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