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Technically Sound

To this day, the wise words of professor Jamshid Beheshti ring clearly in my head (for all those who had GLIS601 with him in Fall 2017 or before, I will do my best to paraphrase him); ‘do you really think you are going to be paid the big bucks with your master’s degree to stock shelves or catalogue? No, you will be managers!’. As true as this statement is, it does raise another issue. If we are not the ones ‘stocking shelves’ or ‘cataloguing’, then who will? Where will these people come from and if we are to be managers, how are we to recognize them?

Here enters the role of library and information technicians. Information technicians are highly skilled and in high demand in information organization including document centres, archives, special libraries, and beyond. In Quebec, the training of these technicians falls under the responsibilities of CEGEPs and there are currently 6 institutions scattered around the province which offer a Technique de la Documentation program. Of those 6 schools, there is only one who offers the program in English and (surprise, surprise) it is right here in Montreal.

John Abbott College (johnabbott.qc.ca) is one of 8 English-language public colleges in the province and the only one to offer the Information and Library Technologies (ILT) program. It is a 3-year technical degree, however there is a 2-year intensive stream offered for anyone who already holds a CEGEP diploma (DEC). By the end of their time in the program, ILT students will have learned several hard skills and be more proficient in the day-to-day operations of a library than any of us in the MISt program. I had the chance to sit down with one of the program’s instructors, Esther Szeben (McGill, MLIS ’99), and talk about the program as well as her professional and educative journey.

MS: Can you tell me a little bit about the Information and Library Technologies program and your position in the program?

ES: Our program is very comprehensive. We are trying to prepare technicians to work in libraries or record centres to support information management and work in conjunction with librarians. Our students graduate with a lot of concrete skills. For example, they take three classification courses and two cataloguing courses… when they graduate, they really know where to place everything. They come out and they know tangibly what to do with a record, a file, a CD, etc. They know how to descriptively catalogue it, they know how to download the MARC record and integrate it into the library system. They get a number of computer courses. They know HTML, they can create web-sites, they can do advanced PowerPoint presentations, they know the majority of the large integrated library systems like Koha and Regard, they can create a relational database in Access, etc.

MS: Roughly how many students come into the program every year?

ES: This year I believe there were about 27 new students. It is a small program but growing. In the program they need to do their general education classes (English, French, Physical Education, etc.), and then they have the core program courses. Last year about 18 students graduated and half of them had job offers before graduation in June. Some are working in academic libraries at Concordia and McGill, they are working in school libraries, some are in special libraries (e.g. law libraries, the Federal Space Agency).

MS: What would the professional relationship be between a graduate from your program and a MISt graduate?

ES: You will work in parallel, you will work together. They will be your cataloguer and so on. The librarian will have to know the macro of how the library is set up while the technicians will know the micro. These students are specialists in the hands-on tasks of an information center. I couldn’t catalogue to save my life, but these students come out of this program having perfected the art of cataloguing.

Another thing we do teach is communications. Some of our students might have chosen this field because they are shy, but they will still have to effectively communicate with suppliers, sometimes with patrons, and for sure with the librarians. So, we feel communication skills are very important too.

MS: So, do you teach teaching? With information literacy being very important now, do you show your students how to teach others to use information services?

ES: It is covered in a few courses. Our program is currently going through a revision and I can tell you that information literacy is slatted as a new course. We have a consulting committee which meets twice a year and we meet with librarians from academia, special and school libraries, and other institutions to see what is happening; to get our finger on the pulse of what is going on. Through these discussions it has been resolved that IL and education instruction is going to have to be a focus for our program.

MS: Could you tell me more about your position in the program?

ES: I teach reference courses. I teach a class called “Documents and their Producers”. It is a third-year course which focuses on the publishing industry. We look at traditional publishing and now with the advent of self-publishing and open source we talk about those too. We also talk about the government as a producer of information. They understand the structure of the government, where to find information about the House of Commons and the Senate, once a bill becomes a law where do they find the consolidated statutes and all those very exciting things. They also learn where to find and how to use the various [Statistics Canada] products like the consumer price index, the census, and the daily bulletins so that they can manipulate the data that is out there which the government manages.

MS: You have had professional experiences in many information fields, what advice could you give to a MISt student?

ES: My advice is this: if you are able to, study part-time and work, in the field, part-time. Academia is good, but we do not want to only become a cog in the assessment machine (hear, learn, test, assess, write a paper, etc.). It is very difficult to absorb and integrate knowledge in such a system. My first year in MLIS I did full-time and then I went down to part-time and got to work in a pharmaceutical library. I got to put the theory which I was learning in class into practice.

Also, I wouldn’t have known that I wanted to work in a library and do reference until I tried it. I finished my undergrad and had some experience as an information professional but never in a library. I assumed my natural path would be continuing in research and knowledge management. But once I tried academic library reference, I fell in love with it and that is where I have spent most of my professional career. I guess I am saying, try everything and anything. Some people are really lucky and fall upon their dream job right away, but my experience is that ultimately it is a crap-shoot. If you see a position, apply and try it out. You never know. I have worked in public libraries, corporate libraries, record centers, fundraising, academia, and now here. When I saw this position, I knew it was for me and I love it here; but I have learned something from every professional experience which has led me to this place.

MS: Is there anything else to add?

ES: I miss my days at Thomson House…? Those were good times!

Decolonizing, Indigenizing, and Examining the Patriarchy: 2018 ACA Student Colloquium: Archives and Activism

By Nicole Gauvreau

How can archives be activists? What archival institutions are already being activists? These were the most basic questions of the 2018 ACA Colloquium on Friday, March 16. The answers came from Katherine Kasirer of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB); Camille Callison—a member of the Tsesk iye clan of the Tahlatan Nation, Indigenous Services Librarian at the University of Manitoba, and member of the NFB Indigenous Advisory Board; Beth Greenhorn of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), and François Dansereau, archivist for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Katherine and Camille gave a joint presentation, with Camille joining via video link, on decolonizing and indigenizing subject access to the NFB indigenous collection. The effort is part of a three year plan in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s report and includes over 33 action to transform the NFB, redefine its relationship with the indigenous peoples it has historically viewed through a European lens, and to re-write their descriptions to meet today’s standards. A large part of this is a new indigenous cinema page, which employs the Brian Deer Classification System and uses tribes and nations names for themselves. The NFB would like to eventual decolonize the entire “ethnographic” film collection.

Beth Greenhorn spoke of her long-time involvement with Project Naming, LAC’s effort to correct the historical record and past wrongs in relation to images of indigenous peoples. The project started with a collection of 500 photos of people from what is now Nunavut and has grown from there to include pictures of people from a variety First Nations, Inuit, and Métis groups. Once photos are identified through events in communities or in Ottawa, through social media, through the LAC website, or through the “Do you know your elders?” series that has been run in Nunavut newspapers, new caption are made for the photos. A general caption is kept, and information on the person or people in the photo is added in brackets. The LAC is also currently working to change location information to indigenous names, though they are retaining the English names from the time the photos were taken for the historical record. Finally, the materials can be made available to communities to tell their own stories. Social tagging and transcription tools should be available soon.

The end of the colloquium brought François Dansereau and his presentation “Power Dynamic and Institutional Archives: Masculine Authority and the Modern Hospital”, which looked at the representation of women in the MUHC archives. Women were drastically under represented in the hospital archive; often the only early appearances were nurses and nuns in group pictures with male doctors. This changed as time went on, with women appearing more alone and using technology as nurses, technicians, and doctors, but still at a lower rate than male doctors. How do you solve the problem? For existing archives the role of women needs to be highlighted; for materials to be added records from women must be taken as well.

Overview of Programming Languages for Beginners

By Tyler Kolody

DISCLAIMER: Though I’ve tried to stick with the facts, I’m primarily a Python programmer interested in data science/AI, so opinions expressed come from that perspective.

 

C

Pros: Faster than pretty much anything else, OG modern language with most other languages inheriting syntax from it, will let you do anything you want even if you shouldn’t.

