“Demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities.”
One of my heroes in the librarian profession is the 19th century raconteur, poet and librarian John Vance Cheney. He directed the San Francisco Public Library from 1887 until 1894 (when he moved to Chicago’s Newberry Library until his retirement). While he was a good professional who changed the nature of library service in San Francisco, his deep and abiding love was not for bibliography but rather for poetry. I wonder what his opinion would have been of Wordpress (an open-source software company) and its mantra, “Code is Poetry”.
These days, technological savvy is key for librarians in a number of different ways. Our access to information is predicated on the digital architecture constructed by information professionals. But understanding java code or MySQL is not the limit of technological know-how: these days, increasing numbers of libraries are hoping to utilize the tools of the participatory web in order to better reach out to library users. Institutions are looking for librarians ready to connect to the public through every channel, be it from behind the desk or through the digital ether.
I am at once an active web omnivore and yet skeptical of some of the “revolutionary” language library practitioners use to describe changes they envision to library service under the mantle of “Library 2.0”. It’s not so much the usage of technological tools I object to; I embrace them wholeheartedly and think a number of them can add significantly to library service. I object more to the notion that increasing library service through digital tools is somehow contrary to the history of library service, that it is a revolutionary change, rather than just an evolutionary development. Library service evolved when print catalogs gave way to card catalogs; likewise, this current evolution started with the first MARC catalogs and merely continues with the expansion of chat reference service, institutional facebook pages, and the adoption of folksonomic tagging into library catalogs.
I’ve spent a great deal of my academic experience at San José State investigating concepts in library technology, starting with a research paper during my first semester on “Library 2.0”, its proponents, and its critics. I followed up on that paper with a term project for LIBR-230, Issues in Academic Libraries, where I created a webpage and wrote a series of articles on how online user-service models could be applied on-campus. I submit both of these assignments as evidence of my theoretical consideration of Library Technology.
As stated above, I am an active and present web omnivore. Starting with LIBR-246 with Debbie Faires, I have developed an online presence that I feel is appropriate for an information professional.
This takes form in an number of facets. The first is this blog, developed first for coursework and later migrated to its own domain. Through The Pinakes, I like to look at contemporary issues in Library Science (as well as art, sciences and other topics that prick my interest) through the lens of history and culture. I’ve extended The Pinakes into the world of twitter where I follow and interact with a wide range of information institutions (libraries, museums, archival repositories), librarians, archivists, artists and students, as well as “tweet” links to interesting web pages or news stories.
My practical experience with technology tools extends beyond the personal. For LIBR-210, Reference and Information Service, I developed an online pathfinder for the study of Íslendingasögur (a recurring interest of mine) utilizing the collection of the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. The resulting website is an example of how a library can create a tool for researchers that works inside or outside institutional walls. As much of my own personal research takes place at home, not at a library, I appreciate the usefulness of these tools.
The academic experience I had creating this faux-pathfinder came in handy when during an internship I was asked to import established University of San Francisco Research Guides from PDF to wiki (and simultaneously update their contents). Two of my products (a guide to using CINAHL Plus with Full Text, and a guide to composing Literature Reviews), are still available at the Gleeson Library Website.
Finally, I had multiple opportunities to provide chat reference to University of San Francisco students and faculty during my Fall 2008 internship. I was very comfortable and confident in the chat reference format, and is another way in which I am enthusiastic about technology use in libraries. In fact, I even installed a chat widget in this blog should any reader need to seek me out.
Between these examples of my theoretical approach to technology, personal use of online tools, and professional application of concepts, I hope to have demonstrated my proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies.
Exhibit H-1: Information Organizations and Management Research Paper | Available upon request
Exhibit H-2: The Selling of Library 2.0 | Available upon request
Exhibit H-3: The Pinakes, from Papyrus to PDF (Library Science blog, About Page).
Exhibit H-4: The Pinakes on Twitter
Exhibit H-5: CINAHL Plus with Full Text Research Guide (USF’s Gleeson Library)
Exhibit H-6: How to Write a Literature Review (USF’s Gleeson Library)