Social Media & Libraries

(5-minute read)

By Lauren Puzier

Social media is widely used by libraries and their patrons, from blogs, micro-blogs, chat apps, social gaming and the larger social networks. Did you know that Facebook, a leading social network, had 2.45 billion monthly active users as of October 2019? 79% of the U.S. population had a social networking profile in 2019, an increase from 77% in 2018 (We are Social, 2020a). Globally, Eastern Asia and North America had the highest number of social media users (We are Social, 2020b). The NMRT January discussion focused on how our institutions are using social media (or not using it). 

Frequency

Participating members shared that they post to social media at all different frequencies, and this may depend on the social platform their library uses.  Hootsuite warns against overposting, noting that it is easier to overpost to Facebook or Linkedin versus sites such as Twitter. (Clarke, 2019). One way to avoid over posting to Instagram is to utilize the stories feature, which was designed to allow constant posts without spamming viewers. Stories allow social media users the option to engage with the content, allowing them to swipe a story away if they don’t want to view it (Buchanan, 2020). Some libraries shared that they post 2-4 times a month, once a week and 2-3 times a day across different platforms. One library noted that they increase their posts when there are upcoming events. 

Content

When it comes to what to post on social media, NMRT members had many ideas. Posts cover topics such as new resources, trials, library hours, upcoming events, as well as special dates during the month that will feature library collections. In addition, one member shared that their library posts fun trending memes and noted they were “expanding to try to more “National Day of” or collection highlights and other trending info. We’ve created a calendar of days/topics we want to post about and members of the team can claim which ones they want to create and post.” (Kiebler, 2020).

To manage content, some libraries use a calendar to plan posts and some have a dedicated staff member who focuses on content generation.  One member mentioned that they take advantage of Tweetdeck, which has the option of scheduling posts in advance. They schedule posts for the entire week on Monday. By focusing on specific themes for each week, they can easily create a few posts to be scheduled throughout the week. Another library found that using Hootsuite to manage their platforms has helped them collect and track analytics.

Communication

The ability to engage with patrons over social media is easy and quick, but not all institutions use these platforms to communicate back and forth with patrons. Some only use social media to share information while others use it as a two-way street, replying to specific users that engage with them. A few members noted that their libraries do not receive many comments on their informational posts. One member mentioned receiving a few comments on a post asking about patron’s favorite sci-fi book or movie. Posting more interactive content rather than informational content increased the opportunity to engage with patrons. 

One concept that came up in the discussion was social listening. Many major brands engage in social listening, which is when you look for mentions of your brand or any related keywords on social networks (Newberry, 2019). Social listening can be useful for libraries, one example: “sometimes [patrons] report things in the library that we can act on. Recently someone took a picture and tweeted a damaged wall that staff were unaware of.” (Puzier, 2020)

Engagement & Platforms

Overall our members found that engagement is going up over the past few years, particularly on Twitter and Instagram. Those using Facebook did not notice an increase. Having a team work on social media or just having a dedicated social media manager can help increase engagement. One library had success by engaging with other library social media accounts. Connecting with other local libraries can be a fun way to capture the attention of your patrons. 

Some libraries are using social media for reference support. Patrons can send a reference question via Twitter or Facebook and a librarian responds. One library mentioned they have recently linked up their social media (Twitter and Facebook) to their reference ticket system so that patrons can ask questions (reference or general) on a social media platform and librarians answer through the ticketing system. This helps their patrons to get timely research help on the platform of their choice.

Concerns

Using photos of library patrons on social media is a concern that comes up often. While ALA does not have a policy on this, there are some resources and best practices available. ALA encourages libraries to protect the rights of the photographer and the privacy of patrons when using images online (American Library Association, 2010).

What are we posting? 

“We had a lot of success in the Fall with staff Halloween and ugly holiday sweater contests. We posted pictures of individual staff members in their costumes (who wanted to participate) and the person with the most likes won a prize. It got a TON of engagement and students liked commenting on the costumes.” (Kiebler, 2020)

“Our social media manager also connects with other university libraries… Check out this back and forth exchange we had prior to a sports game against a friendly rival @FalveyLibrary: https://twitter.com/UAlbanyLibs/status/910911502944792577” (Puzier, 2020)

“Our main platform is Twitter and our Facebook account is more of a repository of our tweets. We also have a YouTube playlist within the university’s YouTube channel.” (LaMoreaux, 2020)

References

American Library Association. (2010, September, 22). Libraries and Photos of Patrons. ALA: Tools, Publications and Resources. Retrieved from  http://www.ala.org/tools/libraries-and-photos-patrons 

Buchanan, M. (2020, January 20). How To Use Instagram as an Artist. Retrieved February 17, 2020, from https://www.marylynnbuchanan.com/blog/how-to-use-instagram-as-an-artist-2019

Clarke, T. (2019, June 25). 14 Social Media Best Practices You Should Follow in 2019. Hootsuite. Retrieved February 17, 2020, from https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-best-practices/

Kiebler, J. (2020, January, 9). Re: [NMRT-L] January Discussion – Social Media and Libraries NMRT Online Discussion Forum Committee [Electronic mailing list]. Retrieved from https://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/nmrt-l/2020-01/msg00016.html

LaMoreaux, N. (2020, January 2). Re: [NMRT-L] January Discussion – Social Media and Libraries NMRT Online Discussion Forum Committee [Electronic mailing list]. Retrieved from https://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/nmrt-l/2020-01/msg00005.html

Newberry, C. (2019, November 26). What is Social Listening, Why it Matters, and 10 Tools to Make it Easier. Hootsuite. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-listening-business/

Puzier, L. (2020, January, 9). RE: [NMRT-L] January Discussion – Social Media and Libraries NMRT Online Discussion Forum Committee [Electronic mailing list]. Retrieved from https://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/nmrt-l/2020-01/msg00015.html

We Are Social, & Hootsuite, & DataReportal. (January 30, 2020a). Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2020, ranked by number of active users (in millions) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

We Are Social, & DataReportal, & Hootsuite. (January 30, 2020b). Global social network penetration rate as of January 2020, by region [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved February 17, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

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Meet the candidates for NMRT Networking Director and Outreach Director

Take a few minutes to get to know the candidates running for NMRT Networking Director and Outreach Director.