Cons: Lacks the versatility of the object-oriented paradigm, doesn’t do anything for you; everything must be explicitly built, will let you do anything you want even if you shouldn’t

Summary: The grandfather of modern programming languages, except this grandpa is Usain Bolt and none of its kids or grandkids can keep up with it in a straight race. Like most geriatrics, it’s not very flexible, but despite being over 40 years old, it is still in active use for many applications. It isn’t as popular as C++ or Java, but is useful when writing code that must be extremely fast and light weight, while still being executable on multiple system architectures. Different compilers can read and convert it into machine code for many different system architectures without changing the code itself. It epitomizes the old adage “Easy to learn, hard to master” as the codebase itself is extremely small, but true understanding is something that could take decades to reach.

Hello World!:

 

C++

Pros: Very fast, has modern language features, won’t let you access memory willy-nilly so is safer than C

Cons: Difficult to learn, suffers from readability issues as it is literally just C with a bunch of things added retroactively and some of it can get messy

Summary: Much of what has been said about C can be said about C++, and you can technically run C++ as C. However, they are not the same language and C++ adds many modern features; most notably the concept of classes and objects is central to C. It is still a low-level language and abstracts very little, but it will not allow you to do whatever you want the way C does. For example, it will prevent you from accessing memory memory you shouldn’t, making it safer. These attributes, in addition to its efficiency make it ideal for large applications that still need to run quickly, making it very popular for game engines and cryptocurrency protocols.

Hello World!:

 

Python

Pros: Easy to read, beginner friendly, very wide range of applications particularly in data science

Cons: Slower than other general-purpose languages, not as scalable for very large projects

Summary: Python is a high-level language that abstracts away much of what is going on in the code, allowing for very fast prototyping and leading to extremely easy to read syntax. This stems from the fact that it does not require explicit type declarations, nor does it require programmers to understand memory management. This is helpful when trying to introduce concepts to beginners, but by ignoring these concepts it can make it more difficult to move to other languages later on. Underneath it’s simple syntax, Python combines many different features and paradigms, making it extremely flexible. For example, it is an interpreted language meaning that each statement is read and translated into machine code at run time, but can also be compiled if desired. This, makes it a popular language at all levels of programming experience. Even it’s notable performance issues can be circumvented in some cases using libraries that allow other languages to run within its code (notably C, the fastest modern language). Python has commonly used versions, 2.7x and 3.x, commonly referred to simply as Python 2 and 3. Python 2.7x is the older version which traditionally has had better library support. However, Python 3 is the future, and has more or less caught up to it’s predecessor. While there are many differences under the hood, practically speaking the syntax differences are fairly minimal.

Hello World!:

Python 2

print “Hello World!”

Python 3

print(“Hello World!”)

 

Java

Pros: Very portable across different platforms without needing to be compiled multiple times, substantial community support, no need for memory management unlike C++

Cons: Some security issues, purely OOP (literally everything has to be an object) can be difficult to get used to for those coming from mixed paradigms

Summary: Java is the most ubiquitous of the Big Three general purpose languages, being extremely portable and having many features that make it very compatible with web development in addition to app development and general use. It has been the dominant language for two decades, and although it has lost ground to others, it is still enormously popular. It’s as versatile as Python, almost as fast as C++ and more portable than pretty much anything; essentially a jack of all trades. It’s also the main language used to write Android apps, making ‘Java developer’ a very high demand position. However, since everything must be an object, the syntax can get extremely long and unwieldy.

Hello World!

 

JavaScript

Pros: Hahahaha no…Fine, I’ve been informed that this is supposed to be informative and not a platform for my biases so I’ll try. It is fairly simple, if not very nice, syntactically speaking. It’s fast. Its popularity means there’s a lot of documentation and support for troubleshooting.

Cons: You don’t have a choice if you want to do web development; it’s the primary client-side language used. It is a security nightmare; most web exploits are rooted in JS. It’s not browser agnostic.

Summary: JavaScript is the most popular client-side web language in existence, and is responsible for much of the modern internet’s look and functionality. It handles everything on your computer when you browse, hence why it is ‘client-side’, as opposed to server-side languages such as PHP that handle the back end of web development. Most things that move on a website and anything you can interact with is the result of JavaScript. It is entirely web-focused, but can technically be used more generally. The wide array of frameworks such as jQuery, Angular and React allow for a diverse approach to web and application development. Its prevalence across the web ensure that it isn’t going anywhere, and the variety of frameworks and active community help cover up some of it’s numerous issues. On the topic of its name and relation to other languages: Java is to JavaScript as car is to carpet.

Hello World!:

To print to browser:

alert(“Hello World!”)

To print to console:

console.log(“Hello World!”)

 

Assembly

Pros: You can’t get any closer to the metal, very clearly (relatively speaking) corresponds with CPU instructions.

Cons: The metal is cold, hard and frequently shocks you. Made worse if your tears of frustration and despair short out the keyboard.

Summary: This is functionally machine code, where each line or instruction roughly corresponds to an instruction executed by the CPU. Assembly is not an actual language but an umbrella term; each CPU architecture has a different language specific to it. It is typically used for embedded systems, devices with little computing power and need to be absurdly lightweight. It is the interface between hardware and software that eventually, every other language is compiled to or interpreted as. Primarily the realm of hardcore engineering nerds who should get out more, but no judgement if this is your thing.

Hello World! (NASM x64 assembly):

 

 

Where Are They Now? SIS Graduates in the Workforce, Part 2

SIS students have gone on to have a diverse and exciting array of careers. This week, Beyond the Shelf welcomes 2017 grad Rebecca Pothier to talk about her post-graduation experiences.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself: What’s your educational background, and why did you want to take the MISt degree? What area did you focus on during the program (library, archives, HCI, KM)?
I have a Bachelor’s of Arts in Public History from Concordia. This program had an internship component and after taking quite a few Irish history and Irish studies courses at Concordia I decided I wanted to go to Ireland for my internship. I ended up working at the Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum in Dublin, where I was introduced to archives and this is what inspired me to do Information Studies. I started in 2013 in the archive stream (this was before the streams were dissolved), then I went on a trip to southeast Asia over the summer, decided I was having too much fun and dropped out to move to Australia for a year. Finally when I came back I re-enrolled and after taking a few library courses realized I was more interested in the library side of the program.

 

Where are you working now? What attracted you to the position, and is it where you thought you would end up when you started the program?
I am currently unemployed and looking for jobs in the library field.

 

Take me through a regular day at work – what do you get up to on a day-to-day basis?

My previous job was at a non-profit library. I can give you a a run through of my typical day there: I would confirm that I had all my volunteers lined up for the weekly reading activities, reach out to the centres we worked with to make sure everything was running smoothly, research new centres in the area and try to reach out to them and explain our project, oversee the cataloguing process, and meet with my boss to discuss the activity’s progress.

 

How did you get involved while you were a student, whether with student associations or work experience?

As a student I volunteered with the Jewish Public Library for a couple months doing shelving. I also did the practicum at a public library which was the best experience and I would highly recommend

 

Do you have any advice for current students or recent graduates?

Advice I have is to try a bunch of different things. I was quite set on being an archivist and after being introduced to some library classes I realized this fit me much better. I am still trying to stay open to things beyond your typical library career. I really enjoyed the ABQLA mentor program, my mentor has been a really helpful resource!

 

Thank you to Rebecca for sharing with us!
This post has been edited for clarity.

AMIA Symposium 2018

Student presenters, professional panel, and AMIA exec.

The student chapter of the Association of Moving Image Archivists held their annual symposium this past Friday. It featured presentations of current and recent projects by SIS students, as well as a panel discussion with several information professionals working in the audiovisual archival field.

Student Presentations

Our first presenter was Sarah Lake, with “Transitioning to the Cloud: Giving Access to Oral Histories”. Sarah spoke about her experiences working at Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling; in particular, about the challenges of migrating a large project from hard drive to cloud storage. Sarah spoke about the workflow involved in this process, as well as best practices for future maintenance of the collection and long-term preservation planning.

