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Event Recap – Non-fiction Book Club Discusses “The Shallows”

The Association of Graduate Library and Information Students of Catholic University (AGLISS) selected The Shallows:  What the Internet is doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr as their common read this year, and they held a joint-sponsored book club meetup at Zorba’s Cafe Tuesday night. The discussion went well, and some attendees tweeted about it.

Stay tuned for the next Non-fiction book club event. You can view upcoming and past reads on the Professional Book Club page. Contact Jessica Fomalont with questions, comments or suggestions.

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Event Recap – World Cultural Heritage Sites at Risk:  Preservation Efforts in Libraries & Archives in the Middle East

Event Recap – World Cultural Heritage Sites at Risk: Preservation Efforts in Libraries & Archives in the Middle East

By Jan Zastrow

Gathering at the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center on 16th Street in downtown Washington, DC, a whopping 40-plus DC/SLA members met for an update of cultural heritage sites at risk in the Middle East on Thursday, April 21.

The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (SQCC) is dedicated to educating people of the United States about the breadth and richness of Omani culture. Through outreach programs, language scholarships, lectures, educational resources, cultural partnerships—and its wonderful exhibits and library—SQCC brings the culture, history, and heritage of Oman to US audiences.

JesseAfter enjoying the exhibits and indulging in yummy appetizers, we were welcomed by DC/SLA President Beth Maser who talked about joining SLA. SQCC Librarian Jesse Lambertson, who moderated the event, said his library includes a range of cultural heritage books and publications in both English and Arabic, many by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture as well as the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Also represented are novels and short stories, contemporary Omani poetry, and digitized materials such as wills, trusts and other administrative archival documents from the days when the Sultans of Oman lived in Zanzibar and the Portuguese controlled the Sea of Oman. All materials are open for public research and scholarship.

MichaelLambertson introduced Michael Albin who described his recent visit to Kurdish Iraq investigating the work of digitizing books in the north of Iraq. He specifically highlighted the work of Father Najeeb Michael, who is working to protect Christian documents and materials from destruction, decay and theft in the northern city of Erbil, Iraq. This is interesting because the conservation and preservation issues not only affect Arabic or Islamic materials, but reflect the more diverse population of those who live in Iraq and Syria.

JohnThen we heard from John Van Oudenaren, LC’s Director for International Programs with the World Digital Library. The WDL started in 2006 and now has content from ~130 sites around the world. Although it wasn’t intended to preserve actual physical objects, the World Digital Library has created digital images of cultural heritage materials that have since been destroyed, in effect serving as their substitutes. The WDL has a range of materials from the Arabic language in digitized manuscript form sourced from many institutions from the Middle East. To make the searching of the domain easier, the interface has been translated into seven languages, including Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and others.

Finally, Peter Herdrich joined us via Skype to describe the work of “The Antiquities Coalition” which combats cultural racketeering—the illicit trade in antiquities—and cultural cleansing. He hopes to create a Digital Library of the Middle East (similar to the Digital Public Library of America), which will be an aggregated collection of resources on a single website. His presentation revealed how systematic the cultural heritage looting has become in Syria—incredibly, even backhoes are being used at several sites to dig up antiquities in bulk! Herdrich is particularly focused on library and document preservation, and on providing access to materials that might rarely be seen without digitization.

Many thanks to our speakers for sharing their sobering experiences saving cultural patrimony in the Middle East, and to Jesse for hosting us at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center.

Until next time,
Jan Zastrow
DC/SLA Communications Team

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Event Recap – How to write a strong resume

Event Recap – How to write a strong resume

By Jocelyn McNamara

I attended the recent Job Search Workshop at University of Maryland, hosted by LAC Group, DC/SLA, SLA-MD, and DCLA. It was a fantastic event with great turnout — big thanks to all the hosts and participants. I volunteered to review resumes, and found myself repeating similar advice to numerous job seekers, so why not aggregate that advice in a blog post? Below are tips that Information Professionals might find useful when creating or updating their resumes.

  • I like Objective Statements at the top of a resume (I’m aware this is not a universal preference). It shows me right away what type of job you are looking for. Of course, it should be tailored to the position you are applying for, but it could be as simple as, “Information Professional seeking to advance my career in Archives.” It communicates direction and ambition.

  • Use blank lines between sections, not between lines throughout. Visual breaks should be consistently applied and correspond to informational breaks.

  • Don’t use graduation dates next to your degrees. Whether it was ages ago or last month, those dates aren’t doing you any favors. If you earned your degree recently, it will subconsciously equate to inexperience.

  • Include a section titled “Software Skills” that lists all programs you have familiarity with. Recruiters often use ctrl+F when searching resumes, and it’s critical to get those keywords on your resume somewhere.

  • Use numbers! Anywhere you can quantify the work you have done, do it. Numbers are powerful and easy to understand. They demonstrate you are paying attention to organizational metrics, which correlates with analytical skills. For example, if you were a Processing Technician, by what percentage did your work reduce the backlog? This ties into the point below.

  • Focus on the organization. Quantify the value you bring, and the tangible contributions you are making. This will give you a head start on salary negotiations when you get there.