Don’t forget to vote for your NMRT Board representation as well as other ALA positions beginning March 9th through April 1st.

Julie Gabb, candidate for Networking Director

Why are you interested in this position?

As an early career librarian, I found it difficult to find my footing in an expansive organization like American Library Association. New Members Round table provided me the opportunity to better understand and navigate ALA as an organization and conference, and to connect with mentors, from whom I learned how to be a better public librarian and advocate. I want to continue this vital mission to support students, paraprofessionals and early-career librarians from around the country, while also expanding its reach within ALA. By seeking partnerships with other round tables and divisions, we can together create meaningful conference experiences for students, early-career librarians, and seasoned NMRT members alike.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

I have chaired two committees under the Networking Director since 2018: the NMRT Orientations Committee and NMRT Local Information Committee. At ALA2019, NMRT had a well-attended orientation of over 100 people. The committee cross-promoted other NMRT conference events, along with hosting a panel discussion with NMRT leadership and other library leaders. In addition to the orientation, we offered an exclusive preview exhibit hall tour in a calm, uncongested space to almost 20 NMRT members, allowing time to ask questions to Exhibitor Round Table members about the conference experience. It was rewarding to see members from around the country (and world!) sharing stories and buddying up with each other during the tours. On the NMRT Local Information Committee, I am working towards increasing the NMRT Field Trip attendance from previous years with considerations about timing and location to the conference center. This is also my second year as an Exhibits Round Table Program Subcommittee member, where I give feedback about vendor-sponsored conference program proposals. I hope that through my relationships with other divisions and round tables, we can continue to create fresh networking opportunities that build lasting relationships among members.

In my public library, I have served on a Harvest for Hunger committee since 2018 to help fundraise throughout the year for the area food bank. One of our most successful staff events is a biannual karaoke fundraiser for employees to give back to the food bank and mingle with staff from other library branches. Beyond ALA, I have several years of management and event-planning experience as a business manager for a college radio station. My team and I planned and hosted annual music events with increases in attendance every year, and fundraised for our operating budget. I am able to work creatively and effectively within financial constraints.

As Networking Director, you will oversee NMRT committees associated with conference attendance. In what ways would you like to see NMRT reach out to those members not able to attend MW or Annual conferences?

Considering ALA’s recent financial concerns, I will work towards increasing networking opportunities throughout the year through online methods. Many members, including student members do not have the funding to attend networking events at conferences. I plan on working with the outgoing Networking Director to increase the number of online programs each year. I applaud the Online Programs Committee for their work on the upcoming webinar and would like to see more opportunities for panel discussions in conjunction with our Outreach Director and student chapter chairs.

I would also like to reexamine conference streaming of orientations at Midwinter and Annual. If livestreaming isn’t feasible, shareable PowerPoint presentations would be my next step to share resources online via the NMRT-Listserv.

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

As a public librarian and graduate student, I make sure I balance my time effectively, while also making time for self-care! I am diligent in checking my email multiple times a day and add all my NMRT tasks to my Outlook calendar with alerts. My Google and Outlook inboxes have a filtering feature turned on to ensure that NMRT e-mails do not get skipped over or end up in the dreaded spam folder. I make a point of returning emails within a day and I utilize to-do lists for keeping track of short term projects.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed? Why did you like it?

Sometimes adult readers underestimate young adult novels, but I would urge all of you to read poet/young adult writer Elizabeth Acevedo’s novel, With The Fire On High. The protagonist teen chef, Emoni, expresses the fervor for cooking that many of my culinary school teen patrons have. Her passion for remixing her abuela’s dishes reminded me fondly of my repeated attempts of replicating grandma’s legendary dishes for relatives. I absolutely love Emoni’s determination to become a next generation, rising chef in Philly without letting her past dictate her future. Acevedo depicts a coming-of-age story that rings true for youth today. What a heartwarming read that celebrates Afro-Latinx teens!


Veronica Leigh Milliner, candidate for Outreach Director

Why are you interested in this position? 

I’m interested in the Outreach Director position because I would love the opportunity to help make NMRT strong through membership recruitment and fostering strong relationships with new and current members. NMRT has been a great support and learning opportunity in my library career and I think having this round table with its unique focus is extremely important to ALA. I’m hoping that by focusing on member recruitment and retention, as well as outreach to LIS students and recent graduates, I can help to support NMRT to strengthen and grow into the future.  

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

Professionally, I have worked in a variety of different types of libraries, with much of my work focusing on community outreach, programming, and public libraries as important community spaces for creative and educational services. 

I have a long history of involvement with NMRT. I previously served as the Leadership Development Director for NMRT from 2017 to 2019. In that position I oversaw the following committees: NMRT Professional Development Grant, Annual Conference Professional Development Attendance Award, Online Discussion Forum, Annual Social, and Shirley Olofson Memorial Award committees. I’ve also been a member of the Membership Promotion, Diversity, and Recruitment Committee (2015-2016), Co-Chair of the Orientation Committee (2016-2017), and member of the President’s Program Committee (2016-2017).

I’ve also had committee positions with the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) on the Managing Children’s Services Committee (2016-2018) and the Children and Technology Committee (2018-2019). Regionally, I’ve been a member of the Pennsylvania Library Association and a member of the PaLA’s Equity,

Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force.

