Pinterest Pathfinder

pathfinder ME photo

It’s a pathfinder!
It brings me joy to no end to announce that I am the proud parent of a pathfinder. The delivery was smooth, but the labor lasted over 24 hours. It was the final push at the end that really made the endeavor a success.

heh heh.

A final note on the new arrival: Be sure to check out who i have “followed” on Pinterest in addition to looking at my albums for  resources. Check out my “likes” as well, as they are a collection of pins related to architecture in Syracuse, NY.

Pathfinders: Best Practices

In my last post, I threw praise and exultation to my fellow MLIS colleagues. They go above and beyond the call of duty with assignments and life in general—the pathfinder for IST605 was no different.

Their professional work ethic goes something like this: “If I research the living bejeezers out of _______, I will be super-prepared for life.”

So, with that ethic, I will discuss some lessons I have learned and look deeper into the phenomenon of The Pathfinder.

From Paper to Tumblr: What’s a pathfinder made of?

Folks getting crazy creative with the medium.
For me,
the best features of a pathfinder are ample visuals and a clear scope (i.e. an awareness of the resources available). Call me an old sap, but I am moved by the creativity of my brilliant classmates who upped the ante for quality pathfinders.
Let’s explore some possibilities, and some of their ideas:

  • Print (Touch it! Smell it! Make a paper crane!)
  • Online (Link, Link, Link, Link )
    • Webpage (e.g. Sarah’s and Mallory’s legendary pathfinders at wix.com)
    • Image
    • Pinterest (My medium of choice for my pathfinder)
    • Google Sites
    • LibGuides by Springshare (a platform that the CLRC allows students to use for 30 days as a trial, to play around with making a LibGuide. Your pathfinder does disapparate after about 6 months, however).
    • Tumblr
    • Prezi (I tried it. Then…I ditched it. However, an astute classmate created a storyline for her pathfinder, harnessing the elements of Prezi that limited mine. Prezi’s format complemented her topic). The moral of the story here is that the medium you choose for your pathfinder depends on the subject.
    • Blog post(s).

The Winners.

The most user-friendly and effective subject guides I have seen thus far have been simple webpages with minimalist design.

Pathfinders: Adding Value

The very act of constructing a pathfinder adds value and information to a field of study. Sound familiar?

Likewise, the act of cataloging information and creating metadata is a creative act. To say that organizing information is merely repeating information already known, is tantamount to saying a surgeon is not healing a wound, but merely rearranging skin and blood.
Gathering resources into a subject guide creates another resource on the topic and makes a statement that the topic is worth researching because you spent the time and effort compiling a bibliography.

Remember high school? Well, there was always a trending subject being discussed, whether it was homecoming, the new lunch menu, who is dating who, or the senior prank involving molasses and 4 pigs. Similarly in the scholarly community, there are subject trends. Usually, the popular topics are the ones deemed most important. It may be irrational, but the fact stands: The frequency of a topic in our consciousness, i.e. the more we talk about, think about, and hear about it, the more we are apt to give it our attention, and our endorsement.

Thus, creating a pathfinder not only births another way of organizing data and showing relationships among data, but also validates the topic in the scholarly community. Putting a spotlight on a radish gives the radish makes you pay attention to the radish. And radishes are banal, compared to Food and Literature or Pompeii, two subject guides created by Syracuse MLIS students mentioned above.

Orphaned Pathfinders

Have pathfinders been forgotten? Lisa Bankert, librarian at OCPL Central Library in Syracuse, worries about just that. She says the subject guide links on their website sit cold and unclicked. What’s the deal with diminished use?

  • Pathfinders: Still relevant and useful. Every researcher needs sources. Every person has a curiosity. There will always be a demand for information collected in a meaningful way around an area of interest.

Can we construct engaging pathfinders that will fire up those cold links?
Can we market, and for the sweet love of Raganathan, can we please choose one unifying name for subject guides?! (Pathfinders. Subject Guides. Annotated Bibliographies. Research Portals. Good lord).

On a Happy Note

The interest in creating innovative pathfinders has resulted in an outpouring debate in the scholarly arena, and other informal sources.

Check it:

1)  “Rethinking the Library pathfinder. ” Jim M. Kapoun
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J106v02n01_10#preview

2) Pathfinder (Library Science). Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathfinder_%28Library_Science%29

3) A pathfinder for constructing pathfinders

http://home.wsd.wednet.edu/wsd/Instructional/learnteach/libraries_media/Pathfinders/path.htm

One would not think that there would be heaps of literature on the science, definition, and best practices of pathfinder-crafting, but like WOW fans and nanotechnologists you can go into serious detail.

What other way could you use put resources together for research? What crazy (i.e. revolutionary, yet effective) pathfinder ideas are out there?

Kudos to Syracuse University Library Students

Kudos to Syracuse University Library Students

Syracuse Library Students are no slouches. Among my fellow library students I’ve noticed their slavish devotion to producing good work. If you give a mind a cookie, it will want some low accountability milk-sop to go with it. Feed the mind four square meals a day, and you’ll become a Legendary Researcher and High-Achiever-Extraordinaire. To my supreme pleasure, I have seen my fellow MLIS peers bring it, and bring it hard. You ask for breakfast, we’ll whip up a quiche.
The 511 poster session were just a start. The pathfinders I have seen thus far are no different. Kudos, you guys.

Engaged. vs. Attached. We should take all with a grain of salt that we make decisions and take action based on our own initiative.