  • Whether or not your career aspirations involve management, highlight any supervisory experience you’ve had by moving it to the top of each section, and detailing your duties in that role. Even if the position you are applying for is not a supervisory one, that experience demonstrates your previous organization thought you were so great, they trusted you to oversee other people or workflows.

  • Start each bullet with an action verb, preferably not a passive one. Rather than saying, “Assisted with labeling the Middle East Collection…” say “Worked collaboratively to label 1,073 volumes in the Middle East Collection.”

  • Volunteer! Get involved with a professional association like one that sponsored this event. Then, volunteer to be on the board. You will learn leadership skills and network with fantastic working professionals in your field. The willingness to get involved looks great on a resume because it shows passion and professional commitment.

What type of advice did other reviewers give? Please add to this list in the comments below. Thank you to the organizers of the event for inviting me to participate.

Jocelyn McNamara is a Client Engagement Manager with LAC Federal.

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Field Trip – Visit to Soldier Art at Workhouse Arts Center

Field Trip – Visit to Soldier Art at Workhouse Arts Center

By Sharon Lenius, Chair of the Military Libraries Group

DC/SLA Members met with Artist-in-Residence, Martin Cervantez at the Workhouse Arts Center (WAC) in the McGuireWoods Gallery to “walk and talk” about the exhibit “In It Together: Service Members, Community and Dialogue Through Art.” A variety of art media – paintings, a chicken-wire enclosed tubing with many prescription drug bottle and holders of all kinds wended its way across the ceiling for 30 yards or so, a very wounded patient (dummy) on a stretcher (the work of an Army Nurse) plus a fabric flower – one side fuchsia red velvet, the other side camo uniform material – with one petal fallen off, were a few of the dramatic art pieces on view. A side gallery offered a display of Martin Cervantez’ works that are on the large, public-spaces viewing scale. Martin served as a Combat Artist in Iraq and Afghanistan for the US Army Center for Military History.

MartinCervantez2A special display, the result of a workshop held in early April, depicted a multi-visual experience; poems, essays, drawings, photos on very special paper…..made from recycled camo uniform materials. Definitely a case of “swords into plowshares.”

Visiting the Gift Shop at the WAC, Admin Bldg 12 revealed the breadth of talent at the Center. Touring Gallery 5 & 6 (where we again met Martin Cervantez in his studio) was a quick walk through a variety of ceramic, fabric, portraiture, landscapes in cloth, and clever designs of all kinds.

The town of Occoquan beckoned for a light lunch at the Secret Garden on the backyard terrace. We enjoyed the atmosphere and afterwards walked some of the streets, checking out various shops with a stop at the VFW Yard Sale.



MartinCervantez1Next on the Military Libraries Group program agenda is the experience of a “Twilight Tattoo” at Fort Myer, VA. It will be a Wednesday evening event – could include a picnic! Program begins at 6:30 pm with the pageantry of the full Twilight Tattoo from 7 – 8 pm. This is free and open to the public. Check the video featured on the right column of the Twilight Tattoo site to learn about this history filled event. Exact date – TBD.


[Photos courtesy of Martin Cervantez]

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Event Recap: Strengthening Your Interviewing Skills

Event Recap: Strengthening Your Interviewing Skills

By Laura Stein, DC/SLA Career Development Committee

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Antos at Speed Networking Happy Hour hosted by the DC/SLA Career Development Committee in April of 2014 at the Mad Hatter. It was then that she approached me about her experience in human resources and conducting interview workshops and her interest in being a part of the Career Development Committee.

On February 27, Lila Faulkner and the Career Development Committee hosted “Strengthening Your Interview Skills”, presented by Susan Antos. Roughly 20 information professionals gathered on a Saturday morning at Drexel University’s Washington office to get tips and practice for mastering the interview process, which often presents daunting and nuanced challenges, even for experienced job seekers (Skype interviews, anyone?).

After practicing introductions and handshakes, participants broke out into smaller groups to practice tackling the staple interview question: “Tell me about yourself.” Susan prepared a presentation chock full of tips for each phase of the process, from doing your homework on the company beforehand, presenting yourself for the interview, and following up afterwards.

A main takeaway was making the interview about the job’s needs, not about you. It may sound harsh, but the interviewer is more concerned about filling that position with the right person, rather than your accomplishments (as awesome as they are).

Susan also emphasized taking advantage of the period where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Often candidates don’t take advantage of this, but it’s a crucial time for determining if that job is right for you (hint: don’t ask about salary and benefits until the offer is made).

If you get stuck, some great questions that came about were:

  • If it was down to two candidates for the job, what would be the deciding factor on choosing one over the other?
  • How will the duties and expectations of this grow over time?
  • What are the next steps and when can I expect to hear back?

At the workshop, participants certainly had the courage to ask Susan many questions. Perhaps it was the coffee and pastries, or that the job searching process was at the forefront of our minds, but people were not shy about sharing their experiences and insights.

We are very thankful Susan took the time early on a Saturday to offer this valuable program. She has been an asset to the Career Development Committee and to SLA. We would also like to thank Drexel for allowing us use of their space and showing us the spectacular view from their roof. Finally, I would like to thank Lila and the Programming Committee for arranging this event.

We hope that we can host this event again sometime in the future. Those who attended definitely felt renewed and stronger in their job search.

[Photo credit: “Interview“, JoePhilipsonCC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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