Since I started my internship at SMU and my classes at UNT at the same time, I had a steeper learning curve than my intern peers when it came to understanding how to answer questions at the reference desk. In addition, I’ve been working as a freelancer for more than 10 years, a position where I needed to figure out things on my own without a team to turn to for questions or guidance.
At the beginning of November, I returned to my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Missouri, for a women’s leadership conference. As I listened to our keynote speaker, who had just retired from a long career as a television presenter to start a new business, I was reminded that starting over means that I need to acknowledge that I don’t know everything about my new field. If librarianship is complicated enough to require a master’s degree, it is complex enough that I will always be asking questions and discussing new ideas with my colleagues.
I realized that I had been struggling with asking my peers and my mentors for help while working the reference desk. I had felt that it would show weakness if I asked questions or needed guidance. On my return trip to Texas, I pledged to turn to my fellow librarians more in order to improve my work.
Postscript: When I had my end of term meeting with my supervisor, he mentioned that my work had greatly improved during the month of November. I was thankful to be reminded that it is better to ask for help and guidance as I learn my new trade rather than struggling through on my own. I will continue to remember that as I learn more — and challenge myself more — as a librarian.
I have been working on websites for more than 15 years, and I’ve taught myself a great deal of content management through Googling for tips and tutorials. I consider myself fairly tech savvy when it comes to figuring out new software.
But NVivo has bested me.
Our job description assignment for INFO 5000 required that we use NVivo software to create charts and infographics for a presentation analyzing several different job descriptions. I was able to learn how to mark text in the descriptions in order to track different phrases or skills. I thought creating the graphs would be a simple next step.
I was wrong.
I searched for tutorials. I asked my classmates. I asked my fellow interns at SMU (who also have completed this class at UNT). I found plenty of ways to mark and categorize information, and no guidance that led to the graphs I was envisioning in my head with multiple nodes. I worked on the project for nearly 12 hours, trying to create the desired graphics, without success. I woke up at 5 a.m. the next morning unable to get the project out of my head, and I continued to play with the settings for creating graphs.
So I decided to step back and re-envision my data. If I couldn’t create the graphs I originally sought, there were other ways to create data visualizations using the software, as well as other ways to create additional graphs within PowerPoint.
In any job or project, it’s likely that I’ll hit a stumbling point. It doesn’t help anyone to repeatedly try something that isn’t working. My goal is to work on becoming more flexible, so that when one approach doesn’t work, I can always step back, analyze the situation, and figure out a different approach that WILL work.
And possibly take a class on NVivo if I ever need to use it again.
It has been two weeks since I attended the day-long institutes at Denton for INFO 5000 and INFO 5600, and one month since I attended training for working the reference desk at Southern Methodist University’s Fondren Library.
Today is my first day on the reference desk without a librarian behind me to answer questions or to guide my responses. What on earth am I going to do when I get my first question?
I never realized how much knowledge is necessary for becoming a librarian. Where things are. WHO people are. Who to ask for specific information, and to whom to refer specific questions. It’s been a long time since I had to reorient myself to a new job and a new field of study.
I learn more every day, and my assignments for INFO 5200 are particularly helpful as I navigate the ref desk and help people find information in the library. But every answer leads me to another question; as I refer a question to the Digital Collections librarians, I want to learn more about what they do and how they accomplish it.
I am setting a goal for myself to learn more about the varieties of jobs here at Fondren Library and beyond. While I am glad to see that we have assignments in INFO 5000 that will facilitate this, I will go beyond to meet people within the departments and learn about how they fit within the broader community here at SMU.