Archives for posts with tag: professional development

I’ve been a month and a week at my new place of employ, and I couldn’t be any happier about it. Even if you discount the free coffee, free breakfast on Fridays, swanky cubicle…

Could that be a picture of Jo and I at Medieval Times? I think it is!


My new ZZ Plant is thriving–IKEA’s finest


… charming coworkers, and exceptional boss, the actual work is fantastic. As much as I love making up yet another answer to “how many laws are there” on a Saturday afternoon, there is a certain jolt of energy that comes with answering an urgent matter from a partner, then seeing the results of your work in an important brief, or as part of a big pitch. The relevance is very rewarding. (This is, of course, not to say that the volume of laws is an irrelevant metric, but it certainly lacks immediate relevancy–and I’m shallow enough to prefer instant gratification.) I also love how often, and on what a high level, I’m able to use what I spent 3 years and boatloads of cash learning in law school. Everything’s coming together.

Why didn’t I do this sooner? I have no idea. I’ve had this conversation with another LC expat who has since moved into PLL, and we both agree that this is amazing, and we should never have been resistant to the idea of BigLaw.

Now what I need to do is work on balancing professional development, participating in association stuff, and writing with being a BigLaw librarian. My days are unpredictable, and therefore hard to schedule around. Still, I think I’m getting a better feel for the patterns of work. I feel like I’ll be able to carve out more personal professional time once I have a better understanding of the right time to make for all of that.

Other PLLs–how are you balancing this somewhat unpredictable work flow with your professional development?



So, you and your library are not on Twitter. Big deal, right? Professional sporting events, political debates, award shows and cable news are pre-hashtagged, but what does it mean for you? If you’re feeling left out, and want to get into Twitter, I’m going to propose a two and half pronged attack:

The Institutional Account

The odds that you’re already producing the stuff you need to populate an institutional Twitter account are high: new LibGuides, new acquisitions, changes to your regular hours, programs, Ask A Lib services, etc. Twitter is just a free way to publicize what you already do. Before you sign up, consider:

  • Setting some policies about who will tweet, how often, and in what style to give your account consistency, and legitimacy
  • Setting a few more policies about how and when to respond to retweets, favorites, and mentions, favorable and unfavorable
  • How to incorporate your Twitter background page, icon and shortened links into the greater branding of your institution (if you’re not a stand alone kind of place, i.e. law schools that are part of larger universities)
  • Will this be fun for you? If no one on staff is going to enjoy tweeting, the product won’t show your best side. Twitter is a great way to humanize an institution, show that it’s made of individual voices that make one–but if you’re not feeling it, your Twitter voice will show it.

The Personal Professional Account

Networking, attending conferences, attending conferences that you’re not even in the same time zone as: let Twitter solve it for you! If you’ve ever felt like you’re missing out on what’s going on in the library world, or like your professional development budget is $5, Twitter can be a great way to get out there, without getting out there. In my own life, I call it “using the Internet to trick people into thinking I’m important.” And I have to say, reader, you’re here, aren’t you? For your personal professional account:

  • Consider making the icon an actual picture of you, or at least cartoon you. This is your brand!
  • Keep your tweets related to your professional life. This is your chance to promote your work, your institution, your ideas, but not your cat, or your dinner, or your shoes. Ok, a little bit of that from time to time is nice to show you’re not a library robot, but keep it pro.
  • Use your personal professional account to follow the hashtags of conferences you’re not at (because who can afford them all), but also conferences you are at. It makes the entire experience richer.
  • A little shameless self promotion won’t hurt you. Did you write a new Lib Guide for your library? Get it out there! It’s good for you, it’s good for your institution, and it’s good for someone who maybe wouldn’t have found the information without Twitter.
  • Above all, don’t make your Twitter feed a moment by moment account of your day, because it’s boring. Take this advice from Garance and ask yourself whether your tweet is relevant before you post it.

The Solely Personal Account

It can be a little fragmenting, I suppose, but so many things in life are more fun with Twitter. Find your friends at baseball games, follow food trucks, rave (or rant with caution) about new restaurants, share pictures of your animals. Don’t forget:

  • Be careful about turning locations on–I hear there are bad people on the interwebz.
  • If you’re taking a picture of, say, a playbook in your lap, be sure you’re wearing pants (I’m looking at you Chris Cooley, former Redskin).
  • Don’t forget your #natitude

#natitude by Meg & the rest of Natstown

If you’ve skimmed all this and still don’t think Twitter is for you, don’t forget that you can read people’s open pages without actually joining. Let’s do this again for Facebook a little later on!

