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Sandy Hirsh: Stepping into the Future

February 17, 2011

Happy Thursday! I hope you are all doing well. You may be wondering what happened to my normal Wednesday post. Well, I was planning on writing up Dr. Sandy Hirsh’s talk last night, but my new cat decided that it was definitely time to play instead of letting me get some work done. So, dear readers, you get an unexpected Thursday post this week about the talk Sandy gave last night at the joint SLA San Francisco Bay Region Chapter and BayNet meeting. It was an interesting look at the changes happening in the library and information professions and how we can cope with the changes.

For those of you who do not know Dr. Sandy Hirsh, she is the current Director of the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at San Jose State University. You can check out her curriculum vitae here. She’s a really awesome person and a wonderful representative for the program. Plus, she is a good speaker as evidenced by last night’s talk, “Stepping into the Future:Perspectives on a Changing Profession.”

The two main points I took away from Sandy’s talk were that change is inevitable and we need to figure out how to leverage our skills and knowledge to take advantage of this change. I really appreciated her positive view on change, instead of the unfortunately all too common “doom and gloom” perspective that change is happening too quickly that includes reminisces about the “good old days.”

As Sandy noted, we need to be flexible, adaptable, and creative in order to remain relevant and help the next generation of librarians and information professionals remain relevant. She quoted Stephen Abrams who wrote, “LIS skills are good currency in this world–but only for those with the flexibility and insight to exploit the opportunities.” I think we all have the responsibility to continue evolving and figuring out better ways of marketing the valuable services and knowledge we have as a profession. As Sandy noted in her discussion of her journey to becoming a librarian, teaching in academia, transitioning to the high tech industry, and then moving back into academia, the skills and knowledge that librarians possess can be transfered to many other “non-traditional” jobs outside of the “traditional” library. But, as she also noted, we need to be able to better market ourselves and be able to translate what we can offer into the language of industry and professions outside of the library.

Sandy finished her talk with a discussion of how the curriculum and support services at the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose have evolved to better support and prepare students for the technological changes in our fields. San Jose has recently revamped its career development resources available online. Also, SLIS has receptions at many of the major library conferences and in-person programs for students. [Speaking of which, if you are a SLIS student and live in the Bay Area, there will be a Resume and Interviewing workshop on March 12th. If you go, say hi if you see me. I’ll be there talking with people about job hunting, interviewing, resumes, etc.]

SLIS has also developed new courses, such as Web 3.0: emerging technology trends and information entrepreneurship, and revised other courses, to better reflect changing technologies and skills needed in the workplace. And, as we all know, it’s not just the students who need to keep up with technology. We all have the responsibility to keep up with the changes in our field and related fields.

The one new technology Sandy mentioned that I hadn’t heard of before was Diff-IE which “highlights the changes to a webpage since the last time you visited it” which seems pretty useful. Too bad it’s currently just an add-on for Internet Explorer.

Overall, it was a great program and the Q&A was interesting as there were quite a number of San Jose students in the audience. For those who live in the Bay Area, I highly suggest coming to the SLA SF-Bay Area Chapter events and BayNet events. The next BayNet event is a talk by the Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

That’s it for today, dear readers. I will hopefully be back tomorrow with a library and technology related post. Allons-y!

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