Monday, October 29, 2012

New Officer Informational Meeting

Interested in learning more about becoming a SCALA officer? Simply want to get more involved in the organization? Join us on November 9 at 6:00 PM at the iSchool to eat free pizza and learn more about the opportunities and experiences you can gain by becoming a SCALA officer!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Online Social Event!

Join us this Thursday, October 4th from 7:00-9:00 PM EST for an informal online student chat! We'll be discussing ways that online students can get involved with both SCALA and DUSLA (Drexel University's Special Library Association chapter) and chatting about how classes are starting out this quarter! New students are welcome and encouraged to join!

The facts...

What: Online Social Event

Where: click on the link anytime between 7:00 and 9:00 PM EST to join!

When: 7Thursday, October 4th, :00-9:00 PM EST

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome to the Fall 2012 Quarter!

Thank you everyone who came out for the Back to School Ice Cream Social on September 21st! It was great having an opportunity to meet so many new students and hear about why they decided to come to Drexel to pursue their degrees.

Now that the first week of classes has ended and everyone has had time to get used to their new schedules, SCALA wanted to check in with the folks we met at the social, as well as anyone else who might be reading this post, to reiterate a question that we asked while overindulging in pizza and ice cream--what kinds of activities or events would you like SCALA to sponsor during the 2012-2013 academic year? Is there a library you would like to visit, for instance? What about a topic you would like to learn more about through an on-campus lecture or a webinar? Please contact us at with a suggestion, and we will do our best to make it happen.

Hope everyone is enjoying their new classes and internships!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Alumni Interview: Technology Initiatives Librarian Carol

 This week's alumni interview is with Carol Smith, who attended Drexel from 2004-2006. She enjoyed 17 years of corporate experience prior to commencing her studies at Drexel, including 8 years inj commodity futures trading and 9 years as Vice President for Operations for a highly successful information service firm. In 2006, she graduated from Drexel with dual MS/MSIS degrees.

After graduation, Carol's first served as the Business Librarian/ Assistant Professor of Library Services as the James C. Kirkpatrick Library as the University of Central Missouri (UCM), from 2006-2009. In 2009, she became the Technology Initiatives Librarian at UCM. In 2008, Carol obtained a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (UCM). In 2009, she obtained a professional certificate in Competitive Intelligence for LIS Professionals (Special Libraries Association, 2009). She is currently in the dissertation phase of her doctoral studies in Information Science and Learning Technologies (Ph.D. program at University of Missouri- Columbia). Her dissertation research centers on the opportunistic discovery of information in geospatial information environments. 

Carol was named the 2009 Missouri Outstanding New Librarian and a 2009 American Library Association Emerging Leader. She was recently elected at the 2013 President o the Missouri Library Association. 

What is your current job? Technology Initiatives Librarian/ Assistant Professor of Library Services, James C. Krikpatrick Library, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO. I have successfully applied for promotion and tenure to the rank of Associate Professor as of July 1, 2012.

How did you find your job? I learned of the position via the ALA JobList. It was one of 36 academic librarian positions I applied for, so my advice to current students is to hang in there and be persistent! I began as a Business Librarian for UCM. After the departure of our systems librarian in 2010, I transitioned into my new role as Technology Initiatives Librarian.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? There is no typical day! I enjoy a variety of activities ranging from staffing the reference desk and computer commons desk, conducting web design, continuous web development, institutional repository management, and faculty education initiatives. As an academic librarian, I am also highly engaged with the student body. I advice two student organizations and mentor 2-3 undergraduate research projects each year. I also raise volunteers each year for my library's amazing annual children's literature festival. I teach courses in geospatial business analysis, competitive intelligence, and library research skills. I am highly engaged in library, university, and state and national committees. Academic librarianship offers an incredible variety of responsibilities and opportunities.

What do you enjoy most about your job?The variety as well as the opportunity to learn new things and tackle new challenges every day. I particularly enjoy the opportunity to mentor others who are pursing their library degree or considering it. Mentoring is essential to the future of librarianship, and we should all take the opportunity to encourage and guide others. It's a noble profession!

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? I think there is a misconception that technology librarians know everything about all things technology. Like reference librarians, we don't know it all- we just know how to figure it out. And we enjoy working through a challenging issue.

What was the most valuable thing you did or learned while in library school? I gained so many valuable experiences at Drexel, but the most gratifying and inspiring was probably having my first research paper published with the encouragement and support of Dean Fenske.

What inspired you to choose this career? I'd been thinking and talking about becoming a librarian since the age of 6. My local community library branch was my favorite place in the universe and the branch librarian was my personal hero. My life took a few interesting detours, and I was 39 years old before beginning my studies at Drexel. Hey, it's never too late to follow your dreams!

What do you wish you had learned more about? I somehow completely missed out on learning about library instruction. I didn't even realize that academic librarians taught until beginning my first position. How did I miss that?! I love teaching, but I do wish I'd learned about about it during my studies. there are so many areas of specialization for librarians, tough- it's difficult for any program of study to cover them all!