Currently I serve on ALA’s Committee on Literacy and NMRT’s President’s Program Committee. Also, a current member of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). 

As Outreach Director, you will oversee several NMRT committees that focus on students. What value do you feel LIS students bring to NMRT?

I feel that the energy, ideas, and perspective of LIS students makes them a vital foundation for NMRT. I think it is important for NMRT to continue to support LIS students, through professional development opportunities, networking, and educational opportunities. Likewise, I also think it’s important for NMRT to listen to the voices of LIS students regarding what the roundtable is doing well and what could be improved to best support their success in ALA as well as in their own careers. NMRT likes to serve as a stepping stone for individuals who are not only new to ALA but new to the LIS field and by continuing to support this community, I think this is what makes us strong. 

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

One of the things that I’ve found beneficial in previously serving on the NMRT Board is following the position’s timetable of milestones. I schedule the known milestones of the committees I will oversee as well as my own position in order to remain on track with my required duties.

I would also arrange regular check-ins with committee chairs and attend committee meetings when possible to remain up-to-speed on committee happenings and where I can best be of assistance. I have found in the past that being proactive like this will help to facilitate faster intervention with committees if needed and will give me more ideas about how I can best support the chairs. In my experience working on and with past committees, I know that folks have great ideas about how to support NMRT and the work that they are doing, so I feel a major part of my role is supporting these ideas through proactive engagement with committee members and chairs.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed?  Why did you like it?

I loved Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani. In it she talks about facing fear, embracing and learning from failure, and how many have built up the false idea of perfection as a goalpost for much of their work. I loved reading this because it really spoke to me about the importance of learning from past experience and to help process our society’s concern with perfection and fear of taking risks. It’s important to look at embracing opportunity (and the possibility of failure that comes with that) towards our personal happiness. 

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Meet the Candidates for NMRT Secretary and Assistant Treasurer

Take a few minutes to get to know the candidates running for NMRT Secretary and Assistant Treasurer.

Don’t forget to vote for your NMRT Board representation as well as other ALA positions beginning March 9th through April 1st.

Deborah Allman, candidate for Secretary

Why are you interested in this position? 

I am interested in the secretary position, because NMRT was the first roundtable that I joined four years ago. As a new ALA member I was looking for different groups that would serve my interests and skills and NMRT was on that list.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

   I believe that with my former role as a secretary for several organizations that I would be a good fit for the position as secretary. 

   1. Former Secretary of AFSCME-Local 1930 (New York Public Library Guild-2004 and take minutes when needed.)

   2. Financial Secretary/Treasurer – Coalition of Black Trade Unionists -2019-Present

   3. Manager of a NYPL branch

As Secretary your responsibilities include coordinating NMRT social networking presence on the appropriate tools. What do you feel is the best method to get information to the NMRT membership, and why? What is your plan for coordinating NMRT’s social networking presence?

The best methods to get information to the membership are social media, meetings, and social events. I don’t believe that you can just use one method to get out information, because we all gather and receive information differently. My plan for coordinating NMRT’s social networking presence is to make sure that all information is posted in a timely manner. 

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

The time management skills that I will employ to ensure that my NMRT duties remain a priority are prioritizing my duties and making sure I have no conflicts with my schedule.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed?  Why did you like it?

A book that I recently read and enjoyed was Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I like this book, because I can see myself in this book. Each poem gives you a very touching and powerful feeling about what it was like growing up African American in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Cara Calabrese, candidate for Assistant Treasurer

Why are you interested in this position?

I am looking to be more involved in the profession and I want to make my time and service count. I want to support groups that I feel are actively benefiting library professionals. NMRT has always done this for me and continues to do this for others by offering valuable programming, creating easy ways to connect with others and build those connections into professional networks and friendships, as well as being a home base for many new or early career librarians inside a large and at times overwhelming organization. 

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

I currently administer the materials budget for my library. I coordinate with the head of the collection development librarians and accounts payable to timely encumber and effectively spend our funds over the course of the fiscal year. I have experience with tracking and paying expenses with a variety of payment methods and vendors. I manage the library’s purchasing credit card for material items and reconcile my charges and receipts each month. I have also been a co-chair for and regional/local ALA chapter Interest Group. Being a co-chair we are expected to plan workshops, which includes keeping track of receipts for reimbursement and creating budgets for said workshops ensuring our registration fees can fund the entire workshop, as no start up funds are provided. We were also responsible for reporting spending and registration numbers and fees to the board and treasurer accurately and timely. I am also a member of the ALCTS Budget and Finance committee. This has given me a great opportunity to see how a division runs. Our committee is tasked with evaluating the budget each year to ensure we are staying in the black and adjust as needed to realign our spending with the division’s priorities. I am confident with the skills I’ve learned on the job and experiences I’ve had working in collaboration with others to manage funds and accurately report finances, I would be an asset as Assistant Treasurer. 

As Assistant Treasurer, you will communicate with all committee chairs and board members. How do you propose to track these communications?

For tracking communications, I would use Trello, a free tool I learned about through a colleague at my former job. As a department, we used it to track and coordinate the review of library licenses. I have also found it to be a good tool when tracking electronic resource (ER) issues. Which can be similar to tracking communication with different board members or groups who all require different levels or types of information. ER issues may involve contacting multiple vendors a day and following up on a systematic basis until the issues have been resolved. Tracking the issues and related emails on a Trello Board allowed me to easily report back to both my department and affected parties on the status of any issue. Since boards can be shared with others, it helped me be transparent with my actions as well and when I moved on from that position, I was able to easily transition my open tickets back to the department by giving them ownership of the board. Also keeping track outside of my email will help me keep work and NMRT business separate and at the forefront of my mind.

