print vs online

amy posted this January 29th, 2009 | filed under: 2.0 fun, general, library skül, Second Life | 1 comment »

(sometimes print really is better.) cc licensed flickr photo shared by inju

CBC’s Spark (i love Nora Young!) had a recent episode discussing the value of offline formats of communication: basically, stuff printed on dead trees.

hearing about Ben Tennett’s project Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet, where he selected blog posts and published them as a newspaper, made me think about the things that i prefer to read in print. (bias: i worked in the newsroom of a major metropolitan daily newspaper for 8 years, so i like pretty much everything about newsprint, from the smell to the inky fingers. also, i am an EXPERT at refolding a newspaper so that it looks unread. talents, i haz’em.)

thinking about my love of newsprint, i looked at all the paper on my desk: memos, catalogues, course outlines, to-do lists, and a bunch of pieces of paper which i don’t remember putting there but which have magically appeared on my desk.

  • how many of these bits and pieces could be delivered in a different format?
  • maybe more importantly, how many of these pieces of paper should be delivered in a different format?
  • would i treat them differently if they weren’t printed and in a pile on my desk?
  • with my inbox (all of them) already overflowing, do i want previously-printed items to be delivered electronically?
  • do we feel differently about things we read in print? things we read online?

while blogs serve many purposes within an organization, they can’t do it all. i worry that some of us are jumping on the blogging bandwagon because we think that it will solve all of our communication problems.

how often does your organization evaluate your communication needs and address which can be met best with online vs print information?

me, school, and job interviews

amy posted this October 19th, 2008 | filed under: general, library skül, moi, student scholarship | 1 comment »

note: this is a verrrrry long post. i don’t know who i think i am, cuz as far as i’m concerned only dorothea and meredith can really pull this off – but here goes. grab a beer, cuz if you choose to read the whole thing, you’ll be here for awhile. (i wrote a summary so you can skip to the guts).

i’m en route to internet librarian in monterey. [well i’m here now.] plane rides always make me pensive. well, they make me pensive after i’ve checked out the movies. (gotta say i’m pretty impressed with air canada’s canadian movie offerings. less impressed with the fact that even a headset now costs 3$ and that during the safety demo, the lifevest of the flight attendant was branded with the logo of the long-defunct canadian airlines.)

so much has happened over the past few months and i really haven’t had anytime to blog about it, but i promised to talk about library school and interviewing for jobs in a post, so here it be.

back in may i graduated from mcgill. i think i’m still in shock that it’s over. the decision to go back to school to become a librarian meant that i had to finish my bachelor’s degree, something that i had left years before in favour of full-time employment. i had 5 semesters to finish before i could go to library school, which i completed in 2 years by going to school full-time during the summer. it was brutal, and my rugby playing suffered immensely, but my grades didn’t and i managed to hold onto a job a the same time, so i considered it a success.
applying to library schools was more of a shenanigan than i would have liked. i had planned to go to mcgill. i wanted to go to mcgill. and i thought mcgill would want me to go there. but i was wrong (kind of). after sending out applicatoins to university of toronto and university of western ontario (just to cover my bases) i heard from mcgill that i was accepted… to be on the waiting list. utoronto and western both gave me early acceptance spots, but mcgill, part of “the dream to become a librarian” had me on a waiting list. less than thrilled, i was. thankfully it all sorted itself out and i didn’t have to do my library degree sans hubby (as i would have at western) or while going catastrophically into debt (as i would have at utoronto). and i think in the end, mcgill is happy they accepted me, and i’m certainly happy to have gone there. (note to alumni association: though i am now gainfully employed, i am not ready to be giving you any money. plz do not call me for a few years. kthxbai.)

