My Librarian Story – 2010 to present

In my  previous post, I told you how I first became interested in librarianship as a career and where I was in my career at the time of my Library Routes Project post in November 2009. Because that post is nearly four years old, I figure I owe you an update. 

In the Spring of 2010, I was a reasonably comfortable branch-manager equivalent, with oversight of 1/3 of the Alaska State Library. The State Library is part of the Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums. The Juneau parts of our Division are currently housed in three buildings, but as mentioned in a previous posting, we are building a new building which will house all three institutions. 

We have been thinking over the implications of what this will mean for a number of years now. In 2010, one thought was to gather all of the metadata, imaging, web and IT resources into a new section of the Division that would be created from existing staff. We already had common IT support and web development. 

I had (and still have) a reputation for being one of the techiest staff members in our Division and one of the most open to change. So I was asked to take on the new Technical and Imaging Services (TIS). The original configuration was intended to be:

  • Metadata – library cataloging staff, archivist in charge of archives database and Museum registrar.
  • Imaging – Alaska Digital Archives staff and Central Micrographics (who also digitaized film products).
  • Web/IT – Division Webmaster, the network specialist in charge of our SIRSI catalog server and the network tech in charge of library/division helpdesk support in coordination with our parent agency IT. 

I accepted the new position, although I preferred to step into predefined roles. It was an exciting prospect and I knew that there were opportunities to get different sections of the Division to start using common software tools. 

For comprehensible reasons I will never discuss online, the museum registrar and the Alaska Digital Archives staff were never transferred to TIS. In terms of metadata and imaging we were never the one stop shop that I and the deputy director of the time had hoped for. 

For the next two and three quarters years, we had a good run, mostly on the Web/IT side, though there were a few good collaborations between the library and archives metadata staff. Some of the things that I was most proud of were:

  • Establishing monthly web chats for the State Museum.
  • Managing a forced on us migration of the Museum’s Hands-On Loan program, something that took way too long, but I think might not have happened at all without me. 
  • Posting the recordings of Alaska’s Constitutional Convention to the State Archives website.
  • Digitizing and and posting of a large portion of Territorial Governor’s Correspondence to the State Archives website.
  • Collaborating with the Alaska State Library Historical Collections and Alaska State Archives to post and describe slides from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill to Alaska’s Digital Archives. 
  • Standardizing IT helpdesk support across the Division
  • Creation of software guides to programs in common use in the division
  • Establishing an intranet-based Technology Skills Bank where staff could register to share their knowledge of software. 

As you might have noticed, most of these accomplishments were on the Web/IT side of the ledger, though Micrographics played a large part in digitizing the territorial correspondence. The hoped for divisionwide standards and workflow in metadata and imaging never really came about.

In February 2013, my management and I came to mutual agreement that  my section ought to be reorganized to play to our clear strengths of web, IT, tech education and support for distance outreach efforts. So, Technical and Imaging Services returned metadata and micrographics staff and became the four person Technology and Instructional Services. Still TIS. I’m personally excited about the possibilities and have already amassed new presentation opportunities. Two of them come up this week. 

So, still a technology librarian, but one providing support to museums and archives as well as libraries.

And that’s just my work life. On the side I am still an occasional contributor to Free Government Information. I coordinate the State Agency Databases project for the ALA Government Documents Roundtable and I’m currently working on a book length guide to government information for fiction writers. 

I’m also pretty involved with my state library association, but that’s a whole other post. 

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