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  Statement  of  Philosophy  

 

 

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“At  first  a  box  of  eight  crayons  was  enough  to  capture  our  world,  but  over  time  we   needed  to  mix  our  own  colors.  We  learned  to  see  past  the  reductions  and  stereotypes   in  every  field.  In  the  miscellanized  world,  every  idea  is  discussed,  so  no  idea  remains   simple  for  long.”  (Weinberger,  2007,  p  213).      

The End of the Beginning When I first enrolled in the SLIS program, my image of the profession had only a few basic colors. My associations with the profession were reference services, literature, and archives. Each class I have taken has added to the spectrum, and each new experience having to do with libraries and information organization has added more; now it is time to make sense of all these new shades as I venture towards a new career. Here I quote briefly from one of the first writings I produced in the SLIS program. Advice I received was “get past LIBR 202 Information Retrieval and you’ll be okay!” So I took it in the first semester. But the class I paired with it was LIBR 261-- Penny Peck’s Children’s Literature. I surmised that I would feel more confident talking and writing about literature than about information retrieval or human computer interaction. But at first I felt way in over my head. We were asked to recommend something we had read recently, and a classic, perhaps from our childhood. I was being asked to comment on something I hadn’t read in over 40 years except for occasional bedtime reading to other people’s children! This was before I knew about the numerous recommendation tools and children’s literature databases, and so off I went to libraries and local used bookstores and browsed like mad. These are the ones I chose and what I wrote: I read a book by Avi called The End of the Beginning – being the adventures of a small snail (and an even smaller ant). “Snail only reads books but never has any adventures of his own, so he decides to have one. Together with an ant, they set off along the branch – slowly.” I

      2   must admit, I (and the child I had been) identified with this Snail. And now, my career, my life, seemed somewhere “out there” and books were my anchor, and continued to be as long as I was in school. I inched along through my semesters, and now here I am at the end of the branch, at the end of the journey, but also at the beginning. I paired this book with Wind in the Willows. It is similar, as I discovered, to Avi’s book in the themes of journey and transformation, and it’s also an ode to nature. Though all the animals learn tough lessons and mature, they never lose their essential qualities. What remains for me after re-reading the book is the feeling that if Toad could have had some of Badger’s wisdom, some of Rat’s cleverness, and some of Mole’s sense, then he really could have had a grand adventure that ended well. Without Toad’s misadventure, though, no book would have been written. In the meantime, I hope that as I set out on my branch, slowly, I will be able to take my books with me, and have an adventure, and make sure friends are there to rescue me from the misadventures! In my application to SLIS, I did mention that organizing information to be accessible, and making valuable life or health-enhancing information available to clients or patrons was one of the best things about my previous work. I also wrote that I was the archivist of the artifacts of my parents’ lives (they were involved with the arts) implying that preservation, history, and creating meaning out of the accumulation of artifacts and memories is important to me. It is interesting that two activities I have really enjoyed in the past few years were my volunteer experience at Oakland Public Library, and my internship with WorldImages, at SJSU, (researching and annotating a set of slides of Chinese ceramics) and this confirms that the classes of Reference Services and Medical Librarianship, as well as Beginning Archives were logical ones for me to

      3   pick. I would have liked to have had the chance to take sequels to these classes and done a longer internship. I believe my ongoing volunteer experience at OPL, though not a formal internship, invokes many of the principles and values that public libraries try hard every day to uphold, and the qualities that worked for me in previous jobs are in evidence. The goal at the Information Desk (and Reference Desk, of course) is to make the library accessible to all, regardless of level of education, opportunity, ability and knowledge. I provide everyone who comes in with encouragement, showing them a path and letting them know “it can be done.” The qualities I display are approachability and enthusiasm for their mission, whatever it may be. It is clear that people have many issues, with authority for example, and there is much fear surrounding asking for help. Their instinct for survival coaches them to hide their ignorance. They are like an adult learning to swim. They fear they will drown, so they stay away from the water. They need to maintain their dignity throughout the process. I treat them as a colleague, engage them in a way so they can reserve a feeling of self-esteem. They come to the library for enrichment. The library is like a ladder, presenting the first rung, but they have to have the courage to climb that first rung, and my job is to make that easy. On my part, I practice reflective listening. If I sense urgency in their request or manner, I quickly gauge their level of need and send them on their way with what I can find in the timeframe they have presented. If I sense impatience or irritation, even if it is they who are failing to articulate what they need or want, my job is to remain neutral until I realize what it is I can do for them. I am aware that I may be the one and only shot to get through to them, to people who are in a vulnerable state. Warmth and responsiveness are important qualities most of the time, at least one or the other.

