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Archive | What’s Your Theme?

What’s Your Theme? – Embrace core skills. Build new ones. Forge fresh paths.

What’s Your Theme? – Embrace core skills. Build new ones. Forge fresh paths.

By Marie Kaddell, 2014 DC/SLA Past President

One powerful thing about the skills we develop as librarians is how versatile they are; how well they lend themselves to expanded or complimentary roles, enhanced responsibilities, and sometimes, whole new paths. I’m a prime example of that. I started out wanting to be a public librarian but found myself happily ensconced in a law library after getting my degree. There, I built my reference, research, library administration, and management skills. I learned how to multi-task in a hectic environment and gained supervisory experience. Later, I took on a position as a project manager working with libraries and archives. I didn’t just get project management experience, I was also exposed to archival concepts, digital collections, and integrated library systems.

Eventually, I did something which seemed brave at the time. I left my project management position but not for a traditional library position. I completely jumped the track and stepped away from a traditional library environment to utilize my skills and be a librarian in a whole new way. Having spent many years working with library vendors as a client, I knew the important role our vendors played in supporting my efforts to meet strategic and critical goals in my library and for my organization. I felt confident about making the switch and it turned out to be a good decision for me.

My job as a Senior Informational Professional Consultant at LexisNexis provided me a way to be of service to a whole community of librarians and how cool is that! My position keeps me building my writing, speaking, and presentation skills. I’m supported in my efforts to take on leadership roles in SLA and develop an expertise in social media. Working with lots of smart librarians helps me understand trends and stay informed professionally. I’m busy but I’m never bored.

It isn’t just what we do and learn at work. It’s what we can bring from our other experiences that allow us to stay fresh, agile, and competitive. Our volunteer efforts, our avocations–they teach us things. Things we can use in our careers. Conversely, what we learn at work can help us pursue new paths, grab hold of our dreams.

This transfer of skills back and forth between our work and personal pursuits can be the accelerating ingredient in our personal strategy for success.  I’ll give you two examples. My personal blogging gave me the know-how and confidence to blog for work and led me to build social media skills that I could transfer all over the place. When I released my debut novel, Bespoken (writing as Marie Michelle Coleman)–a long-held dream of mine–earlier this year, I knew how to build a social platform, understood the changes going on in the publishing industry and how that impacted me as a writer, and I could write a killer guest blog post on a virtual book tour.

The bottom line is this–everything you do and learn can benefit you in building your career and following your dreams. Think about what those things are now, what they can be in the future, and how you are going to put them to good use in both your career and personal life in the short and long term.

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What’s Your Theme – Being Present

What’s Your Theme – Being Present

By Kelly Knight, 2014 DC/SLA Leadership Summit Stipend Award Winner

My theme and mantra, especially in this chapter of my life, is being present. The steps to being present are simple: say “yes” and show up. This sounds easy, but sometimes it’s not! (At least for myself and my fellow introverts out there.)

We’re all busy, I know this. I currently attend class twice a week while working full-time and it can be difficult for me to engage in extra-curricular or professional activities while balancing a social and family life *and* getting sleep!

But I tell myself to just be present. Commit to what I’ve committed to, and I certainly reap the benefits.

I show up and become an observer, who is starting trying to learn how to run a meeting or program efficiently. I listen and learn about innovative projects that relate to my own work in a library, or ones that serve as excellent examples for discussions in class. I understand that yes, it’s possible, for your ideas to be put into action.

I have had such an enriching experience working with our student chapter and attending DC/SLA events. I’ve been in the graduate school for two years and it has supplemented my education so much I couldn’t imagine my future without it.

As hard as it may be sometimes, setting small simple goals like showing up and being present can really make a difference.

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What’s Your Theme? – Finding by Seeking

What’s Your Theme? – Finding by Seeking

by Alicia M. Pappas, DC/SLA Membership Director

Starting a new career, in a new city, without a clearly defined path was at worst daunting, and at best thrilling.  As a librarian with under five years experience, some might think I’m still looking for my way, but the truth is: I’ve made my own path.  I would like to think the theme of both this post and my first chapter as a librarian has been that we find what we want when we seek it out.  We must be active in pursuing all aspects of what we hope to achieve.

I was fortunate enough to meet active members at the start of my career who encouraged me to get involved and meet fellow librarians.  Through the volunteer positions early on in my career, I found that the most rewarding part of being a member of organizations like SLA is finding ways to give back to the community I have come to rely on so much. As my interests grow and expand, so does my involvement and passion for the profession.  I only hope to give others the same courage I got from feeling like I was definitely in the right place.

