Tuesday, December 30, 2008

National Seminar in Pune

Department of Library & Information Science of University of Pune is organizing National Seminar on Library & Information Services in Changing Era during January 22-23, 2009 on the occassion of Golden Jubilee year of the Department.

I am sure this will be a great event as library professionals from all over India are expected. Being a ex-student of the Department of Lib & Inf. Sicence I am really looking forward to attend it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soft skills for librarians

For today’s librarians having professional degrees in library and information science is not sufficient unlike in the past. There is demand for librarians having multidimensional aptitude in the areas of technical work, administrative work and also in providing user oriented services along with soft skills. Like any other profession, the soft skills are required in day-to-day working for carrying out routine jobs more effectively. The librarians working in large organizations like corporate offices are already practicing these skills through by experience or training. One may learn these soft skills easily provided they are aware what these are!!

Following are soft sills required to become a successful library professional:

Listening skills: The library professionals must have good listening skills as he/she has to interact with different types of users all the time. By carefully listening to users’ he/she can identify the exact requirement and then provide the service accordingly.

Communications skills: Command on language especially English and also regional one will improve the communication. Good communication skills also require understanding people, self-confidence. With this one can achieve lot and solve problems too.

Interpersonal skills: Librarians have to deal with all levels of people like Management, users, colleagues in library, vendors etc. To deal with each one on them in rightful manner requires interpersonal skills. When you work in large organization, it is most important to build rapport with all departments, which helps in managing the library and providing better services to every one.

Public relations: One needs to use PR very effectively to attract users in libraries through various ways. It also helps to bond with users and vendors too. Also gives ability to work with other professionals.

Customer service: Customer is library user and to satisfy his information needs is customer service. The librarians are always giving attention to their users and providing services through CAS, SDI or other specialized services. The customer service emphasizes the customer satisfaction, which guarantees that user will always come back to library.

Leadership skills & Teamwork: Library management especially the big library is team exercise. Hence it is required to have leadership skills to manage and guiding the team time to time, as every subordinate is important for carrying out their work efficiently for smooth running of library.

Negotiating skills: These skills are required on special occasions such as handling bulk purchases, specialized databases subscription with vendors etc. Also some times in delicate situations like library committee meetings or avoiding undue requirements from arrogant users etc.

Writing skills: The librarians are sometimes asked to submit/help in writing research proposal/ business proposal/project report, which requires good writing skills. Today there are many library professionals who are contributing to various publications even in-house or even by blogging for sharing their experiences and helping users.

Project management skills: In corporate sector many times, librarians are part of some project team and assigned specialized jobs such as knowledge management or digital institutional repository. These require dedication, understanding of the project, time management for completion of work, teamwork and reporting back the results etc.

Presentation skills: The presentation skills are required in report writing, library committee meetings and even in daily work which represents the library management overall for users. It not only emphasizes the individual skills but also from library presentation by means of its decoration, users guides, and library ambience.

Teaching skills: This is essential for new user orientations or in case new service is introduced such as online database searching. It also includes motivating reading habits in users.

For young professionals, I would like to mention that as there is tremendous competition, having the soft skills would be added advantage as when such skills are listed in CV it will be enriched and not doubt it will attract the prospective employers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Open Access

For librarians, access to required information is very essential for user’s sake. Today, “open access” is very much in demand. This year 14th October was celebrated as first “Open Access Day”. On this occasion, to make people aware, a small article Mahitichi mukta upalabdhata authored by my colleague Mr. B. J. Sane and myself was published in “Sakaal” (Marathi daily newspaper). The article explains what is open access and how it affects users and libraries.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Self-motivation for librarians:

There are three types of library professionals (this is true for every profession..). One who always look for challenges, learn new things and get things done. The second category belong to those who try or want to do new things but are handicapped due to various reasons such as lack of funding, support from management (Very common reasons) and other who don’t do any thing new at all (until ask for!!!)

The first two categories are self-motivated which is must as it helps the library professionals to update their knowledge, implement new techniques to expand their services. This not only helps in their personal life but also in professional life. Due to self-motivation, the librarians can demonstrate their skills in various ways such as learning new software so as to provide better services to users.

Third category is really difficult to handle, as these people can hardly prosper in their career. Doing routine jobs over period of time without self – motivation is dangerous for library profession as it affects the overall working of library and the institution in turn. Self-motivation is most important for librarians as it results in imagination, creativity and helps in professional development giving personal satisfaction at the same time.