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

I use calendars and lists, physical or electronic, to keep track and prioritize what needs to be accomplished and manage my time. When I started my position I reviewed all relevant documentation and time lines, then I regularly set aside time on my calendar to handle on-going projects, that way I can close my door and focus on the task at hand. I would do the same, review and block out time, for standard NMRT business. Additionally, I may use a Trello board to manage communication or longer term projects and employ automation or connected tools as appropriate. Not all business is going to be regularly scheduled, so I would treat other NMRT work like I treat my acquisitions work. When I receive a special order, I review and determine what priority it takes relevant to my current work and timing of the fiscal year. If it is a high priority or can be handled quickly, I work on it first. If it needs to wait, I will note the item, so even if the email becomes buried in my inbox the task does not and I can complete it as soon as possible.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed?  Why did you like it?

A recent book I read was actually given to me by my sister. I was at my parents house. The trip came at a rough time for all of us. She brought out her copy of The Selection by Kiera Cass. It is one of her favorite books. It made her happy to read it and she wanted to share that with me. As I read, she kept asking me about where I was in the story, how I liked the characters, and “Was I finished yet?” That week, we discussed characters and plot points. She would stay up late to read with me. (I was on book 1 and she was re-reading book 2). She was so excited to have someone to talk to about her book and the world within it. 

We are pretty far apart, age wise. She was 6 days old, when I headed off to college. So we didn’t get to spend as much time together, as I did with my other sisters as they grew up. Being able to bond through a book isn’t surprising, as we were raised with a strong love of reading, but I hadn’t thought it would happen so soon! Being able to share that experience with her was truly special and made me enjoy the book even more.

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Meet the candidates for NMRT Vice-President/President-Elect

Take a few minutes to get to know the candidates running for NMRT Vice-President/President Elect. Don’t forget to vote for your NMRT Board representation as well as other ALA positions beginning March 9th through April 1st.

Dani Cook, candidate for Vice-President/President Elect

Why are you interested in this position? 

I have been a member of NMRT since my first year of library school, and the community and mentorship that I’ve found through the round table has been a key part of my professional life. My NMRT mentor was a huge support for me during my first year in a professional role, my CV still bears the formatting fingerprints of the reviewer who looked at it during my first ALA conference, and my first major professional service was chairing the NMRT President’s Program for the 2014 conference. I’m running for NMRT Vice-President/President-Elect because I know first-hand the value of the NMRT community and want to work with the rest of the Board to continue to make these services robust for members who are entering the profession and might not have the community or professional support network locally available. I’m especially interested in working to make our events, services, and speaking engagements more accessible to a geographically distributed audience–how can we better serve members who might not be able to attend conferences, as well as support new professionals year-round? I’ve found so much value in NMRT, I would be honored to lead the organization as it steps its game to be more inclusive and accessible to library workers than ever before.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

I bring a deep understanding of the NMRT structure, as I’ve served on seven NMRT committees over the years, as well as most recently served as Networking Chair in 2018-20. I have a strong awareness of where things will work well, and where they might be room for improving processes. I also have served on LITA and ACRL committees, so bring a broader view to ALA as well, which I think is especially critical in this moment of change for our professional organization.

During my time as a member of NMRT, my professional path has taken me from being a library school student working as library staff in my local public library, to a term-limited grant-funded position in an academic library, to a coordinator role for reference and instruction, and now to a managerial position in a mid-sized academic library. Being close to all of these experiences means that I have an understanding of issues that have an outsized effect on those entering our profession, including student debt, precarious labor, and stepping into roles with increasing responsibility. I will bring this awareness to my term as vice-president/president-elect, and hope to engage with these issues together.

I have been a manager for almost four years, and have learned and evolved my person-centered managerial practice. I view my role as a leader to guide and set the vision, and as a manager to provide the resources and coach my colleagues to do the best work they can. Of course, I also bring experience with providing feedback and having the hard conversations when things are not going well. In addition to my day-to-day experience, I have experience managing distributed professional service teams through NMRT and other national organizations.

As Vice-President/President-Elect one of your responsibilities will be preparing for your Presidential term the following year. How will you work with the current President to advance her/his initiatives while planning for your own presidency?

Setting clear goals from the start will be key for us to begin our collegial relationship on the best foot. I anticipate that I would meet with the current President shortly after the election to speak with her about her vision for her presidential year and how I can help support her (logistically or otherwise) to accomplish her goals. I will also work with her to establish milestones for my vice-presidential year, so that I can ensure that my presidential year will have ties to the previous one, as well as be well-articulated and planned. I expect to hew closely to the suggested timeline in the NMRT Handbook, and maintain ongoing communication with both the current president and other board members.

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

Just like all other library workers, I have many competing priorities in life: my family, my day-to-day work, my professional service, my education, my health and well-being. In order to maintain any semblance of order, I rely on a number of time-management skills and tools. I’m a strong believer in setting milestone deadlines and sticking to them; I use a paper-based planner to make sure I hit these (as well as to see what is upcoming and reflect), and schedule time into my Outlook calendar every day to make progress on them. I recently started using Trello boards with some members of my team to track collaborative projects–I really like using them, and plan to use them to track NMRT projects if elected as Vice-President/President-Elect.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed?  Why did you like it?

I recently listened to the sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People, which is about the importance of community spaces in society. He calls these spaces “community infrastructure,” and includes places like public libraries, public swimming pools, and community gardens. This book made me reflect on my own community and how much did (and didn’t) feel connected to where I lived, and re-doubled my intention to support the community spaces I value. Klinenberg brings to light how critical community networks are in times of crisis, as well as for our everyday mental and physical health. I’ve been recommending this book to people constantly! Not only is it a compelling argument, but the individual case studies are interesting and stick with you.

Tim Furgal, candidate for Vice-President/President Elect

Why are you interested in this position? 

