What it means to be an information professional?

As part of my MLIS I needed to write a reflection on my initial thoughts about a career in the information sector. It will be interesting to see how it changes as I progress.

 

Last year after many years as a registered nurse, I found myself facing a crossroads. I no longer wanted to continue. In my current career but was confused about what I wanted to do. I stopped to consider what I enjoyed about nursing and it came down to two main things. Helping people and teaching them, aspects at which I also excelled. I needed to find a career which encompassed these, so I went to see a career counsellor and librarian was the result. Coincidently it is also my compulsion to catalogue and organise everything I own. My next step was to find a course provider. I found QUT on the ALIA website and as it is commuting distance for me and personally I work better in face to face classes, QUT it was. I started the Masters in July 2015 and I really feel I have found my calling, as I have loved every minute of it and achieved things I never thought I would, such as webpage design.

Before I embarked on my career change, I thought an information professional was someone working in the technology field, such as on IT helpdesks or website design. My understanding has now widened in that I now feel it is a professional who manages information and helps others to access it. The information can be in any form such as electronic or print. The professional include librarians, information managers and archivists. Information professionals are essential in the community in order to manage the vast quantity of information which has become available in recent year information with the advent of the internet. They are also necessary to help people find the particular information they need in this ever expanding cloud, and ensuring that the information is relevant and correct. Libraries are important in that they reduce the digital and information divide within communities by providing computers, Wi-Fi and expert professionals to navigate and assist.

I see my career progressing within the public library field as I feel libraries are an important part of the community and are not just providers of books. They serve to educate and bring together the community and serve as hubs. I am also passionate about literacy following a spell working in offender health, where I was shocked with the prevalence of low literacy of the clients, particularly the indigenous ones. I would like to be involved in closing this divide in literacy, along with the digital and information divide. Libraries are evolving constantly and I plan to evolve professionally with them as my career progresses.

However, I may decide in the future that I want my career to progress in another field within the information sector as may knowledge increases. I feel that by completing this degree I am opening up my career to a myriad of possibilities.

 

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Reflection on Writing for the Web

This is an online course I did via Lynda.com, which I currently have free access to as a student at QUT University. I initially did it as it was recommended in one of my units: IFN620 Professional Practice. I now wish I had done it before I did a webpage design assignment for IFN616 Online Information Programs. Despite reading 1000s of webpages during my time on the internet, I had no idea  that writing for the web was so different from other types of writing. I feel I have mastered academic writing, reflective writing and report writing both during my professional life and whilst studying. Web writing requires the author to grab the reader’s attention in the first line. This means putting the most important part of the writing at the beginning. It is also a much more informal type of writing than academic writing and use of long words and jargon is discouraged. Hopefully, I’ll have further opportunities to put this into practice in my future career.

Reflection of Time Management Fundamentals

This online course is accessible from Lynda.com, which I currently have free access to as a QUT student. It is an easy to follow course which provides practical solutions to time management problems. It is aimed at use in the workplace but could be equally applied in one’s personal life. Prior to commencing it, I felt I had excellent time management skills, albeit a tendency to procrastination. I have worked for years in nursing and have been required to manage my workload throughout my career to ensure patients received their care, tests and medication in  timely manner. After completing the course, I have learnt many ways that I can manage my time more effectively, which I will utilise in my studies and my next career. It advises the use of to do lists and scheduling time to complete tasks that take longer than 15 minutes. Previously I just worked through my studies in a random manner, but still managed to complete assignments and requisite reading in the time allocated. I will also utilise my digital calendar more efficiently, scheduling previously ignored commitments like travelling time. Perhaps the most important thing I learnt was the importance of personal time.

Article, author and journal metrics: what librarians need to know: a reflection on the webcast

I recently watched this webcast, using the learning site Bright Talk. AS a student librarian who has not worked in the field, a lot of it was a little irrelevant for me at this stage, but I did find it interesting and informative. It discussed in detail altmetrics, a concept I was previously unfamiliar with, but now have  a basic understanding of. Ways of evaluating the scope of publications was also discussed. This included how many times a publication had been cited. The data produced is invaluable in determining the value of a department’s or university’s research in the wider academic community. The webcast was aimed more at academic librarian’s but could be used throughout the library community.