 

    Another aspect to these encounters is that whatever experience they have there at the

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front desk is something they take with them to their friends and acquaintances. The individuals we do see are the connection to the part of the community we have not yet seen; the philosophy at the library is that every positive encounter multiplies into many more in the future. Clients enter the library for entertainment, for exposure to culture, to accomplish research for school, to get tutored, and to get off the street. They come in for resources in all forms of media. Libraries are repositories for print culture, for electronic databases, for film, for music, for history, for lectures and discussion groups; all aspects of their role in lifelong learning. Creating programs at the library that appeal to different cultures and ethnicities is a helpful way to penetrate the community. Hosting tutoring for students and stocking materials that pertain to curriculum subjects in concert with teachers’ assignments would all be activities that I look forward to participating in. Providing Internet connection to job seekers and help with filling out applications online would prove that libraries have economic value. People coming in to learn about entrepreneurship, investment, and new trades all represent stimulus for the economy. Providing reference services would contribute to the economic, social, and educational wellbeing that is mentioned in the final Competency O of the culminating project. There are many types of librarians, many roles to play and many environments to choose from. The commonality between many of the library environments, however, is the fact that each have a code of ethics. The specifics might vary, but what is true is that a code of ethics provides structure for policy and for rules. In competency A, I tried to articulate my own ideas about ethics and values. I despaired of ever expressing it as well as the Code of Ethics on the ALA website: http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/americanvalue/librariesanamericanvalue.pdf

      5   But I should remember a lesson from working at the behavioral healthcare organization where I was an account manager: know the policy, be able to articulate it, and be able to give some simple reasons why it exists, all the while making sure the client knows he or she is being heard and keeping the member’s privacy, well-being and best interests at the core of what I do. In that environment, there were several stakeholders, all with potentially conflicting priorities or values. It could be expressed as "tension" because each stakeholder wants different things, although I would say that finding the common priorities might be one way to resolve the tension. Stakeholders at the library, instead of brokers, clients, members, employees and management, as in the example above, might be the Board of Trustees, the administration, the members/patrons, the staff, but also the creators of content, publishers, and legislators. Tension between all of these causes the ethical dilemmas I am likely to face in the course of my work. A research project I did for my medical librarianship class, on the origins of the Open Access movement, described the tensions between all the stakeholders in the scholarly information system. It is a complex system with no easy answers. However, I ended that presentation with concrete actions that health sciences librarians could do to educate themselves on the issue. In a public library, when someone voices a concern (about offensive material, for example), formally complains, or even makes a public attack, the library staff or institution must be unified. The way to achieve that unity is through policy, and policy is crafted through understanding and adhering to a code of ethics, sustaining the values common to all libraries. What gives strength are the values that endure. Some of these have come down to us from the earliest libraries, in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. The Age of Enlightenment

      th translated to a movement towards public education and spread of literacy in 19 century America—a necessary seeding ground for the libraries we know today. We were given free rein to read from a variety of sources in our History of Books and Libraries seminar. We took an amazing journey that Snail and Toad would be proud of, from Mesopotamia to early 20th century in America. I was surprised to read in the forward to Dee Garrison’s Apostles of Culture (by Christine Pawley) that “a minority of LIS schools provide courses on the history of libraries and librarianship, and an even smaller number of these are taught by tenure track faculty.” I feel lucky that I was able to take The History of Books and Libraries at SLIS, because it really helped me gain a long perspective on the value of libraries. Despite rough seas ahead, libraries have been and continue to be “an instrument of universal

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education” (Ranganathan, as cited by Rubin, p. 306), especially since the 19th century. My social history research project for the second half of that class led me to realize that history unites many disciplines, and so does the history of libraries. By looking at just one library, I turned my lens on many issues: position of women in society, on the economy, on racism and immigration policies, politics, and education. The diverging career paths that interest me are reference librarian in a public library with the opportunity to provide instruction in information literacy to the public; librarian concentrating in consumer health information or health sciences; and participation in a digitization project--the setting could be the history room of a library, a museum, or a unique collection.

