Friday, October 30, 2009

Librarian's Job

The librarian’s job is to assist users in finding relevant information by proper guidance and / or by providing alternative means to do the same work in different way. Recently I came across one such resource which is titled as “Guide to Library Research at Cornell: Seven Steps to Effective Library Research developed at Cornell University Library which helps the users from deciding the research topic till it’s citations by way of tips, multimedia etc. It is really a great resource from library users point of view. At the same time, it is an innovative yet simple mechanism to serve the users. It may also serve as a tool for information literacy programme for library users.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Importance of enhancing competencies for librarians

It is important for library professionals to enhance the competencies as per the job requirement and changing times. In view of this a very useful Competency Index for the Library Field by WebJunction were compiled from input from a spectrum of library practitioners and leaders, and from competencies defined by other library organizations.

Till date we are used to phrases like people skills, management skills, leadership skills etc. but this index emphasizes the “Librarian skills” which involves no doubt multi-tasking jobs.

This will be useful especially for new entrants in the profession as guidelines.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Changing job for librarians

The library professionals may be distinguished depending on their nature of job, subject they serve, or expertise they develop (e.g. Corporate Librarian, Medical Librarian, Serials Librarian). But the basic skills for being library professional required are almost same irrespective of you work in Educational (school / college / University) or Special (Public / Research / Subject oriented) library etc.

I remember, when I was interviewed for my second job, the member from the interview panel asked me how I will be able to serve my new users who are in the field of rural development being an NGO whereas I had experienced of working in science background of research institute!!

I replied that we library professionals are so trained that we can locate any kind of information irrespective of subject background. In the initial phase one may require time to learn and get the nuance of new subject but with our skills it is not a difficult task at all…

The question is how one can be prepared while there is job change. It may happen in following situations:

1. If one gets promoted
2. Transferred to new location or new department
3. Change in job by proper planning with complete preparation

The librarian may face dilemma while change in the job due to numerous factors such as:

a. Lack of skills required for new position e.g. Using technology for library automation /
b. Mentally not prepared for new responsibilities in case job change is unexpected
c. New atmosphere for starting all over again as change in users, their requirements, the new
library system etc.

In case, the person decides with proper planning with full preparation then it is easy to face new challenges but still one needs to do homework for smooth transition. Before applying for a new job, the library professional should be aware and satisfied about the responsibities, skills required for particular job, the present situation of library or information center, the parent organization to serve, the nature of users and their requirements etc. & would be expectations from management side & challenges. One needs to study all these aspects and prepare accordingly.

The change in job is must sometimes even in same organization to avoid monotonous routine, to learn something new. In any circumstances one must remain positive and prepare himself / herself as per changing situations in the library profession to face present and future challenges by acquiring new skills whenever required.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Web 2.0 applications for Libraries

Evernote is free software allows you to easily capture information in any format irrespective of device used and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time. As Roy "Todd" Vandenbark mentiones it is very useful web 2.0 tool comes in versions for Windows and Mac computers, and many mobile devices including Windows Mobile phones, the iPhone, and iPod Touch. And Evernote organizes everything based on tags you add to each item, allowing you to search for items and group them into "notebooks." You can publish any of your notebooks for others to see, and once published, it will be given its own unique URL and indexed by search engines.

Evernote offers two service plans, free and premium. The free account allows you to upload up to 40 MB of information per month, and is limited to images, audio files, link files, and PDFs. Notebooks published from any free account will include advertising in the margin. For $5 per month, or $45 per year, you can upload up to 500 MB of information in any file type, and they are secure socket layer (SSL) encrypted for added security during transfer. In addition, advertising is turned-off for premium users. The Web site offers some documentation and searchable support, and it includes a number of helpful tutorials.

The librarians experimenting with Web 2.0 applications may try tools provided by through which libraries can distribute their content to other websites, blogs, and courseware systems. As mentioned on their website Librarians can use it to create attractive multimedia content, share knowledge and information, and promote library resources to the community. Academic, Public, Special, and K-12 School Libraries find LibGuides an ideal solution for subject guides, information portals, course guides, community guides, research help, faculty/teacher support, etc. But this is not free software.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Innovations in libraries: Need of the day

The library staff usually tends to become bored after doing same work over period of time. To keep interest alive, one must try something new though the original work may remain the same. This is nothing but one’s innovation and creativity, which helps in bringing new value to monotonous work.

As Michelle McLean mentioned in her post on the blog, four elements of innovation are creativity, strategy, implementation and profitability. Innovations not only bring out creativeness in librarians but also save the times of users.