55 Articles Every Librarian Should Read (Updated)

Useful list of articles to have a look at this semester break

Heard Around the Stacks

  • Banks, M. (2015, September 8). Open access publishing: what is it and how do we sustain it? [Online Magazine]. Retrieved September 29, 2015, from http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/09/08/open-access-publishing/
  • Blumenthal, J. (2014). Creating the future. Journal of the Medical Library Association :…

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Virtual referencing: the way forward

Libraries are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the users. Ranganathan likened the library to a growing organism in his five laws of library science (Barner, 2011, p.2).Traditionally, reference material was in a print format with the reference desk and reference librarian being the main point of contact (Lindbloom et al, 2006, p.5). Increasingly, however, reference material is becoming available in an electronic format. For example in 2002, 5 exabytes of digital material were produced, which is enough to fill 37000 libraries the size of the National Congress Library in the USA with the equivalent print material (Bodner, 2009, p.676). Currently, most of libraries have an extensive and growing virtual reference section (Wallis, 2014, p.52). This blog will investigate the advantages and disadvantages of virtual referencing for the user and the librarian.

Online databases and catalogues provide access into virtual libraries, which require skill and knowledge. The library may subscribe to several databases and the user needs to know which ones are available and the most appropriate one to use to best meet their needs (Wallis, 2014, p.53). The user also needs to be aware of search strategies in order to retrieve the information that they require (Wallis, 2014, p.53). Often databases lack usability, are frustrating and not as easy to browse as print material (Wallis, 2014, p.53). From personal experience, having used online library catalogues and databases both in the academic setting and those provided by public libraries, it can be difficult and frustrating to find the information required even when applying search tools such as Boolean.

Conversely, virtual referencing has significant advantages over print referencing for the user. It allows distance and remote learners to access vast quantities of material without leaving their homes (Saunders, 2012, p.115). Students who live close to the university often prefer online resources as they can get them immediately (Saunders, 2012, p.114 & p.116), without waiting for someone to finish with them and often download them directly to their computer. Personally, I prefer accessing reference materials online for those reasons and frequently spend time in the library doing this.

The role of the reference librarian has also evolved to meet these changes, with them now providing assistance in person, on the phone and online, either by email or online chat (Lindbloom et al, 2006, p.5). They therefore need to be confident on the internet, with online searching and be able to communicate effectively with the client using online chat (Lindbloom et al, 2006, p.7). Librarians need to develop typing skills (Lindbloom et al, 2006, p.7) and communication skills for the online environment, as they can’t rely on body language (Saunders, 2012, p.127). The advantage of online chat is that it provides the client with an instant response (Bishop & Torrence, 2007, p.119), although it is rarely the best way to assist with a complicated search (Lindbloom et al, 2006, p.9). Email, however, provides the librarian with more time to do a thorough search for the client (Bishop & Torrence, 2007, p.119).

Virtual referencing is increasingly becoming the norm in the library environment and it brings with it challenges and opportunities both for librarians and users.

 

 

Reference List

Barner, K. (2011). The library is a growing organism: Ranganathan’s fifth law of library science and the academic library in the digital era. Library Philosophy and Practice. September 2011. 1-9. Retrieved form: http://search.proquest.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/docview/900094065?pq-origsite=summon

 

Bishop, B., Torrence, M. (2007). Virtual Reference Services. College & Undergraduate Libraries. 13(4).117-127. doi:10.1300/J106v13n04_08

 

Bodner, S. (2009) Virtual Reference Reflections. Journal of Library Administration. 49(7). p. 675-685.doi:10.1080/01930820903260432

Lindbloom, M., Yackle, A., Burhans, S., Peters, T., Bell, L. (2006) Virtual Reference. The Reference Librarian. 45(93). p.3-22.doi:10.1300/J120v45n93_02

Saunders, L. (2012). The reality of reference: responsibilities and competencies for current reference librarians. Public Library Services. 8(2). 114-135. doi:10.1080/15228959.2012.662074

Wallis, L. (2014). Building a virtual reference shelf. The Serials Librarian. 67(1). p.52-60. doi:10.1080/0361526X.2014.899291

