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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Experience As Vice Prez - Guest Post

As a TWU SLIS student, I juggled two courses, two jobs, and volunteering for seven semesters. When I received the email notifying me of my nomination to serve as a GLISA officer in April 2015, I was shocked. What had I done that demonstrated any sort of leadership potential in my distance education courses? Turns out, joining the Texas Library Association and attending my first annual conference was my first step.

Raquel Williams, the fall 2015 Web Administrator, was in one of my courses in spring 2015 and remembered that I had posted in the class discussion board about attending TLA. For whatever reason, we didn't connect at conference, but she threw my name in the GLISA officer pool and the rest is history.

The email I received offered me the positions of Treasurer or Vice President. After skimming the descriptions of both roles I realized as VP I would be the editor of the online newsletter, charged with not only writing articles (which I have done before on various platforms) but also designing the entire layout of the publication (which I had never done before), so I hopped on-board figuring the summer break would give me time to brainstorm article topics and play around with Microsoft Publisher (not at all, but that's a different blog post).

With no previous experience in layout design, but an eagerness to produce a vibrant digital publication with a balance between stimulating visuals and text, I produced the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 GLISA newsletters. I interviewed SLIS professors, delegated and edited the work of my peers, and gained new skills in layout design -- all of which have been transformative for me. And, once I completed the semester newsletter, I assisted fellow officers in completing their duties by contributing ideas for social media posts, strategies for member recruitment, and assisting with the spring and fall service projects.

Meeting Christine, Raquel, Nekeeta, Tracy, Allison, and Brea has had a huge impact on my confidence as both an individual and a library professional. Being able to connect with this group both virtually and in person has been a huge learning opportunity. I admire the work ethic of each officer, current and past, and have adopted some of their practices in order to boost my own potential. As a result of my involvement with GLISA, I am motivated to participate in TLA and am now the Secretary of the Latino Caucus (the hardest part is showing up to your first business meeting). It took one fateful email to push me beyond my comfort zone and connect with some strong, forward-thinking women.

Coming into the SLIS program, I didn't expect to meet anyone from any of my classes for more than a group assignment. But, joining GLISA and answering the call for officers as GLISA VP enabled me to walk away with not only my intended MLS degree, but also great friends. Additionally, the newsletters and service projects completed during my time as VP have made for great work products to present during interviews.

Do you have a writing/online publishing background, or are you interested in building experience in editing/writing? If so, this position is perfect for you. If you want to introduce new and emerging topics in the field of library and information science, interview literally WHOEVER you want (because you're the editor), and procrastinate on course assignments by spending time searching for the perfect (copyright-free) image to enhance your Q&A, then sign-up for GLISA (if you're not already a member) and shoot an email to with your resume and an elevator speech about why you would make a great VP. And, remember, if you still have two years ahead of you, being VP this year means you can be President next year!

Paloma Lenz served as the GLISA Vice President for the 2015-2016 academic year. She graduated last week on May 11, 2016. You can follow her on Twitter at @pl0la.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Take on the Final Exam Portfolio~~Guest Post

If you are relatively new to the TWU SLIS program, you may not even realize you are required to complete a final exam to receive your MLS.  Surprise, surprise!  Lucky you, welcome to the land of ambiguity and fingernail biting…but it doesn’t have to be that way.

In Blackboard, under My Organizations>>SLIS Student Resources, there is a folder called Final Exam Portfolio.  In its many sub-folders there are instructions, Q&A, and other information.

Some semesters, the Final Exam Committee offers a BB Collaborate informational session.  If the session is not offered, I suggest emailing one of the committee members for their slideshow or hints and tips.  Last year, I could not log into the correct session and missed it.  The session was not archived, either.  I emailed Dr. Perryman and she gladly gave me the slides.

Her two biggest take-away from the slides were to be succinct and to use the rubric elements as sub-headings.  Using the sub-headings allows the grader to easily see if you have addressed the rubric line item.  It also allows you to organize your thoughts logically.  Being succinct is more challenging.  I was as to the point and brief as possible, yet I had 20 pages total not including resources by the time I was finished. 