just prior to graduating there was a posting at a university in montreal for what i (then) considered my dream job: digital services/outreach librarian. not only would i get to play with new tech and figure out how the library could use it to improve services, but i would be involved in lots of instruction and general outreach to the university community. (note: there was no possibility of relocation – we had just bought a house in montreal. yes. i bought a house before finding a job. everyone who freaked on me – i hope you’ve since relaxed.)
i spent days on my cover letter and curriculum vitae. (at the beginning of my final semester of school, i called the directors of both anglo universities in town and asked if i could have an informaitonal interview with them. i highly recommend this. both directors were very willing to meet to discuss what they are looking for in a candidate, what my c.v. should look like, and what to include in the cover letter. both of these directors were looking for very different applications, so i was pretty stoked that i had done this.) having worked in publishing for quite awhile, i had prepared resumes before, but never a curriculum vitae. the experience is both exhausting and exciting as you catalogue your qualities and accomplishments and tweak them to shine for the selection committee.
back to dream job. i get an interview. once i stopped jumping up and down and “w00t”ing myself, i realized that i now had to prepare a presentation which was open to the staff, and get ready for a marathon interview with the selection committee.
the presentation prep was fairly easy as the question was obviously not a stumper: how could the library make use of some emerging technologies? (actually, now that i think back, i think this was the univeristy’s way of swiping ideas for whoever ended up with the job. SCAMMERS!) i tried to make it as unpowerpointish as possible, but must admit i just couldn’t do it without some slides. ick. i know. and the best resource for this prep was definitely my twitter peeps. (ya ya ya, i’m all about the tweep love.) some folks told me what they thought of their discovery tools, others gave me the dirt on tagging (can you really do it in your catalogue? YES), and others just gave me buttloads of support.<
the presentation itself went pretty well. i was pretty nervous but managed to keep it together and deal with the 15 (OMG!) questions at the end.
on to the interview. the panel had four people on it – two associate directors and two librarians. everyone was wicked friendly and disarming. then i saw the stapled stack of papers each had in front of them – it was the list of questions they were going to ask me! ZOMG!
suffice it to say that i don’t remember many of the questions. i remember being given lots of time to formulate answers, and when asked for clarification the tone was never “what the hell are you talking about?” so i was feeling okay. they asked the traditional “if we call your references, what will they tell us is your worst quality?” (my answer: i don’t easily say no so i frequently find myself juggling more balls than i should be. though i rarely miss deadlines – first real job was in the newsroom of a metropolitain daily = homey knows about deadlines – i can become a big ball o’stress if i don’t keep myself in check.) but they also asked some fun questions like “what do you think about the semantic web?” (my answer: i babbled something about information no longer living in boxes and then got really into it and tangential and totally needed to be reeled in.)
three hours later (by which time my stress had actually manifested itself in a string of zits across my forehead – apparently i’m still 15 years old) we were done. everyone said that it went well. much relief was felt by me, and my bladder cuz you know i needed to pee from the moment i sat down in the interview.
up next? interview with the director of libraries. now since i had already done an informational interview, we had some rapport already. i was asked what i considered my biggest accomplishments in life (the decision to go back to school to become a librarian – and actually complete it, the M&S honour, and being the youngest and first female president of my 50 year old rugby club). we then talked about my future, the future of libraries, and where those two might intersect.
and then it was over. and i went home and drank some beer and fell asleep.
and then i waited.
and i waited.
and still i waited.

i knew they were interviewing six people for the position, so i wasn’t surprised to only hear eight weeks later.
i didn’t get the job.
i found out while in seattle at the sla conference and i was severely bummed. but the LSW and SLA peeps that were there snapped me right out of that. and so i was not sleepless in seattle. (joke fail!)

i let the dust settle and then emailed some of the interview panel members and asked for feedback on what to work on for the next interview (didn’t get much help there – “both your interview and your presentation were strong, but we decided to go with another candidate.” uhhhh, okay. but, why?)

so i took a short-term contract at mcgill (which had been offered to me before i graduated) because i had been working there for my final semester and i really enjoyed the work and the people, and though it wasn’t permanent, i had my fingers crossed.

finally there was a posting for a bunch of liaison librarians. again i spent days on my cover letter and curriculum vitae. again i get an interview. again i w00t myself.
i get to the interview where the director says that usually they get the presentation over with right away and then proceed to the interview. and then it dawns on me – they think i have prepared a presentation, but no one sent me a topic to prepare! [insert quiet internal freak out HERE.] so like oh-so-many thing in my life, i winged it. again, not a hard topic (what do you think about roving reference?) so i wasn’t that worried, but this was to the senior administrative group of the library so… un peu stressant.

anyway, they bought whatever i was selling cuz i got a gig at mcgill.


  • spend time on your cover letter and c.v. – it should echo (with the same vocabulary) language used in the job posting
  • show them to people – both fellow students and those already working (you’d be amazed at how friendly librarians are and how much they are willing to help)
  • like in that glorious movie “The Librarian”, everyone will know HTML, LCSH, all about Kuhlthau’s ASK, and have an MLIS – what do you have that makes you different from everyone else? (and you do have something, trust me. i bet it comes from your non-library life. *gasp*)
  • if possible – ask for informational interviews with directors/associate directors in charge of HR to find out what they are looking for
  • if you’re not comfortable presenting, figure out a way to make yourself comfortable. I know it sounds harsh, but you will almost certainly be doing this as a librarian, so if uber-preparation makes you feel best, then do it
  • there are LOTS of jobs out there if you are geographically mobile. if you aren’t, expand your horizons, baby. think special libraries, think records management, think competitive intelligence, think of all the berloody information needs out there and how you can help out with them!

