The Silverfish is published quarterly by the students
of the Information School at the University of Washington.
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We are pleased to announce the election results for the 2002 Election
of officers for ALISS. The list of candidates for each position was
impressive as was the voter turnout. ALISS officers for the 2002-2003
term are as follows:
President: Amanda Hirst
Vice President: Aaron Louie
Secretary: Sandy Macke
Treasurer: Susan St. John
The ALISS Annual Booksale will be held February 21-22 in the
lobby of ByGeorge, in the basement of Odegaard Undergraduate Library
on the University of Washington campus. Every year, ALISS uses the
proceeds from the Booksale for a variety of worthwhile purposes, including
memorials, conference fees, and student amenities not to forget the
annual Spring Fling, our celebration of all things bright and beautiful
(or at least informative) to which you all, as alumnae and alumni
of UW's Information School are invited.
Fieldwork & Work Study Experiences
We want to hear from you!
Are you currently engaged in a directed fieldwork experience
or have recently completed one? If so, we would like to hear from you!
Because so much of our program is theoretical in nature, we would like
to hear about your experiences in the real world; how your skills form
the iSchool are being utilized, what lessons are to be learned. If you
are interested in contributing, please contact the editors, Ariel
Johnson or John Buell.
Turner: Advice from a Dedicated Professional
Last month I had the great fortune to meet with Tamara
Turner, a librarian with many fascinating jobs and experiences to share.
Tamara shared with me a bit about her career but also offered many words
of job-seeking advice that I thought would benefit all of us.
Tamara describes being a librarian as a great detective
story and a great way to make a difference to other people. In fact,
she credits a generous librarian with her first job as a library clerk
which spawned a lifetime love of the profession. And Tamara has certainly
returned the favor and touched the lives of many throughout her career.
Tamara started as a clerk in a public library and
received her MLIS from the University of Washington in 1975. During
her career Tamara has been a clerk in a law library, worked in the Oriental
Institute Library's rare book room in Chicago, was a book binder in
New York, worked in the Suzzallo reserves, was a staff librarian at
Rainier School, and worked for 17 years as the Library Director for
Children's Hospital. Continuing in her career as an information provider,
Tamara is now the Controlled Document Manager for Northwest Biotherapeutics.
In addition to hearing about her career, I enjoyed
listening to Tamara's job-seeking advice for librarians. During our
talk, Tamara mentioned the following strategies to remain employed and
Enjoy people! After all, isn't that what being a librarian
is all about - helping and educating others? Tamara emphasized that
successful librarians need to enjoy people and enjoy interacting with
all types of people.
- Look at what you can do in a job outside of the
job description. Tamara advises that trying different things in a
job will teach you new skills and ultimately make you a more valuable
employee. One thing Tamara suggests is working on the organization's
newsletter. It's a great way to keep abreast of what's happening and
to make contact with others.
- Libraries need "change makers." Don't
be afraid to offer new ideas. Maintain the ability to shift gears
in a job.
- Keep your eyes and ears open! Tamara once found
a job by approaching someone in a coffee shop that she had overheard
expressing a need for help. You never know where and when opportunities
- Keep your resume current but be sure to repackage
it for each job you're applying for. Be sure that you address the
specific needs of your perspective employer when applying for a position.
As Tamara stated, "Everything broadens the scope
of opportunity." Keep active. Keep current. And keep your eyes
and ears open. Thank you, Tamara, for your great advice. Certainly,
we'll all have a chance to put it into practice soon!
Contributing Editor & MLIS Student
Brown, John Seely, and Duguid, Paul (2000). The
Social Life of Information. Harvard Business School Press. ISBN:
No User is an Island
few years back, it was not uncommon to be bombarded by enthusiastic
advertisements heralding an information revolution, where the structures
of society that held back freedom and innovation would crumble into
the past, trampled by the stampede of progress. Many predicted that
the US economy would be reformed from its foundations, that information
would be free - free of corporations, free of organizations, free of
the stranglehold of context. Ah, the empty promises and vain prophecies
of the Dot-com era.
Yet why are things business as usual? A few behemoth
corporations control the flow of money and information on the Internet.
The same organizational patterns that make up businesses, universities,
and government remain intact. It seems that we humans are creatures
of habit. We cling to our social networks, to our reliable sources,
to the organizations that give structure to our society.