Innovation is useful for libraries as it:

· Makes optimal use of resources
· Attracts new users
· Builds stronger loyalty among current ones
· Gives creative satisfaction to library staff
· Helps in smooth running of activity irrespective of existing or newly introduced
· To enhance the library image amongst management as well as user community

To give some examples from library background, following changes may be considered as innovations:

i.) The library visit now can be replaced by Virtual Tour / Library Map on internet / intranet site.

ii) Previously library marketing was done through Brochures / Pamphlets which is easier through Library Blog.

iii) Earlier reference service was provided in person but now it can be done remotely also by Ask A Librarian / Instant Messaging service

iv) Previously library collection had both print as well as non-print (CDs/DVDs) material which may be now replaced by Digital Library / Online databases etc.

The above examples uses the various tools provided by information technology (IT) applications. But irrespective of IT, the librarians can do many things such as:

1. Announcing “Best User” Awards to excel reading habits of users
2. Display of slow moving titles in themes for increasing awareness amongst users
3. Using user-friendly furniture & displays etc.
4. Creating “Book Clubs” of users

32 Tips To Inspire Innovation for You and Your Library, Part 1, 2 and 3 by Stephen Abram, SirsiDynix vice president of Innovation are also helpful in this regard.

The most important of all is one’s own determination to make changes as and when required for maintaining balance between the present scenario and latest happenings in and around library keeping in mind future planning.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

National Knowledge Commission Launches Online Contest

NKC's recommendations have been crafted to achieve the objective of tapping into India's enormous reservoir of knowledge, mobilising national talent and creating an empowered generation with access to tremendous possibilities for the 550 million youth.

To accelerate the process of reform and to create a groundswell of public opinion, NKC invites everyone to Online Contests.
Contest Period: 1 February – 1 March 2009
Categories: Film, Debate and Essay
Film Topic: Make a short film (not exceeding 6 mins)
1) How can I make a difference in transforming India
Debate Topics: Give your opinions in video format (not exceeding 4 mins each)
1) India will realise its demographic dividend in the next 15 years
2) Vocational education and training courses should be introduced in all schools
Essay Topics: Write your views (not exceeding 2000 words each)
1) How can India unleash its innovation and entrepreneurship potential?
2) Expansion, excellence and inclusion – the three challenges of the Indian education system Important Dates:
Contest Begins: Feb 1, 2009
Contest Closes: March 1, 2009
Results Declaration: March 10, 2009
Prizes Winners get to meet Mr. Sam PitrodaCash Prizes of more than INR 1.5 lakhsCertificates to first 500 entries
Log on to http://knowledgepor to participate

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Role of libraries in Social Networking

Today libraries are using latest trends to make their services popular & user friendly especially in western countries. These trends are now also catching up with Indian library professionals. Every body is now talking about Lib 2.0 applications. One of them is Social Networking (SN)!!

Librarians are always maintaining good rapport with their users as well as other professional fellow beings. But doing the same with new resources provided by Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) is now termed as “Social Networking” where users especially college students are targeted as they gets fascinated by such applications. The basic aim is same as resource sharing.

Those who are not aware about SN may try following resources available on Internet. They also give insight how libraries can play role in social networking:

1. Using Social Networking Tags in a Library Setting
2. MySpace, Social Networking and Its Impact on Library Services
3. Building a Social Networking Environment at the Library
4. Social Networking Websites
5. San Rafael Library joins social networking site Facebook
6. Social Networking by Yale University Science Libraries

At the same time there are incidences where libraries themselves have banned these sites due to various reasons.

1. No MySpace, Facebook at Mishawaka Library
2. Library Bans Social Networking

SN may prove dangerous in some instances like misuse of personal details. Everything has its pros and cons. One should look for positive things. SN also may prove useful if applied correctly. In this regard, a book titled as Online Social Networking on Campus may prove to be useful. The book is a professional guide for Higher Education faculty and Student Affairs administrators, which rigorously examines college students’ use of online social networking sites and how they use these to develop relationships both on and off campus.

OCLC have designed a special course titled as MySpace, Facebook, and Social Networking Tools for Libraries

Actual usage of such tools by libraries in India is not identified. But elsewhere survey is also conducted to know the usage.

As per the PEW report, the share of adult Internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years -- from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's December 2008 tracking survey.

While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of online teens who also use online social networks

Whether and how to use SN is the main point library professionals have to deal with keeping in mind all the pros and cons, which may vary from organization to organization also.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Best Practices for Lib 2.0

Last week I attended the INDEST-AICTE Workshop and Sixth Annual Meet 7-9, January 2009 at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai. There were many presentations focused on Web 2.0 applications in libraries, which is popularly known as Lib 2.0.

The Lib 2.0 applications includes:
¨ Wikis
¨ Blogs
¨ RSS feeds
¨ Podcasts
¨ Folksonomies
¨ Social Networking
¨ Mashups etc.

One can study these applications and use it for library users in various ways as it does not require programming or technical knowledge. But it is essential to follow some standard practices or “Best Practices”.

The Society for New Communications Research is dedicated to identifying and promoting best practices surrounding the development, adoption, usage, monitoring and measurement of new media and communications tools, technologies and practices. They have published following best practices, which will be useful for everyone:

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