Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lights, Camera, Library Cards

My undergraduate career was spent analyzing film. I don't mean that in a movie-buff with a netflix account sort of way. I have my BA in film and video production. I spent countless hours debating the portrayal of race and gender on the silver screen. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when I came to this journal entry and discovered I would be analyzing a movie in a new way.

A few years ago the Mummy was on TV. I hadn't seen it since I was a child and could barely remember more than sand and Brandon Frasier. Still I found myself drawn in. The female lead, Rachel Weisz, plays a librarian, and she is at once an early action hero and a stereotype of the profession.

 I remember having mixed feelings about this but settling on the side of "any representation is better than none" and changing the channel after the film ended. I was working at a coffee shop and was just pleased to see a bookish person saving the world. 

Fast forward to this semester, and more specifically this blog prompt. After a viewing of the Hollywood Librarian I had several thoughts.

For starters, for librarians, just like for most groups of people, stereotypes are unavoidable. It was strange to see decades pass, and the librarians of the film universe stay within a set mold of shushes, power trips and buns. 

And then there were the interviews. There's something seeing a person who loves their job talk. It's apparent in everything from the joy of finding the right path to the disappointment when a budget can't be stretched far enough. It was encouraging to see that much passion in working professionals.

I did appreciate that throughout this entire documentary that is is made clear that librarians are a gateway to knowledge. It's one of the things I am growing to love most about this profession and one I am glad is visible to outsiders. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halfway There

So I'm a little more than halfway through my first semester of school. That means I should probably look back and see what I've learned and what directions I'm leaning, yeah? I'm glad we're on the same page.

This semester has presented me with a lot of things. When I first started I was very excited for my Information Professional class because while I had a general idea of what I'd hoped to do with an MLIS I wasn't sure what would be the best fit for my skill set, or even if one existed. Now with several assignments and many weeks of classes under my belt I'm finally planning for my future.

I've focused most of my posts on my interests in working at some sort of archival institution. This isn't exactly surprising, as I was leaning towards archival work when I applied for Wayne State back in the spring, but I have noticed a change in my overall opinions and goals over the course of this semester that any desire that I may have had to work in a public library, especially as a children's librarian, is completely gone. Admittedly it wasn't a large want in the first place, like I said I was already leaning in another direction, but it was an option and it's one that I no longer feel fits my professional goals.

I have found the prompts for this blog to be very helpful in exploring aspects of the library profession that I otherwise wouldn't have thought of. Professional societies and journals were very intimidating concepts to me and being forced to actually look into ones that fit my interests was very enlightening.

Now to tackle the rest of the semester!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Professional Organizations

While learning about journals was a small step in becoming a better informed soon-to-be information professional there are still many other things I need to consider. There are listservs, blogs (of a higher caliber than this one, let's be real) and of course professional associations.

Before starting this program I had never given a second thought to the organizations that must be at work within the library profession. Deep down I know I shouldn't be shocked by their number and variety but at times looking through lists of these organizations can feel a bit overwhelming.
Since I'm doing this for myself I decided to start by looking at the groups that deal most with archives and digital information than general public libraries.

The first organization I looked at is the Society of American Archives. They were responsible for one of the journals I wrote about for my last post so I felt like I had more of a background while clicking around their website. I'd become interested with them back at orientation and have unfortunately been unable to fit their meetings into my schedule as of yet.  

Their mission statement reads
SAA promotes the values and diversity of archives and archivists. We are the preeminent source of professional resources and the principal communication hub for American archivist.
Their core values, which include fostering creativity and providing an open collaboration platform, left me excited to continue on my MLIS journey.
I was also happy to find that SAA has a mentor program that has been going strong for 20 years and sounds incredibly beneficial.

They also publish American Archivist, which I've been salivating over since my last post, as well as having a yearly conference. 

While on the SAA site I  came across another list of more archival associations. The one that stood out most to me was the Association of Moving Image Archivists. My BA is in Film and I was so glad to see an organization centered around those preserving motion pictures.