Planning for the FEP is essential.  The final exam is offered ONLY in the long semesters, NOT in summer.  Therefore, if you are graduating in August, you will need to plan to have your FEP turned in the spring prior.  In a way, this is advantageous for you.  I highly recommend that you use the breaks, whether summer or Christmas, to fully complete your FEP so that once the window opens, you only need to submit it.  This will allow you to focus on the classes you are taking without the stress of the final exam.  The submission window is only open about 20-30 days.  If you wait until the window opens to start the FEP, you will be in a world of hurt.

The FEP is in two parts:  your professional development plan and your work products essay.  Each of these sections is submitted separately, as is each of the three work products.  When working ahead, do not make the mistake, like I did, of collating all materials, including embedding my work products, into one report.  While I thought this was a more presentable approach, it will not work with the Blackboard submission system. 

Start planning now for which work products you want to submit.  Each of the three must be from different classes and each must express different competencies.  If your instructor tells you you have done an excellent job on a specific project or ‘highly recommends’ for you to include it, follow that lead.  If you’re unsure, ask that professor what they think about including it in the portfolio.  

While you can use one group project, I avoided this. For one, the other student had graduated and the link to the Web 2.0 tool we used was broken.  He created the user name and password for the account we used, so I was stuck.  Permission was not an issue for us, as we had previously agreed that its inclusion in FEPs was okay.  Also, upon reflection, I could not effectively link the parts of the project that I worked on to the competencies I wanted to cover.  With all these challenges, it simply was not worth my time to fret over it.  

Your professional development portion of the FEP is basically your five year plan.  What you want to be doing upon graduation and beyond, and how you are going to get there.  This is actually a really great exploration tool into what’s available for continuing education, job opportunities, and to visualize how you want to ‘do’ librarianship.  For a final reflection in another class, I started squirrelling away various pieces of information which I could also incorporate into the FEP professional development piece.  

Another interesting factor is that CMS is the required citation style for the FEP.  All previous classes I had taken at TWU required APA or MLS.  Having never used Chicago before, I immediately bookmarked Purdue’s OWL for CMS.  Don’t be confused, because the three work products you include in that portion of the FEP do NOT need to be changed.  They should remain in whichever citation style you used originally.

There is no need to be intimidated or fear the final exam portfolio.  The skills that you have been using during the entire degree program, planning, research, and writing, are all that are needed here.  Time management should be your only eyebrow lifter.  That can easily be vanquished by using the off-season well.  

Christine De Angelis was awarded the 2016 TWU College of Professional Education Student Award for Outstanding Student Service in SLIS for her time as President of GLISA.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Year as GLISA President~~Guest Post

I am writing this blog post as one of my final acts as President of GLISA.  And what a ride it has been!  Like some other GLISA officers, I came into this hesitantly; I jokingly say I was snookered in.  Really, I had won the GLISA ALA 2014 scholarship and was subsequently asked by then President Elizabeth Hollenbeck if I would like to be an officer.  Well, it was not really something I had endeavored for or even considered, but upon reflection (see, I did learn something in library school, lol), I really could not come up with an honest, viable excuse to say no.  The Nos I came up with were BS, with ‘No Time’ being the biggest lie.

Thus, I said okay.  Treasurer was out for me because I live in Houston with no plans on going to Denton.  Secretary?  No way, too much work.  I’m the secretary for my HOA, undoubtedly a larger and more complex organization than GLISA, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  Veep’s only is responsible for the newsletter each semester.  That sounded about my speed.  The hitch:  after Veep, you are expected to stay on as President the following year to provide continuity.  Eh, I could live with that.

My first year as Veep was a learning experience.  The first semester, I couldn’t get my poop in a group and the newsletter ended up being really late, like just before the semester ended.  I was not pleased with myself about that.  I sat out the second semester because of extended military training.  Even so, I felt like our leadership was weak and the officers did not gel.  I was even considering not continuing on as an officer the following fall.

The position of President requires a strong leader who can make a decision and stick with it.  S/he should ask for and welcome guidance from the experts and the other officers, but should not be ruled by committee for important items.  A good president also needs to be able to trust his / her officers and delegate authority.  If you are a person who must always be ‘in the weeds’ and micromanage, President is not the position for you.  That is not to say the president cannot get his / her hands dirty; on the contrary, you must lead by example.  One of the most important things I can say about being President is that you must tell all the officers your expectations from the get go.  By doing this, you are setting them up for success and also giving them an out before they get too deep if they don’t think they can handle it.

