Spring at UNCG

Spring at UNCG

Our department had our first library career day today. I wasn’t feeling too hot, so during the “speed dating” network thing, I slipped away outside to go for a quick stroll with my lovely boyfriend. The weather has been Hot ‘n Cold (a la Katy Perry) with us for the last two weeks, so some flowers have been tricked into blossoming. I did not realize at the time that I had caught the UNCG banner in this photo as well, but it makes this photo even more magical.

My route to library school

As my senior year of high school approached, my only career aspiration was the dream career ideal that I’ve had since I was 8 years old: work for Disney. Specifically I had wanted to be a Disney animator (but lost a taste for it when they went to 3D/CGI). I was a senior in high school when Disney announced they would no longer be creating 2D animated movies. So I adjusted my goals and decided that I wanted to take over Disney so I could bring them back into alignment with the “correct” way to do animation.

How to get there? I did not know where to start, but I thought that I should attend art school. I ran into a major hiccup when my over-controlling parent told me he’d only let me go to the local university on the other side of town. I had no car, no money, and no job so I couldn’t argue with him. So, I studied multimedia (web design, video production, 2D–in Flash– and 3D animation).

My sophomore year of college, my parent finally relented and let me get a job and a car so my life schedule became: 8 am – 4 pm be in class and 4:30 pm – 10:30 pm I’d be at work. I slept in my car between classes and my grades were embarrassing. The multimedia program was poorly developed as well and only at the end was it revealed that none of us could find jobs.

I was miserable.

So, I continued working at my undergraduate job. After five months of not getting a single job interview, I decided to apply for graduate school. I had been talking to the career center lady at my undergraduate and taking lots of “what should I do with my life” quizzes from every book I could get my hands on. Test after test came back with librarian by a landslide.

Libraries? I had spent a lot of my time growing up in them. During especially awkward times in high school, I had snuck my lunch in so I could have some me time. I would check out a stack of books on Monday and then bring them back at 7:30 am the following Monday to exchange them for another armful. I couldn’t remember my student ID number but the librarians knew it by heart.

When I told my coworkers I was going to library school, they all laughed and said that they knew it. I wore my hair in a bun, had glasses, and often had books shoved into my apron pockets. *OF COURSE* I was going to library school.

Library school has been a blessing in my life. I was hired as a graduate assistant which helped free me from the unrelated work burdens of my undergraduate life. Now I’m an active contributor to my department, I get to intern, find mentors, lead and present and develop as a budding new information professional.

I started applying to jobs in October (I graduate in May). Today is my first (phone) interview. My life is better as a library student.

Using information skills and technology with the rural poor

This article is from a selection that I wrote for a job application.

My family background is that I grew up below the federal poverty line. I am a first generation high school/college/graduate student.

[…] the information skills I have developed have been put to use recently with the death of my grandfather. A final request of my grandfather’s was for me to find his siblings whom he had lost contact with over the years. Due to a mix of poverty, a lack of education, and fear of technology, my relatives had lost contact with each other over the years. I was able to assist in locating family members via my knowledge of people search engines and knowing how to research newspaper databases. Next, my grandmother was nearly tricked into paying extortive fees to scan some photos of my grandpa for his funeral’s slideshow. I managed to intervene and digitized the photos for her. By this act, my uncle-in-law realized that the family’s photographs could be shared by digitization and since then, he has begun the process in order to share family photos with our newfound relatives. I have provided training assistance and best practice tips to him.

While scanning photos for my grandmother, she was unable to recall the name of her maternal grandmother. I used my Internet-enabled cellphone to do the genealogy research to find the name for her. This eased my grandmother’s embarrassment and shame of having forgotten something that she once knew by heart. I was also able to share photos and a video from my recent and final visit with my grandfather that I had taken on my cellphone with my grandfather’s lost long sister. She had not made it in time to see her brother in life, but she could see his broad smile from the week before his death. My final contribution was to research property deeds from the counties my grandparents lived in while trying to find out if there was any property that was still in his name.

Therefore my education and skills were experiences that were put into heavy demonstration this week while assisting my poverty-ridden family. It became clear to me that one underrepresented community is people who lack the knowledge that technology even exists that can solve problems that they thought unsurmountable. Popular media presents a picture of American society that is overridden with the latest tech toys where everyone is on the Internet, has disposable income and an education. However, this is simply not true in the southern Appalachian Mountains where I grew up. This particular community is suspicious of outsiders and is unfamiliar with the opportunities that can be found in a library.

However, the younger generations are just beginning to find exposure to the outside world. For example, my young cousin’s school is pioneering laptops in the classroom. When she brings that computer home, her siblings and parents are being introduced to people and places beyond their experiences. I was fortunate enough to meet middle class classmates who invited me to their homes which made me realize that not everyone grew up living hand to mouth. This technology in the hands of my cousin will provide a similar glimpse of a world outside of poverty and therefore might very well inspire them to also go to college someday in order to end the cycle of poverty. So, while my activities this week might start off as a novelty, I hope it spreads like wildfire. These people are underrepresented and libraries need to build collections that appeal to their basic interests like using resources to find their family members, how to share family treasures, and learning basic technology skills to prevent them being taken advantage of by more savvy technology users.

Building Capstone Portfolio

I did not plan to work on my capstone portfolio all day. So far, I’ve been kinda moseying along and sorta looking at WordPress themes every now and then. However, this morning I started looking and found the Viewport theme. I’ve spent a lot of time tweaking it to suit my purposes. Some changes include:

  • Changed the background color.
  • Changed the blog title’s color and link colors.
  • Made sure that only posts from the “Capstone” category can be posted on the front page slider.
  • Removed the comment and post metadata sections.
  • I’ve been working on making a “page of posts” PHP template.

Capstone Portfolio WIP

Some links that were helpful in my work:

The best part was when I was copying my Collection Management wiki over (Materials to Build a Library Website), I realized that thanks to Twitter and other social media tools, I’ve actually had conversations with the authors of several of my resources!

As such, suddenly everything fell into place, these past two years and I realize that I am right where I want to be.