Just in time for us to highlight libraries via Diversity Month (although this is so important, we would have anyway), Jamillah Gabriel is launching a monthly literature subscription box written exclusively by black authors!
It’s November, which mean’s its Diversity Month! The iSchool is especially big on this, and SLA is eager to participate. Look forward to posts and emails from us highlighting inclusive, diverse, and noteworthy libraries all month long.
If you have any libraries you’d like to share, please post here, email us, or all of the above!
All of our posts will be tagged under Diversity and Diversity Month. Keep these libraries in your thoughts and if you get a chance, see them in person!
SLA was lucky enough to arrange and enjoy a tour of the Health Sciences Library at UW on 10.27! The tour was a small success, led by Ann Gleason, the Associate Director of the library. We were joined also by Frances Chu, and Nikki Dettmar.
The tour began with a walk-through of the upper floor of the library, which has been designed as a common study space room. The large expansive area with little walls or barriers facilitates group and solo study with a comfortably low level of chatter. The upper floor also contains many computers available for medical student’s testing, classes, and general use. In addition to these study spaces, there is an off-shoot of the Odegaard Undergraduate Library Writing Center, with tutors who are specifically knowledgeable in medical jargon.
The lower floor was a different space entirely. The study spaces were much more quiet, as the librarians noted that sometimes students shushed them, instead of the other way around. Due to the transfer to online access, the librarians referred to their stacks as the “ever shrinking bookshelves”. Despite this, they can boast a large number of physical journals. As the lower floor gets quieter and darker, there are some books to be found.
We were also able to see how the library is evolving as they move books off site and respond to user’s needs. Including the writing center, the library is transitioning staff cubicles into student-used spaces. Currently, the library is working on establishing an audio-visual recording area (contact the librarians for how to get access to this!) and a media-focused conference room.
After the tour, we had the chance to sit down with the librarians and pick their brains about their current jobs, career trajectories, and how the library functioned within the larger campus environment. We tried to find out exactly what their jobs looked like, but it was difficult to pin down. All the librarians mentioned that if you liked variety, health sciences is a great place to experience it.
While the job description varies for these librarians, I have tried to make a rough outline. Their jobs include school related things, orientation, teaching students how to search, etc., publishing (conferences, systematic reviews – which are literature reviews but incredibly more intensive, from what I gathered), administrative duties (assessment, user experience), and reference.
It was a wonderful, knowledgeable experience, and SLA is very grateful to have hosted it. If you were not able to make it to the tour, we encourage to you to look around the health sciences website, or any of the resources listed below. As an additional plug, Ann Gleason teaches an online health science library course in the spring, so be sure to look out for LIS 528 HLTH SCI INFO!
Welcome to our new and returning students! We are your Special Library Association, here at the University of Washington.
Your UW SLA officers for the 2016-2017 year are:
Chair: Anna Greiner-Shelton
Treasurer: Jennifer Wineland
Communications Officer: Nicole Sonett
Secretary: Robin Ford
Distance Representative: Sheana Corbridge
This year, you can find us at our booth during the iWelcome Week fair, or at the Garden Party we’re hosting on Wednesday, September 28th from 3pm to 5pm at the Grieg Garden. We’re excited to get to know you and learn more about your interests.
In previous years, UW SLA worked to host library crawls and tours of libraries in the Seattle area. We are looking to continue this tradition and open up the opportunity for you to hold them in your area, if Seattle is not too local. Special Library Association is a nation wide association, with regional chapters. We encourage you to get involved on a local level, meet librarians and students in your area, and discover special libraries. To find a chapter in your area, click here.
In addition to library crawls and tours, we’re looking to host informal happy hours, cafe chats, and online get togethers. We want to help you make connections and discover the different types of libraries that are all around us.
Last week, the staff of the Microsoft library generously opened their lovely space to a passel of students. They greeted us with excellent snacks, told us about their work, and gave us the run of the place. Here’s some of what we learned:
Microsoft has approximately 110,000 full-time employees and a similar number of contractors; the services of the library and archives division are available to all of them. The library in Redmond has six full-time employees who approach the library’s work from a strategic perspective. Day-to-day operations and research are conducted by contractors; the whole team is about 25 to 30 people. The librarians also noted that there are many people with an MLIS who work in other roles at Microsoft, such as content management, user experience, and information architecture.
Along with the library at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, there are physical branches in Beijing, China; Redding, England; and Hyderabad, India.
The physical collection includes 8,000 books that are shipped around the world for use. The collection is unusual among special libraries in that it exists not just to support job-related research, but also as a resource employees can use to learn and grow. In that way, the librarians said, they’re more akin to an academic library, which supports both the research needs of faculty and the interests of the general campus population. The library also has a Maker Garage with a 3-D printer and spaces for sewing, soldering, printing, and a variety of other tinkering.
Microsoft’s archivist assists executive groups with research: she can provide company history, photos, information for points in a speech, and more. The archives also contain every piece of software the company has made, most of the company’s advertising, and hardware needed to run that old software and play advertising in obsolete formats (notably, a Betamax).
Part of the appeal of working in the Microsoft library is that positions come with a lot of variety and autonomy; the librarians said they’re never bored. They also said a key way to succeed at Microsoft is to volunteer for things — to see something that looks interesting and jump in.
In terms of assessment, the library staff relies not only on data it’s collecting using Microsoft’s own tools, but also on understanding and conveying the library’s impact on employees and on the company. They pointed out that it’s impossible to quantify what it means for people to have knowledge, and that the ability to tell a story that demonstrates the library’s value to its users is as important as data. (On a related note, Philippe, who leads marketing and outreach efforts, said his job is “evangelizing the hell out of the library,” and he recommended a book: “Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan.”)
The library plans to review its online portal and the way it’s organized, and to research how it’s being used. Nicole Partridge, who manages the portal, made a point that stuck with me: Librarians think in terms of content types, but people who need the library think in terms of the questions they have.
Two job-hunting tips: Keep your LinkedIn profile updated not only with what you’ve done, but what you want to do; make one-on-one connections with librarians whenever possible (via informational interviews or informal discussion) to learn about the work and how to be successful in it.
Many thanks to Merrill, Nicole, Kimberly, and Philippe for their time, expertise, and good humor.
The Pacific Northwest chapter of SLA is holding its annual Career Night on Wednesday, May 6 (next week!). The event will be a great chance to meet people working in special libraries and learn more about special librarianship, as well as to hear from SLA president-elect Tom Rink, who will be speaking. Plus, your SLA-UW officers will be raffling off several SLA memberships for students who attend. The deadline to register is April 30, so head over to Survey Monkey to sign up: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T3P6KV3.
Cost: $20 for students
Location: UW Waterfront Activities Center, 3701 Montlake Blvd NE Seattle, WA 98195
6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Networking and heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet
7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Program with Guest Speaker Tom Rink, SLA President-Elect
8:30 – 9:00 p.m. Networking
Can’t make it to the evening events?
Tom Rink will meet with students in Red C at the UW Research Commons for informal conversation and questions from 3:30-4:30 p.m. May 6.
Hope to see you there!