Engaged. vs. Attached. We should take all with a grain of salt that we make decisions and take action based on our own initiative.

 

NYLA

I can sum up my experience at NYLA in an acronym (appropriate, I think, for the library profession and love of organization).

NYLA was “RLMP”–Reenergizing and Learning through Meeting People. And through having a glass of wine over fried scallops.

So, I’ll begin the story with our drive up to Saratoga. Aaron and I drove up Thursday night, with a great playlist of rotating Portishead, Massive Attack, and iSchooler Conversation AM radio (i.e. Aaron and I talking on the 3 hour drive). I learned a great deal from going to NYLA even though I was only there for Friday. Friday was a big day, however, with information sessions, the famed and pithy pecha kucha presentations (kudos to Matt Gunby and Topher Lawton), tradeshow chatting, lunch, and meet and greet at The Wine Bar. The info sessions I attended were: “Beyond Ebooks” Bibliographies, and the Intellectual Freedom Roundtable. Please ask me more about the sessions in person, not least because I would love to talk to you about your ideas regarding banned books, banned book week, and if you think Manga is a type of child pornography, all issues brought up heatedly in the IFRT session. Finally, I joined LAMS and FIRT for a mere $7 dollars (…plus awesome socks, an intellectual freedom badge, and a tongue-in-cheek cat bag!).

Overall, I was excited by Saratoga Springs area and the vigor of the professionals who spoke at the info sessions. The point of these conferences is to talk to folks who are on the bleeding edge of the library profession. When you connect with library professionals, from the president of NYLA to the vendor selling “books that would survive the apocalypse—just look at that binding!,” that sort of energy reminds you of why you came to library school. It was intellectually revitalizing too because the information sessions and lunch talks with IFRT librarians from Queens brought me more up to speed with the contemporary debate in information studies.

The conference information session schedule defines what is important in Library Land—those with a voice at NYLA are shaping the profession.I experienced the bizarre 6th sense of being able to pick out a librarian from the Saratogans. Granted, librarians were abundant this weekend in Saratoga because of NYLA. But hey share characteristics of unabashed quirkiness (case in point: the leader of IFRT intellectual freedom roundtable’s colonel-esque waxed mustache), expressions of inquisition or sharp-eyed awareness as if you can tell *thinking* is their job.

NYLA reaffirmed many of the ideas we learn about in Dave’s 511, from the importance of locality to a librarian as necessarily political and that defending the right to intellectual freedom and issues of privacy makes up much of the bedrock of librarianship.

Networking People I Met: People have this skewed idea about what “networking” is.  We often picture this: Networking involves walking into a room, charming a powerful professional over drinks, handing you resume and business card to her and before you know it, you are shaking hands, laughing, nibbling tapenades, and have a job as a Cornell archivist. BAM. Got a job.

Networking is a process, not an event. Showing your face at a conference like NYLA is a statement of interest and professional investment. The fact that you chose to allocate your most precious resource, time, because of self-initiative to come to the conference sends a message to those present that you find the grand whirlwind worthwhile.

Re-energize: So many librarians and enthusiasm and organization of people coming from all walks of librarianship. It was exciting and enlightening to be around people immersed in librarianship every day. The attitude of professionals in Library Land (from Sue Kowalski, to Queens Librarians, to NYC School of Journalism Library) is highly engaged. People in library circles who attend NYLA are diverse, good-humored, and brilliant marketers, and especially good at pulling you into their booths. I learned that the library and information science field is anything but narrow.

To conclude, I personally learned that I need concrete career goals. There is a danger in lacking a clear direction and vision. I might be snatched up by an enthusiastic professional who wants me, but I do not necessarily want to work for them. With the benevolent Pandora’s Box of information professions available, one must focus and specialize career goals. If you do not take control of your goals, you will not be in the driver’s seat of your own professional development.

Even though I went to NYLA, I did not go all three days, nor all three sessions. Feedback from other students would be great!

The Rest of My Life.

What are we going to do with the rest of our lives?

Roomate: “You do not have to figure it out now.”

Mom: “Stop being so anal.”

Career Counselor: “You have plenty of time to decide on your job. Relax.”

God/the Buddha: “It will all fall into place.”

This is a reality-check of sorts.  Even though I am going to graduate school, I do not know precisely where I would like to work. It isn’t so obvious that though I am at Library School, I will not work in a traditional library(e.g. public, academic, and/or corporate library).

SO WHERE?
and WHAT?

My ideal job sounds more like a string of adjectives and activities than a job title.

Anyone seen any job postings for:

Graphic-Design-informationanalyst-Sailor-calligrapher-Writer-GoogleMapsbiker-Bread Baker-Philosopher-children’sbook illustrator-tourguide-oldhouses-consultant?

The plan of action is to go on many information interviews.

Henna at United Way Bake Sale

Henna

Body art. Sparkles. Banana Crunch Muffins.

These three things have what in common?

That’s right! they all appeared at United Way Bake Sale this Halloween.

Syracuse University’s iSchool held one of their many United Way bake sale (another was at Bird Library today). Scott Nicholson, founder of Pied Piper face and body painting, invited me to the event to offer henna art to raise money.

Should I make it permanent tattoo?
(Mom would be pleased and proud)

You want more? Ask me anytime for a henna design for your hand (or face!). Fair warning: the henna (or Mehndi) lasts about a week.

Syracuse iSchool

Fancy!