my friends are better than yours

amy posted this August 8th, 2008 | filed under: 2.0 fun, discovery, general, inspire me!, library skül, moi, silliness | no comments »

i kid, i kid.

but i just want to publicly thank a bunch of people without whom my degree would NEVER have been possible.

first, naturellement, to my hubby™ who loved me when i had no idea what i wanted to do with my life (and was doing very little), and who continues to support me now that i think the world is my frickin’ oyster and i am invincible. (i even have a superhero – you should too!)

second, to my bestest ever friend, who will remain an online-enigma, save to say that if Alexander McQueen ever went straight, she would be first in line to marry him. and he’d be one lucky dude to have someone so intelligent and creative at his side. velouria FTW!

third, to my rugby posse. who tonight surprised me not only with sushi and molson export (YAY!), but earrings from the Frank Gehry collection at Tiffany (love me some Frank) to celebrate my graduation. the card read:

with so much love & pride.
congratulations on everything amy.
love cathy, shelly, gij, susy and jess

given the accomplishments (leaving their rugby achievements aside) of these women (anyone need an accountant, social worker, teacher, graphic design firm owner, or philosophy professor?  just holler) i can’t believe they have the time to look out for me – but i know they always have my back.

and to my online network of librarians and ed tech folks. [i was thinking of linking each of your blogs to a word in the following paragraph – but i don’t have enough words to thank everyone…] you played a significant role in my success in library school. i couldn’t find all the components of the professional network that i wanted to create from the peeps i knew in Montreal/at McGill, and all of you have managed to answer questions, lend support, tell me when i’m doing something stoopid, and share your lives. you are all part of one of my fundamental beliefs, that knowledge requires collaboration.

finally, there are many folks from grad school who made academia WAY more fun – you know who you are, JJaCL. the day-to-day would have been excruciating without you. i am forever in your debt.

buh bye McGill!

amy posted this April 22nd, 2008 | filed under: library skül, moi | 3 comments »

a bigger post will follow later this week (once i catch up on sleep and the job-that-pays-the-bills) but as of this morning, i am finished my master’s degree.

i’m a bit stunned that it’s suddenly over. leaving my job in vancouver to finish my undergrad so that i could go to library school – that all began 4 years ago!

finished undergrad, got into various grad schools, chose McGill, worked my tail off, joined waaaaay too many associations (though the people i have met makes it all worth it), did some decent school work, explored somefun tech, and now…

we’ll just have to see what happens.

pecha kucha FTW!

amy posted this April 9th, 2008 | filed under: 2.0 fun, general, inspire me!, library skül | 3 comments »

pecha kucha (pronounced “hootchie kootchie” by those of us who were tired of sounding like idiots) is a rockin’ great way to present at a conferences.

here’s the dirt: you get 20 seconds to talk about your slides, and 20 slides for your presentation. the slides advance automatically (well they’re supposed to – aaron was taking care of this for everyone but then started cheating during his own presentation so greg took over) so you really only have 20 seconds to get your message across.

it rocks.

you have to be creative with both the visual and the aural presentation, and the time constraints gives the whole thing a sense of urgency which the audience picks up on and it really increases engagement.

the presenters at this hootchie kootchie were all rock stars:

i really think this format would be great for students – it allows you to practice a presentation, using tech, where you have to be succinct and entertaining at the same time. you could hold monthly hootchie kootchies over a lunch hour. you could choose a theme, or even better, turn them into skill-shares/unconferences where people would present on a topic which they know particularly well.

so much fun!


check out the hootchie kootchie for yourself. 

fun thing 2 – Jing

amy posted this April 2nd, 2008 | filed under: 2.0 fun, discovery, library skül | no comments »

so i’ve been working on a project for class which requires me to make a mini machinima (machine + cinema – think SL movie). since i tend to spend most of my life on a Mac (i have an Intel iMac though, and for work i occasionally need to run programs using the “evil side” of the computer – aka Windows XP) i was looking for some screen capture apps that were:

  1. wicked easy to use
  2. able to record audio from a mic
  3. capable of simply taking snapshots if i ever forget the cmd-ctrl-4 key combo

Jing to the rescue! you can choose to export directly to file, ftp or which will host the vid for you for free. it’s got a sunshine-y interface (i’m not kidding) and is very easy to use. oh, and you can use it on Windows too. (sorry all my Linux peeps – no go yet.)


you can only export the files to .swf which is why i’m up at 1:21am on a monday night. i need to turn this bad boy into something that iMovie can import so that i can make a little YouTube-y video for class. i’ve downloaded a gajillion demos to try and convert it, and if they work (if!) they throw a watermark on it. erg. i know, i know, i should just gave and by SnapzProX and all of my problems will be solved, but since i don’t see myself as a total machinimaniac (unlike my friend HVX – check out her blog if you want more machinima info) i’m trying to do this on the cheapola.

so if anyone knows of a free app that will convert my .swf into .avi, .mpeg, .wmv… please let me know!

i helpz u with research?

amy posted this March 23rd, 2008 | filed under: library skül | 2 comments »

cc licensed flickr photo shared by jambina

think my prof will believe that my assignment is late because my cat is impeding my highlighting capabilities?

ya, me neither.