Being elected as Vice-President/President-Elect of the New Member Round Table (NMRT) would be a humbling honor and allow me to give back to the community that brought me here. It’s been a privilege to meet and work with so many exceptional colleagues through my involvement with ALA. I earnestly believe that the greatest resource we have as information professionals is our network of colleagues – diverse, dedicated people from all backgrounds, doing the work with integrity, passion, and a willingness to serve others. Everyone beginning their career should have access to this same network of talent and I’d love to work to make that a reality for more of our members, particularly those working in public and school libraries.

What skills and experiences do you bring to the position?

Given my unique and diverse perspective working across library sectors – I’ve worked in academic, school, public, and public systems, I’m able to understand and connect with colleagues from widely varying backgrounds. The project management skills that I bring from my work as a public library system consultant with 48 member libraries will help me stay on top of the duties expected of me as Vice-President/President. I’ve been a member of ALA and NMRT since I began my Master’s in Information Science in 2015. I’ve been a committee member or chair of the following NMRT committees: the Midwinter Social Committee, the Annual Social Committee, President’s Program Committee, and the Nominating Committee. In the 5 years that I’ve been serving within the New York Library Association (NYLA), I’ve been able to work within the organization’s structure to create meaningful programs and opportunities for the New Members of NYLA (NMN): I organized the first Women’s Leadership Panel at our annual conference, led the re-branding of the round table, and worked to expand volunteer opportunities. I was the first paraprofessional elected to the board of the Leadership and Management Section of NYLA and I am currently serving as the President of that unit. With this combination of hard and soft skills, I’m confident I would be a successful Vice-President/President-Elect.

As Vice-President/President-Elect one of your responsibilities will be preparing for your Presidential term the following year. How will you work with the current President to advance her/his initiatives while planning for your own presidency?

I believe the best way to learn is through careful listening and thoughtful action, in that order. I think that time spent engaging with the President on their initiatives, actively listening to the hopes and concerns of my colleagues in NMRT over the course of the year, and reflecting on the dynamic changes ALA is currently undertaking will give me everything I need to inform my work as President.

If elected, what time management skills will you employ to ensure that your NMRT duties remain a priority?

Thankfully, previous NMRT officials have created a timetable for the work that has to get done. I’ve found this helpful with past positions and would adhere to it in my position as Vice-President. I’m a huge fan of timeboxing and the strategies espoused by David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done. I keep a robust digital calendar and use a day planner in order to stay on track and move my life forward. Clear and timely communication with the President in order to prevent the duplication of work is another strategy that I’d employ to keep our work on track.

What is a book that you read recently that you enjoyed?  Why did you like it?The Education of an Idealist, a memoir by Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, was a book I couldn’t put down. It was an intensely personal and humane look into working within the halls of power in our country. I’m tremendously interested in how small changes to policy can create outsized effects on quality of life and Power’s story was a masterclass in recognizing how to make life better for those suffering through the use of policy development. Having the opportunity to revisit former President Obama’s idea that we must deal with the world as it is, in order to remake it as it should be, has been a great source of strength for me lately. At a time when there’s so much tension in the world, the book was a hopeful, smart, funny, and uplifting perspective to be informed by.

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Interview for NMRT Alternative Voices – Tamara Rhodes

The Alternative Voices Feature is meant to give a platform to the voices of librarians from underrepresented communities in the library field. The format of the feature is a journalistic question and answer format. It provides information that the librarian wants people to know about them, plus their thoughts on the current state of the field of librarianship. The feature will showcase one interview each quarter. This is on a volunteer basis.

Name – Tamara Rhodes
Contact Information – Tlrhodes@ucsd.edu
City & State – San Diego, CA
Position Title – Subject Librarian for Psychology, Cognitive Science, Human Developmental Sciences, and Linguistics
Length of time in the library field – 6 years

Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell us about your position and what you do? What is your definition of diversity, or equity or inclusion?

I’m from a military family, so I’m from a lot of places, but mostly the South. I went to a small women’s liberal arts college in Raleigh, North Carolina, called Meredith College. It was the best experience because it allowed me to be surrounded and supported by other women while I found my voice. I started in Psychology, but I graduated from Meredith College with my BA in Sociology (minors in Psychology and Spanish), and took classes at NC State to get my prerequisites for a grad program in Cultural Anthropology. I deferred my grad school acceptance twice while working customer service jobs before I decided to become a counselor. I volunteered for a crisis hotline for 8 months before I realized I was not meant for the emotional toll it takes. Then, I randomly came across a description for librarianship, and it was like the universe aligned. So I went to library school. Each one of those experiences prepared me for my current position. I found my assuredness and confidence in an environment where women were a focus, I was educated in understanding people and the social components that affect us, I had training in ethnographic research that focuses on watching and listening to learn about others, I had intense training in active listening in a crisis, and I learned how to effectively interact and communicate with various kinds of people to deliver customer service.

I am currently a subject librarian for psychology, cognitive science, human developmental sciences, and linguistics at the University of California, San Diego. I do collection development and outreach and provide instruction and research support for those departments. I am also the designer and project lead for Tell Us How UC It, a living archive for student activism.

To me, inclusion means “The practice of treating all individuals with respect; valuing them for their distinctive skills, experiences, and perspectives; and ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities so that all can contribute fully to…” I am on a Racial Equity Task Force, and this is the language we use for the code of conduct. It’s about removing barriers so everyone can contribute fully to how they would like. To fully accomplish that, it requires improving equity and diversity.

What are some of your hobbies, and are you still finding time for these activities with your busy schedule?

I love trying new things, so I do a lot, but the things I keep doing or coming back to are reading, writing, competitive puzzling, yoga, and, most recently, hooping. I also play bass and sing in a jam session group.

I find accountability to myself difficult. I’m an Obliger in the Four Tendencies, so it helps if I am doing things with others so that I can have accountability to them. As you can imagine, because of this, my self-care work is ongoing. I typically let work and other things sidetrack that work, but I’m slowly learning what mechanisms I need in place to make sure I take care of myself.

