Category: Blog (page 1 of 9)

my job hunt: library school “extras” [pt. 2]

This is part two in a multi-part series about my job hunt. Read part one here.

I almost didn’t write this post – and in fact had other posts queued up and ready to go – but something was bothering me. I wrote about my library school jobs and classes, yes, but that tells such an incomplete story of the things that I did in library school that affected my job hunt. Here are a few of the things that I so often hear referred to as extras – but I don’t think they’re extras at all. Lemme bring back a throwback phrase from my younger days: “Let’s be real – extras are everything.” (And when you get to your job hunt, they pay dividends.)

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my job hunt: library school prep [pt. 1]

January 2015 marked one year since I interviewed for my  job at UW. I realize now that I really haven’t ever talked about my job hunt experience beyond what I wrote on Hack Library School (general overview about process + phone interview tips).

When I was a library student I read a post by Robin Camille about her job hunt. I still remember how amazingly helpful I found that post! Pretty sure I just pored over it. She talked about the things I eagerly asked my job hunting friends about, hungry for the tiniest of details. This week I thought I’d take inspiration from the type of details she chose to share.

Clearly, the information I share is not meant to be indicative of how anyone else’s job hunt should or will go – my hope is simply that it will provide a point of reference for your own adventures in job hunting. And because I have so much to say, I thought I’d make it into a series. Today I’ll cover my preparations as a library school student, both with classes and jobs; soon you can expect posts covering a detailed timeline of my job hunt, my application materials, interview experience, and final takeaways.

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spring 2015 presentations

This spring will be absolutely bananas – and one major contributor to that is my presentation schedule. I’m actually relieved because this is the environment in which I thrive. Give me everything to do and I’ll make it work; anything less and I just get ancy.

The next few months will bring a fun mix of conferences and local talks – plus my very first (paid!) invited talk at the LYRASIS eGathering. Can’t tell you how exciting/nervewracking/glee-inducing this is! Pinch me.

february & march

Data Curation for Future Librarians.” UW-Madison School of Library & Information Science. Madison, WI.

Open Access and Open Data Updates from OpenCon 2014.” UW Research Data Services Holz Brown Bag series. Madison, WI.

Visualizing Library Data with Tableau.” With Bronwen Masemann and Katie Fox. Association of College & Research Libraries Conference. Portland, OR.

april & may

You’re in Good Company: Unifying Campus Research Data Services​.” With Cynthia Hudson-Vitale and Amy Nurnberger. Research Data Access and Preservation (RDAP) Summit. Minneapolis, MN.

Telling Your Data Story with Tableau.” With Bronwen Masemann and Katie Fox. Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians (WAAL) conference. Manitowoc, WI.

Archiving Your Life’s Work.” With Paul Hedges. Invited talk, UW-Madison Retirement Association. Madison, WI.

DH Data Curation.” Mini-lecture, Digital Humanities Project Toolbox class (LIS640). Madison, WI.

Practical Tips for Online Engagement.” LYRASIS eGathering. Virtual.


What does this spring have in store for you? Any upcoming presentations?

project life CT: january

I didn’t officially announce it yet, but I was selected as a member of the 2015 Project Life Creative Team! It’s definitely an honor. I love this system. I love printing my photos. I love the simplicity. I was happy to be able to share a few bits and pieces about my process in my team profile and I plan to expand on that here very soon.

This year’s creative team is filled with just about the coolest women. Not only are they talented and inspiring, they’re also incredibly nice! We have a Facebook group and everything. A lot of them have written about scrapbooking, shared layouts, and been savvy Instagram users for a long time. I’m just trying to keep up! I encourage you to check them all out. Wowza.

Being a member of the creative team entails sharing monthly layouts with the PL team; they then pick one to highlight. Delightfully, my retro pics from Science Hall were shared in this month’s creative team roundup.

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Are you a scrapbooker? If not… why not?

i feel better when i’m recording

Documenting my life has always been important to me. This blog is a part of that but I have been less than active over the years. At certain junctures I’ve thought, “Oh let me capitalize on the energy of [finishing an important application] [graduating] [starting my new job] [feeling settled into my new job] [insert other life event here] to finally post more.” But it doesn’t happen, not really. It’s nice to have a space for occasional musings and that’s worked so far. But lately I’ve done some soul searching cheesy as it sounds and I KNOW I AM HAPPIER WHEN I WRITE. About my job, in particular, and this crazy (awesome) profession. Writing is just hard. I would come home from work and think, “Maybe I should write something,” but of course I’m sapped of the ability to create anything useful by that point.

