five question Friday #3: Caro the Academic Librarian

Did a web interview.

1. Can you tell us about your current position?

Currently, I am the librarian for social science and emerging technologies at Hampshire College. I oversee collection development, instruction, and outreach for the School of Critical Social Inquiry. I am also involved in a variety of Five College Consortium working groups and committees including the Government Information Working Group and the Digital Environment Development and Coordinating Committee. I am also involved in the growing digital humanities community at Hampshire and in the Five Colleges. The job is challenging and rewarding; I work with dedicated faculty and passionate students. Every day is an adventure.

2. How did you get into librarianship?

Like most folks who become librarians, I did not grow up wanting to be one. When I was a history graduate student, I worked in special collections at my university and my supervisors encouraged me to go to library school. I didn’t love my potential dissertation topic enough to pursue a doctorate, but I loved library work, the mix of teaching, research, and information organization. Graduate school in the humanities and social sciences is isolating and I love the community of people I worked with in the library and wanted to become a full fledged member.

3. What work training and education did you have to prepare for your career?

After I completed my M.A. in history, I immediately began my library degree at the Graduate School of Library and Information at Simmons College in Boston. Concurrently, I worked on various grant projects processing collections at Northeastern University and Amherst College. It is essential to work in practical settings during graduate school. I did an internship, I volunteered. I also did a number of informational interviews with professionals I admired or whose work or career trajectory I wanted to emulate. Those conversations were incredibly valuable for me. It taught me to sell myself in interviews, and challenged me to think critically about what I wanted to accomplished professionally.

It also helped me understand what the field looked like in the trenches, outside of the theoretical confines of the classroom. I’ve also come to realize that the first two years of professional work have their own learning curve in terms of sorting out one’s professional identity, what skills you want to learn, how you want to grow. Mentorship is essential and often that relationship shouldn’t be with one’s immediate supervisor, but a cadre of people whose voices you value. Nurture and sustain those relationships; they are essential.

4. What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the field?

I love being a librarian, I love my job, I love my colleagues. In particular, I love working in higher education. I think librarians have an important role in shaping what a 21st century education looks like. We practice at the intersection of technology and scholarship. I love negotiating that space and reimaging services and collections to meet those demands. The paradigm is shifting and librarians need to be in the driver’s seat and shape what our profession will look like. We can’t react or be passive.

That said, I am often dismayed at how pessimistic some librarians can be about the state of the profession. Our jobs are not what they were like 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. Our jobs won’t look the same in even 5 years’ time. We have to embrace change, not shun it. A colleague remarked to me recently that our profession is in a constant state of crisis. I wish we could harness our professional energies and move towards the horizon, rather than mourn the shifts in our roles and responsibilities.

5. What is your advice for readers interested in librarianship?

I would advise readers who are interested in librarianship to talk to practitioners before applying to library school. Don’t become a librarian because you like to read. Don’t become a librarian if you don’t like people. Don’t become a librarian because you like books or hate computers. Become a librarian if you want to protect free speech. Become a librarian if you want to create and sustain learning communities. Become a librarian if you want to find ways to sustainably preserve born digital materials. Become a librarian if you want to break down information silos. Become a librarian if you are consumed to serve others.

Moonlighting

Here's the original post: Caro Pinto's Media Diet on the Technology for Teaching and Learning blog back in 2011.

Howdy folks, my name is Caro Pinto and I am the social sciences & emerging technologies librarian at Hampshire College. I am pleased to be a guest blogger here for the next two weeks to talk about strategies for for locating and managing web resources for research and learning.

Inspired by the Atlantic’s Media Diet feature that queries journalists, techbiz thought leaders, and musicians what they read and how they keep current, I thought I’d share my own media diet. My media diet’s goal is keep me current with trends in higher education, digital humanities, technology, librarianship, and my faculty’s subject areas.

I generally rise at 6:00 am and immediately check my email on my iPad. I do a quick browse of Chronicle of Higher Education articles to get a lay of the land. I usually have some coffee and my day beings to hum along. I then grab my Macbook Pro and fire up Twitter and begin to look  content I subscribe to in Google Reader.

At this early stage of the day, I only scan articles and decide if I want to read them later (come back next week to learn more!) or if it’s critical news that I want read immediately. I go through the Chronicle of Higher Education through the email blasts they push daily. I go through my Google Reader lists that are organized topically: librarians, archivists, higher education, digital humanities. I subscribe to individual librarians, archivists, and digital humanists and relevent organizations like 4Humanities and the Scholars’ Lab. Though I am the social sciences librarian, the digital humanities movement resonates with types of digital projects I want to spearhead at Hampshire.

While my folders on Google reader are focused on librarianship, higher education, and digital humanities, my Twitter account is far more varied. I follow media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon.com, Slate,  and The Wall Street Journal, political reporters like Ryan Lizza, Ezra Klein, Dahlia Lithwick, and Ana Marie Cox, library and info science thought leaders like Stephen Abram and Lorcan Dempsey, technology sites like Cult of Mac, TechCrunch, and AllThingsD, and collection development resources like The New York Review of Books,  The London Review of Books, and a long list of University Presses. I also follow various vendors like JSTOR, EBSCO, ProQuest among others to track larger trends in library services and to learn about outages or other technical updates.

Many librarians/archivists have robust Twitter presences and I follow several hundred of them. The info pro community on Twitter is strong and I often ask questions of my colleagues or respond to their inquiries. These relationships are central to my work and professional development.

I engage with Twitter all day long while I work and save relevant articles to read later on my iPad. I synthesize while I read at night and keep notes possible research questions or trends I need to track. This process helps me set priorities for possible projects and potential research quests.

Even though I do technology and my office is nearly sans books, I also receive various print publications at the Library that I read weekly and monthly. I always read The New Yorker, Bloomberg, The Harvard Business Review, Library JournalThe Economist, Harpers, The Atlantic, and The New Republic, College & Research Libraries from cover to cover.

I also have subscriptions to scholarly journals like the Journal of Modern History that I read in JSTOR and EBSCO. Those services push content to me via email when new issues are available.

Keeping current with news, information, and technology is a core part of my job and central to my continuing professional development. I count myself lucky that I am empowered to read widely, ask lots of questions, and work with such amazing students and faculty. Serving the Hampshire community inspires me to stay current, test my assumptions, and imagine new library services.

Come by next week to learn how I organize and manage all of content streams.