Next, Kat Barrette spoke on “Mapping Past and Present: Special Collections and Public Outreach”, an overview of engaging the public with material from special collections, in this case maps and photographs. She worked on creating a series of workshops for high school students at LaurenHill Academy using History Pin, an open source web program that lets users pin JPEGs to maps, showing photographs from the past overlaid on current locations. She shared the steps involved in organizing a project like this, as well as recommendations drawn from her experience to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Albe Guiral then presented “From a Mouldy Box to Internet Sensation: The Photographs of the Fonds de l’Aqueduc at the Archives of the City of Montreal”. While working at the archive Albe was involved in digitizing and sharing with the public a collection of glass-plate photographs, and took us through the whole archival process, with a focus on preservation and outreach. She She spoke of the challenges involved in cleaning and scanning such delicate photographs, as well as best practices for dealing with contaminated materials. She also explained the process of digitally restoring them and sharing with the public on social media.

Finally, Rachel Black presented “Preserving Memory: Personal Archive Creation and Management”. Rachel has been working on creating a family archive of photographs, documents, and physical objects, and shared with us some of the lessons learned from this experience. She explained the process from beginning to end, focusing on the importance of planning the workflow of a project like this. she also spoke about the importance of preservation planning and records management in maintaining a personal archive.

Student presenters

Panel Discussion

Our panel opened by telling us about themselves and their current jobs. They took us through a typical day of work, the consensus being that there is really no such thing as an information professional. We then discussed the challenges of working with both analog and digital archival materials, and some of the current projects our professional panel members are working on.

Opening the floor to questions from the audience, our panel spoke about their educational backgrounds and gave advice to current students, speaking about useful skills and knowledge to acquire during the program. The most common advice was to try and take a bit of everything in order to have a well-rounded skillset – and you never know what might turn out to be an area of interest!

Finally, our panel gave us the names some free resources for audiovisual archiving. There are may free webinars available and a lot of conferences are livestreamed online. Specific resources recommended include the Digital Library Federation, where students can get involved in online work groups, the Access Tech Conference (which is livestreamed), and large libraries such as Library of Congress and BANQ. Other resources include Bay Area Video Collection, which includes a compendium of common video errors one might run across, and IASA TC-04, which provides a how-to on audio preservation. Finally, Project Naming, which works with identifying indigenous peoples in photographs and then restores those photographs to the communities in which they were taken.

Panel discussion

Professional Panel Members
Bios provided by Kat Barrette, AMIA-McGill Co-President

Sarah Severson, Digital Library Services Coordinator, Digital Initiatives, McGill University Libraries
Sarah is in charge of the McGill digilab, overseeing the digitization of rare books and documents, as well as the creation of digital exhibits of images and 3D objects.

Melissa Pipe, Documentation Technician (Audiovisual Archive), Marvin Duchow Music Library at McGill University
Melissa is responsible for the sound and audiovisual collections at the Marvin Duchow Music Library. This includes accession, preservation, and digitization of various materials.

Louis Rastelli, Administrator and Founder of Archive Montreal
Louis founded Archive Montreal, which houses sound, audiovisual, and various ephemeral materials, mostly dating back to the 1960s. They perform digitization of images, graphic material, sound and moving image in-house in an effort to preserve Montreal’s underground culture.

Molly Bower, recent graduate
Molly co-founded the multimedia archive of the Maagdenhuis occupation, now housed in the Amsterdam City Archive (Amsterdam Stadsarcheif). She also organized Westmount Library’s first Home Movie Day.

Gordon Burr, former Senior Archivist, McGill University Archives
Gordie is the former senior archivist at McGill. He still teaches courses at SIS, and is the AMIA Faculty Rep.

 

InfoNexus 2018

Guest post by Nicole Gauvreau

Photos by Felicia Pulo and Audrée-Ann Ramacieri-Tremblay

   

At SIS it can feel like different events are only for people interested in one of libraries, archives, KM, or ICT, be it a 5 à 7, a tour, a workshop, or a webinar. InfoNexus, is the event that has something for SIS students of every interest. It is also a great way to hear about skills you need but may not learn at SIS and offers a chance to network.

Info Nexus began with a presentation from the new archivist for Bell Canada and gave a look into being the lone archivist for one of Canada’s largest companies. From cataloguing documents, photos, and items and putting all the information from the paper master cards created until 1980 into the digital catalogue to helping researchers and gathering items and information for exhibitions, displays, and publication, Janie Théorêt does it all. Théoret also showed how far we still have to go in the world of digital curation, as Bell does not save it’s digital advertisements, only the print ones.

 

Presenter and SIS PhD student Vera Granikov detailed what it is to be a research-embedded health information specialist, a path she said she likely wouldn’t have found herself on were it not for her practicum. Granikov says her job, and the jobs many SIS students may have in the future, doesn’t fit neatly into one category of librarian, archivist, or knowledge manager. For example, while she conducts searches and literature reviews, Granikov is also part of the research team from the moment an idea is found through applying for funding to publication.

Melissa Rivosecchi was the first librarian of the day, and brought lessons for aspiring academic librarians (or soon to be graduates in general). Rivosecchi emphasised the need to get experience outside classes, both to build your CV and gain skills needed to the do the job. Rivosecchi was also another testament to applying to jobs outside your academic background: she’s a business librarian with no business background, but worked as a Concordia Student librarian and answered questions from just about every field imaginable while doing so. Rivosecchi also gave a healthy dose of reality as she’s on contract, rather than tenure track.

Cat Henderson, who graduated from SIS only last year, focused on the importance of networking and experience outside of class. She got her job because of a person she met at a conference and has discovered the odd skills and facts you know, from reading music to technical knowledge and even customer service, can make all the difference. Henderson also emphasized that you will learn on the job, and you’ll need to stay involved in associations and reading publications so you are both aware of evolving trends and, if you are the only information professional in your organization, don’t feel alone.

 

Ted Strauss brought in perspective from outside those with a degree in library or information studies but who holds a similar job function. Strauss was also the speaker for the ICT-interested. As a data resources manager he in involved in the entire lifecycle of data storage, evaluates open source software to find what may work best, and supports researching in using that software.

Adrienne Smith works in Ubisoft’s KM group as a taxonomist, and holds the dream job for anyone frustrated by websites and their search functions. For Smith “translating” what different stakeholders say so everyone understands each other in incredibly important; it makes sure everyone knows what is wanted and what has already been done. Smith also emphasized that sometimes you just have to do something if no one else is to get it done and that the user experience is most important.

Finally, Tomasz Neugebauer bridged the worlds of archives, libraries, and ICT with his presentation on open source resources, the need for digital preservation, and aggregating services to make things better. For Neugebauer, having some computer science background is a great asset, if not essential in finding a job and, in his job, effectively doing that job.

Overall, all presenters stressed skills you simply won’t gain at SIS and the need to find out what are considered the essentials to know for what you want to do by looking at job postings and attending conferences, then going out and gaining those proficiencies.

Where Are They Now? SIS Graduates in the Workforce

SIS students have gone on to have a diverse and exciting array of careers, and this new series will showcase some of them. For our first entry in the series, Beyond the Shelf is pleased to welcome Liz Nash (a 2017 grad and our former MISSA president!) to talk about her post-graduation experiences.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself: What’s your educational background, and why did you want to take the MISt degree? What area did you focus on during the program (library, archives, HCI, KM)?

I did my undergraduate degree at Western in English Language & Literature and French Language & Translation (it’s quite a mouthful!). I really loved my time at Western, but I knew that I wanted to branch out and get my Master’s degree. I was attracted to the MISt program because it’s like a buffet – a little bit of everything is offered! I liked that I wasn’t forced into a particular stream, so I ended up doing libraries and KM.

 

Where are you working now? What attracted you to the position, and is it where you thought you would end up when you started the program?

I’m currently working as a librarian at Statistics Canada. I had a glimpse of being a federal librarian last year, when I did an FSWEP term at Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED). I love that every day I get to do something different. It’s also really upped my trivia game, since I’m learning a lot of interesting facts!

When I started the program, I had no idea where I would end up. I was very fortunate to discover the FSWEP program, which gave me an opportunity to experience a dream job that I never even knew existed.

 

Take me through a regular day at work – what do you get up to on a day-to-day basis?

My regular day involves a lot of research! I primarily research for government employees, but we do get reference questions from the public. Questions range from historical census inquiries to in-depth research on a variety of topics… so a bit of everything!