  Summary and Conclusions

 

 

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Reflection “Reflection is one of numerous contemplative wisdom practices found in all world traditions. In reflecting ,you review, question, and reassess, gaining new insights that may provide you with choices you had not considered before, in order to learn from and integrate your experience.” (Arrien, 2007, p. 25). Most of the instructors I had in this program were inspiring and, most importantly, expected me to work hard and learn as much as I could. In some cases, several weeks at the beginning of learning a new discipline were bewildering, and presented a difficult jumble of new vocabulary to learn, specifically 240 (websites), 248 (cataloging) and 247 (vocabulary design). These felt like ‘sink or swim,’ until it all finally started making sense. I felt these were usually the classes that had no in-person component, and seemed to be based on self-instruction. Usually my group experiences were successful, with a couple of exceptions, where a style and personality clash meant that suddenly there was one less person doing the work. I have come to realize that most of the time every single person on a project does have something crucial to contribute, so if a peacemaker is needed in the group, it is important to be that person. Every chance I could get, I attended on-site tours. I was most grateful to Charles Greenberg (220, Medical Librarianship) for sending us on library tours at least three times during the semester. They were more than tours; they were a chance for us to ask questions and meet librarians. The end of school came more quickly than I thought it would. I “plodded” through, at two classes each semester and one in the summer. All of a sudden, the portfolio semester was upon me! There were so many classes I wish I had taken. It was difficult to not be able to enroll to learn new things that seemed so crucial to me, and instead start the review process of the culminating project.

  Professional Growth Plan

 

 

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I would like to spend time shadowing a reference librarian and obtain more direct experience, perhaps through on-call temporary positions. During graduate school, I tried to improve my Spanish skills, by studying at a private school, but I took a break and will continue after school. I would like to spend several months in a Spanish-speaking country. I want to learn about marketing library services, collection development, copyright issues, and intellectual freedom issues, as these are classes I did not get a chance to take; I expect to keep up with a regular program of reading in these areas. I may investigate enrolling in a health sciences-related library program or series of classes to build on the education I received in the medical librarianship class, remembering the oft-repeated advice from Professor David DeLorenzo to “specialize!” My eclectic interests and the no longer available option of taking extra credits before graduating means that the specialization is going to have to come with post-graduate education. I hope to find some workshops through InfoPeople or various library associations, ALA, CLA or SLA. One of the most valuable things I learned by attending the ALA conference is that I can learn about very current issues through workshops there. I also plan to take more Web-related classes to build on what I learned in LIBR 240. I will continue listening to libraryor information science-related podcasts.

Strengths I feel that my strengths (channeling Badger, Rat, and Mole) will carry me through and will contribute to my success: • • Social, helpful, friendly, approachable, with desire to bring people together in harmony Communicating, using images, metaphor, ingenuity--finding, if possible, the right language for the situation

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Problem-solving, pragmatic, creating a solution by considering different angles and possible pitfalls; like to research, analyze, and synthesize Conscientiousness, desire to get things done to a high standard; high awareness of visual qualities. Perceptive, curious, and desirous of being included as a full participant in any project, thrive in stimulating environment where others are involved in creative or research pursuits I recently spent a quiet summer month copy cataloging a lifetime personal collection of

history books for a professor of American history and shelving them by Library of Congress classification numbers. He asked me if I had learned to do this in library school. The honest answer? No. My classes had been more about theory than doing. But now as I reflect on it, the preparation time, research and evaluation skills, the inquisitiveness about best techniques and practices, that I brought to bear on the project (evaluating best methods, best software, best barcode scanner and labeling system) are skills that were emphasized from my very first class. It’s true I didn’t get paid for this preparation, but I know to build it into my “fee” now. Even though the work was repetitive and at times tedious, I realized that I enjoy working around people who are devoted to learning and illuminating the past in order to better understand the present. In the end, I created a functioning library for my client where he can think of a book and in an instant retrieve it, saving him literally hours. The principles of Ranganathan live! It may be that people who already work in libraries take all this for granted, but it was fresh evidence for me of how scholarly work depends on being surrounded by organized and accessible information. Save the time of the user! 1. Books are for use. 2. Every reader his or her book.

  3. Every book its reader. 4. Save the time of the User. 5. The library is a growing organism.

 

 

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Envisioning a new career at age 54 requires some risk-taking, humility, endurance, recultivating the sense of adventure and discovery I knew earlier in my life, having faith that I can surmount each obstacle as it arises, at the same time understanding that my desires need to translate into direct action that I must take on my own behalf. Affirmation I, Emily Odza, affirm that all introductory, reflective, and evidentiary work submitted is mine alone (except where indicated as a group or team project), and has been prepared solely by me. References Arrien, A. (2005). The second half of life: Opening the eight gates of wisdom. Boulder, CO: Sounds True Press. Garrison, D. (1979, 2003). Apostles of culture. Foreward by Christine Pawley. Madison: Wisconsin U. Press. Ranganathan,  Shiyali  Ramamrita.  (1931).  The  five  laws  of  library  science.  London:  Edward   Goldston. Rubin, R. E. (2004). Foundations of library and information science (2nd ed.). NY: NealSchumann Pub. Weinberger, D. (2007). Everything is miscellaneous: the power of the new digital disorder. NY: Times Books.