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Attention All you Cataloger-Wanna-Be's

An alumnus of SI recently sent SI Career Services a link to the following blog. The entry is multi-faceted in its points but talks about how students in their field need to have the same practical knowledge of the professionals so that they can convey an adequate level of knowledge in their interviews.

The example given is cataloging; however, this is true for all industries or specializations at SI. Ask people what they are reading about, learning about, and discussing outside of their coursework. Many SI students are very involved with other organizations or through professional memberships in ways that expose them to up-and-coming ideas and also some of the foundations of their knowledge base. These little steps can take time, but I can attest that knowing this information can make all the difference in writing your cover letters and in your interviewing experiences.

Read on... The Future(?) of Cataloging

As a Reference Librarian, I’ve been thinking about cataloging a lot lately. My biggest fear was confirmed while having lunch with a friend, who is wrapping up her MLIS degree with my alma mater, Florida State University.

She joined one of our library’s catalogers and I for lunch to discuss her internship at my library, where she will be learning cataloging under his direction. While we were in the middle of disucssing the challenges of cramming the whole scope of cataloging into five months, I brought up RDA.

She had never heard of it. I asked about her understanding of FRBR. “What’s that?”

I knew for a fact that she had taken an introductory class on the organization of information, as well as a class on indexing and abstracting. So I guess somewhere in there, I expected her to learn about these emerging standards.

Imagine the look of horror that spread across her face when we explained what they were. “But what if I had gone into a job interview and someone had asked about RDA or FRBR?” Exactly.

MLIS programs should be at the leading edge of exploring emerging trends in our field. They should be preparing their students for the rapid change that we experience in libraries, and equipping them to evaluate and make tough decisions regarding formats, standards, and techniques of description

I’m not picking on FSU alone here. In my time at VSU, I’ve served on and/or chaired several search committees. The number one reason that candidates aren’t selected is that they lack experience, or reveal their ignorance in an interview. It is my opinion that since librarianship is a practical science, it should be practiced by its students, at least in the form of a mandatory internship.

And no, I’m not talking about folksonomies and tagging here. Although they are fun and very useful, they are no replacement for standards-based high-quality metadata. I would never want my library’s catalog to look like my personal photo collection–with spotty tagging and organization at best! Reference librarians, library staff, other catalogers and users all make use of high-quality cataloging metadata for locating the specific items that they need. All it takes is a single mistake in a cataloging record to ensure that an item is lost to its user forever. Catalogers: take it from a Reference Librarian–what you do is important.

So, my plea is this:

If you teach in an MLIS program, stay in touch with librarians to know what your students should be learning to be prepared for the real world. Look at the entry-level job ads that are being posted, and ask if the average graduate of your program will leave with the skills necessary to do that job. Look at the advanced-level job ads that are being posted, and ask if your students are being instilled with the intellectual curiosity and passion that will lead them in that direction. Make internships required for all your students, so they can at least get a taste of what librarianship is really like.

If you are a cataloger, constantly strive to improve what you do, and stay in touch with the cataloging community. Think about the long-term effects of your description choices–after we’re long gone, our bib records will remain, either informing or misleading the next generation. And please pass along your skills and passion to the next generation by offering mentorships and internships.

If you do it for no one else, then do it for our users. After all, they are the ones who truly suffer if tomorrow’s catalogers are unskilled, and that perfect resource can’t be found.

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Posted by kkowatch on January 15, 2009 at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

Looking to MSU for Job Opportunities

Many SI students consider UM as a potential place for employment during their tenure in grad school. But how many of you consider another well-know university just an hour away? Washtenaw County may have the highest level of employment in the state of Michigan right now, but it looks as if Michigan State University is making great efforts to bring jobs to Ingham County also.

You may have heard about MSU in the news a lot lately. Just today I heard the following article -- and a few weeks ago, MSU announced that would be the future site of an advanced research center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (MSU selected as site for $550 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams):

IBM to locate global computer programming center at Michigan State University

Published: Jan. 13, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Big Blue has found a fertile spot to grow in the land of green and white, with IBM’s decision to locate an application development center on the campus of Michigan State University.

The first of its kind for the company in the United States, the IBM facility is the product of an agreement to expand MSU’s recruiting, research and educational partnerships with the information technology giant. IBM already is a top employer of MSU graduates.

The IBM Global Delivery Center for Application Services will be housed on the second floor of the former MSU Federal Credit Union headquarters on the south end of campus. A full-service MSUFCU branch on the first floor will continue to operate there.

IBM expects to start operations in the first quarter of 2009, with 100 workers projected to be on board by June. State of Michigan estimates predict up to 1,500 new direct and indirect jobs over the next five years.

“Michigan State University shares the bold vision for the role technology plays in building a diverse 21st- century economy,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “Our partnership with IBM will involve a multidisciplinary approach that leverages the intellectual assets of several colleges, including business, engineering, natural science and social science.

“MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact,” she said. “Like IBM, MSU has a long tradition of and commitment to international engagement. Our understanding of the global environment makes us the ideal partner for this project.”

The university is a national leader in study abroad, international student enrollment and alumni Peace Corps participation. Last year MSU opened a campus in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. International expertise also is of importance to IBM, which operates application development centers overseas.

“A hallmark of our work is the ability to facilitate cross-discipline exchanges among faculty, students, corporations and government agencies at home and abroad – these are great assets to bring to the partnership,” explained Jeffrey Riedinger, dean of International Studies and Programs. “Specifically, IBM’s centers in India and Brazil will enhance MSU’s connections and exchanges for faculty and students.”

The IBM campus facility will focus on upgrading software for IBM systems used by state government and by corporations around the state. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company (NYSE: IBM), with 2007 revenues of $98.8 billion, serves more than a dozen large corporate, governmental and institutional accounts around the state. The facility also is expected to support IBM customers around the country.

“This project demonstrates Michigan’s pledge to use technology to improve agency services, as well as a commitment to create high skilled job opportunities for its citizens,” said Charles L. Prow, Managing Partner Government, IBM Global Business Services.

IBM already partners with MSU on supply chain management and executive development programs at the Eli Broad College of Business, and in recruiting computer science students from the College of Engineering. The College of Social Science has offered to coordinate development of a program in service-science management, based on Dean Marietta Baba’s own study at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in California.

“They see talent, they see the international connections, they see most importantly the willingness to work with them,” said Satish Udpa, dean of the College of Engineering. “They are a matrix organization, we are a matrix organization and there are elements that click.”

Support from the city of East Lansing, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), MSUFCU and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. was a key factor in IBM’s decision to locate the center in Michigan.

The application development center will occupy the 8,400-square-foot second floor of the former headquarters of the MSUFCU, which last year moved into its new facility on West Road in East Lansing. Additional expansion space for IBM is available in the building’s basement, credit union officials said.

Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.

Posted by kkowatch on January 14, 2009 at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)