About twice a week I work on the reference desk, where I do everything from checking in books to performing reference interviews. I’m also on our division’s Social Committee, which is a lot of fun.

 

How did you get involved while you were a student, whether with student associations or work experience?

In my first year at McGill, I was the VP Internal for MISSA. I shadowed the President, ran events, and communicated news with students. In terms of work experience, I worked for McGill Athletics as part of the Hype Team. I finally fulfilled my life goal of throwing t-shirts into audiences!

In my second year, I was the President of MISSA and the Chair of the Info-Nexus Committee. I also worked part-time in Ottawa for ISED to gain more library experience. It was definitely a balancing act! I’m glad I got so involved, since it helped me network with students, professors, and other information professionals in Montreal and Ottawa.

 

Do you have any advice for current students or recent graduates?

When you’re in your second year, start looking for jobs around January. The hiring process can take a while, so it’s better to get started early. I’d also recommend checking out the Partnership Job Board, which lists Canadian library jobs.

One last piece of advice: Don’t panic! You can do it 🙂

 

Many thanks to Liz for sharing her experiences and advice!

Happy Holidays from MISSA

Thanks to everybody who came out to the MISSA Holiday Ball! Everybody relax and have fun over the break, and we’ll see you in January.

The Insider’s Guide to Course Selections

So you went to the electives information session last Monday, and now your head is spinning with all of those choices and you’re not sure which ones will suit your needs best. Or, you couldn’t make it to the session and you have no clue where to start with your course selections for the winter. Well, lucky for you, we have suggestions!

We asked the second-year SIS students for their recommendations, and here are their opinions on the essentials and hidden gems this program has to offer:

 

GLIS 608 Classification & Cataloguing:

Multiple students recommended for this course, and having taken it myself, I will add my name to that list. It’s an extremely practical course for anyone interested in the librarianship side of our program. Even if you don’t want to be a cataloguing librarian, it’s always good to know the basics of how it’s done. Be aware that this course is usually offered every other year.

“I’ve already gotten two jobs because I know RDA and MARC and at least an inkling of BIBFRAME, knowledge I would not have had without that course!” – Quincy

GLIS 611 Research Principles & Analysis:

“This course was a good overview of constructing and conducting a survey and how to write a qualitative/quantitative research paper. It was especially helpful in teaching critical reading and writing skills.” – Heather

GLIS 615 Reference & Information Services:

“For students who want to be academic librarians, learning how to conduct a reference interview is essential. This class focused on how to understand the information needs of the student/patron through a combination of open and closed questions as well as the demeanor necessary for making the student/patron feel welcome in the library. The lectures were split in two parts: In the first half, subject librarians from McGill and Concordia came to talk about reference interviews and the resources they use for their specific subject. The second half was centered on evidence-based best practices for reference librarians.” – Heather

GLIS 616 Information Retrieval:

“I like solving problems and have stuff working. Popular web/marketing topics were interesting too” – Jingwei

GLIS 634 Web Systems Design & Management:

This was another course that received multiple recommendations from students who have taken it.

“I liked the way it was taught; everything was tied into context from a practical point of view, and you’re constantly thinking about websites’ aesthetics and function. Being able to take away a project you can talk about to an potential employer is also quite nice.” – Jingwei

“I enjoyed doing the work and puzzling out why things weren’t working” – Rachel

GLIS 657 Database Design & Development:

This is a tough course for those of us who aren’t used to working with computers, but if you put the effort in the rewards are definitely worth it. I may never take a job that requires me to build a database, but I have a much better understanding of how they work and best practices for using them after taking this course.

“It was a ton of work, so be prepared. That said it is also pretty useful and I can imagine using what we learned later on in my career.” – Elise

GLIS 661 Knowledge Management:

“KM was my favourite – great for non-KM people as well, as it goes over some good management and people-skills type concepts that are great in any professional situation.” – Mark

GLIS 663 Knowledge Taxonomies:

“I enjoyed how the course connected between digital tools and knowledge management, also how it explored both; [the professor] also gave us a lot of freedom and activities…like she would ask us what we want to learn/hear more about every class.” – Jingwei

GLIS 691 Special Topics 1 – Information Search & Evaluation

“So useful… it gave a brief look into searching databases in different fields. Which is good to have as a base, given it’s impossible to take all the special librarian courses.” – Sarah

 

More information on SIS courses can be found here.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this post. Do you have another course you think should be added to the list? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

Meet Your Student Associations!

Librarians Without Borders Fall Social 2017

This year many of you attended the annual involvement fair to find out more about the SIS student associations. I know from personal experience that it can be a bit overwhelming to remember what all those acronyms stand for and to try and decide which associations you’re interested in joining! With that in mind, here’s a quick summary of what’s out there:

 

Library-Oriented

Special Libraries Association (SLA)

The Special Libraries Association is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals in business, government, academic, and other specialized settings. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, networking, and community building initiatives.

SLA provides lots of networking opportunities that can help shape one’s career. They are one of 3 organizations that plan an annual conference for information professionals here in Montreal called the Congrès des professionels de l’information (CPI). As members, we have access to one full day, free of charge. SLA has a growing online community that is more than willing to help out when one’s in need. Also, being a member of SLA gives you potential access to webinars and resources in various domains, such as Taxonomy and Information Technology.

Last year, we saw success with the Ottawa trip organized with ABQLA. We also had fun organizing a Murder Mystery party with ABQLA. We ensure that our events are educational for students and fun!

This year, we’ve invited a Knowledge Management Content Specialist to come talk about the Canadian Association of Law Libraries and how it can help build a career. She will also talk about law librarianship and how to get into it. Because of last year’s success, we were also thinking of planning another Murder Mystery party.

Teresa, President

Contact Teresa at therese.mainville-celso@mail.mcgill.ca

 

Multilingual Children’s Library (MCL)

Interested in librarianship, children, or children’s librarianship? The Multilingual Children’s Library is a student-run library that does collection development, cataloguing, and storytimes around campus in partnership with SSMU and PGSS. It is the only SIS student group that deals with children’s/youth librarianship, so it is a great opportunity to explore a side of librarianship that’s not covered by the coursework.

MCL is starting fresh this year after a two-year hiatus, so it’s a great time to get involved and help cultivate a new club. This year, we are also hoping to host a social event and meetings with professionals in the field.

Zia, President

Contact Zia at ziazan.davidian@mail.mcgill.ca

 

Librarians Without Borders (LWB)

Librarians Without Borders is a non-profit organization that strives to improve access to information resources regardless of language, geography, or religion, by forming partnerships with community organizations in developing regions.

By joining LWB, students have the opportunity to not only help the local Montreal community through involvement with the Native Friendship Centre, but also contribute to the national Librarians Without Borders initiatives in Guatemala and Haiti. It has been rewarding to be apart of an international organization that focuses on literacy throughout the world.

The LWB Social at the beginning of the year is always a big success. We also held a bake sale on the second semester that was very successful. Finally, we finished cataloguing the small library of the Kativik school board, which had been an ongoing project for the past years.

The LWB Social is coming up at the end of September. The tentative date is Friday, Sept. 22nd. We are also working on creating a partnership with Cite Soleil in Haiti to assist with the development of a French and Creole book collection.

Antoine & Heather, Co-Presidents

Contact Antoine at antoine.fortin2@mail.mcgill.ca or Heather at heather.rogers2@mail.mcgill.ca

Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL)

Contact Katie at kathryn.burns@mail.mcgill.ca

 

Association des bibliothècaires de Quebec/Quebec Libraries Association (ABQLA)

ABQLA is about connecting students with the parent chapter and introducing them to the awesome libraries that are present in Quebec. Most specifically its public libraries, but the parent chapter also focuses on, but is not limited to, academic, school and research libraries.

It’s a great opportunity to network! While we don’t host any large colloquiums like ACA and AMIA, we do participate in the parent chapter activities, like the Fall Meet and Greet (Date TBA!) and tours that the chapter hosts. The ABQLA Student Chapter also helps organize the mentorship program which connects students with a professional working in the field who can answer questions or provide advice to the student regarding their career path. I mainly joined because it seemed like a good way to get involved and stay up to date on what was going on in the field.