Their mission statement follows a similar patter as SAA.
The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is a nonprofit
international association dedicated to the preservation and use of moving
image media. AMIA supports public and professional education and
fosters cooperation and communication among the individuals and
organizations concerned with the acquisition, preservation, description,
exhibition, and use of moving image materials
 AMIA is responsible for publishing The Moving Image, which I actually came across a few times during my undergrad years. I was also pleased to see that their yearly conferences venture outside of their home base in California.

Their website also provides information about internships and scholarships.

So after a lot of browsing, list looking, and link clinking I feel more informed about professional organizations. They range from specific interests to overall geographic location and it really does feel like there is one for every aspiring LIS professional.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let's Talk About Journals

Professional Journal's fall on a list of things that make me feel out of my element. Before heading back to school I knew they existed and that they served a real and important purpose but without having much direction, career wise, I relegated them to the back of my mind.

Now I have to jump in with both feet. Being informed is important and as we're constantly being told in each class, LIS is changing and we have to keep up. So look at this as my intent to become an informed member of the LIS profession. Bare with me while I figure this journal stuff out.

For this post it seems best to jump in with both feet. I've chosen two journals to thumb through to help.

My first choice is American Archivist. As I'm very interested in doing archival work in some capacity it seemed like a natural choice.  After a few clicks I was able to find out that this journal is published semi annually by the Society of American Archives, is peer reviewed, and all but the most six most recent issues are available for free online.

Their issues contain everything from reviews to case studies, commentaries and research pieces. Everything, of course, focuses on archivists and archives.

In short American Archivist is professionals writing for a professional audience, expanding their knowledge and sharing it with others. 

For my second choice I veered off in a very different direction. After looking at a few list and checking out several more peer reviewed journals that focused on more specific topics and found that while topics were different the general requirements and intentions were the same. Since I wanted to get a full scope of what is available on the internet I decided to look at a professional publication that is not peer reviewed - Library Journal.

Where American Archivist had a very specific audience with closely intertwined interests Library Journal is for the masses. Well, when I'm talking about masses I'm talking about Librarians, bear with me.

Library Journal wasn't what I expected. Without the peer review aspect I was fully prepared to be overrun by ads and click bait articles. While there were definitely ads, as well as headlines that were more colorful than in American Archivist I was impressed by the level of the content.

And when I say content I mean content. Articles upon articles, reviews, news snippets. Admittedly I didn't go through and read everything on the site. I'm a grad student. I have work. There are only so many hours in a day.  However what I read was high quality work, and the subjects were very diverse. There was a bit of something for everyone.

Now that I have a better understanding of the journals and publications that are available to myself as a budding LIS professional I do feel more well informed and a little hopeful.  Even though American Archivist and Library Journal were different in many ways they were both able to convey a passion for their subject, and that passion is contagious.

Monday, October 13, 2014

In a World Where Gilead is Real This Book Would Be Banned

Admittedly this post is a week late. Banned Book Week has pasted and I've had some extra time to sit and think about censorship and its affects on the literary world. This year in an attempt to finish to classic dystopian novel series (My name for the likes of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, ext) I picked up Margeret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

The Handmaid's Tale is set in a America, now the Republic of Gilead, in the not to distance future. Society has been forced into roles. There are Martha's, who function as cooks as maids, Eyes that become secret police, Commanders and their Wives make up the higher class. Then there are the Handmaids, woman whos sole purpose it is to give birth.

Atwood's story about a drastically changed America has been challenged
for reasons like sex, violence, profanity and anti christian overtones.

I can't deny that The Handmaid's Tale includes all of these elements. Actually, that's kind of the point. In this wreck of society fertile woman are essentially imprisoned and forced to be breed in a particularly humiliating way. The story paints this as a throw back to traditional values. So why isn't everyone happy? The answer is complex. It's about freedom, and the role of government and how this effects a population on an individual level.

Like the aforementioned classic dystopian works, which have also been challenged, Handmaid's Tale looks into society and pulls out a funhouse mirror. This may not be reality, and it may not be the future, but it could be, and that should make people think. That's why this entire genre has become such a goldmine in today's publishing market. It's important for readers to be critical, to think about the world they're living in. That's why it's important that these challenges never move past that stage. The Handmaid's Tale may not be appropriate for a 9th grade English class but for a mature student it's content could really further their education.