On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives

Time flies . . . when

Is the idiom, “time flies when you’re having fun”?

The summer has slipped by, happily and filled with days spent among family and friends. However, it was not without snippets of achieving work-related objectives and the occasional week or two on campus. I’ve reflected on the past few months and can delineate highpoints, areas that need attention, and accomplishments. This is what my summer looked like:


  • Vacation started Saturday May 9th ending Sunday May 25th
  • Enrolled and attended two professional development courses – PIPD – began May 25th on campus ending May 29th
  • This blended course had an online component ending July 27th
  • Attended a week-long conference in Portland, Oregon.


  • On-campus staffing reference desk, performing daily duties and responsibilities of academic librarian position, engaging with the few faculty remaining on campus
  • Planning an assessment of the library’s physical print collection
  • Vacation starts June 27th


  • Vacation July 1st – 12th
  • Worked diligently collecting and organizing data for collection assessment
  • Began collection analysis
  • Staffed reference desk as scheduled
  • Vacation July 26th onward


  • Vacation August 1st – 16th
  • Participated in several webinars including NFB, ELN, and ACRL Mentorship
  • Staffed reference desk, collaborated with faculty available on campus
  • Prepared for upcoming orientation session for incoming International Students and returning domestic students
  • Continued assessing print collection


There were many events and competency-challenging creative experiences for me this summer. Though I have evaluated and weeded a small collection recently, the coverage, use, and content of the collection where I now work is significantly different. This collection has never been comprehensively assessed, so the task was charged to me by the Manager, Library Services. What an honour and a creative challenge.

I consulted with library staff who have been using and developing the collection in consultation with faculty for many years. One workmate, the Senior Technician, has been here for approximately 30 years and the other two technicians have been here for less than 5 years. Every day I am reminded how very fortunate I am to be working alongside other subject matter experts who also foster and encourage collaboration and offer help whenever they can. I learned much from this group, such as:

  • The composition of the library’s collection was changed markedly when a previous manager transitioned from a public library to this post-secondary, academic library. The collection became less rigorously scholarly.
  • The collection was infused with what is called the “Campbell Donations”. This donated material is of high quality, curriculum specific, authoritative, and includes seminal works in the subject of History.
  • The existing collection policy was outdated and is currently under review. The Senior Technician is researching and writing a policy that will reflect current information and format needs with consideration for future expected course and curriculum developments.
  • The library’s catalogue had moved from an academic system (SirsisDynix) to an open source integrated library system (Evergreen). This open-source system was initiated in 2006 to serve public libraries in the state of Georgia.  It has since expanded rapidly in both the US and Canada. This system in known in BC as Sitka and was introduced into British Columbia through the BC Electronic Library Network in 2008 at 4 public libraries with an additional 14 public libraries set to migrate before 2009. Our college library was one of two academic libraries to adopt this software in 2009. Enhancements to accommodate the needs of academic libraries began in July of 2014. My workmates shared that the migration was not without some technical issues pertaining to some catalogue records. This is a common occurrence when migrating records regardless of systems and was expected. However, the dedicated and talented technicians have been able to correct and update the records. This is essential information for this collection assessment project because circulation and usage data was available for the last 6 years only. Data pre-dating the migration to the open source integrated library system was lost.
  • By the end of August, I completed all the groundwork and fundamental data collection for the collection development project and began to assess the collection systematically and pragmatically. I await input and feedback from the Manager, Library Services for the written report.


I am honoured to be accepted into the ACRL Dr. E.J. Josey Spectrum Scholar Mentor Program to mentor recently graduated librarians.  To prepare, I have participated in online and webinar training and have had an initial conversation with the mentee.  This is very exciting!

Reviewing the data and inductive research of the two pilot programs proved surprising and manageable.  It was surprising in that the simplicity of the plan, and the ease with which an Information Literacy Skills Development series can be integrated into a core subject. Why?  I attribute the success to the preparedness, enthusiasm, dedication, and supreme organizational skills of the core subject instructor.  The instructor had a solid course outline and syllabus for which alignment with ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education was logical and seamless. It was manageable in that I had the opportunity to prepare lesson plans, activities, and educational technologies, to consult and collaborate with core subject faculty, and to take advantage of flexibility in scheduling. More details to follow after a few weeks of delivering the program to 6 sections and approximately 150 students.

Needing Attention

One major concern I have in terms of my evolving suite of competencies pertains to organizing online files. There are times that I rail against my inability to locate documents and files that I thought I had wisely and appropriately stored online. Harumph. I have been known to remark that I would benefit from a cataloguer. I carry a pouch holding over 15 USB keys of varying sizes – 1 MG to 64 MG. Tucked into my briefcase is an external hard drive with a terabyte capacity which is over half full.

I shall arrange to take some Professional Development time to learn how to manage data and electronic files more efficiently and securely.


Even though I enjoyed many days of vacation during these months, I accomplished much. I completed two courses toward fulfilling the requirements for the British Columbia Provincial Instructor Diploma Program – Curriculum Design and Evaluation of Learning. I learned more about best practices for assessment, and about writing learning objectives and competency outcomes that can be immediately integrated into my instructional practice.

Researching collection assessment and evaluation practices and trends has been inordinately valuable. Practices that made sense and were felt to be responsible as recently as 5 years ago are no longer viable, yet not totally without merit. Current collection assessment practices include collection mapping, learner participation, curriculum mapping, faculty surveys, and much more.

On my trek of collection assessment exploration and discovery, I took a side-trip to review current issues facing libraries. These are manifold. Trends and library issues directly informing my librarianship practice include:

  • Alternate forms of post-secondary learning (MOOC’s and online automated courses) stress libraries’ ability of deliver resources, provide access to information and deliver library instruction.
  • The ACRL Board has accepted the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and I have begun in earnest to transition from competency standards to performance indicators.
  • The shift to Open Educational Resources (OER) is gaining ground. Academic libraries and librarians will continue to promote the use of OER and openness in higher education.
  • A high level of attention to accessibility is at the fore in my profession. This is best achieved through application of the principle, universal design to achieve universal accessibility. The US Section 508 Accessibility Program affects Canadian library systems. The majority of our vendors and service providers are US-based. Harvard and M.I.T are dealing with lawsuits resulting from complaints that their online content is “either not captioned or is inaccurately or unintelligibly captioned” (Lewin, The New York Times).
  • Library space as maker-space or a place of intentional learning and community engagement will be explored to respond to changing user expectations and needs, and to demonstrate the beneficial impact on student success when connecting with the library and librarians.

There is more . . . but the new term is beginning and student experience, success, and learning are my top priority. Off I go to prepare.

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