Special collection preservation

When I enrolled at the University of Michigan, I had every intention of specializing in both Library and Information Services (LIS) and Preservation of Information (PI). I knew I wanted to be a librarian, but I also love rare books and working through digital preservation access issues. Despite scholarships, it was still in my best interest to finish my 48 out-of-state hours sooner rather than later, so I crammed everything into 3 semesters and ended up graduating with what I thought was the more pragmatic LIS, only 3 credit hours short of the second PI specialization.

TL;DR – I really, really like preserving information, and I was >thisclose< to having the paper to prove it.

This past semester, I did my first real preservation assessment since leaving grad school, and I focused on the special collection that we have here at the college library. Many research hours and pages and citations later, I had an assessment in my hands – and while the finished product is great for us to have in the library, I think I personally got just as much (if not more) out of the process of writing it.

When professional development budgets are limited, as they are at my workplace, you have to create your own activities and motivation. This year, I am unable to go to ALA or SLA, but I feel good about making sure that I am continuing to challenge myself professionally. While I was writing up the assessment, I went through research that I did in grad school, but I also had the opportunity to read up on all of the scholarship that has happened since I graduated.

I have a lot of different duties in my current position as Assistant Librarian. I head up access services, collection development, and bibliographic instruction – it’s great experience in a lot of areas, and I’m a better librarian for it. One of the best perks of this job, however, is the freedom that I’ve had to pursue projects like this preservation assessment. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day activities, but I’m remembering how much nerdy joy I derive from analyzing environmental conditions and books’ physical compositions.

Side benefit: I got to use the assessment in a grant application, and with any luck, this time next year we will have additional resources to help me preserve these books even better!

How I learned to be a better editor.

Twitter profileWhen I first got to grad school, Twitter was something about which I really only heard in disparaging terms. “Why do I need to know that you just ate a sandwich and took a nap?”¬†etc. This was before I really started to think of it in terms of a “microblogging” tool rather than an “over-sharing” tool (an argument of which I have yet to effectively persuade my Baby Boomer parents).

I have been playing with Twitter since about 2008, getting a feel for how it works, learning the best ways to interact with both the site and its other members, experimenting with managing multiple accounts with services like HootSuite and Tweetdeck, and – perhaps most importantly – learning how to say what I want to say in 140 characters or less. This did not come naturally for me. I spent my undergraduate years writing history papers; brevity has rarely been the essence of my written communication style.

Twitter has taught me how to be more concise. Oddly enough, this actually helped my papers in grad school. I became better at choosing more articulate vocabulary terms so I had to explain myself less. It has also improved my email efficiency; since I can make my point with fewer words, I get through more emails in less time.

Additionally, I network better with Twitter. As a tool for public communication, there is less group compartmentalization to manage, and it is easier to make new connections (both discovering and being discovered). (Also, Twitter will not teach you to stop over-using parentheses. Clearly.)

One of the things I have enjoyed most about Twitter, though, is having a tool that lets me keep up with all of the things the people and agencies I follow are doing. I love knowing about new program implementations, getting quick links to new research data, and participating in brainstorming and crowd sourcing. Yes, I DO want to help name the new cheetah cubs at the National Zoo, and thanks, @NationalZoo, for asking!

It's not just you, Damisi. We all hate it.