In the past I’ve felt like a real weirdo whenever I’ve posted. Just vulnerable I guess, odd for sharing any thoughts. But then I read this. Plus recently I went back through my archives and caught this fascinating glimpse of what I was working on and thinking about at different points. It was so interesting to me and I wished I could read more to get a more expansive glimpse at my old self. I mean, sometimes I hardly even remember grad school anymore. I had this moment of realization that this part of my life is fleeting enough too – and wouldn’t I want more of a record?

So I came up with a new methodology for myself. I frontloaded a month’s worth of content; it’s all scheduled and ready to go. It feels good and also insanely obvious in retrospect is that all I need is a list, prep time, organization. This is how I’ve always worked, so why would this space be any different? It’s kind of like making social plans after work – doesn’t come easily to me (introvert alert) but I always feel better afterward. Ditto running. And I’m feeling more positive than ever that this blog falls into the same category.

As of right now, posts will go live on Tuesdays and Thursdays; both library and Project Life stuff. Hooray!

summer in wisconsin

Oh golly. I just logged in to my blog and realized that I had this draft post waiting for a loooong time. Too long.

I haven’t been myself these past six months, if we’re being truthful. There have been a series of hard transitions that have made me feel like the bottom has dropped out of my life. Like I am rudderless. They’ve mainly been changes in my personal life, not professional, though of course there are aftereffects. I didn’t anticipate it being this tough. I have been hiding. I have not been thriving. And honestly I don’t know how to get back to a place where I feel okay.

I think 2015 is the year to rediscover my path. To pay off my student loans and figure out how I really want to spend my time. To dig deeper into my job and find new hobbies and opportunities. To recognize that my past does not need to be so entwined with my future.

For now, here is a glut of photos from my summer in Madison, meant to be shared months ago. I hope they’ll give you a happy little glimpse into this amazing place.

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DLF 2014

I’ve mentioned in snippets here and there that I got a fellowship that allowed me to attend DLF 2014, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia. And I’ve mentioned before that I was – and continue to be – super grateful for it. Last week my official response debuted on the DLF blog; you’ll get a bit of info about my experience there, including a brief guide to recommended sessions.

Shortly before DLF I dyed my hair magenta. I had wanted to do something like it for a long time but I was never brave enough. I couldn’t imagine how it might look. I had pastels in mind for a while, a violet maybe, but on the day of the deed I opted for more pigmented. Purely practical: I thought it would fade to a pastel, which it has more or less has.

Overall, I love it! I’m so glad I tried it. Upkeep is a pain but I knew it would be. I’ll be sticking with a pink shade of some sort for at least the next few months. Colleague feedback has been minimal; either “I love it!” or nothing. No jabs about professionalism or anything, not that that generally rises to the surface. The most hilarious response was my grandpa, who stared and stared at me. He said, “Your hair is really… ” (staring and silence). Then, an eternity later, “Well, it’s really… you.” I giggle every time I think of that reaction. He’s not one to hide his feelings.

Back to DLF! If you get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. Incredibly well-organized. Definitely ranks up there with ACRL and LOEX for me. While there were a handful of data management sessions, the scope was broad so it was probably even more relevant for heads of digital collections or digital scholarship units.

A few photos from in and around Atlanta:

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memorial library in photos

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.

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we need to share our rejections

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.

  • 2011 Rare Book School: REJECTED
  • 2012 DPOE Train-the-Trainer program on digital preservation: REJECTED
  • 2013 ACRL Immersion, Teaching with Technology: REJECTED
  • 2013 ACRL Student Scholarship: REJECTED (then when a candidate did not accept, it was offered to me as one of the runners-up)
  • 2013 DLF Fellows: REJECTED (reapplied this year and got it!)
  • 2013 Code4Lib Journal editorial team: REJECTED
  • 2013 Humanities Data Curation workshops 1 & 2: REJECTED
  • 2013 DCIG board election: REJECTED

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.

#ftpart at uw-madison

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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.

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