The Mentorship program was a success! We hosted a Meet and Greet night for mentors and mentees to meet in a relaxed social setting. We had at least 40 people arrived at the SIS Mansion to partake in this evening 5 a 7. We also successfully co-hosted our second annual Murder Mystery Night with SLA in the winter semester. Students signed up and were assigned a fairytale character and had to figure out who had killed off Rose Red before the evening was over.

This year we are planning to continue the success of the mentorship program and murder mystery night but also hope to plan one or two tours to interesting libraries/information centres in the Montreal area. Notably, we are thinking about going over to the Montreal LGBTQ+ Community Centre to talk to them about their library and initiatives.

Rachel, Communications Officer

Contact Alina (President) at denise.ruiz@mail.mcgill.ca or Rachel at rachel.black@mail.mcgill.ca

ABQLA Student Chapter

Archives-Oriented

Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA)

The McGill student chapter of the ACA aims to introduce student archivists to the profession by enhancing educational engagement. This is done by promoting communication between students, student members, regular members, and community professionals as well as by organizing activities and events designed for the development of knowledge and skills.

The ACA offers a ton of extra-curricular activities that help you gain skills, make network connections, or build up your CV! We will be hosting a series of activities and events this year, including tours (such as Artexte, which will be on September 23 @2pm) which we are hoping to host at least 4 of this year, and our annual student Colloquium in the winter. If you decide to also register with the parent chapter, they host a mentor-ship program that joins student archivist with working professionals.

Last winter we hosted our 10th Annual Student Colloquium titled “First People, First Records, First Voices”, which featured professional presenters from Michelle Smith a First Nation Film maker, Sonia Smith from The Truth and Reconciliation Library Committee, and Beth Greenhorn and Alexandra Haggert from Library and Archives Canada Project Naming.

We have a series of tours planned for this year at local Montreal Archives (Artexte on Sept 23 @ 2pm), for students to learn about different archives, and types of material holdings, as well as meet professionals and start developing their network connections. We will be hosting our 11th Annual Colloquium this year, and by becoming a member you can help us choose this year’s theme.

Kat, Co-President

Contact Kat at kathleen.barrette@mail.mcgill.ca or Karly (Co-President) at karly.leonard@mail.mcgill.ca

 

Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA)

The Association of Moving Image Archivists McGill Student chapter seeks to familiarize student members with the most urgent issues of conservation, preservation, and access for image, audio, and moving image archival holdings, while also helping them create connections and contacts with scholars, other students, and professionals.

AMIA offers a ton of extra-curricular activities that help you gain skills, make network connections, or build up your CV! We will be hosting tours this year to archives with image, audio, and moving image holdings. We will also be airing webinars on important topics hosted by our parent chapter, as well as setting up workshops to learn practical skills such as how to set up a reel-to-reel projector. We screen films and movies at our meetings, which can be a fun break from school work.

Our annual Symposium is held in the winter semester, and features student and professional speakers on topics related to archival practices of image, audio, and moving image. Our 2017 Symposium was a huge success! We had seven students present on a variety of topics from Digitizing Areal Photographs to Preserving Memes for Digital Folklore. An excellent professional panel was assembled and featured guests from McGill Library and Archives, Archive Montreal, Canada’s National History Society, and Radio Canada.

We are setting up tours to Cinemathique Canadienne, and the Audio Visual Archive at Marvin Duchow Music Library. We will be hosting a workshop on loading reel-to-reel projectors, as well as set up a group to volunteer at Family Movie Day hosted by Archive Montreal (ArcMtl), which is a day to air home movies for people who don’t own the playback equipment needed to watch on their own.

Kat, Co-President

Contact Kat at kathleen.barrette@mail.mcgill.ca or Elyse (Co-President) at elyse.fillion@mail.mcgill.ca

AMIA at the 2017 Involvement Fair

Tech-Oriented

MISTech

Our mandate is simply collaboration and learning centered around information technology

Students should join if they’re interested in tech in any way, regardless of experience or education. We’re looking to learn and teach together to become more comfortable and effective with how we use technology.

Last year, we had a few workshops or guest speakers, as well as movie bingo for the 1995 film “Hackers”.

We’re looking to do some coding workshops around Python and several members of MISTech will be directing the 617 tutorials. We’re hoping that potential events and projects will be generated by curious members and we’ll act as a support and learning network to help make those a reality.

Tyler, President

Contact Tyler at tyler.kolody@mail.mcgill.ca

 

Events

InfoNexus

InfoNexus is a conference organized by MISt students that gives the chance to students to hear about professionals in the field and about the various types of careers that our degree may lead to. It is an opportunity for students to ask questions to professionals that have been in our shoes.

Students should volunteer for InfoNexus because it offers many networking opportunities. It also gives students experience in management, grant writing, and web design.

Last year, we had a great turnout with over 70 attendees. In addition to McGill, we had students from John Abbott as well as from UdeM listen to the enthusiastic speakers from various domains. It was refreshing to see so many people participate and ask their burning questions.

This year, we intend on finding speakers who can introduce our students to job opportunities we wouldn’t necessarily think of. Information professionals can find jobs in many different areas, and it is for this reason that we intend on finding out what other career opportunities are out there.

Teresa, President

Contact Teresa at therese.mainville-celso@mail.mcgill.ca

 

 

 

Welcome and Welcome Back

Now that we’ve all started to settle back into university life, I think it’s time for some introductions. My name is Coady Sidley, and I’m your new MISSA Publications Chairperson. I’m entering my second year in the MISt program with a focus on librarianship. This will be my first time taking over responsibility for this blog, and I’m excited to take on the challenge.

Personally, I’m hoping to write about student association activities and events, crowdsourced advice from other students, and hopefully some interviews with professionals in the field. Most of all, I would like to make this blog a collaborative space for SIS students to share information about the topics and events that they’re passionate about.

Call for Submissions

Do you have a burning desire to share your thoughts on any topic in the realm of information studies? Have you attended a conference or event that you think others should know about? Do you just want to see your name in print and are looking for a place to show off your work? Here’s your chance!

One of my main goals for the blog this year is to turn it into more of a community project, which is where you come in. This is an open invitation for students to write a guest post (or several, if you want!) for the blog. Posts can be on any subject related to our field.

Interested? Send me an email at coady.sidley@mail.mcgill.ca for more information or to propose a topic.

A Few Awesome Job Hunt Resources

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It’s that time of year again. It’s the dead of winter, everyone is still wishing it were holidays and the Winter semester has begun with bewildering speed. And unlike in the fall, the question of what comes next is surfacing again. For first years this means facing the question of what to do over the summer, while for second years, this means facing the terrifying real-life job hunt.

This question has been percolating in the back of my mind for a little while now, and over the holidays I decided it was time to start taking some actions to get myself ready for the job hunt. Over the past couple of years, I’ve collected up a few awesome resources from various friends, mentors and professors that are great for helping to update that cover letter or CV, or to get ready for that interview. It’s by no means a complete list, and it does tend to skew towards librarianship (since that is where my interests lie), but I hope it will be useful. This short list can always be expanded!

One resource that I was particularly happy to come across was a website called Open Cover Letters, which is a repository of successful cover letters written for library jobs. It’s a great way to see what kind of skills people are highlighting and what the format of a cover letter includes in the information world.

A second invaluable resource that I recently came across, like Open Cover Letters, is a repository of interview questions tailored to librarians and information professionals called Hiring Librarians

Apart from that, I’ve discovered a particularly good job listserv for Canadian library jobs that can be found at The Partnership Job Board. And as a note for first years looking for summer positions, don’t forget to check out Young Canada Works. There are many listservs out there, so if you’ve come across any other good ones, or ones for other areas of work, let me know and I would be happy to post them!

Accreditation: What Does It Mean?

This fall, McGill’s School of Information Studies underwent the accreditation process. Confused on what that means? Here’s a quick guide:

What’s the ALA?
The ALA is the American Library Association, and is the largest library association in the world. It is responsible for overseeing the accreditation process of library schools across North America. Currently there are 59 accredited programs, 8 of which are in Canada.

What’s the point of the accreditation process?
The accreditation process ensures that member schools are up to standard and are delivering high-quality programs. Many employers require candidates who have a degree from an ALA-accredited school. If you have a library degree not from one of the accredited schools, it may be more challenging to find a job in the library field.

