Schedule for ALA 2016

ALA is getting close! In just a few short weeks, I’ll be at Orlando enjoying the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the company of thousands of fellow librarians. (Well, maybe a little bit of both!) ALA Editions is graciously hosting an event for my book, and I’ll also be co-presenting a couple of career workshops and giving a poster on assessment. Here’s where and when you can find me!

Career Development Workshop
Preparing for Today’s Job Market I: The Job Search
Saturday, 9:30 – 10:30am
ALA JobLIST Career Center

The number one goal for many of us is finding a job. And not just any job — a job that we like, a job that we can grow in and learn from and feel proud of, a job that will enhance our skill sets and propel our careers.  This hands-on workshop will help you feel more confident in your job search by giving you the tools to organize a search, analyze job listings, and write effective, compelling cover letters and resumes. We will also discuss the importance of creating, and maintaining, a professional online presence and look at examples of online portfolios and profiles.

Author Event for Dynamic Research Support for Academic Libraries
Saturday, 2:30 – 3:15pm
ALA Store (near shuttle bus entrance)

Come visit with me to chat about providing research support for your faculty and students! The ALA Store will also have copies of the book for purchase. 

Career Development Workshop:
Preparing for Today’s Job Market II: The Interview

Sunday, 1:30 – 2:30pm
ALA JobLIST Career Center

Congratulations, you got an interview… now what?! During this workshop we’ll look at what to expect when interviewing at different types of libraries: academic, special, and public.We’ll discuss both remote and in-person interviews, and talk about the importance of doing your research, preparing questions for your interviewers, and showing confidence and personality during your interview. Throughout, we’ll emphasize how to go beyond the qualifications listed on your resume in order to show a potential employer that you are the right candidate for the job.

Poster: Utilizing a Tool to Build a Culture of Assessment: The Data Framework
Sunday, 2:30 – 4:30
Exhibits Hall, Posters 2 (Infrastructure)

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries first developed a Data Framework over a decade ago to track what library data was collected and reported. Since data use has grown exponentially, a major revision and reconfiguration was necessary. The revised Data Framework is a Tableau-based tracking tool and a data management map. This poster will be valuable for librarians desiring better data control throughout their organization and increasing staff interest in data collection and use.

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Shameless Book Plug

In March 2016, my book Dynamic Research Support for Academic Libraries was released in the UK by Facet Publishing, and will also be available in the US from the ALA Store and through Amazon.com. It’s a contributed volume full of accounts from amazing librarians about how they support faculty and student research at academic libraries across the globe!

What does “research support” mean? It’s any method by which a librarian (or a related information maven) supports how faculty and students contribute to knowledge in their discipline. This includes some services traditionally in the library wheelhouse (reference or research consultations), but is rapidly expanding to include support for GIS projects, better metadata, and more. For more about this topic, see the video below.

Who should read this book?

  • Librarians, administrators, and other library staff interested in re-thinking their approach to research support.
  • Librarians looking for an international approach to this topic.
  • Library school students interested in emerging forms of academic librarianship.

For more about the book’s content and structure, see the following video.

If you enjoy the video’s spiffy “research lifecycle” graphic, you can also download it as a PDF to print and enjoy as a nerdy decoration for your office, or proudly affix to the front of your home refrigerator.

Easier Said Than Done: Dissertation to Article(s)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks (as evidenced by the crickets chirping on the blog / FB / twitter). I’ve been on the prowl for our next NYC apartment, which was such an unexpectedly complex process that it will merit a blog post on its own at some point. I was also briefly in Dallas to deal with our belongings (aka The Storage Unit of Doom) and house there–egads–and I’ve still got work on that end to accomplish. BUT. Here I am, back to academia and writing!

Writing1

I’ve been struggling for months now with how to turn my dissertation into articles. Part of the problem stems from the way that social sciences dissertations are divided by functional, rather than topical, chapters. My chapters are titled exactly the same as most dissertations in my field (and the wider social sciences): 1) Introduction, 2) Literature Review, 3) Methodology, 4) Results (the data), and 5) Discussion (or conclusions, implications). By contrast, my master’s thesis in art history was great fodder for insta-articles (ah, the humanities!) because the chapters were topical: 1) introduction, 2) history, 3) iconography, 4) locations/types of images, 5) image function in the Catholic Mass.

My dissertation was a big project, something that needs to be broken down into digest-able chunks to work as articles. However, since I didn’t have to divide up the project initially, conceptualizing this after the fact is difficult. The distilled version of my dissertation study is this: I studied the education and other preparatory methods experienced by academic library administrators, and looked at how valuable/relevant they perceived each method to be, related to their academic leadership as administrators. My initial thought was to write one literature review article and two data-driven empirical articles: one on educational background (degrees earned), and another on the five other preparatory methods. But as I delved into the data, I had trouble separating the educational results from the other methods and began to see that the mentoring preparation might merit an article of its own.

I’m going back to the beginning to re-evaluate my plans. For the education-focused article, I’m going to limit my focus based on results with the greatest potential interest for my audience and impact on the disciplines (of library science and higher education). I may decide the rest of the educational data merits a follow-up article, particularly since I think there would be value in my performing some additional statistical analysis on my existing data. But if I wait to write an article after I perform those analyses, I’ll be putting off publication by months and end up with far too much information for a single article.

Writing2

This blog post is sponsored by: Tiny Academic Batman!

I’m waiting to conceptualize the second article until I have a firm outline and draft for this first article. I’ve learned over and over that if I try too much at once, I can get overwhelmed and become completely un-scholarly-productive (a.k.a. “ALL THE THINGS“). Thus, I’m limiting my focus. I’m also dividing my writing time into handy 2-hour chunks, divided by scheduled time-slots for other tasks (including my academic reading–it’s so much easier to keep up with it if I schedule in a few hours a week). I’m planning on starting the literature review / meta-analysis article next, and may actually outline that while I’m working on the first article (after all, there will be some overlap).

