Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Library School

Jessica Baumgart
Harvard University
Office of News and Public Affairs
Ed Cortez’ LIS 551 course
Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I. How did I get where I am
A. Librarianship from the start
B. Project assistantship in this university’s news office
C. An extra year of classes, mostly for Web skills
D. Various work experience: reference desk practicum, Web page editor
E. Saw my current job on a professional association discussion list

II. Background about my position
A. As the first librarian, I’ve been able to help shape the parameters of the job
B. Many things I do are my responsibilities because I have the skills, not necessarily because the office’s librarian would do them.
C. The office’s director is my number one ally.
D. Not sure what the next four years will bring
E. Position formed out of the need to have someone care for the digital photo collection. I’m not doing that anymore, but there are plenty of other things for me to do.

III. Typical day
A. Begin each morning with clips for the president’s office (1-2 hours)
B. Respond to waiting e-mail and voice mail (1 hour)
i. I probably spend 2-3 hours a day dealing with e-mail. It seems to be the preferred method of dealing with things in my work environment. Also, many reporters and members of the public use it to reach us, especially those people writing from foreign countries.
C. Archive the news clips
D. Assist staff members, journalists, Harvard community members, the public
E. Work on research, Research Matters, knowledge management, databases, special projects, our Web sites, etc., etc.
F. Check the Webmaster mail in the afternoon and handle any changes to the Web sites based on those e-mails.
G. Run the ISDN booth for radio interviews

IV. Useful knowledge/skills I learned in library school
A. Search and retrieval skills with databases and the Internet
B. Reference, especially knowing how to conduct a good reference interview
C. Indexing
D. Ideas about how different people find, organize, and use information
E. Marketing
F. Making research results look pretty

V. What I wish I would have learned in library school
A. Database design, development, and maintenance
B. More computer/programming skills
C. Knowledge management

VI. Keeping current
A. Experiment with new technologies
B. Professional colleagues (I’m learning that networking is the secret of the universe; it really is all in who you know.)
C. Professional associations and organizations
D. Publications and online sources
E. Mentoring—both ways: find a mentor and be a mentor

VII. Research Matters
A. Web zine featuring abstracted and indexed articles about research at Harvard University
B. Key audiences are the public and journalists
C. The project was in the planning phases when I was hired
D. Harvard’s Webmaster designed the FileMaker 5 backend and programmed the site with some input from a graphic designer
E. An editor selects the articles for inclusion and writes a long summary of them.
F. I write a shorter synopsis, selected keywords for metadata and indexing terms, create records for people and departments mentioned in the articles as appropriate, and maintain the databases.
G. Used not only my indexing know-how to construct a thesaurus and create indexing terms, but had to think about how our audiences would approach and use the Web site.

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