What was the accreditation process like?
In September, six ALA External Review Panel members flew into Montreal for five days. They met with students, faculty, staff, and upper administration. It was an intensive process, and they asked many different types of questions.
The planning for the accreditation process was not limited to the five days. Instead, it has been over a year-long process, with the final report from the faculty clocking in at over 200 pages.

When do we find out if we are accredited again?
January! The panel members don’t decide on whether SIS becomes accredited or not. Instead, they report back to the ALA, who will decide at their conference in January. The ALA’s decision and report will be released to the public.

Thanks to Liz Nash for answering all of these questions for us!

If you’re interested in knowing more about the process, you can also check out the ALA website here.

Welcome Back to a New School Year

Hello everyone, now that we’re all back into the swing of things and fall is definitely in the air, I’d like to introduce myself and get the ball rolling for the school year at Beyond the Shelf.

IMG_20161005_140809183My name is Devon and I’m a second year MISt student interested in librarianship, originally hailing from Edmonton. This is my second year at the Publications Chair and you can take a look at some of last year’s posts if you continue scrolling down. One of my favourite things about this position is that I get to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening around the school and keep an eye out for interesting topics about which to spread the word. Last year, I wrote several posts about events or trips organized by SIS students, so if your student group has something interesting coming up or had a really interesting discussion about something, please let me know and I can help to pass it along to a broader audience. Guest bloggers are always welcome too! I try to post something new about once a month, so if you’d like to collaborate, please get in touch!

I’m looking forward to blogging about lots of interesting information-related stuff this year, so keep your eyes on the facebook pages!

ACA Colloquium 2016

by Ben Wrubel and Annelise Dowd

 

On February 12th, students and faculty gathered at the School of Information Studies for the Association of Canadian Archivists’ McGill Student Chapter’s 9th Annual Winter Colloquium. The audience heard from a host of local archivists and librarians contending with the preservation of textual records, rare books, digital records, graphic materials, and sound recordings,and learned about the unique challenges that different formats and institutional settings bring to the field.

The first speaker was Shannon Hodge, Director of Archives at the Jewish Public Library Archives. Her presentation discussed the challenges of storing archival collections in a mixed use building. Stemming from her experiences of facing issues of mold and flooding at the JPL, she stressed the importance of communicating preservation concerns with facilities management and forming a comprehensive disaster plan before any of these “worst case scenarios” develop.

Ann Marie Holland, History of Printing Collections and Canadiana Collections/Liaison Librarian at McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections, provided an overview of rare books preservation issues. Examples ranged from outsourcing material conservation to donor outreach for funding conservation projects. She left the audience with several websites to visit for more information regarding rare books conservation: http://www.nedcc.org, http://www.cool.conservation-us.org, http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca, http://www.rbms.info, and http://www.ifla.org/preservation-and-conservation.

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 Tim Walsh, Archivist in the Digital Archives at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, detailed the legal, cultural, and technological challenges of born-digital bit preservation. Walsh spoke of how the CCA’s digital archival holdings often consist of proprietary 3-D modeling file formats, making software preservation, emulation, and user access major concerns.

Greg Houston, Digitization and New Media Administrator at McGill Library Digital Initiatives, walked the audience through the criteria for digitization and outlined the process of facilitating user access to digitized items via McGill Library’s catalog, the Internet Archive, and HathiTrust. Greg also shared a link to a Google Maps photosphere view of Digital Initiatives, which can be viewed here: https://goo.gl/maps/VcAs2UdFcxr.

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Offering a user’s perspective, Catherine Nygren, Research Assistant at the Burney Centre at McGill University, discussed the value of accurate and comprehensive metadata for facilitating researchers’ access to archives. In particular, she emphasized the financial and time limitations that many researchers face, and thus the high importance of digitized resources to be made accessible online.

The final speaker was Melissa Pipe, Documentation Technician at the Audiovisual Archives at McGill’s Marvin Duchow Music Library. Her presentation addressed the collaborative efforts of her department and McGill’s Sound Recording Program to preserve a collection of 78 rpm jazz records. From physical preservation and storage, to digitization and metadata creation, Melissa described the numerous informed decisions required of archivists for the preservation of sound recordings.

The students who were among those in the full School of Information Studies ballroom were privileged to hear the illuminating and diverse experiences of professionals in the archival field. The 2016 Winter Colloquium could not have been such a success without the professionals who took the time to present and the McGill ACA chapter’s tireless work organizing the event. Until next year!

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InfoNexus 2016

On February 6th, InfoNexus 2016 opened its doors at Thompson House for a one-day whirlwind tour through a variety of different topics. Speakers from all four areas – libraries, archives, knowledge management and information technology – gave short presentations about their research or ideas they had been working on. The topics were disparate, but it highlighted the incredibly wide range of work that information professionals work in and provided lots of food for thought.

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Ed Bilodeau, President of the SLA Eastern Canada Chapter and Assistant Librarian at McGill University Digital Initiatives started out the day with a talk about excellence in librarianship, and how to balance this goal with the ever-growing workload that librarians are dealing with.

The next speaker was Sarah Severson, Coordinator of Digital Library Services at McGill University Library, who took the audience through a history of digital collections using examples from McGill’s own collections.

After that, Jean Archambault, Director of Information and Analysis Services at NRC Knowledge Management, started a lively discussion about how the concepts of uncertainty  and anticipation affect the provision of information, and what this might mean for information professionals.

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Next, Lori Podolsky, Acting University Archivist at McGill University Archives, gave a thought-provoking talk about how archivists have presented their profession in the past, and how these ideas and perceptions are changing today.

The final speaker of the morning session was Joel Alleyne, President of Alleyne Inc., who moved the focus over to the world of Knowledge Management. He talked about knowledge networks and the concept of expertise, and drew upon his experiences in the realm of law and health sciences.

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After lunch, there were two more speakers who presented.

Kathleen Botter, Systems Librarian at Concordia University Library, dove into the world of reference rot, which is what happens when links in electronic resources stop working properly. It was a fascinating presentation about an area of librarianship I had never even considered.

Finally, Anton Stiglic, Corporate Director Information Security (CISO) at Loto-Quebec, gave a revealing presentation about information security, going into how and why hackers steal information, what they do with it afterwards, and how companies can protect themselves.

After the individual presentations concluded, there was a panel session featuring all of the previous speakers and moderated by Professor Max Evans. This was an opportunity to delve further into some questions that affect all information professionals, and also a time for the audience to ask questions.

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As a first year MISt student, it was my first time attending the InfoNexus conference, and I very much enjoyed the variety of speakers and the thought-provoking topics they brought up. A huge thank-you to the organization committee for putting it all together, and I look forward to experiencing the 2017 edition of InfoNexus!

Many thanks to Kayleigh Girard for helping with this write-up and to Annette Li for all the lovely photos. More information about InfoNexus can be found at http://info-nexus.org/.

 

 

 

 

 

MISSA’s New Fridge Has Arrived!

MISSA would like to inform all SIS students of the fact that a momentous day has arrived! Last semester the MISSA council purchased a new fridge for the SIS mansion to be used by students. The fridge is located in the basement of the mansion (immediately to the left of the stairs when you arrive in the basement), and is available to all students who wish to use it, as well as to any student groups needing to store food for an event.

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This long awaited day has finally arrived and the fridge is already receiving lots of love from adoring SIS students!

ABQLA/SLA Ottawa Trip

On November 16 approximately 20 aspiring librarians and archivists got up really early to take a road trip to Ottawa. The day’s schedule included a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Gallery of Canada’s library and archive, as well as a tour of the Library of Parliament. It was a gorgeous day, albeit a little chilly, and we learned about lots of neat stuff!

Our first stop was the National Gallery where our group was split into two so we could fit in the stacks of the library and archive. The library houses a number of books and periodicals about Canadian and international artists, although the focus is generally on Western art. As our guide explained, most of these books serve researchers, but they can also be used by other people, such as those who are looking for auction price information. They also house a large number of exhibit guides from museums around the world.