Any tips for current students? Manage your time, exercise steady discipline, and put your very best into every course project. Your academic output serves as evidence of your learning and ability, and you never know- a course project or paper you can show to future employer may be what lands you that crucial first job. Support and engage your colleagues via the Drexel graduate community discussion boards. Set at least one ambitious goal for your studies (e.g. publishing or presenting). Identify a possible area of specialization. Librarians need to be both generalists and specialists- what special something will you bring to the table? Most of all, realize that learning doesn't end when you have your Drexel degree in hand. Embrace opportunities for both formal and informal skill development after you graduate. We're all in a permanent state of learning.

Monday, August 20, 2012

PaLA's College and Research Division: Connect and Communicate Series

Last week, I participated in a new online discussion series from the Pennsylvania Library Association's College and Research Division, called Connect and Communicate. This session focused on technology in the classroom, and used Adobe Connect to connect librarians across the state for an hour (noon- 1:00 pm) to chat and share ideas. (To read the discussion notes, click here). While I have used Adobe Connect before, and attended professional networking events, this was the first time I had the opportunity to see what tools professional librarians are thinking about and using on a daily basis. It was a new perspective for me- as a student, I often think about tools that I personally use, or tools that I'm supposed to learn about. Seeing what my future colleagues are using, enjoying, and disliking, was a great way for me to see what I am already comfortable with, and what I need to learn more about.

The specifics: Librarians are using tools in ways that I had not considered; for example, one librarian mentioned using iPads as a way to teach "untethered" classes. He uses a computer to project onto a screen, but rather than stay tied to that computer, he is able to carry around an iPad with the same screen to show students specific, one-on-one examples. He can also move around to monitor students' understanding, a key aspect that is often limited when standing at a desktop. Librarians are also using video editing software to create short demos on how to use databases, for students to access virtually whenever a librarian isn't present to help. One thing that these academic librarians weren't loving, however, was clickers- they felt that clickers were often limiting, and controlled the lesson with stagnant questions that couldn't be adapted to fit the changing needs of the group. The conversation about technology lasted at least 45 minutes, and could easily have gone on for hours more.

What I learned: There's a lot of new, game-changing technology out there, and professionals want library students to be involved in learning about it, and sharing that knowledge! We are their future colleagues, and they want to know what we think. Also, many of these librarians were instructional librarians- they are teaching information literacy classes to students, and appreciate feedback from students on what worked, and what didn't. Joining an online discussion is an easy way to get involved with professional associations; you can participate as much, or as little, as you want. Also, you skip the awkward networking conversations and questions, because there is a specific topic to be discussed. For me, this was definitely an hour well-spent, and I look forward to participating in the discussion on September 11th!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Awesome Alumni: Digital Resource Librarian Brian

Brian attended Drexel from the fall of 1996 to the spring of 1998. While at Drexel, he interned at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, assisting cataloguers in a cataloging project. Since graduating, he has worked at Manor College, the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, and Muhlenberg College. Brian has also published articles on mobile learners and distance education, as well as presented his findings at conferences.

What is your current job? Digital Resources Librarian, Bucks County Community College. Faculty Rank: Associate Professor.

How did you find your job? I began in 2001...and I can't recall how I learned about the job back then...maybe the ALA list?

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? The position, like all librarian jobs at Bucks, requires all librarians to wear many different hats- an aspect I love. So while I'm responsible for the ILS and the library web site, I'm also working the reference desk and conducting information literacy sessions for classes. Additionally, I serve on various college committees as well as teach a course. I think it's also important to mention that my job duties (even my title) have changed over the years as I have been allowed to pursue my professional interests. This is something to be valued and something I was not aware of when starting my career. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? I like the variety a lot, but above all, helping students achieve what they need is very gratifying. Additionally, as an academic librarian, I am immensely grateful to work at an institution with faculty rank and status (not to mention working on academic year appointment!).

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? I suppose to those completely outside education, they think I read a lot...cute. But the greatest misconception students and fellow faculty have is that we're too busy to be bothered. Quite the contrary, we're here to be busy serving their needs. 

What was the most valuable thing you did or learned while in library school? I think trying my hand at a wide variety of courses helped shape my career path.

What inspired you to choose this career? As an undergraduate majoring in history, I spent a lot of time in special collections. So initially, I was drawn to special collections. As I began my career, I quickly shifted to systems work, web site development, and working with students. 

What do you wish you had learned more about? I remember meeting a systems librarian while I was still at Drexel who explained that when it comes to specifics about systems work, she only knows what she needs when she needs it. The idea being that one needs to be flexible and adapt to the changing environment. 

Any tips for current students? Feel encouraged to explore all the variety this field has to offer!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Alumni Interview: Clinical Information Analyst Melissa

Melissa attended Drexel from 2008 to 2010 as an online student. By taking advantage of reduced student rates, Melissa was a member of SLA for a few years, as well as ALA and ASIST, but now that she has graduated and has to pay full membership fees, feels the need to be more selective about joining professional associations. Currently, she is a member of the Medical Library Association (MLA), and plans to one day join Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). She highly recommends that current students take advantage of student rates, conference stipends/grants, and association listservs, because they offer an excellent opportunity to learn about the professional world.