“Where have you been” is one of those loaded questions that can mean, “Where have you been, I have been waiting for you for hours,” or “Where have you been all my life?” The reasons you aren’t there can be just as varied. This week, we’re going to talk about getting back into the swing of things, professionally, when you’ve been out of the loop. We’ll talk about getting involved in social media, getting involved in a professional association, starting a new program at your library, and we might even discuss my two week hiatus from Lulu.

A sullen faced, “Where have you been, I’M STARVING” Neko, by Meg

I thought I would finish Mental Health Break with a field report from the other side of librarianship: the side where one is not a librarian at all. I recently described myself as an “information professional at large,” and with 12.8 million Americans out of work last month, I can’t be the only one. However, filling out application after application that asks, “Name?,” eventually leads to “Who am I?,” and then to “I am alone” more often than I care to admit.

Aside from the monotony of applications, the guilt I assign myself for having lost my job (and increasingly, for not being a Stepford Wife while I’m at home all day), and the sheer boredom, the hardest part of unemployment that I am in total control to fix is this nagging feeling of wasted time because I am not in the career that I went to school so many times to realize. Did I really believe that I would prevent any sort of unpleasant employment situation, or that I would always be doing precisely what I set out to do? Did I think that there wouldn’t be down time?

Well, yes.

I’m willing to blame youthful ignorance, willful ignorance, sheer stupidity, gross misinterpretation of the brand of feminism with which I’ve surrounded myself, whatever. I need to get over it. There is more to me than being a law librarian. I am in total control to fix monotony, guilt, and boredom, too, but here are my new efforts to stop feeling like a wasted effort that you can try too:

  • Plan projects that you would never be able to/allowed to do at work. I’m typing away on my social media consulting materials, thinking of how to fund, then digitize stuff for fun and no profit, and thinking of dipping my toe into a for real academic article.
  • Go out and visit related institutions. I live in a big city full of libraries, and I’ve been to practically none. You can always learn from what someone else is doing, even without making a big formal tour of it. Just go in as a user, see what happens.
  • Go out and visit not at all related institutions. Libraries aren’t just libraries anymore. Go to museums, factories, start up offices, print media houses, coffee shops. There’s a lesson to be learned everywhere, which is terribly convenient as libraries now have to do everything.
  • Embrace your pre-graduate education. You learned to color inside the lines at one point, right? Have you colored recently? No?? Well, there you have it. If you’re really feeling ambitious, go and do that with people who are learning it for the first time, share your experience, and don’t forget to mention that coloring outside the lines is way more fun

Today, I am going to the beach. I’ve granted myself a one day break from applications and house work, and I’m going to read my September Vogue under a big, fabulous hat, and sketch sea birds. If I were at work, I couldn’t do any of these things on a Wednesday. But today, instead of lamenting my unemployment, I’m going to try and make the most of it.

Vogue and big, fabulous hat, by Meg

I love everything about thrifting: the thrill of the hunt, the unreal bargains, and of course, the exclusive delight of saying, “what, this old thing?” If you’re a new librarian starting a professional position, or a seasoned pro looking to update your look, thrift store shopping can give you great value for your hard-earned money. Most communities have a thrift shop, bigger ones will have multiples, and high end community thrift shops will be full of really nice desginer stuff. But, no matter where you are, they all start looking like this:

Today we’re talking pants. A few things to bear in mind when shopping for any garment at a thrift store:

  • Deep set stains are a no-go, but lots of spots will come out with dedication and stain remover. Consider shopping with a Tide pen.
  • Look at hems and seams to make sure they’re still there. Try turning the garment inside out.
  • If a garment needs to be hemmed, or have a button sewn, or any other kind of tailoring work, be honest with yourself about whether you’re going to make that happen. Yes, fabulous trousers that needs a button could be yours for a mere $5, but it’s $5 wasted if you never sew the button, and never wear them.