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The archives on the other hand, house more actual works of art. One staff member explained to us about an art periodical that regularly produces a small piece of art to go along with each issue. She told us about the challenges involved in cataloguing untypical objects, showing us a recently acquired ball that she had yet to catalogue. We were also able to see some other examples from the collection, including some sketchbooks belonging to Emily Carr, amongst other small pieces of art.

After spending the morning in the National Gallery, the group continued on to the Parliament buildings, where after making it through security we met up with two Parliamentary librarians. The best part of this tour was that we actually got to see the collection close up, as well as visit their rare book room. Normal tours of Parliament will only get a short glimpse into the Library, but we were able to get a much more extensive tour. After hearing about the library’s history, we were taken into the stacks, and then down into the basement to see the rare books collection. We were able to get a look at John James Audubon’s Birds of America of which the Library of Parliament has a unique copy. For the most part though, the library collection holds reference materials for Parliament, as well as parliamentary and committee proceedings.

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It was certainly well worth the early morning and drive to Ottawa to see these libraries and archives, and thanks to the ABQLA and the SLA student chapters for putting together a great trip. Also, as a side note, 3 out of 4 librarians or archivists who led our tours were SIS graduates!

Thanks to Jiamin Dai for all the lovely photos!

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Reflections on the Beginning of a New School Year by Devon Lemire

My name is Devon Lemire and I’m a first year MISt student that has been elected to run this blog! I hail originally from Edmonton, AB and I enjoy fat books, bike rides, baking and a good game of volleyball. Montreal and SIS are still very new for me, even though I’ve now been here for two months.  So here’s some thoughts about what I’ve learned so far about SIS:

  • That first semester classes are introductory in nature. Nobody has a bachelor’s degree in library or information studies and there are lots of basic concepts that just have to be learned before you can move on to more exciting things. On the other hand, it’s nice being in the same boat as everyone else and you have lots of potential study friends!
  • The coding class (617) is really not as bad as expected. I consider myself to be a competent computer user, but even I was a little hesitant about taking a coding class. It’s actually turned out to be a lot of fun and I enjoy exercising a different part of my brain!
  • Group projects happen all the time. I come from a history background where group projects are impractical at best when most of your assignments are 15 to 20 page essays. Pretty much everybody in the program is motivated to be here and willing to pull their own weight, so overall group projects have been fairly successful. The tradeoff is that it takes much more time to pull three people together than it does just yourself! I still don’t consider myself a fan of group projects, but I’m realizing that they could be a lot worse.
  • Everyone in the program is really friendly. Joining some student groups has been a really great way to meet new people and keep up with what’s going on in the community. I really enjoy just knowing what is going on in the school and meetings can be a lot of fun!
  • The sheer number of courses offered is pretty stressful for first year students. Most of us are taking a grad degree in part because we enjoy learning new stuff and the fact that there are way more interesting courses than there is time to take all of them is kind of overwhelming. Everyone points to courses which are important professionally, and add that to the number of courses that explore a range of subject material, it makes for some difficult decisions!
  • Thompson House is a great place to work on assignments with people. Tables, comfy chairs and food service means its ideal if you need to go over some coding exercises with some friends!
  • Study break is a lifesaver! You plan on doing lots of cool things in and around Montreal, but end up doing homework and catching up on sleep. The key seems to be to do all the cool things in September before life gets too busy!
  • Every single person I talked to from the second year of the program has mentioned winter and the fun that the hill is once it starts to snow. I’m from Edmonton, so I thought how bad could it be? I have yet to experience this for myself, but the message is clear: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE HILL!

IMG_20151101_140917618 The last two months have been incredibly busy and exciting, with lots of new experiences. and I’m looking forward to what the next few months will bring. I suspect that two years at SIS will go by in a blink of an eye!

InfoNexus 2015 – Guest Post by Kayleigh Girard

On Friday, February 6th, we held the 2015 edition of the annual student-organized InfoNexus conference, formerly known as Web 2.U. The event was held in the Thomson House ballroom, and over the course of the day we had seven presentations from a diverse and truly fascinating group of speakers. This year’s conference did not have a formal theme, but the aim of the day was to bring students and information professionals together to share ideas and discover a range of topics from all over the information science world. In light of that, the speakers each brought their unique and varied backgrounds to their presentations.

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  • Nancy Naluz, Community Manager for the Montreal Chapter of Ladies Learning Code, spoke about how and why we can learn to code, and shared with us some tips for learning.

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  • Olivier Jarda, a McGill University law student, explored some of the issues and difficulties surrounding the searching, finding, and using of information in environmental law.
  • Patrick Brian Smith and Jesse David Dinneen, both PhD students, discussed their work in applying bibliometric techniques to film theory, and the challenges this work entails.

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  • David Heti, a stand-up comedian, spoke about the ways in which comedians manipulate information, as well as the audience’s expectations and values, while performing.

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  • Herman Tumurcuoglu, founder of Mamma.com and professor at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business, gave us some strategies and ideas for applying reverse SEO techniques to deal with issues in online reputation.
  • Nathalie de Preux, Knowledge Management Advisor at Bombardier Aerospace, gave a presentation on the process of adopting a collaboration platform within a large organization in order to share information and expertise more effectively.
  • Alexandra Carruthers, a Digital Public Spaces Librarian at the Edmonton Public Library, shared her experiences in setting up a digital space for the Edmonton local music scene at her library (Capitol City Records).

 

I’d like to extend a big thank you to our attendees, our speakers, and our organizing team, for helping to make InfoNexus 2015 happen. If you have any thoughts, feedback, or ideas to share for next year’s conference, please feel free to contact us at infonexus-inform@gmail.com.

Guest Post by Melissa Rivosecchi: Ladies Learning Code

It’s Fall semester, and that means first year SIS students are trying to make it through GLIS 617. Some of you may be breezing through it, while others may be really struggling. Just know that if you’re struggling, it is totally normal; a lot of us second years felt the same way last year.

Hopefully no tears have been shed (it’s not worth it!)

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Last Fall, I struggled with 617. I was a mess when it came to trying to solve those questions on the quizzes, yet when I saw the answers I was able to break down the code and understand it. It wasn’t for lack of trying, as I went to all the labs and I asked questions. It felt like my brain just couldn’t grasp being able to write the code from scratch. Thanks to the help of my classmates, I was able to make it through the course. However, because I felt so stressed during that first semester, I don’t feel like I was able to grasp everything I should have from the course.

After Fall semester ended, I was apprehensive about registering for any second year courses that had 617 as a prerequisite. Just before the holiday break, one of my classmates introduced me to Ladies Learning Code (LLC)*, a non-profit group that introduces people to beginner-level technical skills in a collaborative workshop atmosphere. There are chapters set up all across Canada, and the main lab is based in Toronto. The Learning Labs offer various workshops including intro to photoshop, intro to javascript, intro to HTML + CSS, CSS fundamentals for beginners,…and much more.

Last January, a bunch of us gals from class decided to sign up for the one-day Intro to HTML + CSS one-day workshop that was held in Montreal. Lead by industry professionals, every aspect of the workshop was well organized. There is a guaranteed 4:1 (or better) student to mentor ratio and the volunteer mentors sat at each table and were there to help answer any questions. The mentors were knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to help. The workshop gave us hands-on experience; we were guided each step of the way and were given plenty of time to complete each task. By the end of the day we each created our own beautiful web page! Although there was a $50 fee for the workshop, I felt that I totally got my money’s worth. The collaborative, social, positive, and stress-free atmosphere made me realize I wanted to learn more about HTML and gave me the confidence to register for the web design class offered by SIS next winter semester.

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Let’s face it: although many of us will probably not end up being programmers, learning basic digital literacy skills like HTML + CSS is an asset when it comes to employment opportunities. Last year, I spoke to one professional who said the web design class at SIS was really helpful because she ended up working in a small town public library where she was responsible for maintaining the library’s website. You don’t have to be an expert, but learning the basics can help show future employers that you are willing to get outside your comfort zone and learn new skills.

I encourage you to check out LLC and if you see a workshop that interests you, get a bunch of your friends together and make a day of it. Going to a workshop like those organized by LLC can open up different possibilities you might not have thought about previously.

