Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chronicle Series about Adjuncts in Chicago

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a survey series about adjunct and contingent faculty in the Chicagoland area. The final data is very interesting and disturbing. Please share this information to your peers and colleagues. This could have greater implications on the national debate about the rapidly increasing number of non-tenure-track faculty in higher education.

Adjuncts who teach part time are now about half of the professoriate, making them a crucial sector of academe. But information on their daily jobs, their qualifications, and their motivations is sparse. To help fill the gap, we focused, both in a survey and in intensive reporting, on adjuncts in the Chicago metropolitan area. The region's rich mix of public and private four-year institutions and community colleges provided a lens through which to view the variety of adjunct employment.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SLA New Proposed Name: Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals

The Special Libraries Association, the unit that represents information professionals in many specialized collections and organizations, has announced recently its proposed new name to the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals (AskPRO) to capture the diversity of fields within the profession. This process is part of the Alignment Research Project which started in 2007 when leaders realized the original name does not reflect 21st century skills and expectations in an increasingly knowledge-based society. There has so far been mixed reactions. Some believe this new name excludes librarians and devalues the library science degree. How do you feel about this new name?

You may also discuss your views about this proposed change on Facebook.

Friday, October 16, 2009

NYTimes: Does the Brain Like E-Books?

The New York Times Room for Debate blog has a popular discussion about the future of books. Personally, I have never used an Amazon kindle or portable device to access and read text from a screen. Call me old-fashioned, but I need to highlight and write notes on the margins.

Here is the question:
Is there a difference in the way the brain takes in or absorbs information when it is presented electronically versus on paper? Does the reading experience change, from retention to comprehension, depending on the medium?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Newsweek: How Libraries Are Becoming Career Centers

This April 2009 Newsweek article is another great example illustrating how librarians help patrons everyday, particularly in finding and providing information about employment opportunities in a struggling economy. Librarians can also inspire hope to job seekers who need assistance in a community setting. Another great factor is the writer works in the Metro Detroit area.
Libraries are my world. I've been a patron all my life, and for the past nine years I've worked at multiple libraries and archives in and around Detroit. The library as an institution has many roles, but as our country struggles through an economic crisis, I have watched the library where I work evolve into a career and business center, a community gathering place and a bastion for hope.

This quote below explains how the economy has affected the state of Michigan:
I interpreted people's interest in our business collection as the first step to pursuing their dreams, but these patrons were not motivated by dreams. They were responding to reality, and they were looking for Plan B. In Michigan, a slew of unfortunate circumstances caused the first rumblings of recession. Rising unemployment was compounded by rampant foreclosures. The auto industry went spiraling, and with it, their suppliers, then neighborhoods. Michigan's deficit grew, budgets were slashed and business slowed. Southfield used to headquarter five Fortune 500 corporations; today only Lear Corp. remains. As the city shed business, it shed tax revenue as well. Department budgets shrank and a hiring freeze permeated the city.

Do you know any examples of libraries becoming career centers in your local community?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top 10 Reasons to Become a Librarian

I found this website that lists the top ten reasons to become a librarian. This is a good introduction for those who are undecided about their post-college career options. I am spreading the word about a career in library and information science because there are too many misconceptions about the field (macro social work also suffers this same identity crisis as well!). An ALA-accredited degree is very flexible because there are a wide range of specializations (public, academic, corporate, nonprofit, government, freelance, etc.). Click here to read a longer description about each point listed below.

1. You Have a Passion for Organization

2.You Never Want to Stop Learning

3. You Enjoy the Silence

4. It’s a Profession With Range

5. It Goes So Well With Your Flawless Sense of Style

6. Your Co-Workers Are Probably Just as Cool as You

7. You Want to Learn Skills You Can Use

8. You’re Into Books on the Company Dime

9. You Enjoy Getting Time Off

10. You Want a Job with Security

The librarian of the 21st century should be comfortable working with metadata and technology tools (e.g., web 2.0, web design, etc.). The librarian should also enjoy helping people find information in more valuable ways.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Attention Macro Social Workers: How to Network and Find a Job

I found another blog dedicated to macro social work (woo-hoo!). He suggests five ways to find a job in your area (I am writing this in my own words):

1. Decide which track in macro social work you want to pursue (i.e., managing an organization, community organizing, program evaluation, or policy/advocacy work).

2. Do you want to work for a non-profit organization? foundation? the government? Think like an enterprising student. Search for organizations that have positions similar to what you would like to do.

3. Network! Unlike clinical social work, most macro social work job positions are not advertised. You have to know what is going in the social sector world. Attend conferences. Carry personal business cards with you. You have to sell your abilities and explain why you want to work with this organization.

4. Finding (and landing) the first post-MSW job will be the most difficult. It won't be perfect, but things will become much easier once you establish relationships and make an impact in your organization.

5. Once you become well-known in the community, people will want to recruit you. This can lead to better opportunities such as more senior-level positions and higher pay too.

As a macro social work student, you have to think like an MBA candidate. Some macro students may want to manage and lead a non-profit organization in the future or advocate for underserved constituents by writing legislation in state/federal government. The bottom line is you have to sell your skills and interests to stakeholders, colleagues, and allies. The best part is you will still feel like the work you do will have a significant impact on society. We are still social workers who help people, but our clients are larger social systems -- communities and organizations.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

U.S. News: Why Diversity Matters in College

A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to listen to a university professor discuss the effects of the U.S. News rankings on high school students' perceptions of particular colleges. In his study, he discovered that diversity was negatively correlated to the prestige/status of the institution. In other words, high-achieving high school students were more likely to attend schools that were less diverse (predominately white, higher income etc.). These results initially surprised me because many elite colleges and universities make it their mission to admit a talented and diverse class of incoming students each year. Apparently, high school students perceive this as less important. If the student population becomes too diverse, it decreases the prestige of the college/university. First, I think this study acknowledges the ignorance of many students who come from segregated towns and communities. They may not have much exposure to other cultures during their childhood. U.S. News has an article about why diversity matters in college:

1. Diversity expands worldliness.

2. Diversity enhances social development.

3. Diversity prepares students for future career success.

4. Diversity prepares students for work in a global society.

5. Interactions with people different from ourselves increase our knowledge base.

6. Diversity promotes creative thinking.

7. Diversity enhances self-awareness.

8. Diversity enriches the multiple perspectives developed by a liberal arts education.

We all have peers, co-workers, and acquaintances from different backgrounds. An appreciation of our different backgrounds can also lead to more civic engagement in our society.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Weather Is Getting Chillier...

The last week of September really surprised me as the temperature quickly dropped to the 40s and 50s. Students and staff have changed into their fall clothes (jackets, sweaters, long pants, etc.). Buildings have turned on the heat. It surprised me because the weather is generally still warm until mid-October. It doesn't typically feel like autumn until Halloween. I definitely need to buy some more jackets if I want to keep warm while waiting outside for the next shuttle!

I just hope this weather change doesn't mean that we will have another brutal winter in 2010 (In case you're not from southeastern Michigan, the past two years have been very cold and snowy. I think metro Detroit alone received almost 80 inches of snow last year.)