This year as President of GLISA has been AWESOME!  Under my guidance and suggestions, the officers came up with specific service projects for both semesters, created spectacular newsletters with ALL officers contributing and the VP editing, we garnered interest through intense social media coverage and our new blog / website, started an online book club, and more…Basically, we reinvented and reinvigorated GLISA to be a vibrant, positive student organization known throughout the SLIS department and campus wide.

My only important disappointment this year is leaving GLISA without officer volunteers for next school year.  Three of the officers graduated…oh, about 24-72 hours ago; a fourth graduates in summer.  The fifth has completed her term and will not continue.  If you’re reading this blog, you are probably a GLISA member or thinking of becoming one.  I know you’ve got it in you.  Stand up and represent…become an officer today.

Christine De Angelis, a TWU alumna for three days, is the current ~ former President of GLISA.  A life-long learner, she begins a genealogy continuing education class...tomorrow!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Being Web Administrator for GLISA - Guest Post

I fell into the web administrator position at the end of the fall 2015 semester. A friend and classmate, Nekeeta Borden, was the secretary; she and Raquel Williams, the web administrator, were both graduating, and Nekeeta wanted me to apply for one of the positions.

I worked full time when I was an undergraduate, so I never had time to hang around campus and get involved with my classmates and school organizations. I was excited at the thought of being more involved as a graduate student, but with TWU being the best choice for my educational goals, I realized that I would never really have the on-campus experience of being an involved student. In fact, living in Memphis, TN, meant that I would not even be able to attend a meetup, the Texas Library Conference, or graduation.

Even with that in mind, I wasn't too sure that I wanted to be a GLISA officer. Taking two classes a semester while raising a young son and balancing volunteer work seemed to be all I could handle. Before I knew it, Nekeeta and the current president Christine De Angelis were emailing me to say that the web administrator position was still open, and Raquel was sending me a list of duties. I felt pretty unprepared for the position, even though I have experience blogging and interacting on social media.

After the first GLISA meeting, I was hooked. I felt so comfortable with my fellow officers, and it was a lot of fun to find interesting articles to share on the GLISA Twitter and Facebook, because I knew I would get feedback and new thoughts on these articles from my classmates. I started the GLISA blog and invited students to share guest posts about classes, conferences, and thoughts on librarianship in general.

The point of GLISA is to provide a community for SLIS students and be a source of information and resources when it comes to school, the job search, and professional development. But GLISA is also a really fun organization to get involved with. As web administrator, my duties include:

  • Posting GLISA and SLIS information on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog.
  • Sharing interesting and thought-provoking articles on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog.
  • Keeping up with GLISA's Blackboard for students not on social media.
  • Writing blog posts and inviting submissions from current students.
  • Writing two articles a semester for the GLISA newsletter.
  • Participating in monthly meetings via Blackboard Collaborate.
  • Providing opinions on matters like GLISA merch, grading scholarship submissions, and more.

The time commitment, the thing that originally scared me away from a GLISA position, is completely manageable. The monthly meeting I previously mentioned is the only major commitment; the rest of the duties are done as I have time - and since the program is online, I found a lot of time to do a little GLISA work here and there while completing schoolwork.

I highly recommend the position of web administrator to anyone who loves finding interesting articles to share, sounding off on social media, writing blog posts, and being enthusiastic enough to get other people to chime in and get involved. Apply for a position, or nominate a classmate today!

Allison Renner, who lives in Memphis, TN, is the current GLISA web administrator. She graduates in August 2016 - so sign up to fill the position NOW!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Confessions of a Caterpillar Secretary - Guest Post

My experience as the secretary of the Graduate Library and Information Science Association (GLISA) was a pivotal time of growth and challenge. It symbolized evolution, metamorphosis, even. I was a reticent, pupal pupil, thrust from my cocoon of complacency & fear & excuses by some light flattery & a call to duty. I crawled through my tunnel, strewn with the leaves of seemingly endless papers (See what I did there with "leaves"?), enchanted by the faint glimmer of a promise. A promise to break the monotony of school work, the anonymity & disconnectivity that online classes can sometimes create. To my work-worn eyes, that promise was the sun…the GLISA sun! The sun was luminescent with creativity, collaborating, liaising, scribing, planning, & building relationships within the organization & the community at large.