While attending school, Melissa worked in a corporate library, a hospital library, and a law library, mostly working with technical services and knowledge management. During her last quarter at Drexel, she took the Healthcare Informatics class (INFO 648), and really enjoyed it. Melissa was "...very impressed with the overall quality of my online experience. There are challenges to being an online student, but the convenience and flexibility can't be beat. I had many excellent professors who challenged me to do my best and I find myself silently thanking them on a regular basis as I confront the many situations at work that have some aspect of "information management" at their core."

What is your current job? Clinical Informatics Analyst at Olympic Medical Center, a small hospital in Port Angeles, WA. 

How did you find your job? I was extremely lucky that this job was being advertised right at the same time that I was planning to move to Port Angeles for family reasons. I applied and was competing against other people who had actual clinical experience, but I guess I interviewed well! I also had excellent references and had just taken the Healthcare Informatics class at Drexel.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? My days bounce between sitting at the compeer, puzzling out some issues with the electronic medical record system (mostly issues caused by the interaction of imperfect end-users interacting with imperfect computers!) and going to meetings. It is rare to have a day without any meetings, whether it is sitting down with a clinical manager deciding on what their SharePoint site needs, or participating in a regular team meeting, or presenting about a topic (like Information Security) to a group of administrators. The word Analyst in my title is very apt, as I do a lot of problem-solving and "reference interviews" with people who are experiencing issues.

I am learning a lot about healthcare information technology (hardware and software), and I am getting more familiar with clinical processes and the way medicine works. Those were things I expected I would learn. What I didn't expect is just how much my librarian and knowledge management background would be relevant! I was recently assigned to be Primary Support for SharePoint, which is the hospital's main platform for collaboration and Internet functions. This is both scary and exciting, because it has so much potential from a Knowledge Management perspective, but it takes a lot of time and energy. I am also on the Education Committee, so I bring my "librarian" self to those meetings, but it constantly frustrates me that we don't have an actual medical Librarian or Hospital Library!

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy solving problems for doctors and nurses (and support staff) which enables them to provide better patient care and possibly save lives. I also enjoy being able to collaborate with others on various process involvement projects, because it's like solving future problems (preemptively!) There is also more to learn, and that is very satisfying. 

What are some common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? That "informatics" is the same as IT. Nobody really understands what "clinical informatics" means, or what we do (until we help them with a problem...and then they know who to call! But they still couldn't explain what informatics means.) To confuse matters even more, our Clinical Informatics team just merged with our Applications (software) team, so now there is a "software" team and a "hardware" team under the umbrella of Information Services. However, informatics is not just about software, it is largely about people and how they do their work (processes and workflow). But since we usually help people with problems that stem from computers, we end up getting labeled as IT.

What was the most valuable thing you did or learned while in library school? I'm extremely glad that I ended up pursuing the Knowledge Management/ Competitive Intelligence concentration. I have used the skills from those classes on many occasions. I also am thankful for learning about the structure of relational databases, and the main principles behind Information Architecture and website design. I think library school also instilled a deep appreciation for the value of providing excellent customer service. 

What inspired you to choose this career? Ironically, my very first library job was as a Library Assistant at a hospital library, but that was a job just for the sake of getting a job- until I feel in love with it during my tenure! My boss encouraged me to go to library school, so I did, but I did not think I would end up back in a hospital setting.

What do you wish you had learned more about? I actually wish I had learned more search skills! However, after some years of work experience (but not necessarily search experience) I know that after a certain point you can't learn it in school. You just have to jump in the pool and start helping your customers even though you don't think you know what you are doing! I call myself a librarian, when the situation warrants, but I often feel like I'm not a "real" librarian because I'm not doing long Boolean searches in obscure databases to find articles or books for grateful patrons. But I don't let that bother me too much- because I really love what I AM doing for my "patrons".

Any tips for current students? Learn about informatics! And especially consider going into the field of healthcare in some capacity, because we need more people with our skill set. It's one field where jobs are available these days, too (although it helps to have even a small bit of experience with something healthcare related, so volunteer, or cultivate healthcare connections in your network).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mid-Quarter Salutations!

Hello! SCALA would like to bid all of you iSchool students a merry mid-Quarter! We hope everyone is staying cool and enjoying school. As of tomorrow, we will only have a little over a month left of the Summer Quarter, which also means that the end of the 2011-2012 Academic Year is upon us. Some of you are preparing to graduate, while others are gearing up for another round of classes this fall. Whichever is the case for you, SCALA wants you to know that we’re rooting for you! Also, here are a few reminders for things to look forward to this week—

The second Archivists Being Awesome event at the Academy of Natural Science on Monday, July 30th from 6:00-7:00 pm.

Our friends in DUSLA are hosting a Happy Hour event on Friday, August 3rd at the City Tap House (3925 Walnut Street) at 5:30 pm. This will be a great chance to network with other iSchool students and information professionals. If you have come out to a DUSLA or SCALA event before, then why not bring someone new with you? 