What can prospective librarians be doing right now to prepare themselves for a career in this field?

Be seen! And let people know who you are, what you’re about, and what you want. As soon as I knew I wanted to be a librarian, I started volunteering for a public library. I would talk to the librarians, ask questions, and let them know what I was interested in. In library school, I immediately joined the state association and attended the events. One turning point was when I volunteered for registration at a conference, and the administrative assistant for the association, who knew everyone, introduced me to everyone. I also interned a lot. These things are what helped me get my job right after I graduated.

What suggestions do you have to help other librarians make sure that their library is open and accessible to everyone?

Ask. I think it’s easy for us to assume what our community wants and to only focus on those that are in the space already. I have been doing a lot of thinking and strategizing about how we (I) can and should spend much more time in spaces outside of the library building in order to learn what folks need from us. I’m also cognizant that I don’t want to solely take from the community (i.e. going in their space and asking a lot of questions then leaving and not following up). Along with asking, librarians should research and read. As a Black woman who has chosen to work in education, I struggle a lot with education vs. self-preservation. I and many underrepresented folks don’t want others to force us to educate them about our experience. When asked a question, we are being forced in the moment of that person’s choosing to be vulnerable and give. An alternative, for all of us, is to do the research on the topic and seek out the information that folks have already shared on it. They were able to choose when and how to share, and we can all visit that information and come into conversations with other folks already having done that work.

How well do you see libraries responding to the current political climate? What could they do better?

My current interpretation of “responding to the current political climate” is libraries supporting the actions of others. Libraries, like the university as a whole, have many stakeholders and responsibilities, and the question is about who the primary stakeholder is and what weight we put on those responsibilities when other things are at stake.
I think there are some libraries that are doing amazing things with events and exhibits. My library is one of them. But I also think a lot more can be done. Libraries can appeal to our imperative of being a “third space” by being inclusive; creating a space where the community can express its sentiment, connect with each other, build coalitions; and by doing what a library does in providing information.

How do you think the field will change most dramatically in the next several years?

Many amazing people are already doing this, but I think on a larger scale, the academic library will not only have to contend with but also change the underlying systems and thinking that position folks in our field and profession as gatekeepers. With equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), open access initiatives, and social justice imperatives, we’re analyzing and rethinking what we do to be more community- and user-focused. I think, and hope, big changes are coming.

What’s been your most valuable experience at your employer so far, and why?

Meeting so many smart, amazing, and talented colleagues, at my employer and in the field in general. I am continually impressed by my fellow library peeps, both personally and professionally.

Do you have a blog/website?

I just created one! Tamaralynnerhodes.com

Why did you choose to do this questionnaire?

I really like to share my experiences and mentor in the hopes that my roundabout journey and my mistakes will give the insight to help others achieve whatever they wish

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Perspectives – Cicely Lewis

Perspectives, an interview series that will highlight the work of librarians in different fields and professional specializations. Our series will focus on the experiences of our participants, what they do, what they have learned, and offer advice to those interested in librarianship and various fields. To our readers, our committee hopes this column will highlight the valuable labor these individuals perform on an everyday basis. Our interviews will provide perspective on what labor in these fields entails and current issues that affect librarianship, employment, etc. On behalf of the Communications Committee, we hope you find this new column illuminating, informative, and inspiring!

Meet Cicely Lewis

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

Working with students is the most enjoyable aspect of my job. When I see a kid’s face light up because they have discovered an amazing read, or when I see a young black girl beam with pride when she sees a black girl on the cover, or when I have a student who comes to the library for refuge, it truly makes me feel like what I do matters.

Can you describe a memorable moment in your career?

When I spoke to over 3,000 educators in Baltimore at the NCTE conference and encouraged them to collaborate with their school librarian. Tears were running down my face as I shared my journey with them and informed them about Read Woke. As I accepted my award for $10,000, I realized that I have a platform and I want to use it to advocate for libraries. I want everyone to realize the power of a certified school library and a properly staffed school library.

What kinds of professional development do you do?

We all learn by sharing! Although I have had the distinct privilege to present several times at the national level, I am most excited when I attend professional development that is offered with my district-level peers three times per school year. I have presented twice at district in-services and I presented at our county Digital Learning Conference in June. I have presented at GLMA’s Summer Institute as well. I shared my passion for reading programs and the importance of literacy at the 2018 School Library Journal Leadership Summit and at the Florida Association of Media Educators. I also attended several sessions at these conferences where I was able to learn new strategies to implement in my school library program. Even though I feel my strength is implementing reading programs, I left each session with many ideas of how to impact more students and a reminder that we are all lifelong learners. I recognize that I can provide professional development without ever leaving my space and did just that in a webinar sponsored by Library Journal entitled “Hack It.” I shared ways for the library media specialists to enhance their Instagram account to market their programs and our profession. I am active on social media and post regularly to advocate for our profession and promote my program. I have a combined total of over 2,000 followers. I follow many librarians on social media who have been Library Journal Movers & Shakers themselves, including @joycevalneza, @kiarareadthat and @gwynethjones. I also follow young adult authors including Nic Stone, Jason Reynolds, Ibi Zoboi, and Elizabeth Acevedo on social media. Their posts spark discussions, provide reading promotional materials, and offer giveaways of their novels.

Is there one piece of advice you have received in your career thus far that stands out the most (that you carry with you in your work)?

My former principal told me this in my interview, “Imagine every student is your child. Treat each child as if it is your biological child”. I have carried this with me for many years. When I would have stressful days in the classroom, I would remember his words. It made me reanalyze situations and have compassion for the students. It also inspired me to provide rigor while nurturing my students.