You're thinking I'm a kitschy drama queen, right? Before you strain your pupils with the side-eyes & eye rolls, you should know some things about me. I am the consummate hot mess. I am a serial procrastinator with the MO of Amelia Bedelia meets Mr. Magoo. I am chronically tardy, allergic to outlines, & find structure claustrophobic. Holding an office, being accountable to members on a scholarly & professional level, is not at all ideal for my, erm, unique skill set. And I somehow managed to ROCK it. GLISA was the firm boot that kicked my flabby bottom out of my comfort zone, & I learned immensely from my time as secretary.

It's funny how much I enjoyed my term, seeing as I didn't want to be a secretary at all! I was gunning for web advisor because I loves me a good Facebook post & am uber social. When I discovered that position was already filled (by the fabulous Raquel Williams, who was much better suited for it), Dr. Richey convinced me to go out for secretary. The GLISA game kind of chose me...& being secretary was the best thing for my time commitments & personality. My duties consisted of:

  •  Arranging a mutually agreed upon time & date for monthly meetings.
  •  Sending out reminders via Google Calendar.
  •  Taking thorough notes during the meetings; disseminating the minutes within a week after each meeting.
  •  Reaching out to organizations for to scout potential donors & recipients.
  • Partnering with community organizations to further the mission of literacy; make GLISA's presence known.
  •  Brainstorming ideas for the semesterly community service project.
  • Writing 2 focus pieces for the semesterly GLISA newsletter.

The aspect of leadership I most feared was time management. If my life were a type of music, it would be a freestyle rap. During the fall semester, time was especially scarce, what with taking 3 graduate classes, 2 small kids, & a full-time job. The magic of GLISA is that it keeps students involved without being all-consuming. It helped to regard GLISA as a hands-on, add-on project rather than another class. I set aside time on breaks at work or on the weekends. And by setting aside, I mean casually nibbling at notes & pecking out ideas on GroupMe. I did not let it become a stressor, & really, there was no reason for it to be. GLISA didn't have a rubric or grades - it was a collection of plucky chicks on a like-minded mission. Really, it was a way for us to decompress, share articles about issues that affect librarians & job searchers, trade witticisms, & sharpen our professional teeth. And there were brunches & happy hours for the locals.

My secretarial duties majorly enhanced my organization skills. Setting the meetings & checking multiple communication outlets kept me accountable. Of all my activities, taking the minutes was the most intense & rewarding. Relaying your thoughts while simultaneously listening & responding to, then recording the thoughts of others will put hair on your chest. Being the scribe has informed me when leading meetings at work. I also learned how to use a number of helpful tools, like the GroupMe texting app & conference callings through Blackboard Collaborate.

My creativity was on TEN in GLISA! Because I wasn't so bound to the day-to-day processes as a president or vice president, I used that freedom to fling pixie dust on what could’ve become a staccato school org! I developed Season's Readings, a book drive where we collected children's & teen literature for young people in local shelters. I wrote a really cheesy jingle to market it to donors. Marrying the blazing sun logo with a book & torch, emblems of scholarship, I designed a cool pin. If you are an "ideas man" with questionable strategizing skills who bristles at strict structure & don't particularly enjoy telling people what to do, consider being the secretary. Fun projects abound to soothe the squirrel in you.

If you have a heart for community outreach, this is your gig! I wanted to make sure that we performed true service that would impact those in need and endure past our big date. By selecting three shelters as recipients, we got to make our giving personal & interactive.  We were able to see first-hand the depth of the need in our very own neighborhoods. And we sparked relationships that would open the door for future collaborations. The best part? We made founding donations for THREE mini-libraries!!! When I called each place, I had no idea they were establishing lending libraries. I just knew it was hard for low income families to access quality books when school was closed. When Project Row Houses showed us the space for their library & we saw all the kids on site who would benefit from our donations, it was one of the proudest, most gratifying moments of my career. There was something really fulfilling about meeting up on that cold, rainy Saturday to bring some GLISA sunshine to oft-overlooked communities.

