By: Leigh Milligan
The Online Discussion had a very successful year in terms of discussions. We had many active discussions on the NMRT listserv and Twitter. Here is a very brief overview on the discussions that we had this year and what we learned from them.
In October, we had a discussion on the listserv on Non Traditional Career Paths for librarians. This is always a very popular topic with the competitive traditional LIS field and our current economy. In these discussions, we touched on alternative careers that those with a MLIS can do. This included Library Systems Trainer and Consultant, Digital Collections and Disability and Access Services. SLA was recommended as a resource for those seeking out non-traditional LIS careers.
In December, we had a discussion on the listserv on tips and tricks on becoming a manager. A lot of great management resources were shared in this discussion including YouTube videos being a great source for management advice. Advice shared included that management can be an unexpected addition to current responsibilities as well as to seek out management courses during MLIS.
In January, we had a listserv discussion on mentorships. One big takeaway from this discussion is there are two types of mentorships: formal and informal mentorships. A formal mentorship is something you can usually sign up for as a new librarian, a lot of associations offer these. Informal is seeking out a mentorship via a friend or co-worker. Overall mentorships tend to be positive experiences for all involved. Reasons for participating in mentorships included networking, professional development or experience within an organization. The one big quality that is important in making mentorships successful is communication.
In February, we had a discussion on the listserv on how to pitch ideas to your supervisor. Participants were able to successful pitch ideas which included: De-Stress Fest during Finals, creating an Instagram for the library, department restructuring, and changing material discarding policy. Some tips and advice for pitching ideas to your supervisor included: taking full responsibility, pitch ideas that have not been done before, pitch ideas that are relevant to the mission of your institution, appeal your ideas to your audience, research your ideas, and be open to objections.
Also in February we had a twitter chat on gaining professional development with limited budget and time. Most attendees agreed that funding is the biggest roadblock for professional development. The attendees’ goals for looking for professional development activities included learning new library skills and finding new perspectives and approaches. The attendees’ best sources for professional development included networking at conferences and other professional association events, twitter, listservs, community development opportunities, grants from professional associations and webinars.
In March, we had a discussion on the listserv on saying no and refocusing. All participants had a shared and recognized that is very easy to get involved and take on too much too quickly. The best advice on how to avoid this included finding small volunteer opportunities that you feel passionate about, getting more involved with state organizations, focus your interests on a specific skill set, and attending library system wide trainings that fit with your schedule. It is as much as finding what you want to do as also finding what you do not want.
In April, we had a discussion on the listserv on responding to ageism in the workplace. Participants discussed experiences which included: being mistaken as a volunteer or a student, given the feeling of being too young to be taken seriously on the job, difficulties in finding employment over different age groups and feeling one is disrupting the status quo of the workplace with new ideas. Ideas for combating these experiences included: dressing professionally and wearing a nametag, interacting positively with coworkers and building rapport, being confident in the workplace and attending diversity workshops.
The last discussion this year was in May on the listserv and the topic that was discussed was collaboration in libraries. Topics discussed included: Public and Academic libraries collaborating on programs, utilizing resources of partners including scanning and digitizing, academic libraries working with campus offices and organizations on programs such as mental health screenings, creating depositories on campus like archived materials, and libraries as a space like art displays. A lot of links and resources were shared on the listserv on this topic.
As you can see a lot of great discussions happened this year! Be sure to check the NMRT blog posts for more details on these topics. Another great year of discussions is starting in October! Stay tuned on the NMRT listserv and blog for more information on how you can participate!