Check out this video if you would like to learn more about LLC. You can also subscribe to their mailing list, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

*Note: men are also welcome to attend the workshops, however LLC asks that, when possible, a female learner be brought to the workshop!

Melissa Rivosecchi

About the author: Melissa Rivosecchi is a second-year MLIS student specializing in librarianship. She is the current president for the Canadian Library Association McGill Student Chapter (CLAMSC), as well as the Chief Returning Officer Parliamentarian for the McGill Information Studies Student Association (MISSA). Her interests include embedded librarianship, GIS, and pizza. 

Eight or Nine Things to Know about SIS

So, you’ve just entered McGill’s MIST program and you’re not sure what to expect. Or, more realistically (because I suck at writing posts), you’re about a month in and feeling overwhelmed.

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Along with a few second year students/minions, I’ve compiled a list of things that might help make your first year a little easier.

1) Thomson House is your friend. The program has a lot of group projects, and this is a place where you can a) drink beer, b) avoid climbing up and down the hill unnecessarily (see no. 7), and c) work loudly in groups without being shushed by librarians.

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2) Google Drive is also your friend (you have a lot of friends, OKAY??) – for when you want to avoid said group meetings.

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3) The CLA Professional Mentorship Program is endlessly helpful. Sign up in your first or second year and take advantage of this awesome opportunity. It’s a great way to connect with professionals in your field and I speak from personal experience when I say they offer way better advice than that publications committee chairperson or whatever. Want more info? Check out this site: http://www.mcgill.ca/sis-students/cla/partnering

4) Don’t go through it alone.

Before I started the program, I had a Survivor type mentality (Reality TV, not Destiny’s Child) in which I found myself thinking/saying things like “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to win”.

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Fun fact: your friends will help you get through this year. Smile, get to know them, talk about similar interests with them. Oh, c’mon, you know how to make friends.

5) Classes aren’t everything. In an information studies program, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your first semester might feel a little like Information Overload. Be that as it may, I was surprised and it was a tough adjustment. It’s important to keep in mind that classes aren’t everything in this program, and you’ll get a whole lot more out of them if you volunteer, work, take part in our student associations and those associations’ events. Check out the write-ups on the various associations on this very blog. Psst…SISnic is tomorrow! Come network and EAT FOOD.

6) The education classroom temperatures are whack. Layer-up. Why do you think librarians own so many cardigans?

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7) The hill will never get easier. It’s not you. It’s the hill.

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8) Learn how to “sell” your degree, and memorize that sentence. You’ll get lots of eye-roll inducing questions asking what information studies is, why you need a master’s degree to shelve books, or if there are classes on shushing. We all know the value of this degree, but it can be difficult to put into words when put on the spot. Think of this as a catch phrase, and trust me, it will come in handy.

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 9) Volunteer to help write for the school’s blog! And I’m out.

Favourite Things – Evernote

I know I’ve been neglecting this blog, but I promise I’ve been swamped with readings…and by “swamped” I mean “obsessed with” and by “readings” I mean the Veronica Mars book. Yes. It’s a thing.

This will be a fairly short post and one in which I test out a new idea for the blog: our favourite things at SIS. Unfortunately, this won’t be Oprah style, though I do sincerely wish I could give you all some SUVs. This will be a place where we talk about things we like – apps, authors, websites, stores, publications committee chair people, you name it! I will literally post anything you want to rave about here.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my newest crush: Evernote.

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My room/life may be a disaster zone, but I really like it when my Internet stuff is organized. I recognize that I’m behind the times on this one, but I’ve tried this personal organization system about a billion times in the past and I’ve never found value in it. However, I had been growing increasingly disillusioned with my own system – a rag tag mix of Pinterest, Google Drive, Gmail, and a mass of files and folders on my desktop. The system was sufficient until school started. But once I started working on school stuff in various locations – school, home, work – and on various devices – laptop, work computer, phone – I was frustrated. There has to be a better way!

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Enter Evernote! Evernote allows me to “clip” webpages, PDFs, email threads and more into notes, which I can organize into notebooks (which can be organized further into stacks). Stacks, you guys. This syncs no matter where I’m working – on my phone (app), at work (web version), and at home (desktop version). If you use Chrome, I suggest downloading the Web Clipper extension to make this process even easier. You can also share notebooks with your fellow Information Science nerds friends.

TLDR: Evernote combines the functionality of Google Drive with the bookmarking potential of Pinterest – with the added bonus that Evernote is private, until you decide to share. It’s also easy on the eyes, and allows you to “clip” exactly what you want, including simplified versions of articles.

My advice to make it more functional: the more you use it, the more you’ll like it. Try using it for different areas (school stuff, recipes, articles) and make your notebooks and stacks as granular as you see fit.

While I’m positively smitten now, I’ll admit that my eyes will certainly start to wander upon the release of Google Stars.

Want some further reading? Check out the article that made me try Evernote again: http://lifehacker.com/5989980/ive-been-using-evernote-all-wrong-heres-why-its-actually-amazing.

Anything you guys would like to share? With assignments piling up and this miracle approaching, I think I’ll need your help more than ever.

Better Late than Never: An Introduction

August is here and just like every other summer, I now find myself wondering where summer went, when I will ever get accustomed to this humidity, and how I managed to go four months without making a dent in my reading list (Amy Tan’s latest beach read? Check. Cloud Atlas? Not so much).

After a long and well-enjoyed break from SIS, it is now the time of year where we mentally prepare ourselves for school, swap our Birkenstocks for Doc Martins, and get around to finally updating blogs (or is that just me?). My name is Julia Bjerke (MLIS candidate, 2015) and I am happy to be MISSA’s Publications Committee Chairperson this year. While it is my personal goal to post some worthwhile content over the next year, I need your help – and lots of it! Involving SIS students (first-years, second-years, alumni) is the key to making this blog a place where we can share information, network, and help one another get involved in the SIS and greater Information Studies community. Please send any ideas, feedback, and content my way at julia.bjerke@mail.mcgill.ca. While I’m thrilled to receive any and all content, I think a great place to start would be hearing about some of your summer job (or intern/volunteer/vacation/staycation) experiences. This was done a few years ago on the blog (check the archives!) and I found it really interesting. So, send away to julia.bjerke@mail.mcgill.ca.

See you at the introduction program (I know I’ll be there – I hear there will be some tasty treats!)

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The Highlights from Web 2.U 2014

By Anastasia Prozorova

On Friday February 7, 2014, many information professionals, students and enthusiasts gathered at Thomson House for the annual student-organized conference, Web 2.U. The insightful speakers, who were invited to this day-long event, had a chance to share their thoughts on a variety of cool, but challenging media and on the role of information professionals in the changing world. Let me share with you some of the highlights from this year’s event:

  • Connie Crosby, a Toronto-based consultant, shared her experience in customer outreach and customer relationship management.
  • AJ West, a second-year student graduating from McGill’s MLIS program, dazzled the audience with his knowledge of one of the hottest trends in information technology: wearable devices.
  • Mark Blevis, Ottawa-based Digital Public Affairs Strategist, thrilled the audience with some amazing interactive media and demonstrated how books and libraries can immerse readers into a more engaging and participatory environment.
  • David Weigl, PhD candidate at SIS, carefully guided the audience through the intricacies of relevance in music search.
  • Guillermo Galdamez, a first-year student of McGill’s MLIS program and Knowledge Continuity Officer for MLISSA, talked about the challenges of maintaining and promoting SIS Wikis.
  • Michael Groenendyk, the newly hired business librarian for Concordia University Libraries, made some incredible revelations about the opportunities and challenges of 3D printing and 3D scanning.
  • Laurie Devine, Social Media Manager at McGill’s Media Relations Office, demonstrated some terrific features of her new social media tool, Flipboard, and compelled the audience to stay alert to emerging social media technologies.
  • David Lee King, Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, flew to Montreal all the way from Kansas. He shared some of his invaluable experiences in social media marketing for libraries.
  • Edward Bilodeau, McGill’s Web Services Librarian, skilfully animated the round table discussion at the end of the day.

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I would like to thank everyone who took an interest in Web 2.U 2014 and those who generously helped make it happen. If you have some ideas to share for next year’s conference, feel free to contact me: anastasia.prozorova@mail.mcgill.ca.

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Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.