I’m one of the least put-together people you don’t know, but I’m really proud of the work I did with GLISA. I discovered strengths I didn’t know I had, and I made the secretary position my own. I would totally sneak in the back door for another term, but seeing as I’m not a student anymore, that presents an ethics issue. So I’m calling you out. Sign up for secretary and put your signature stank on it. Arise, chubby caterpillar, take your wings, and fly toward the GLISA sun!

Nekeeta Borden was the GLISA secretary before graduating in December 2015. She is currently a Librarian I for Fort Bend County. Scholarships and awards Nekeeta has won include: 2015 Literacy Matters Minority; 2015 E.J. Josey; Published in the Winter 2015 Black Caucus of the ALA News Journal "What's Old is New Again: Traditional Library Services in the 21st Century" (Vol 42:1); 2014 D. Genevieve Dixon; 2014 Michelle S. Lee Endowed; 2014 Janeway, Texas Library Association.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Post-Graduation GLISA Meetup in Houston

Can you believe it?!?  Graduation is here!

All SLIS students & GLISA members are welcome to attend our final gathering.

Please join us for the final GLISA Houston meetup this school year.  We will meet at Under the Volcano, 2349 Bissonnet St. (near Morningside) Houston, TX 77005 after the graduation ceremony on Wednesday 11 MAY 2016 for camaraderie and conversation.  It is about 1.5 miles from Tudor Fieldhouse.

Near the Village but not quite of the village, Under the Volcano attracts its share of preppy Rice students and chill locals. There's more than one patio for sitting and relaxing.   There's pool for the sporty types, a tiki area for something a little different, and live music from time to time. Under the Volcano is a great under-the-radar spot to hang out with friends or meet some new ones.

Hope to see all of you there!

2015-2016 GLISA Officers

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Lending Library for Project Row Houses - Houston, TX: Guest Post

The fall 2015 service project was Season's Readings, a collaboration between GLISA officers in Houston and Denton, collected over 1,000 picture, children’s, and young adult books for donation to four non-profit organizations. Project Row Houses (PRH), a community-based arts and culture non-profit in Houston’s Third Ward, was a recipient of several hundred books. Upon delivery, Walter Hull, the Education Coordinator at PRH, shared his excitement over the large amount of donated books delivered and explained that the Education House would be transformed into a neighborhood lending library beginning in spring 2016. GLISA President, Christine DeAngelis, and Vice President, Paloma Lenz, offered GLISA’s assistance in creating an online catalog for the library in order to track the inventory of books and enable the creation of patron accounts. Mr. Hull accepted the proposition and in February both GLISA officers began working to identify a low-cost online cataloging system fit for a small library.
The officers chose Libib, an online cloud cataloging system that allows users to catalog books, DVDs, CDs, and video games in their collection for free. Going pro with the system means users can customize their own online catalog and enable searching and lending, along with a variety of other features, for just $60 a year. Libib also has apps available for download on iPhone and Android devices. Additionally, the officers decided on a classification system based on genres adapted for children, teens, and adults.

On April 9, Christine and Paloma spent 7 hours cataloging 253 books into the Libib account created for PRH. The cataloging process included searching for the books in Libib either by keyword or ISBN, adding the record to the collection, applying a “group” (or subject heading), tags, and any necessary notes or summaries for the books. Many of the titles were already in the system, a handful required manual entry.

The officers returned April 15 for another 6 hours to continue cataloging, ending the day with a total of 398 items in the collection. Currently, the officers have a handful of books awaiting cataloging before they begin physically applying labels to the books. They anticipate two more days will be necessary to complete the project. 

At the end of their most recent visit, the Houston GLISA officers met with PRH’s Executive Director, Eureka Gilkey, who shared Mr. Hull’s enthusiasm for GLISA’s assistance in the building and design of the new lending library, assuring GLISA that the work being done is of great value to PRH and will be a lasting contribution to the organization and the surrounding community.

Paloma Lenz is the Vice President of GLISA, and graduates in May - congrats, Paloma!