Friday, August 23, 2013



My mother worked in a medical library at a hospital when I was in middle school. I “helped” her out in the library, and I loved it. Not just because I was surrounded by books – of course, they were mostly back issues of JAMA and Lancet – but because it made me feel important and useful. Doctors would come in and ask for copies of certain articles. I was allowed to make copies for them. This meant I, an 11-year-old kid, was helping the doctors. That was pretty neat! For some reason, in spite of this and the hours I spent in my local and school libraries, library science never crossed my mind as a career when I was a kid. It took me many years before I figured out it was the right path for me.

In college, I majored in communications, with an emphasis in journalism. I worked at a year-long internship as an editorial assistant for a daily newspaper, covering local government and education. My interest in public service was always strong, but that year was especially influential as I learned how the stories I was writing really affected people in the community. But as much as I loved journalism, there was not a lot of available work in a small town, and the daily newspaper - soon after my internship ended - got bought out and was shut down. So in the end, after graduation, I just stuck with the retail jobs I have had since I was 16, without much though or ambition. In 2009, I had been a manager at an extremely busy, stressful retail store for several years, when I just thought - after a particularly difficult Christmas season – I’d had enough. I decided to pursue a career I really wanted instead, so I went back to graduate school. I was volunteering at my local library, and judging from what I saw there, the LIS profession seemed to have it all: intellectual appeal, public service, and a strong ethical aspect. That is what has led me to this point.


I have enjoyed all my classes, but the readings and discussions that have stuck with me have not necessarily been about any particular LIS topic, but rather the ethics of the whole profession. For instance, class discussions about confidentiality in reference interviews and the USA PATRIOT Act as it relates to libraries were the most engaging. When I had a choice for a topic, I seemed to always pick something related to the ethics of the profession, such as copyright issues faced by Google or net neutrality in libraries. In LIBR 204, I wrote my final management philosophy paper about ethical leadership. It is very important to me that I will be able to uphold these core values and ethics laid out by the ALA in whatever path my LIS career takes. The strong public service factor as well as a dynamic, powerful code of ethics will play a large role in my work. The fact that equality and intellectual freedom are so prominent in the ALA Code means I will be able to promote those values, which I have always shared, in my future profession.

I have always been interested in not just books, but all media. Books, television, film, radio, artwork, magazines, and the Internet are all conduits for information and heavily influence our lives. Getting this information to people is important, whether it is for business, personal, civic, or even entertainment reasons. I have always believed the phrase “knowledge is power” to be accurate. The more people know and use that knowledge, the more empowered they can become. I would say it is the underlying premise of my professional philosophy. It would be extremely satisfying to be able to connect people to any information they may need or want.

Another aspect of this is the ability of people to access good, organized, reliable, and meaningful information. That is one reason I chose to take more information science classes, such as Metadata, Information Literacy, Web Usability, Database Management, and Information Visualization. Data is nothing if it is not organized into a meaningful way. These classes have all taught me to take information and shape it in ways that a user, patron, or client could then use and interpret it successfully. For example, in my Information Visualization class, I took pages full of raw data about carbon dioxide emissions in different countries over many years and turned that data into graphs, which a user could just look at quickly to see where the United States compares to other countries, whether our emissions have been increasing or decreasing, and by how much. The user can mentally process that information much more quickly and retain it longer than a page full of numbers. I would be proud if I could reach people with information like that professionally.

As for Competency O, I have not had a chance to demonstrate this yet in the workplace. But I believe I am beginning to contribute to the cultural, economic, educational, and social well-being of my community through my volunteer work at my local library, as well as my virtual internship at Indiana University East, writing and editing LibGuides for the students. If I do not find a job in the LIS field immediately, I still plan on staying involved and contributing through ALA and ASIS&T as much as I can, as well as dedicating more time to my local public library. For instance, I am very interested in joining my local library advisory board.


Unlike many of my fellow students, I do not yet have a library job. I volunteer two hours a week at my local library, but currently still work at a retail job. My short term goal is to start searching for something new upon graduation in December. With my classwork focused broadly on technology and information, I could apply to many jobs. My over-arching goal is to connect people to information, and if I do this one-on-one (at a reference desk) or on a large scale (as a database administrator), it doesn’t much matter to me. I do not have a particular view on what the job would be exactly, so much as that I would be working with information and technology. I am interested in so many different topics in LIS, so setting does not make much difference to me. I really could work for a library, a private company, a non-profit, or for the government. I just want to be able to use my knowledge to help others.


I have a lot of passion and intelligence. I believe in intellectual freedom, equality, and the spread of knowledge. I also have skills working with many kinds of people, technology, and information. Combining all of these traits and I believe I will be able to much good for my community, whether it is virtual or face-to-face.

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