All of this looks pretty great, right? So if you need a break from studying this week, try attending one of these events. 

Please check back soon to see what SCALA has planned for the rest of the summer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Alumni Interview: Academic (and Medical!) Librarian Jackie

Jackie earned her MLIS from Drexel in 1994, while working full-time as a cataloging technician at the Scott Memorial Library of Thomas Jefferson University. Six months before she graduated, she got her first job as an entry level reference librarian at Scott Memorial Library. She stayed in the reference department for three years, and then moved over to access services for another three years. She left Jefferson in 2000 to work as the director of the library at Chestnut Hill Hospital, where she provided services to healthcare providers, staff, and patients. Currently, Jackie is the department head of Access Services at the Community College of Philadelphia. She has also taught a course on medical bibliography, and earned a Master's of Education degree from Drexel in Learning Technologies in 2009. 

Jackie has served as the president of the Philadelphia Chapter of SLA (1999-2000), the president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the MLA. She has enjoyed attending conferences for these associations, especially because she is able to visit places that she would not otherwise have traveled to.

What is your current job? My current job title is Department Head, Library/Access Services Librarian at the Community College of Philadelphia.

How did you find your current job? I found my job advertised on a listserv, HigherEdJobs-

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? My typical day will consist of a combination of activities such as staffing the reference desk, collection development, circulation responsibilities and administrative activities such as signing invoices, monitoring the library budget, and attending meetings. I did not expect to be as busy as I was afar taking the job at CCP. Life as a hospital librarian was tame compared to being in academia. I had forgotten the demands of academia after working 8 years at the hospital.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I like that my job is challenging, and every day is different. Having the chance to get to know our students and to watch them as they work towards their goals is nice. As faculty, librarians attend commencement each year. It is an inspiration to see students that we have helped in the Library march down the aisle to receive their diplomas. 

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? In general, I don't think people realize how intense a job being a librarian can be. I believe that people recognize librarians as information professionals who are experts in the field, particularly as the Internet has developed over the past decade or more. People look to libraries to satisfy their technological and information needs so if anything, the misconception would be that this is all we do. We still perform traditional tasks that are now technology driven. As far as access services goes, library users may not know what those words mean, however, everyone has a concept of the circulation desk. Being department head is something that must be experienced to be understood. The role of department head requires a major amount of multitasking to keep up with those demands, in addition to managing access services, and everything else that being a librarian requires. 

What is the most valuable thing you did or learned while in library school? Because I worked in libraries for many years as a cataloging technician before attending library school, learning the theory behind the practice of what I was doing was valuable to me. I also learned the power of networking. 

What inspired you to choose this career? I have always been a lover of libraries since I checked out my first book. My mom took me to our local branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia (Cobbs Creek Branch) to get my very first book and library card. I came to admire the work of the librarians at Jefferson. Some even served as mentors, unbeknownst to them. My focus then changed from wanting a career as a cataloger to public services. 

What do you wish you had learned more about? Well, I worked very hard to get a "B" in Resources in Business. I feel that I survived the experience more than retaining the content of the course. 

Any tips for current students? I think students should join professional organizations and attend conferences and local programming in order to meet people and of course, to learn. Professional organizations have reduced membership rates for students, take advantage! I also think students should be open to experiences that may not be in the area of librarianship they wish to pursue. You never know where you may get that first job. I would of course advise students to give back and support ISTA. Brenda Sheridan and Jennifer Lally are really great and totally invested in iSchool students and alumni. A relationship with the iSchool is one that will be of value long after graduation.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You're Not Alone: An Online Social Event on 7/25/12

Next Wednesday, July 25th, from 6:00-8:00 pm (EST) SCALA will be hosting an online social event! It's getting to be the middle of the summer quarter, and it's easy to feel lonely in an online environment, so come join us to talk about classes, job searches, or just how it feels to take classes during the summer! 

To join us, use the link anytime after 6:00 pm next Wednesday (stay as long or as short as you would like!). We recommend that you use earbuds (it cuts out the outside noise) and an ethernet cable, if possible. 

To RSVP, just email to let us know you're coming. If you forget to RSVP, we would still love to see/hear/chat with you! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alumni Interview: Library Media Specialist Deborah

Deborah considered herself to be "non-traditional student", because she returned to school for her MLIS when her children were in middle school. She graduated in 1992, and took many classes while still working as a part-time aide in an elementary school near her house. She feels fortunate to have had stellar professors, such as Dr. Mancell, and to have worked as a graduate assistant for Dr. McNamara. Twenty years later, she says she still hears some of their advice when considering different approaches to a problem, and she feels lucky to still love her career.

What is your current job? Library Media Specialist in a grade 3-6 building (PA).

