Archive for the ‘public perception’ Tag

In Defence of Volunteer Work

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

If any of you were like me, you often were told in high school, and perhaps beyond, that volunteer experience “looks good on a resume!” I’m not about to argue that. Nor am I going to argue that volunteering isn’t a good thing in general. But volunteering in libraries is a whole other ballpark.

If any of you were like me, you were told to get library experience while still in school. This is sound advice! But there are only so many library assistant positions to go around, so many people will turn to volunteering instead. Imagine my shock when I heard that a lot of hiring managers tend to, overall, discount volunteer library experience!

I can, on some level, understand why: paid positions entail some degree of specialization, or at least different responsibilities than would be given a volunteer. That doesn’t mean I agree. Certainly, if you’re only volunteering for a month or two, I imagine you wouldn’t get that much in the way of experience. But what if you keep at it? I can’t speak for anything but my own experience, but when I volunteered in an information institution (archives), I found myself with more responsibility as time went on, because I was around often enough to prove to my boss that I could handle the responsibility. I won’t say that my experience is everyone’s experience, but long-term volunteer work at one particular place should be enough for someone to take notice.

The idea behind this came from a discussion on LinkedIn, where members were discussing the relevancy of library work. I mention this only because it brought up a solid point that I hadn’t considered: volunteering at a place you want to work at is a good idea. You can show off your skills to potential employers directly, and should a job opening come through, they might just let you know ahead of time. (Note: I’m not saying they definitely will. Please don’t assume volunteering long enough leads to insta-job.)

That’s not the only reason I’m in support of volunteer work. While yes, a volunteer may not have the same duties as that of a paid employee, it can really help familiarize you with the workplace culture of that particular place. Maybe you find you don’t like it – well, in that case, it’s not hard to gracefully make an exit. If you like it, great! Keep on working.

Not to mention, if an institution is looking for volunteer positions at all, that suggests there is a real need for some additional help. Your help could be very useful and appreciated! To say nothing of the skills you could gain – time management, working in teams, or working solo. These skills are always crucial to have, and if you don’t have them already, volunteering can be a great way to develop them!

Just because hiring managers don’t seem to take volunteering as seriously doesn’t mean you can’t. Volunteering can teach you a whole host of related skills that you can put to good use later, in the workforce.

Besides, it looks good on a resume!

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Librarians in the media

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

From the Library: The Librarian Stereotype on the Big Screen

Writing about The Librarian brought up a lot of things to think about, and one thing that I wanted to talk about was the genderization of the profession: look at the librarians in the video there, and then look at what they were doing: two reference librarians, a man and a woman, are asked questions. The woman is asked about the dating of Chinese bronzes; the man is asked to compile a bibliography of radar. Later on, the embedded hospital librarian, who is a woman, is able to compile a bibliography for a doctor (taking care to use the most lengthy and difficult term possible, because medicine is obscure like that). Naturally, she has to add that, “the words were difficult to pronounce!” There’s even a segment with a manager and the librarians around him, and it’s important to note that the manager’s male, while the majority of his employees are female.

Mary with a husband, and Mary without a husband. See a difference?

Mary with a husband, and Mary without a husband. See a difference?

That then brought to mind other portrayals of librarians, notably Mary from It’s A Wonderful Life, who is shown in two different ways: one as a very feminine, social woman in the ‘main’ timeline where she’s married to her husband George; and one as a spinsterly, frumpish woman in the alternate universe where George wasn’t born. It seemed like a good place to start since It’s A Wonderful Life is a contemporary of “The Librarian,” and what with Christmas approaching faster than I’d like, It’s A Wonderful Life was on my mind. But then I did some brief searching, and then I found that someone else had discussed it more thoroughly than I ever could have, so I suggest you check it out.

Also, read the comments. This is probably the only time ever that I’ll suggest reading the comments, but there’s a lot of additional discussion going on there, and it’s worth a look.

“Not Your Parents’ Library”

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

“Not Your Parents’ Library”

This is back from August, but since it’s from St. Thomas, where I’m from, it was something that intrigued me: St. Thomas and Elgin County Libraries are offering new sorts of downloads. Now, a library offering digital downloads or access to databases — which is basically what Zinio is — is not new. London Public Library, for example, offers the exact same Zinio subscription. I’ve used it, I’ve looked at IndieFlix, done the whole bit. If anything, it’s a great way to look at magazines without needing to pay for them, even if reading on a computer screen is less than ideal.

No, what’s most striking about this is that there is an article devoted to this fact. Indeed, the closing quote is that this “isn’t your parents’ library,” which definitely says something about how libraries are still perceived. The fact that it needs to be spelled out in black and white only emphasizes this.

But for all that, I do think it’s offering a valuable service — while not all patrons will be able to, or want, to access stuff wirelessly, having it there can be a great convenience. Particularly in a place like St. Thomas, which doesn’t have the bus system that London does, making it more difficult for some patrons to get there. Certainly, it’s up with the times — now if only people didn’t need to be reminded of that fact.

‘Real’ Professions

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Image“These racks and shelves contain a lot of books,” the narrator says, “Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions.”

So begins the 1947 short, “The Librarian,” one of a series created to showcase various professions and their role within the community. The opening scene is not surprising; why would it be? The public perception of libraries as a place to store books has been around for a long time, so for a vocational movie to emphasize that aspect, particularly in 1947, isn’t surprising. What should be more surprising is how, despite the changes within society since then, the public perception hasn’t changed much at all.

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