A comparison of Google and QUT Quick Find to find references

Article number Google Scholar QUT Quick Find
1 7.45 28.42
2 9.80 20.77
3 17.85 3:07.8
4 22.14 36.00

Full Title Search

Keyword Search

Article number Google Scholar QUT Quick Find
1 Null 1:30.27
2 Null Null
3 18.67 1:06.85
4 1:45.15 38.13

 

Knowledge and its application are important for international competiveness (1) and Australian universities are judged on their research performance (2). However, academic research (9) is under constant threat (7) of funding cuts (8) and so time has become a valuable commodity to the researcher, with a need to perform the research as efficiently as possible (3). It is important that they can search and gain access to academic articles quickly. Students are time-poor and need to find relevant information quickly. I use QUT Library’s Quick Find (QF) and Google Scholar (GS) interchangeably. Personally, I find the latter easier to use and less cumbersome, although the former seems to perform better on refining results. I decided to do a brief comparison on them using identical criteria. The speed of the search was timed from hitting the search button to the actual retrieval of the full-text article. Four journal articles were searched, using first a full-title search and then a keywords search. Due to time constraints, searches were terminated at 5 minutes and recorded as null. No other search narrowing tools were used in order to ensure a fair test. GS performed consistently better for the full-title search, but was very poor at keyword search, despite using BOOLEAN techniques. QF was generally quicker at keyword searching. Whilst performing literature searches for research, it is likely that advanced searches using filtering based tools (3) would be performed in order to limit the irrelevant results and increase efficiency. Discipline-specific searches can also be useful (1), which can be found on the QF site. Although this was an interesting exercise to perform, these results are not conclusive due to small sample size and the limited parameters applied during the search process. In order to gain viable evidence that one search engine is superior, a much larger study would need to be performed applying various search parameters. It will not change my method of researching and literature searching, using both search engines together.

 

Traditionally, a library is a source of information (1) and a data repository (2), needing a high level of cyberinfrastructure, including data acquistion, management and retrievable storage (1). The QF site, athough not perfect, achieves this, particularly compared to research retrieval using cards and CD ROMs. The field of research is evolving continually (1) and librarians need to be up-to date with this (3). E-research is becoming increasingly common (1), with an increasing number of students studying online. Therefore, access to research needs to be available off campus (3); the QF site provides this. Researchers also need access to a wide range of resources and databases (3), which can certainly be found on the QF site.

Academic librarians must see themselves as partners in the research process (2) ensuring that the researcher is information-literate and able to perform effective literature searches (3). Students also are becoming more active learners increasingly needing to perform their own searches (4). Orientation seminars are therefore necessary and are accessible via the QUT library site (10).

QF site is generally an effective tool for both researchers and students allowing them to search and retrieve their required literature. It is a tool which needs to evolve with the needs of the researchers. Although GS can be a useful tool when the researcher knows exactly what they are looking for, QF appears to serve better for wider, less specific searches.

 

 

References

1.Richardson, J., Nolan-Brown, T., Loria, Pat, & Bradbury, S. J. (2012) Library research support in Queensland: a survey. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 43(4), pp. 258-277.http://eprints.qut.edu.au/57384/

  1. Keller, A. (2015). Research Support in Australian University Libraries: An Outsider View. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 1-13. http://www.tandfonline.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1080/00048623.2015.1009528
  2. Mamtora, J. (2013). Transforming library research services: towards a collaborative partnership. Library Management, 34(4/5), 352-371.http://search.proquest.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/docview/1365708635
  3. Brewerton, A. (2012). Re-skilling for research: investigating the needs of researchers and how library staff can best support them. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 18(1), 96-110. http://www.tandfonline.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1080/13614533.2012.665718
  4. http://scholar.google.com.au/
  5. https://www.library.qut.edu.au/
  6. https://theconversation.com/a-farewell-to-arts-on-philosophy-arc-funding-and-waste-19064
  7. https://theconversation.com/budget-brief-how-does-science-and-research-funding-fare-41434
  8. https://theconversation.com/lets-spend-more-wisely-on-research-in-australia-29053
  9. https://www.library.qut.edu.au/events/