How did you find your job? Job opening in my home school district, and previous place of employment.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? Rarely are two days the same, except for my half hour lunch which I've worked hard to maintain. I am the only librarian for a building of 1600 students, with two part-time paraprofessionals. We see about 70 groups every week in 15 minute intervals for book choice/exchange. Additionally, I see flexibly scheduled groups for instruction on an "as needed" bass (the classroom teachers are the ones who identify the need). 

I also work on curricular committees for the district and serve as a "leader of integrated instruction". I work with groups of teachers and coaches on professional development programs, and have the opportunity to work with our Literacy Coach to help promote and plan for our shift to Common Core Standards.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Having the chance to work with adult as well as student learners. For example, we have almost completed our first year of faculty interaction in professional learning communities which I helped to plan and implement. 

What are some common misconceptions about your job or your area of librarianship? That I sit and read books, that I know the Dewey Decimal system by heart, and that I expect the library to be a quiet place.

What was the most valuable thing you did or learned while in library school? Attended professional conferences, and worked for a professor (graduate assistant) to facilitate Drexel/Free Library award and conference.

What inspired you to choose this career? A desire to teacher students how to learn, instead of telling them what they need to know. And my own need for order and organization in life.

What do you wish you had learned more about? Rare and aged books and how to care for them. 

Any tips for current students? Get out and see as many examples of working professionals in your field as possible. Everyone has their own "angle" on procedures, etc. and everyone has something of value to share!

Monday, July 16, 2012

THATCamp Philly

Philadelphia is hosting its second THATCamp "unconference" this upcoming September 28th and 29th at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) is a free conference that offers digital humanitiies workshops for students and professionals on one conference day (Friday, the 28th) and discussion-based workshops focused on whatever the conference participants want to work with on the other day (Saturday, the 29th). It's a great way for students to get involved (for free!) with digital humanities, technology, and cultural heritage in the Philadelphia area (and network!).

For more information:

To follow them on Twitter: @THATCampPhilly

To like them on Facebook:

And to register:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why I chose to be an online student

When I went into Hagerty Library last week, I had to stop at the security desk and tell the security guard that I was an online student, who didn't have an ID to swipe in to the library. Her response was "So then why are you here?". It's a fair question- if I live close enough to Drexel to go into their library on a weekday, why am I only taking online classes? While taking online classes still seems "untraditional" to many people, here are some of the reasons I decided to be an online student:
1. Convenience. I can study when I want to study. During the course of the last ten months since I started at the iSchool, I have worked 4 different jobs, and am currently applying to new ones. My schedule has changed several times, and online classes easily accommodate those scheduling shifts. I'm a morning person naturally, and so if I decide to read a lecture at 7:00 am, I can do it. The internet is on 24/7, and online classes allow me to take advantage of that.
2. Expenses. This also goes along with convenience: to take online classes, I don't have to travel anywhere for class. I don't drive, and the train in and out of the city gets expensive! If I did drive, money for gas and parking several times a week really adds up. By taking online classes, I can stay home or walk to a nearby library or coffee shop without spending any money.
3. Technology. Using a computer for classwork means that I need to be up on my technology skills. In the LIS field, comfort with technology is something that we are supposed to have when we come out of library school. Taking online classes forces me to hone my technology skills and explore new things that I might have avoided otherwise (Dropbox, Adobe Connect, RSS feeds...). In order to get the most out of my classes, it's important that I use and understand technology. 
4. Time and project management. I've been on a weird schedule lately; when my job in education ended in June, I found that I was working mostly nights instead of days (thank you, retail). With my days often free now, I naturally assume that means that I have nothing to do, when in fact I have homework and projects to do. The flip side of convenience is that no one is forcing me to do classwork at a particular time, and so it's easy to put off. Being an online student has helped me manage my time better. This is certainly something that on-campus students get as well, but I have found that it's even more important to me now as an online student than it was when I did my undergrad on campus. There's less accountability in online classes (you don't see your professors' and classmates' faces when you fail to turn something in, so it's not as big a deal, right?) and so it's more important to have time management skills down, or at least be willing to work on them. 
While I certainly miss not seeing classmates and professors, the pros of being an online student (for me) outweigh the cons. Missing that personal connection was the main reason that I joined SCALA, and I have really enjoyed getting to know classmates who are going through the same things that I am. Student associations and local chapter associations are great ways to meet people in the field while taking classes online, and I highly recommend reaching out to people. Because while doing homework at home in my pajamas can be wonderful, every now and then it gets a little bit lonely. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Awesome Alumni Interview: Susan

Susan graduated from Drexel with her MLIS in 1996. She interned at Merck and at the Hahamenan Medical Center before it became part of Drexel. She also served as an adjunct professor for CIS. To view her LinkedIn profile, click here.

What is your current job? Senior Manager of Scientific Information at a large pharmaceutical company.

How did you find your job? Through a networking contact (a former client) who was retiring. 

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? I think my expectations are generally in line with what I do.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy solving problems and creating streamlined solutions.

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? That we deal with print/physical materials. In the corporate world, most information-providing groups no longer maintain physical collections.

What was the most valuable thing in library school that you did or learned? The resource courses were very valuable.