I’m finding the most helpful tip to be starting with the abstract. I usually start with the general empirical article outline, which roughly follows the dissertation itself: introduction, lit review, methodology, results/findings, discussion/implications/future research ideas, and conclusion. However, starting with that outline has been frustrating for me this time around–for one, because those headings are so generic. By starting with the abstract, I’m creating a one-sentence summation of the specifics for each section (about five sentences total), which is a far better and more specific guide of what I plan to write.

The other key to my writing productivity is the concept of “draft vomit.” That is, I turn off my inner editorial voice that wants to edit sentences as I type, and simply try to write down ideas as quickly as they come. This is most easily done in short sprints, and it takes practice to loose your inhibitions and simply write. It’s tough enough to do that sort of thing in fiction, but in research, when we have an obligation to cite sources and explain research methods, it can feel flat-out wrong to write so freely. I must continually remind myself that producing content is the key, and that I’ll edit for sources and grammar and rational reasoning later.

Well. It’s a work in progress!

Finally, there’s my own past series on writing  journal articles (from scratch, not from dissertations–but still).

AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month)

I’m currently working on copy edits for my dissertation (the last step, hurrah!). Interestingly enough, I’ve already “graduated” according to the Graduate School–curious that this last step of the process comes afterward. Once the edits are final and it’s been uploaded into the UNT Libraries’ Digital Collections, I’ll link to it here.

My other project this month (for #acwrimo) is a chapter for the upcoming book Leadership in Academic Libraries Today, and an article based on some of my dissertation results. One of the most difficult aspects of the article is choosing which results to focus on first. Because of the large quantities of data I gathered, I’m hoping to publish the results in three articles, divided into thematic chunks of data. I plan to focus on the educational results first. I’m still in the stage of tweaking my outlines and adding ideas in bulleted lists under each section.

So much data to process and think about and disseminate through conferences and publishing… and already my brain is pondering the next research project!

The Next Big Thing: My Work in Progress

My lovely friend/family/ninja-librarian-author Claire tagged me in “The Next Big Thing” meme about my NaNoWriMo WIP (Work In Progress). I’ll blog more about my AcWriMo goals (one academic book chapter, one article) a little later.

1) What is the working title of your book?

Scarlet and the Beast.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?

My bookshelves and e-readers are stuffed to the gills with fairy tales… and fantasy almanacs… and literary criticism of fairy tale and folklore development. This is an interest that started in childhood and followed me into nerdy academia-land. I read articles about the symbolism of thread and spindles for fun. I kid you not.

About thirteen years ago, I started writing the Beast’s side of the Beauty and the Beast story. I wanted to explore the psychological effect of trying to keep your humanity when your biological instincts were screaming to be an animal. But there were a few problems: 1) Donna Jo Napoli did a similar thing in Beast, 2) this leaves Beauty’s part in the story really small and unsatisfying, and 3) it’s really depressing. And (gasp!) a little boring.

So early last year, I was thinking about Little Red Riding Hood and its narrative potential. Hashing it out with Claire, I realized it would dovetail well with what I’d conceptualized about the Beast story. And there you have it: enter Scarlet into the Beast narrative!

3) What genre does your book fall under? 

YA fantasy.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Whew, this takes some thought! Here goes…

Emma Watson as Scarlet

James McAvoy as Beast / the Baron’s son

Maisie Williams as Mouse, Scarlet’s little sister  (fierce and adorable!)

Liam Neeson as Scarlet’s Grandfather (a master hunter and a wee bit scary)

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When her merchant father dies in bankruptcy, Scarlet must partner with a Beast to protect her little sister Mouse as they cross a western landscape of warring baronies to find her Grandfather.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ll be seeking an agent.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ve just finished outlining the plot and have started the first draft. Planning to get the majority of this draft done during NaNoWriMo.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Robin McKinley’s Deerskin is a similarly serious exploration of the human consequences of a twisted fairy tale plot. McKinley’s work in general is successful at making fairy tale characters real, accessible, plausible. The setting is reminiscent of Kazu Kibuishi’s western graphic novel Daisy Kutter, though with a medieval feudalistic flavor in place of Daisy’s Kutter‘s steampunky robot flavor.

 9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I always wanted to know what happened before Beauty showed up. Did the Beast give in to his animal nature for a while? What did he eat? Why did he decide to act like a human, even though he didn’t look like one? Did hunters try to track him down?

Then when the trailers for the 2011 Red Riding Hood film came out, I started imagining the movie I’d actually like to see about that story. Something in a different setting than your usual beautiful-but-hum-drum European fairytale forest. I thought about how growing up in the Texas hill country, that landscape was very different than what I read in fairy tales… and then the story kind of exploded from there.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The story is set in a society that’s a blend of the American Old West and the medieval European system of feudalistic baronies. There are rifles, but no trains (sorry, steampunk fans!). There are knights on horseback, but their armor is leather and they carry spears and rifles in place of swords. There’s no central system of government–regions are ruled by barons who employ vassals to serve as counselors, physics, guards, or knights, and who have serf-like peasants raise their livestock and farm their land. These baronies are fiercely competitive over land and scarce water sources. It’s through this treacherous landscape that Scarlet, a merchant’s daughter from a more civilized coastal town, must make her way to find her Grandfather. When she reaches her Grandfather’s hunting cabin, however, she finds Beast there instead… My, what big teeth you have! 

And now back to writing, with my bluegrass-plus-Firefly-soundtrack playlist on!