One can be self-motivated by:

1. Learning new things such as blogging (I do it purposefully as it help me in improving my writing skills)
2. Sharing experience with fellow librarians (Thr’ various discussion forums)
3. Planning for future – One can plan for future as what should I do after 3/5 years from now on and start in that direction
4. Continuing education as gives more insight into the future through new knowledge
5. Remembering famous librarians till date – This will surely inspire as it gives idea what other have done and what we can do!! Following are few such examples as given by Kate Hilpern on website of http://www.independent.co.uk/ regarding LIS career planning:

· Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, was a librarian at Christ Church College, Oxford before penning the classics Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.
· Laura Bush
The (soon to be former) first lady of America, is a qualified librarian and school teacher.
· Mao Zedong
Chairman of the Communist Party of China and leader of the People's Republic for 27 years from its creation to his death in 1976, gained his first insight into Marxism from working as an assistant to the chief librarian at Peking University.
· Benjamin Franklin
One of the founding fathers of the USA, and also the founder (in 1731) of America's first lending library, The Library Company, in Philadelphia. He briefly served as librarian there.
· Philip Larkin
English poet Philip Larkin spent his working life as a librarian, first at a municipal library in Wellington, Shropshire and then at the University College, Leicester, Queen's University, Belfast and finally the University of Hull.
· Mohammad Khatami
Khatami served as head of the National Library of Iran from 1992 until winning the presidency with a 70 per cent majority in 1997. He remained president until 2005.
· Melvil Dewey
Inventor of the Dewey Decimal System by which the library world sorts itself to this day was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a librarian. He was also a great advocate of the early library as a "university of the people" and founded the first library school in America.
· J Edgar Hoover
The former head of the FBI found his first job as a messenger and cataloguer in the Library of Congress, Washington DC.
· Philip Pullman
The best-selling author had a brief, enjoyable stint as a librarian before becoming a teacher then moving on to write His Dark Materials.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reference Extract: Search engine by Librarians

Searching on Internet requires searching skills and more over patience!! There are many search engines available like Google, Yahoo to name few. But the common factor is that the results are not relevant to user’s expectation/need due to the fact that any search engine works mainly on page rank basis instead of reference. This is the technology driven system.

But the librarians are having the essentials skills for classifying, searching which can results in more powerful result oriented search engine. In this connection, Reference Extract is envisioned as a web search engine, like Google, Yahoo and MSN. OCLC and the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington have announced an “effort to explore the creation of a more credible Web search experience” based on librarian input—an effort that might fill a need but also raises questions about timing and scalability.

Unlike other search engines, Reference Extracts will be built for maximum credibility by relying on the expertise and credibility judgments of librarians from around the globe. Users will enter a search term and get results weighted towards sites most often referred to by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State of Maryland, and over 1,400 libraries worldwide.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Onlines Journals, Ezines in Library & Information Science

It’s important that the library professionals should keep them selves updated with current happenings in the field. For this continuing education is must. For this purpose attending refresher courses / workshops / conferences / seminars is most popular.

Similarly reading journals in the library and information science should be given top priority. But most of the times librarians don't get time due to workload, or they neglect the importance of such journals for their professional development or sometimes they don’t have access as they don't subscribe them at all. The librarians may subscribe journals through library budget also.

But today, there are many free resources available on Internet provided direct access is available to library professionals.

One such resource is “Library, Information Science & Education – Online Journals, Ezines of interest.

This is directory of online journals. The site is informative as it provides useful information like :

  • Books about libraries/librarians
  • Resources for serials specialists
  • Quotes about Libraries, Books & Reading
  • Search engines and research tools
  • Some interesting articles
  • Library listerserves
  • Library blogs etc.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Library Profession

Thanks to my mother who inspired me to become a librarian. It was actually her unfulfilled dream!! At younger age, I was voracious reader. At that time I used to read mostly fictions and general magazines. Also I wanted to do something different than conventional. Hence I preferred to become library professional. I thought that being library professional, it will help to me satisfy own reading habits!! (Just joking)

Seriously, as we all know the library profession is a service-oriented profession as we the librarians are expected to serve the users and in turn the organization where we work. The attitude of the other professional fellow beings (including my few relatives) always amuse me as they feel being librarian is a easy job of just issuing and returning of books...

In contrast, working as a librarian in special library of highly well known institute is always a challenge for me due to following reasons:

  • I have to keep my self abreast with latest happenings in not only my field but also in the subject area for which we provide services to our users.
  • Thinking innovative ideas to attract users to library
  • Learning new things especially in the area of technology so as to update/add/experiment with existing services and introducing new ones
  • Implementing the library committee recommendations, which are most of the times challenging in it’s own way and time consuming.

I am sure this will be same for all the library professionals!! In today’s advanced technological scenario, it is essential to keep pace with it by learning, using it for various purposes in library. For that, librarians have to prove to their management the utility of such technology for user’s sake due to cost involvement and after implementation again, the difficult task is to prove the actual usage from user’s side so as to justify the cost!!

In my case, I really enjoy my work as it gives me opportunities to meet new people, to guide them as per their requirement, to help them to fulfill their own academic/research/professional commitments by providing them accurate information. Every day is different which guarantees the job satisfaction. Library profession is no doubt a noble profession.

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