What inspired you to choose this career? At this point, I don't remember but I think it had something to do with not wanting to be a pharmacist. 

What do you wish you had learned more about? I wish I had focused more on IT concerns. 

Any tips for current students? Specialize. 

Interested in getting into a pharmaceutical or medical company? The Library Career People have some great advice on their Q&A blog.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Interview with Library of Congress Librarian, and Drexel student, Amber

Our blog interview this week is with a current iSchool student, Amber. Amber works at the Library of Congress in the Library's Newspapers and Current Periodicals Reading Room as a reference librarian, and is working on her Post-Master's Specialist certificate in Archival Studies. 

What are your primary responsibilities in your current position? 

Some of my primary responsibilities include providing reference assistance to both on-site and off-site Library patrons in the Library's Newspaper and Current Periodicals Reading Room. On a day to day basis, I answer reference inquiries that come to us via Ask-A-Librarian, telephone, or traditional correspondence. I also create online guides to using the Library's freely available Chronicling America newspaper database. My favorite ones that I have done so far are on the Rise of the Flapper in the early 1920's, the Bachelor Maids, and the Gibson Girl.

I have also helped develop an orientation session to the reading room for researchers and regularly volunteer at the Library's annual National Book Festival, held in September. I have had the opportunity to demonstrate the Chronicling America database at several American Library Association meetings held bi-annually. In addition, I maintain a few of the reading room's special periodical collections, including Professional Library Literature and the Library's Human Sexuality Collection. I serve on a few cross-divisional committees within the Library and am currently working on archiving candidates' websites for the 2012 Election.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I love most about my job is connecting users to our collections. The Library of Congress is open to the public and is free for all to use. Anyone (whether you are an international user, student, historian, genealogist, etc.) can simply use of on-site reading rooms to gain access to materials or virtually through our digitized collections online. We hold open houses twice a year in the Library's Main Reading Room but we are open to those holding reader registration cards most days of the year. And anyone 16 and older can get a card! (I know I'm beginning to sound like a public service announcement, but I'm really trying to make the point that we would love to have you visit us and ask us questions about our collections- it's what we're here for!)

What are you studying at Drexel, and why did you decide to pursue a Post-Master's degree?

At present, I'm enrolled in Drexel University's online Post-Master's Specialist Program in Archival Studies. Last week, I just started the Archival Appraisal course. It's a new challenge for me and I'm grateful that I have mentors here in the Library to assist me with better understanding the concepts of Archives. I love it so far but I only wish I had realized my interest in this area sooner!

Any tips for current students?

Some of the best advice ever given to me when I was a student in library school was: "be kind and work hard." I know it's simple advice and I hear it quite often but it's for some reason always stayed with me. A tip I always pass along to students is to get volunteer experience with any type of library (special, academic, institutional, etc.). Or, get involved with student chapters of library associations. Volunteering at the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh was a great way to get hands on experience in working with unique collections and learn more about the profession.

Interested in becoming more involved in Drexel's student chapters of ALA or SLA? Sign up to join our listservs or email us directly!

SCALA's home page, or email us at
DUSLA's home page, or email them at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Awesome Alumni Interview: Amy

Amy attended Drexel from 1984-1987. While at Drexel, she was the co-president of the student chapter of SLA, and worked in the Cataloging Department in Hagerty Library. She also worked part-time, and eventually full-time, at Palinet (now Lyrasis) working on a retrospective conversion project. After graduating, she moved to California and took a job helping to launch (and then running) a library for the Tech Support Department of a computer retailer. Amy felt like she learned a great deal from this position, because the company was understaffed and she often had to fill in many different roles. When the company was sold, she went to work for a top-tier international executer search firm as a research associate. She did research on people, companies and industries and made initial calls to potential candidates. The office was in Silicon Valley, and was the headquarters of their technology practice, which was an exciting place to work in the late 1980s. 

In 1990, Amy moved back to the East Coast and started working a project basis for Library Technologies, Inc. She eventually found a position as a Monographes Cataloguer and Reference Librarian at Swarthmore College. After about 5 years in that position, she moved back to Library Technologies, Inc on a full-time basis.

What is your current job? Authority Control Specialist at Library Technologies, Inc. 

How did you find your job? The president was a former boss of mine and asked if I wanted to work for them.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? Most of my work is project-based. I review files of name and subject headings from client's bibliographic records, correcting error and linking headings to LC or LTI authority records. When I'm not working on client files, I'm doing clear-up work within our own databases, working on our website, or keeping up on the latest n cataloging, such as RDA. I also monitor several relevant listservs. This past summer, I redesigned their website using Drupal

I had worked for them on a contract basis before, so the work is as I expected. Over the years, we have added some different responsibilities which have increased my knowledge base. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? Linking incorrect headings to the authorized headings. It feels like detective work- decoding bad diacritics, figuring our missing letters, figuring our what the name should be when the person inputting the heading had their hand in the wrong place on the keyboard.

I also enjoyed learning Drupal and working on the website redesign. It was great to add a new set of skills. 