When I’m looking for new (to me) clothes, I always pay close attention to the care instructions and fabric content. Will I need to dry clean (kind of a deal breaker), iron (haha, no)? Will I need to wash this after wear (unlikely), will it stand up to me sitting all day (let’s be real here)? In pants, I find that the pockets are a good indicator.








Slash pockets (ones that are cut horizontally) tend to lay flatter for longer, no matter your body shape, giving pants more life in between washes, and thereby making them look newer when they’re brand new (to you). Slant pockets (ones that are cut vertically) tend to poof out after hours of sitting, causing wrinkles all over the front of the pants, making you wash them more frequently. Furthermore, slash pockets tend to accompany flat front pants, which look more polished than pleats on librarians of all shapes and sizes.

How to try on pants at the thrift store? A few options:

  • Wear leggings or bike shorts, and try on the pants over your own clothes
  • Go to the dress section, find the biggest baddest mumu they have, throw it on over your clothes and use it as a personal dressing room
  • Wear your own mumu
  • If your mumu is too precious to leave your home, wear a maxi dress for the same effect

Before a conference, it’s hard not to ask yourself whether you should be looking for a new position.

by Meg, at N.C. & D Sts. SE

For newer librarians:

  • Is there opportunity for advancement, either in position, or in responsibility, in your current work environment?
  • Do your colleagues encourage growth, share institutional knowledge, offer to collaborate?

For experienced librarians:

  • Have your responsibilities increased at an appropriate rate?
  • Is your work creating a lasting impact on your institution?

For everyone, of all time, ever:

  • Are you happy?

Maybe you’re not ready to seek change, but you should always be ready to accept the possibility of change.

A wise man once said that intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. There are plenty of smart things to be said about professional networking, presenting new ideas, and other important conferencey things. Here, instead, are some pearls of feminine wisdom for your upcoming trip to Boston:


  • East Coast summers are warm and sticky. In light of this fact, you might be tempted to wear skirts and dresses to AALL. That’s a good idea: they’re polished, packable, and versatile. However, don’t forget about what’s going on under the skirt–warm and sticky legs. Try leggings, biker shorts, Spanx, whatever keeps your legs encased in their own cocoons of cool. Plus, you can sit cross legged on the floor of the exhibit hall and eat free appetizers like a lady.
  • Of course, you’re planning to wear comfortable shoes. A. We’re librarians, but B. You’re smart. Be mindful that what’s comfortable for an 8-10 hour work day may not translate into comfortable for a 10-14 hour conference day.
  • Are you dropping your resume at the Career Center? You might end up at an on-the-spot-ish interview! Fingers crossed for you, friends. Does this mean you need to pack an interview suit? Heavens, no. Travel with a structured cardigan and a big girl scarf. They’re less likely to arrive in Boston a rumpled mess, you can keep them in your big ass conference tote bag, plus you can incorporate them into other outfits and not feel like you packed useless garments.
  • How to tie a big girl scarf? Check out Liberty London’s videos, and these charming illustrated diagrams to get started.


  • Going outside into the heat and humidity, then inside to a frigid conference hall, and back and forth and so on makes skins dry and unhappy.  May I suggest a simple, light weight, fragrance free hand cream that can double as a facial moisturizer to keep in your big ass conference tote bag? It’s one more thing to carry, but it’s better than scratching at your face and neck all day. I like Nivea products, but you do you.
  • Waterproof mascara is not just for synchronized swimmers. Don’t forget, humidity is water in the air. I use CoverGirl LashBlast Length Water Resistantmascara. They make a LashBlash Volume in Water Proof, but I find it’s too hard to remove, and I look like I’ve misapplied falsies.

  • What else does water in the air do? It wrangles your hair like a baby calf. Let your natural hair do it’s thing, and you won’t look like it’s your first time at the rodeo. Worried that your natural hair is a little too Afro Circus? Channel your inner Diana Ross.

Meeting & Greeting

  • There are so many strangers at library conferences. The goal is not to meet everyone. But, you’ve got to meet someone, hermits. If you start a conversation with someone, the odds that they’re relieved you spoke first are fairly high. You know us.
  • But, what to say? If you’re hanging in the exhibit hall, talk about vendor swag. If you’re post-session, talk about how to apply what you just learned at your library. If you’re at a reception, talk about the food. I know it’s hard sometimes, but be brave!
  • Of course, some strangers are stranger than others. The odds are good that you’ll meet fabulous people–but the goods can be odd. You know us. Is there anything wrong with laughing in the middle of an awkward exchange for no reason at all? I think not. Fly your freak flag higher, then politely excuse yourself, and don’t think a thing about it.