John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's insightful guide
to the world information sharing, The Social Life of Information, seems
to support this hypothesis. In 300 or so pages, they present the case
that the social networks that make up the whole of human culture are
quite impervious to changes in technology, economic upheavals, or the
conjecturing of pundits. These social networks perform an unseen but
vital function in the operation of society and its organizations.
Brown and Duguid begin with the humble document, in
both physical and electronic form, and examine its role in the formation
and maintenance of communities of practice. These communities are centered
on a task, a common interest, or an occupation, forming the foundation
of any organization, business, or user group. Information flows most
efficiently through these channels. This mechanism facilitates and moderates
the sharing of knowledge within and between social networks, and documents,
say Brown and Duguid, are the glue that holds it all together. Contrary
to the beliefs of the futurists, information must be intermediated,
packaged in the social and physical context from which it came, to be
useful and meaningful.
Information professionals would do well to heed the
observations of Brown and Duguid. In a day when public support for many
libraries is waning, there is a great need for strategies to reinstate
the notion that libraries are essential to the healthy functioning of
our culture. One such strategy is designing information systems and
physical spaces that encourage social interaction. If we can identify
and analyze knowledge sharing patterns among user groups, perhaps we
can better meet user needs by building systems that mimic these patterns.
Whatever the implications for practice, The Social Life of Information
is essential reading for any information professional seeking to understand
why context is so vital to library & information science.
Contributing Editor and MLIS Student
In this issue, we profile Paula Palmer, who graduated
from the iSchool in 1994, when it was known as the University of Washington
School of Library & Information Science. Although the curriculum
has changed a great deal, Paula's experiences show what has not changed;
the value of excellent training, a diverse background and active participation
in our professional community. You may recognize Paula from her email
announcements for the College
Librarians and Media Specialists (CLAMS) of Washington State, which
has an annual conference and for which she is a past president. Paula
is the librarian at Lake Washington
Technical Institute, located in Kirkland, Washington.
It's been a fast seven years since I graduated in 1994.
The training that I have used most is in cataloguing and reference--in
that order. Directly out of graduate school I catalogued the reprint
collection of Heartstream, a local biotechnology startup. Because I
had early exposure to HTML [remember Mosaic?] and citation reference
software, I landed my first full-time job as Webmaster and reference
librarian at University
of Washington Health Sciences Library and Information Center. My
experience at Heartstream and HSLIC prepared me for my current position
as the sole, tenured librarian at Lake Washington Technical College
Library Media Center where I am responsible for acquisitions, cataloguing,
public services, reference and the web page. There are three full time
employees in our library--director, myself and library technician.
Although our library is part of the state's community
and technical college system, the collection serves a more diverse population
than is obvious. Our patrons include staff and students of the college,
students from the alternative high school co-located on campus, and
the public. Course offerings vary from general education requirements
to technical and vocational programs such as fitness specialist, environmental
horticulture, precision machining, welding, engineering graphics, culinary
arts and computer services and network technician. My educational background
in socio-cultural anthropology has served me well because I interact
with a very diverse population in terms of courses offered by the college
and demographic makeup, e.g., we serve immigrants and those who are
returning to the workforce. Typical reference questions I field in a
day can include how to correctly cite an electronic reference, finding
a transmission manual for a 1970 Ford Top loader, finding the contact
information for the president of the Puget Sound Grant-writer's Association,
helping an instructor find material for a course.
The most helpful advice I can pass along is to be flexible--you
never know how your work might evolve or what you might learn-I've worked
with ethnological artifacts, a fish collection, a special librarians
archive, and drama resources. LWTC has a childcare center on site and
I have a weekly story time with the pre-schoolers. Who could have known
that I would charter the first chapter of Phi
Theta Kappa International Honor Society at a technical college in
Washington State or that I serve as chapter advisor? Attend professional
organization meetings to find out what issues are important and to make
important contacts, volunteer (you learn a lot) or serve as an officer
(you learn even more). As past president of CLAMS (College Librarians
and Media Specialists) I now know how to facilitate meetings, how to
delegate, and how to coordinate successful conferences. There is a lot
more I could include, but on reflection the other most helpful advice
is to maintain a sense of humor.
Class of 1994
Are you interested in sharing your knowledge
with the rest of the student body? Have you attended any conferences or
taken an interesting or worthwhile class outside of the department? Would
you care to review nearby bars for us? Send your Silverfish submissions
to Ariel Johnson or John
Edited by Ariel
Johnson and John W.N. Buell
Silverfish Web Design by John