Stephen abram is coming to McGill!

amy posted this March 19th, 2008 | filed under: 2.0 fun, inspire me!, library skül | no comments »

for those of you unaware of who Stephen Abram is, he’s the president of the Special Libraries Assocation and has an oh-so-fun blog (Stephen’s Lighthouse).

(as an aside, i attended the SLA conference in baltimore just prior to beginning my MLIS and it confirmed my decision to go into the LIS field. i still have all the business cards i collected at the conference and though everyon was from a different industry, doing a different job, they were all concerned with the dissemination of information. exactly the people i want to surround myself with.)

so Stephen is coming to talk to the LIS students of McGill (aka SISsies) and having seen him speak before, i know that a) it’s gonna be fun, and b) we’re gonna have lots to talk about.

i may live-blog it, since i’m addicted to Cover It Live.

procrastinatory post: CV writing is hard

amy posted this March 9th, 2008 | filed under: library skül, ranting | 2 comments »

thanks to some great folks i’ve met in the twittersphere, i’ve been able to check out what other soon-to-be MLISed people are doing CV-wise. both, like me, are looking at working in academia, and also like me, are technologically-inclined (though i really know very little next to them – i like what Meredith calls herself – a “cut-and-paste techie”). and all three of us have radically different CVs – both in appearance and content.

but is that a bad thing?

mine has a funky layout because i used to work in newspapers and can remake the scoreboard page between deadlines (which involves a ton of agate type and shmooshing text until it’s barely readable), so i guess i like people to know that i can do that. it also has only three bullet points detailing responsibilities after each job i’ve had. but i’ve had a lot of jobs (in my former life in publishing), and if i do 8-10 bullet points, the CV will be way too long for someone just starting their academic career.

but if i want to present myself as someone who loves tech and sees how it can help an academic library reach out to students and faculty, what format should i be using? can i be funky because i’m applying for emerging tech positions and thus want to project an aura of “i’m so cool and with it” (do people even say that anymore?) or do i go the academic-CVs-must-look-a-certain-way in a bid not to freak anyone out?

and cover letters… my GAWD cover letters. i am getting pwned by cover letters. i used to think they were no big deal.

Dear Señor Withjob Iwant,
I would like to apply for position A because I can do X, Y, and Z. I’m a hard-worker and a quick-learner and thrive in fast-paced environments.
I am eager to talk to you about the possibilities at working at AnywhereThatWillPay Inc. and look forward to our meeting.

Howdid I. Evergetajob
aka amy

then i found this post over at Caveat Lector

The question you are trying to answer in your cover letter to me is not “Why are you awesome?” It is triply not “What do you want?” I don’t care what you want right now. (I will care once I decide to interview you, but I’m not there yet if I’m just staring at your application package.) The questions you are trying to answer are “Why should I hire you? How will you solve my problems?” You had better speak compellingly to that, and “I am awesome!” is not a compelling answer by itself. How do you know whom I want to hire, and what my problems are? I told you in the job description I wrote. This is why your cover letter needs to repeat as many of my buzzwords as possible.

In other words, your cover letter is all about me. No, that doesn’t seem quite fair, but it’s what will get you an interview. Look, I’ll tell you a secret, okay? I’ve been on search committees. The way we do the first cut on applications is to sit around a table with a grid in front of us. Across the top of the grid is a list of the skills we asked for in the job description. Down the left is a list of applicant names. We sit there and we check off boxes. If you don’t have enough boxes checked when we’re done, you’re chucked. Get it now?

yowsa. back to the drawing board for moi…

twitter friends are really fun

amy posted this February 20th, 2008 | filed under: inspire me!, library skül, ranting | 2 comments »

yesterday i tweeted that i was not going to join any more associations unless they furthered my career, were fun, or were for a cause that i believed in.

in response Wayne (one of my Twitter friends) promptly invited me to join the Librarian Glee Club for the Homeless.

he even designed a tshirt for me.


thanks Wayne!