We are all defining our own theme and seeking to create our own paths.  Share your passion and knowledge with your peers and colleagues, so that they find the confidence to make our community even stronger.

Alicia is a tax librarian with KPMG and currently serves as Membership Director for DC/SLA and Secretary of the Legal Division. 

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What’s Your Theme? – Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way

What’s Your Theme? – Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way

By Tracy Z. Maleeff aka @LibrarySherpa

My late mother used to love to tell the embarrassing story of how I was a disciplinary problem in nursery school. Whenever my class would line up single-file and I wasn’t first in line, as the story goes, I would physically remove the child who was first and take his or her place. When asked to explain my actions, I replied, “I’m the leader. I’m first.”

What I didn’t know then, but what I learned later, it’s not being first that makes you a leader. As SLA member Zena Applebaum discussed in her presentation, “Competitive Intelligence as a Leadership Tool,” some of the traits of being a leader are things like listening skills and the ability to clearly articulate a vision. No ordinal numbers required.

So, why is “lead, follow or get out of the way” my theme? As a Myers-Briggs ESTJ personality type, I’m naturally drawn to getting involved and wanting to be a part of the solution. When I created my online identity of Library Sherpa, I dubbed myself, “Your guide up a mountain of information.” I personally feel that librarians and information professionals have a responsibility to be thought leaders, innovators and catalysts for change. For me, creating Library Sherpa gave me the voice and confidence to aspire to be a leader within our profession.

Perhaps the real reason why this quote resonates with me as a theme is that there are two other options other than to lead. Experience and maturity have given me the wisdom to identify those situations when following or simply getting out of the way is in my best interest. I don’t think that makes me less of a leader for conceding. As the saying goes, I think it makes me work smarter, not harder.

Tracy Z. Maleeff is the Library Resources Manager at Duane Morris LLP in Philadelphia. In addition to being a DC Chapter member, she is the Chair of the 2015 Annual Conference Advisory Council and Chair of the 2014 Online Content Advisory Council for SLA. Tracy enjoys yelling at her favorite sports teams on TV, live-Tweeting award shows and gin that is distilled in a copper kettle. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband Josh and their dogs Sammi and Reese. Tracy Tweets as @LibrarySherpa and blogs at LibrarySherpa.com. 

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What’s Your Theme? Positivity and Enthusiasm FTW!

What’s Your Theme? Positivity and Enthusiasm FTW!

By Naomi House, MLIS

Positivity and Enthusiasm for the win is what it stands for and something I strive for daily in my work with INALJ, my consulting work and in presentations and panels. Personally I have lived the depression of job hunting without success and through INALJ I have met many more job hunters who have had little to no success. It is a brutal and hard reality for many librarians and information professionals; because of this from the beginning I insisted on making INALJ (formerly I need a Library job) a positive and safe space for job hunters. All criticism is to be constructive and personal attacks will get people blocked. This is not because I am secretly a Care Bear in human form, or unrealistic, but because success won’t thrive or happen without that type of outlook. Employers get a sense of our attitudes as well when we interview and can sense whether we feel we have the potential to succeed. I hope that the environment I have created gives this spark of potential to current job seekers.

One key boost to my own career has been through my sharing and celebrating the wins of others. I believe in sharing good news, important world events, fundraisers, you name it, with my followers. From the beginning I was drawn to the community of people working in libraries and beyond and their successes feel like something I should celebrate as a community member. Enthusiasm for others has translated into enthusiasm for me and what I am doing. I am not a scholar in the field, that is not my calling, but I love that through my platform I can share LIS scholarship with future LIS scholars and connect the larger community.

I was unsure what I would do for my life’s work. I didn’t always know I would be in the LIS field. I went to Film school for a year, then two different community colleges (best choice Ever as I learned so much in both!) studying TV production and then Liberal Arts, followed by a BA in History. By the time I began my final two years of my undergrad degree I had already been working my first library job at a special library. I admired my librarian mentors, all of whom were members of SLA, and knew right then that LIS work in all its varied applications was a career I would pursue. I still believe someday I will direct a film and I have also moved from working in a library to working with them, but that is the beauty of our work. We work inside, outside and all around because information professionals are needed in every field!

And no matter what I will continue to be enthusiastic about the field and people in it and positive about our place in other fields.  We can’t be successful if we cannot envision each other as pieces of the larger success. That is why positivity and enthusiasm FTW are as much a calling for me as a call to those I serve.


Naomi is the founder, editor and publisher of INALJ.com and a former federal reference, marketing and acquisitions librarian.

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