Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's in a job title?

On Tuesday (June 9), I participated in a panel discussion at the SCLA college libraries summer program in Columbia. The panel discussed emerging roles in academic librarianship, and I was fortunate enough to be selected to discuss the small college perspective alongside two librarians from Clemson University.

Emerging roles was the theme of the workshop, and throughout the day I heard stories and anecdotes from larger school librarians about how much we all have to multi-task. I felt reassured that what we do at Coker in this regard isn't that much different than at other schools.

I feel that job titles in our field are mere starting points or "tips of the iceberg." Some are bound by HR/Personnel restrictions, while others of us can change our titles easily. Coker lies in the middle of these two points. I got to pick the favorite of my two main responsibilities to put first in my job title. I made this change recently (officially), and included it in my e-mail signature. Two days later, after sending out a staff and faculty-wide e-mail, I got a request to help someone with Microsoft Access! I guess "Electronic Resources" means something different for a non-librarian!

Here's an outline of my talk:

· Interviewed for Electronic Resources position (newly created) got the Bibliographic Instruction position, ended up having both jobs!

o Although resources were handled by other librarians, the sheer number (thank you PASCAL and DISCUS!) of new and future resources

· Unique background in a small family owned and operated business (bakery) helped facilitate transition to small college library job

o Multitasking is nothing new for me: I am also a reference librarian, collection development/liaison librarian, systems librarian…utility librarian!

· I view “electronic resources” to cover the broad spectrum of information delivery systems, not just periodical databases and other traditional resources

o Some of my tasks since coming to Coker:

§ Electronic Resources

· Virtual chat using Meebo & Facebook

· Kindle as a cost-effective replacement for subscription to New York Times

· Personal Response System (clickers) as an evaluation and assessment tool

§ Systems

· First major project was preparing to migrate from Voyager to III/Millennium

· EzProxy to provide off-campus access (moving from a homegrown solution)

§ Instruction

· Started a one-credit Intro to research skills course (LIB 101), assist with implementation of Advanced Research Skills Course (LIB 301)

· Assist with fundamental computer and research skills: first generation college students, non-traditional students, and students from “corridor of shame” school systems

§ Outreach

· Marketing the library

· Other roles: graduate school advising

o Graduate school forum

o Small school syndrome: more access to students, we know most of the juniors/seniors on a first name basis, this role has fallen through the cracks

Our discussion was well received, and I personally got several flattering comments. I tried to keep it light with humor -- I even made a horrendous pun about both libraries and bakeries not having enough dough.

Is it peculiar that I was more worried about driving and finding parking than I was about giving the actual panel discussion?

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