Conclusion

Reflection of the MLIS program

I entered the MLIS program at San Jose State University in August 2010 with several years of library experience, and having only a general idea of what librarianship entailed. As mentioned in my Statement of Professional Philosophy, I focused on classes that filled in particular gaps in my knowledge. Yet I emerged with much more than that, the whole equaling more than the sum of the parts. There is much more to librarianship than simply finding information; one needs to be a teacher, a scholar, and an experimenter with emerging technologies. One needs to know how to organize information to best suit the particular patterns of information seekers, and understand the vagaries of cataloging and classification.

Several teachers in the program have been fantastic with their feedback and encouragement, helping to propel me further along in accomplishing my goal, offering insight and their stories of their own experience. Similarly, I am grateful for my classmates. With it being an online program, it’s easy to take classes without connecting with colleagues. However, thanks to Facebook and other social media, we have been able to forge friendships despite the vast distances that separate us. Being able to communicate with classmates outside of class, learn about their experiences and tap their knowledge, has been extremely important to my academic success, and will continue to be helpful in the future as we all embark on our careers.

Discussion of strengths

This program and my experiences have highlighted my strengths: organization, customer service, and creativity in solving problems.

Organization is more than simply keeping items in call number order. It can also mean being able to rearrange a workspace for efficiency, even something as simple as setting the sensitizer closer to the routing or pre-shelving areas or moving the lost and found closer to the front doors where people tend to inquire about lost items. Organizing or rearranging a library is also useful in improving peoples’ perception of the library and helping improve customer service. Sometimes this means creative problem-solving, and I prefer to go for the simplest solutions first because they are the easiest to get everyone else onboard with the change, and easiest to implement. Enough small changes can, over time, contribute to greater improvements.

Creative problem-solving is vital to help libraries stay relevant in the community. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I sought out a variety of classes so that I can take on numerous tasks at a small library or if budget cuts means that we must take on more tasks. While it is easy to think of departments as closed entities, some libraries have had to ask their staff to take on tasks of other departments in the case of layoffs or attrition. This does mean that librarians may have to help with cataloging, or circulation help technical services by labeling books, or technical services staff taking turns at the Circulation desk. In any case, such cross-training is useful even in the best of times as it means that when one department is in a slow period, they can help take care of the backlog in other departments.

Creative solutions are useful in other areas, as well. Selection and deselection can be at least partially outsourced to volunteer experts in the fields. If someone else better understands technological improvements, then that person can help figure out which computer books can be weeded due to obsolescence. Budgets can be augmented by adding advertisement to the back of receipt papers, or by always soliciting donations and volunteers. Sharing resources with another institution might effectively reduce database costs. While I have not yet been in a position to make these decisions or implement these solutions, I frequently ponder these very real “what-if” scenarios.

Customer service is a big focus of mine, and is another area where creative solutions can help. It doesn’t matter if the library has excellent resources, well-designed study areas, or expensive services if the customer service is of bad quality. Simple guidelines go a long way toward creating a welcoming environment for patrons. Some of my favorite guidelines include the 10-4 rule (make eye contact when the patron is 10 feet away, and smile/make a verbal greeting when patron is 4 feet away), stating things positively (“Unfortunately it is checked out, but what we can do is call another library and ask them to hold onto their copy for you…”), and explaining complex policies in a clear and understandable way greatly reduces patron frustration. By minimizing frustration for patrons, it minimizes frustration for library workers, too.

Professional growth plan for the future

As I touched on in my Statement of Professional Philosophy, I plan to augment my sign language skills by taking more classes and getting more involved in the Deaf community. This will help me better understand the specific needs of the culturally Deaf. I also plan to get in touch more with other hard of hearing people and learn what they need. What helps me may not necessarily help them.

I plan to keep writing and publishing about ways to improve library services. By writing, I’m actively contributing to the wider library community in addition to the smaller community of whichever library I work. I believe it to be vitally important to continue exploring and studying new ways to improve library services, and to continue being part of the conversation about cultural and technological changes. By writing, I can help others understand better how to serve deaf people and understand the ins and outs of copyright laws.

I plan to keep designing instructional and training programs to fit libraries’ needs, whether it is to teach employees or library users. I also find it important to keep exploring new instructional technologies that might improve my ability to teach, whether it is a successor to Prezi, improved free captioning services, or the next LibGuide.

Most importantly, I will continue developing friendships and professional relationships to other library and information professionals, whether it be through Facebook, email listservs, or at conferences. Such relationships help to create a sort of collective knowledge base and support network, so whenever I have a question, invariably someone I know will know the answer. As a corollary to this, I will be a mentor and guide to current and future SLIS students, helping them as other graduates have helped me.

Affirmation

All introductory, reflective, and evidentiary work submitted is mine alone (except where indicated as a group or team project), and has been prepared solely by me.

I have respected the privacy of others by removing mention in this e-Portfolio of information that could lead to the disclosure of the identity of students or employers, and I have made good effort to obtain permission from all group members for group projects submitted as evidence.

I am protecting the privacy of the contents of my e-Portfolio by password-protecting it.

Signed,
Holly Lipschultz

Last updated on November 17, 2012