What are some things you know now about your job/librarianship, that you wish you had known before entering the field?

I wish I had known it was an option. No one ever talks about library jobs. They are also talking about teacher positions. I did not even think of it as a possibility when I was searching for majors.

What do you think some misconceptions about librarians/libraries/librarianship are?

People think we only check out books. They are wrong. Librarians do so much more in a supported environment. Librarians are leaders! We have the potential to have a huge impact if we are given a seat at the table. We are teachers, counselors, instructional coaches, etc.

What are some current professional obstacles in this field that upcoming professionals should know about?

The lack of funding for libraries, libraries closing, misuse of the library

Libraries need to be properly staffed with a certified librarian.

What professional advice would you give to graduate students who are about to enter this line of work?

Join a PLN! Social media has helped me in so many ways. I have connected with authors, amazing librarians, and educators that have helped me hone my skills. Being a singleton in the school, it is hard to find others who share your experience. So, it is imperative that we connect with others who can relate and help us improve our craft. Also, my county has an outstanding media services department that supports us by providing authentic and intentional professional development.

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Presenting At Conferences

By Lauren Puzier

Presenting at conferences is a rewarding and sometimes nerve-wracking opportunity. Listing your conference presentations is often an important part of our resumes and CVs. There are many ways to present at conferences from participating in roundtables, speaking as a panelist, or as a virtual speaker, participating in a lightning round, Pecha-Kucha, or poster session, and more. The NMRT December discussion focused on presenting at conferences and all that goes into it.

Regardless of how you feel about public speaking, presenting at library conferences whether it is on the local, state, or national level is a great experience for any librarian.

Some questions that came up this month included:

  • How do you determine a topic to present on?
  • Do you feel you need to be an expert on a topic to present or can you present on something that interests you?

Topics

Many of us found that having a topic you feel confident in or that you are excited about makes the presentation experience fun and enjoyable. You do not always need to present by yourself. If you can, find others who are also interested in the same topics. This gives you an opportunity to find co-presenters to collaborate with. If there is no one at your library that shares similar interests with you, you can join a committee, roundtable, or special interest group of those who share the same interests.

Think about the projects you have launched or participated on at work. One of our members noted that “when you try something out at work or have an interest in something library-related, you can turn it into a good presentation or poster.” While you may not be an expert on the topic you could consider yourself an expert on a particular project or assignment you worked on. 

Prep work 

It is important to prepare your presentation ahead of time. From learning the ins-and-outs of your topic to building and designing your PowerPoint slides or poster (if applicable). Then practice and practice again. Try practicing with a timer to see if you need to cut anything out or add to the presentation. Multiple walk thoughts will boost your confidence and help you fine-tune the presentation so that it flows well and hits important points. 

Do not fear technical difficulties but be prepared for them to come up. Everyone has to check their notes and everyone will have technical difficulties at some point – don’t let this scare you. The best thing we can do is be as prepared as possible. One member shared a story about being prepared to present on venue equipment with a borrowed Mac adapter cord, but only after it was time to set up did they realize they didn’t have the specific type of Mac adapter cord necessary. They strongly emphasized that you need to research the proper type of equipment and adapters that the venue requires even if that means contacting the conference organizers to confirm.

Using Slides

Throughout the discussion, it was echoed that when you present with a slide show it is wise to have your slideshow available in both a cloud-based slide deck (such as Google Slides) and a PowerPoint slide deck. Equipment issues may require you to access the cloud-based slide deck over wifi. Internet connection issues may require you to use the PowerPoint slide deck.  Bring a printed copy of your slides or notes in the case that all technology fails. This ensures you will still have your content available to discuss with the audience.

Adaptability

Finally, be able to adapt to situations. When things go wrong, let your audience know what is happening.  Our members have found audiences to be very forgiving when things go awry during presentations. Sometimes conference venues have poor wifi. Sometimes equipment is faulty or not compatible. Sometimes presentation blocks are scheduled one after another so that you cannot get into a room ahead of time to set up. One of our members reassuringly noted that no one ever mentioned technical difficulties on a presentation evaluation form.

Further Interest:

The ALA Store has a related on-demand workshop:  “Face-to-Face Presentation Skills: How to Present Like a Lion (Even if You Feel Like a Lamb)”

Lauren Puzier is the User Experience Librarian at UAlbany Libraries. Previously, she was the Cataloging and Reference Librarian at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York and an Adjunct Librarian at Russell Sage College. Her professional interests include art librarianship, library outreach, user experience, and productivity tools. She has presented on these topics locally, nationally and internationally. Subject specialties include Art History, Art Business, and Fine Arts.

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Career Planning for Early Career Librarians (psst free webinar!)

Join the NMRT Online Programs Committee for a webinar! 

Date: March 3, 2020

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/91212343575

This moderated panel will discuss Career Planning for Early Career Librarians. Panelists will share how they personally navigated through career planning, imposter syndrome, professional networking, and scholarship to obtain successful career goals in the library profession. They will offer actionable tips to bring clarity to your career trajectory; whether you are new to your role or want to make changes, you can benefit from this talented panel as they share stories of initiative and gumption. Please join us on Tuesday, March 3rd @ 1PM EST/ 12PM CST!

Learning Objectives 

  • Participants will be able to differentiate between Early Career Librarian and Mid-level Librarian.
  • Participants will be able to apply tips on career planning to their own professional careers. 
  • Participants will be able to identify common career challenges for early career professionals, and articulate creative solutions for overcoming or working around them.

