought, “Well, just do it. Just do this cool thing that has already been figured out.” But now I get that every cool thing that is done was likely a battle, convincing and reshuffling and learning on everyone’s part. That’s the nature of getting work done in an institutional setting. It’s not inherently negative. It just is. There are people and parts to be corralled. Now it’s me trying to figure out what I can do to ease the process along. And honestly, I love it.
I’m managing the upgrade of our repository to DSpace 4.0 in the near future. Most of the technical know-how I’ve had to cultivate includes understanding the infrastructure: how servers are set up and how content is distributed among them. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about storage options and about DPN. But coding or tinkering? Nothing yet, not since graduating. This has probably been the most surprising thing: I thought I was taking on a techier role.
In no particular order, some things I’ve done these past few months:
And that’s about it. I’m learning things every day. It’s an exciting time!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Let me leave you with this photo of Francine, because, well, she’s the best.
[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.
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.
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 email@example.com to schedule a consultation!