What are some common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? That authority control is not an important part of maintaining a catalog. If names, subjects, etc. are not in there correctly, patrons are not going to be able to find what they need. When a library spends a huge amount of money on an automated system, but doesn't maintain the integrity of the database, it's a huge waste of money. 

What was the most important thing you did or learned while in library school? Probably my assistantship in the Cataloging Department of Hagerty Library. It gave me hands-on experience with cataloging. I had a great cataloging instructor in Jerry Saye, and a very good cataloger in the library who mentored me there. Between then, I learned an incredible amount. 

What inspired you to choose this career? I had my first library "job" in 2nd grade. I used to help in the library at my elementary school. In high school, I worked at the public library. As I was finishing college and starting to look for jobs, I discovered that most of the ones that seemed interesting were in libraries. I decided to go back and earn my degree at Drexel starting that fall. 

What do you wish you had learned more about? Maybe the systems side of things. 

Any tips for current students? Take a cataloging course, even if you don't want to be a cataloger. It's important to understand what's behind it all. 

Get some hands-on experience in whichever area of librarianship you choose. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bored over Break? Why Not Try an Informational Interview?

Are you looking for something librarian-ish to do over the week-long break between Spring and Summer Quarters? If so, then why not schedule an informational interview with a professional in the library and information science field? Many librarians will tell you that they not only love what they do, but also that they love discussing what they do with anyone who is interested. Additionally, people in the information profession are especially eager to share their ideas, experiences, and advice with future librarians. So why not use this lull in school-related activity to learn more about the profession directly from a professional herself through an informational interview?

Before scheduling an informational interview, you should first do some internet research about the libraries in your area, especially if you do not have a library or an interviewee in mind. A general rule of thumb is to limit the list of potential libraries to visit according to your own interests, particularly in terms of library type (public, academic, special, etc.). For example, if you think you would like to work in an academic library someday, create a list of academic libraries located near you (try using the College Navigator search on the NCES homepage), find the homepage for the libraries at these colleges and universities, and take a look around each library’s website.

After obtaining a better sense of what each library is like, decide on which libraries you would like to visit. For these libraries, find the staff directory (usually labeled “Staff” on the website’s navigation bar) and take a look around. Not only is a staff directory useful for finding contact information, but it is also a fast way to find out who does what at a library. Depending on the directory, some libraries might list each staff member’s title, credentials, and short professional biography. Even if a directory does not have all of this information, it will almost always list staff members’ titles. Use this information to figure out who is responsible for what interests you about the library (e.g., if you are interested in a library’s information literacy program, find the director of this program on the “Staff” page).  Finally, send emails to these libraries to request an informational interview.

Write your email as you would any professional correspondence (click here to review professional email basics). As for content, explain the purpose for contacting the librarian (you would like to schedule an informational interview), where you found their contact information, who you are as a student (the degree you are working towards, where you go to school, etc.), and a common point of interest (e.g., digital libraries) and/or a compliment on project they have worked on at their library. End the email by listing your availability and by thanking them for considering your request.

Once you receive a response accepting your request, start preparing your questions. You may decide to use stock questions that could work when interviewing any professional (click here to see a list). Stock question are quite useful for obtaining general information about the person and the position they hold at the library. Nevertheless, your questions should become more specific as you work your way down the list, and you will need to tailor these questions to the person being interviewed. To do this, base your questions on what information you found about the person or their position at their library from your basic internet search. By asking these types of questions, you are trying to find information about the key competencies needed for the position, as well as the kinds of non-library-specific skills (e.g., project management) one would need to develop to succeed in the position. While it is important that you come to the interview with a list of questions written down and ready to be asked, you should also allow the interview to follow any interesting or potentially useful tangents that might arise. Also, while you should be respectful and appreciative, you should not be so formal as to make the interviewee uncomfortable.

As with a job interview, you should arrive early to the informational interview in professional attire (click here to review tips on job-interviewing ). Also, as with a job interview, make sure to send the interviewee a “thank you” email afterwards. This type of email is especially important to send after an informational interview because, unlike a job interview, the professional with whom you have met has no immediate incentive for taking time out of their workday to speak with you; in this sense, then, the informational interview is primarily for your benefit, which is why you should express your appreciation to the interviewee appropriately.

Those readers who have taken INFO 520 have already interviewed at least one information professional and so are already familiar with the purpose of and steps involved in informational interviewing. Consider this post, then, a reiteration of what your INFO 520 professor has said about informational interviewing with an additional, first-hand affirmation of its value. To be more specific, two current SCALA officers have been offered internships as the result of conducting informational interviews. While there is no guarantee that you will be made the same offer, the more you put yourself out there and get to know people in the profession before you graduate, the better chances you have of finding a position that suits your interests and needs. Additionally, the more informational interviews you conduct, the more you will learn about the profession and the larger your network will grow. Thus conducting informational interviews is an excellent pre-professional activity in which you can actively engage.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alumni Interview: Carrie

This week's alumni interview is with Carrie Moran. Carrie received her BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in May, 2007. She started taking classes at Drexel in March, 2010 and received her MLIS with a concentration in Digital Libraries in June, 2011. During her time at Drexel, she worked as a Crisis Specialist for a domestic violence resource center. She did a short internship at Towson University, creating digital records for archival material between her graduation in June, 2011 and starting her current job in September, 2011. She is a member of ALA, ACRL, and the North Carolina Library Association. 

