Alumni Perspective: Greetings from Los Angeles!
This is my first blog post (finally!) and I’m really excited to be a contributor. I’ll be posting all sorts of news and stories from an alumni perspective and I hope that the readers on this blog will find my words helpful. I used to write a blog for the Admissions office when I was a student at SI and I enjoyed it so much! Shout out to Laura Elgas in Admissions — that was seriously a great job to have during school. I met so many interesting prospective students (many who came in the year after me) and I got to be as verbose as I wanted on my blog. My goal is to post at least a couple of very relevant stories here per month, if not more often than that.
A little introduction, I am an MSI grad from April 2007. I was a tailored student and split my curriculum mainly between HCI and a combo of LIS & ARM. I characterize myself a “techie librarian and archivist” – I’m told these days that I am considered an “information preservationist.” I think it’s such a lofty description… I find that I do indeed focus on the preservation of information, but I spend equal amounts of time and energy on user education to increase awareness of the information bits and bytes that they create. My mantra is that information in the real world is only at its most valuable state if you can search, retrieve, and reuse it. If you can’t accomplish that triad then your information is not only lost but it becomes orphaned junk. That’s a particularly blunt description, but unfortunately a true reality.
I was hired by The Walt Disney Company just prior to graduation and then relocated to Los Angeles in May 2007. My first gig that moved me out here was for the (then) Walt Disney Internet Group as the Digital Archivist for Disney Online. I’ve since transferred business units to what is internally known as Feature Animation but to the outside world is called Walt Disney Animation Studios. (Shameless promotion: If you haven’t seen the movie Bolt yet, you really should! It’s a very endearing story with beautifully painted backgrounds and you can see my name in the credits!) With animation, I’m the Digital Archivist for the Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) where we house all of the original animation for the Disney Studios dating back to Steamboat Willie. I work with artists on productions to prepare their digital pieces for delivery to the ARL when each production wraps. We are also in the process of completing a massive digitization effort of our physical art collection. So, I also work on software development, information architecture, taxonomy structures, and process and data flow.
When I’m not at the Mouse House, I’m running my own business called School of Moxie. (Shameless self-promotion! Check me out at www.schoolofmoxie.com.) I provide career services such as resume over hauls, cover letter edits, and interview coaching. I give HUGE thanks to Joanna Kroll at SI for hiring me as a Career Services assistant where I got my start doing multiple resume edits as an actual job and organizing various workshops. Through School of Moxie, some of my clients only need a resume, for example, but others will use me akin to a life coach for many areas of their career and life paths. It’s been very interesting in these times to have just formally launched my business. My clients are not friends and family anymore, but people who have been referred to me and I’ve never met before. I’m finding so many clients who are finally given an “out” (by default) from career paths that just don’t jive with them anymore and they are at the same time elated and very scared.
My advice to SI’ers and anyone else is that you should always give yourself permission to contemplate the “what if” questions whether or not the economy is good or if you like your job. This doesn’t mean that you will actually change a job, career path, or any other major decision. But the first step in being satisfied with your life and your career is to know what makes you happy. If you’re sitting in a cubicle every day programming widgets but you’d rather be interacting with patrons at a reference desk, then you need let yourself acknowledge that thought and take it from there. The economy may royally suck right now, but that might be a great reason to consider other possibilities if you’re ready for it. My prediction is that out of this massive world of chaos, we will see new business models, products, and services emerge from the rubble and our modern economy will be better for it. But it’s going to take some time as well as lots of fortitude on our parts and a healthy dose of pure gumption.
Ok, so what’s my alumni perspective then? I thought you’d never ask! Given the topic I seem to have stumbled upon in my pontifications, I think that as information professionals it is up to us to be true leaders in the new economy. We have to really market ourselves and the type of work we do. My experience is that the world does not truly know what an Information Professional does, nor do they understand what we are capable of. It’s up to us to constantly educate the world because the world still sees librarians as stuffy old ladies in a musty library shushing people who breathe too loudly. And I think you would all agree with me that this stereotype has long outlived its humor.
How do we do this? I think we do this by being leaders in our organizations that we work for and with. When I worked for Disney Online, I used to hold monthly brown bag lunches and my topics would seem utterly elementary to an SI grad but they were so desperately relevant to the organization and the people I worked with. I lectured and held discussions on the basics of research—how to find resources, how to formulate a good reference question, and the difference between an authoritative source and a non-authoritative source. I introduced them to the world of search and retrieval and we discussed why Google or Wikipedia isn’t the only source out there (nor should it be considered the best source when searching for certain types of information). I organized the disparate Disney libraries in the Los Angeles area (with a continually growing network base) so that we now have a grass roots movement—in SoCal we meet quarterly to discuss relevant topics and hear from our peers. Repositories now communicate and send patrons to each other, which not only helps the patron but boosts the value for each library and its collection. At the ARL I’ve continued to lead my peers in our Information Network and I teach my coworkers on a daily basis the best practices for good metadata and why it is so important to the work we do.
Who knows what is next in my world? I want to spread the word of what I can do with my colleagues to a continually wider audience. We have more resources now than we did a year ago and that is a great thing indeed—but we still have a lot of work to do in marketing just the Disney information consortium to the company at large. I would challenge my SI peers to take one small thing and be the leader in educating members of your organization. The fact is, the world is getting more complicated because people are not very good at organizing information and assets, let alone retrieving it well. We have to show them how it’s done! If you are a current SI student, I encourage you to take on as many client projects as you can before you graduate and enjoy the community that you have while you are in school. Once you graduate you go off into a world where suddenly you are the expert (and very likely alone or with very few other accredited librarians) but you’ll be ready for it.
I would love to hear from others if there are any particular topics you want to know about from an alumnus working in the field. I will be posting my thoughts on topics like this, sharing any relevant news stories that I find, etc. Until next time… from La-la land…Explore posts in the same categories: Alumni, Students comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.