  • The best part of any gathering with free food is the free food, no? Be wary: not everything presented as finger food is really finger food. If something is slippery, saucy, loosely breaded or covered in spice, look down to see if your outfit is of a coordinating color.
  • BBQ sliders and a red dress? No problem. Decadent chocolate cupcakes and a white button down? Exercise caution. Marinated antipasti on tooth picks? You’re never getting those olive oil stains out.
  • No one is giving away apples for free, but don’t forget to eat some veggies while you’re at conference, or you’ll be way tired and not know why by day three.

Have a safe trip to Boston, enjoy annual meeting, and I hope to see you there!

From this month’s newsletter:

“Calling All Bloggers: Join AALL in Boston!

Countless stories unfold every day at the AALL Annual Meeting and Conference, and we welcome AALL member bloggers to volunteer to help us cover the news and events as they occur in Boston.

Dedicated space with wifi and power outlets will be reserved for our volunteer bloggers in program rooms. AALL will publicize the blogs to the membership before and during the conference. And bloggers will receive an “AALL Blogger” badge ribbon onsite so conference attendees can interact with them in person as well.

If you are a blogger planning to attend this year’s conference and are interested in volunteering, please contact Julia O’Donnell, AALL director of membership marketing and communications (312/205-8018).”
I volunteered–have you? We could cite each other, it would be so meta.

I can’t say enough good things about the Robert Newlen resume session. Seriously, I’m going to look like a brand new person on paper once I finish updating to the new Newlen style. My resume has been pretty stagnant through my career for a few reasons:

  • I always thought a resume could only be one page long
  • I’ve been putting education first
  • I haven’t listed non-library jobs, even though they might have relevance to the library positions I’ve applied for
  • I haven’t been very good about showing my near gap-less employment record

The updated resume will be almost 4 pages long. I’m a grown ass woman applying for grown ass librarian positions: people will take the time to flip through. Instead of starting with education, which makes me look inexperienced, I will start with professional experience. Plus, I will include the related, non-library things to create a full 10 year history. Does that put me back to high school? Well, yes. But it looks good, I must say. Instead of glossing over the one year gap that is my first year of law school, I’m going to enter 1L in the list of professional experience, and detail some of what I did there, just like I would describe my work under other jobs. Yes, there will be overlapping dates for part time stuff while I was in school, plus full time employment during library school–but that’s what an interview is for.

I’m also adding in speaking engagements and publications. I had forgotten about my published article from my undergrad days at George Mason. No, I can’t say that a paper on constructive Orientalism in an Angela Carter story will be helpful to any library patron, for any reason… but the fabulous  Sarah Sheehan at GMU found the citation for me via Ask A Librarian chat and a follow up email. So darn it, I’m including it.

I’ll update the CV page once I’m through, and rename it “Resume.” I hope it will show a better rounded Meg. I’ll let you know when that happens.

In two weeks, I’m attending the first of two sessions–one on resume writing, one on interviewing techniques–with the inimitable Robert Newlen, who has written not one, but two books on the matter. Well, inimitable, but Robert puts me in mind of a library Tim Gunn: calm, to the point, charming, well dressed, with a soothing voice that suggests I “make it work.”

Mount Rushmore

As any of you who have clicked on my CV know, it’s not working. I’ve gone through the first edition of Robert’s book, and I’ve got some ideas for revision, with converting to bullet points at the top of the list. But, I’m lost for words.

In part, I think I’m having a silo problem. Having been in both tech services and reference, I’ve got a broad skill set that I think of as widely applicable, but  I know other librarians will see as narrowly applicable to the task/silo at hand. I want to tailor, but I’m not sure how.

My other problem is that I’ve had, like, a million jobs. I’ve been in my current place of work for quite some time, but in several capacities, for several companies, and now for the government. It’s hard to represent temporally, without looking like a flake, and linearly, without looking unreliable. A graphic approach might be nice, but doesn’t work as well on paper as it does online (and certainly doesn’t fit in with any federal forms of employment).

Any practical advice, before I go and get practical advice?

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