What is your current job? Instruction/Reference Librarian at Cleveland Community College in Shelby, North Carolina.

How did you find your job? I found my job using the great website/Twitter/Facebook feed I Need a Library Job.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? There is no such thing as a typical day for me! I usually spend a least a few hours each day at the reference desk answering student questions. The rest of my day I'm either helping at the Circulation Desk, teaching one shot classes in the Library or in a classroom, or working in my office on projects like maintaining our website, making tutorials, or doing committee work. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? My favorite thing about my job is the variety. Each day I'm doing something different so I don't feel bored or stuck in a rut. 

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/your area of librarianship? I'm working in a community college, and I think there's a perception out there that community colleges aren't as difficult as four year institutions. I have helped students with a variety of assignments and I can verify that their classes and assignments are just as challenging as they are in any other higher education institution. 

What was the most valuable thing that you did or learned while in library school? the most valuable thing that I learned in library school was how to keep abreast of new technologies and to not be afraid to try new things.

What inspired you to choose this career? I'm the daughter of a librarian and I have a BA in Psychology. I took a few years off after my undergraduate work to figure out what I really liked to do. I realized that my favorite part of my undergraduate experience was the hunt for information. That paired with my love of reading and computers helped me decide to pursue a career as a librarian. 

What do you wish you had learned more about? I wish I'd learned more about instruction. It wasn't something I really thought much about and now I've taught over 60 classes since I started in September.I had to do a lot of reading on instruction and instructional tools to feel comfortable. 

Any tips for current students? My number one suggestion is to create a chart with all of your due dates. I think this is especially important for online students because we may have multiple things due each week. During my time at Drexel I had three classes at a time and each one usually required 2-3 discussion board posts plus some other assignment each week and it was easy to lose track of what I'd done and still needed to do.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Awesome Alumni Interview: Sandra

Sandra started her academic career in 1997, at a community college earning her AA. Afterwards, she attended Temple University for her B.A. from 2003-2006. In 2009, she earned her MLIS from Drexel University. She volunteered at local historical societies and Drexel's Hagerty Library, but "life" made it difficult to continue volunteering to gain experience. She felt driven to succeed in librarianship because "all I had was a dead-end job and 20 plus years with customer experience, a willingness to learn, and the desire to do something more with my life."

What is your current job? I am about to start a new job as a Librarian in a Saudi Arabian university, Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd University (PMU). I resigned my position as a Content Management Analyst at NASA Center for Aerospace Information (CASI) to accept this position. I was a contracted employee for Chugach Federal Solutions, Inc.

How did you find your job? I found my job at CASI through a follow student. I found my job at PMU through one of the listservs that I am on.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? 
Since I have not started my new job I don’t know how to answer this yet.

At CASI, I mainly dealt with electronic documents which involved in putting the basic information (i.e. title, pub date, color or black/white figures and/or images), cataloging, and document evaluation. I also uploaded videos to CASI’s page on You Tube. I corrected metadata on the CASI’s database.

I had many areas that I was not happy with my job but with that said I also gained a lot from working at CASI for two years. I became more competent with the work that is done in the “background” of the library. It was a great job for me because I had no library experience and with that issue and just finishing grad school, CASI worked for me.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 
I enjoyed when I was able to work with older NACA and NASA documents.

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/your area of librarianship? 
One misconception is that you will find your dream job within a couple years of receiving your grad degree. You have to be willing to think outside of “your box” or comfort zone. When I went for the job as CASI I had no science/technology background. This job was very outside my comfort zone and “box” and it turned out to be a great starting point for me.

What was the most valuable thing that you did or learned while in library school? 
Reaching out to professors and asking them for help.

What inspired you to choose this career? 
There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how the library field was going to open up in 2010. Well, we all know that that did not happen.

I loved libraries, books and researching. I can remember going to my public library and spending many hours there. Even when I was getting my AA and BA I would love when I had to do a 30 page research paper. Having to go through the stacks to find the one obscure book with that one fact is what I love.

What do you wish you had learned more about? I wish that I had taken a grant writing course. I did not feel that the grants that I did in a couple different classes represented how a “real” grant is to be written. There were some other classes that I wished were different, but it has been a few years now that I can’t remember how and which ones I wanted to change. I also wish that there was a way that I could have gotten some hands-on time at the library.

Any tips for current students? 
Try to connect with a professor that can become your mentor.
Try to get involved with associations and reach out to someone if you are not sure how to get involved (I wish I did).
If you are able to relocate then you might be able to find a job.
Think and look outside the box and your comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the person who might be doing the hiring. I emailed my boss at CASI to ask if I should even apply. I explained my experience and how I didn’t want to waste her or my time.
You never just know what could happen.