Moderator:

LaQuanda T. Onyemeh, MLIS, M.Ed, Training & Consultant Partner at ProQuest, WOC+Lib Co-Founder

Panelists

  • Shannon Jones, MLS, MEd, AHIP, Director of Libraries Medical of South Carolina
  • Laura Tadena, MLIS, Inclusive Services Consultant at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Natalie Ornat, MLIS, ALA Emerging Leader. Humanities Librarian UNC- Charlotte
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MPDR Spotlight: Alternative Voices

Interview for NMRT Alternative Voices

The Alternative Voices Feature is meant to give a platform to the voices of librarians from underrepresented communities in the library field. The format of the feature is a journalistic question and answer format. It provides information that the librarian wants people to know about them, plus their thoughts on the current state of the field of librarianship. The feature will showcase one interview each quarter. This is on a volunteer basis.

Name – Alessandra Otero-Ramos 

Contact Information – aotero@geneseo.edu 

City & State – Geneseo, New York 

Position Title –  Research Instruction Librarian 

Length of time in the library field – 6 years 

Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell us about your position and what you do? What is your definition of diversity, or equity or inclusion?\

I attended college at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus.I have a bachelor’s degree in Theory of Arts and a Masters degree in Information Sciences.

Both programs prepared me for my current position which is Research Instructor, Librarian Liaison to Arts and Humanities. As part of the team of the Milne Library at State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo, my main responsibilities are to serve as research instruction librarian and as liaison librarian to the Departments of Art History, Dance, Theatre, Music, Philosophy & English. My roles include providing research skills instruction and information literacy concepts to students, as well as teaching research skills sessions for INTD 105 classes. I offer research help to faculty and students in different fields by either helping them directly or referring them to the appropriate person or resource. Furthermore, I develop and manage online resources and tools such as: research guides, tutorials and assessments to support information literacy instruction. In addition, I am co-chair of the Social Media Committee and a member of the Marketing Committee of Library Instruction Leadership Academy (LILAC 2020) Conference. I also study and stay current with trends, developments, tools and techniques in the digital humanities and support activities that foster the values of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Before you became a librarian, what were you thinking about doing professionally or academically?

It never crossed my mind to become a librarian. In fact, while in high school, I didn’t have an agenda or idea of what to do. Much less knew that you can do formal studies in library and information. I did my bachelor studies in Art Theory because I knew I can handle and memorize information, especially visual information and this made me feel confident. While pursuing these, I was hire to catalog a private collection of approximately 800 books. The main task was to input the author, title, publisher, date of publication and a brief description of the book in a local software that doesn’t exist anymore. This software served as a private OPAC to the owner of the collection. While doing such a meticulous job, I discovered a skill; I had the patience to do detailed tasks. The owner of the collection confirmed this realization when commented: “You seem to have the aptitude to do this”, follow by, “there is a master program dedicated to library studies in “la UPI” (meaning the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras). These words stuck in my mind. Consequently, a few years later, I moved to the capital city to pursue a master degree in library and information studies. 

Do you have any advice for new graduates applying to jobs?

Yes, I do. First, before or during the job hunting process, make a list of the skills that you have and the ones you would like to develop. Doing this will help you reflect on how do you want to focus your professional experience and distinguish those positions that will help you achieve your professional goals. 

Second, be patient and kind with yourself during the process. Job hunting can be overwhelming. When the mind gets overwhelmed the tendency is to think about the things we did wrong. When feeling like this just remember that you do have the qualifications for the job you need and that persistence is the key to finding that job.  

Finally, do not forget that job hunting is a job too! Be proactive during the process, research the institutions goals, ask questions, reach out the librarians to know more about the institution’s culture and do not be afraid to ask questions. 

What suggestions do you have to help other librarians make sure that their library is open and accessible to everyone?

I think the first thing is to acknowledge that making the library open and accessible to everyone is a collaborative work. Therefore, one way to assure accessibility is by actively participate in library committees as well as community committees. This are good forums to advocate on the importance of this subject and meet people with similar points of view. Also, I think each of us should contemplate on how our interaction with the user reflects the phrase “open and accessible to everyone”. 

How do you think the field will change most dramatically in the next several years? 

I think the most dramatic change will be seen in the library architecture and interior design. Due to the user behavior changes caused in part by the introduction of technology libraries are in need to adapt their spaces to meet the user’s behavior needs. For example, the use of padded and ergonomic furniture has replaced the heavy, solid wooden chair as the user spend more time sited than walking through the shelves. Today’s users interact with the library space in a different manner and as long as technology keeps evolving the spaces will do as well. See some examples here and here.  

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned on the job?

I teach at SUNY Geneseo, a public liberal arts college. Even though the new generations are used to electronic devices, I have noticed that the majority is not technology literate. They may know how to navigate some applications and software but they don’t know how to best use those skills to enhance their research process. Thus, the best lesson I’ve learned so far is: “Not to assume that students are technology literate or that they already know how to use Google Scholar for their research assignment”. 

What’s been your most valuable experience at your employer so far, and why? 

If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be?

In my case I would attribute my success to two personality traits, inquisitiveness and assertiveness. 

What podcast are you listen now?

I really love to read and listen to short stories, fables and legends from around the world. Right now, I am listening to the podcast “Cuentos y Relatos” which is a space dedicated to the reading of classic stories from around the world. The readings are in Spanish and of different genres: Mystery, Science Fiction, Horror, Fantastic, Police, etc. I highly recommend this resource for those who are learning Spanish and the Spanish speaking community. The reader has good diction and the application has a feature to speed up or slow down the reading pace.  

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NMRT Communications Committee is Looking for Student Voices!

The NMRT Communication Committee is looking to hear from student ALA chapters to hear about all the things you are working on! Is a member presenting? Any fun chapter activities going on, or would you like to highlight any member accomplishments? We would love to hear from you! If your student chapter has anything to share or would like to write a piece to be featured on the NMRT blog. Please reach out to the chair of the Communications Committee, Josh Rimmer (J.Rimmer84 @ gmail) for more information. The Communications Committee appreciates your consideration, and we hope to be in touch with your student chapter soon! Be well!

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