24:1 (2009:03) Checking In

March 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Posted in Checking In | 2 Comments

Kurt Blythe, Column Editor

[Note: New members, please consider reporting the story of how you came to be a member of NASIG.  You may submit items about yourself to Kurt Blythe at kcblythe@email.unc.edu.  Please include your e-mail address.]

Welcome to the Newsletter’s first column welcoming new members.  We hope to provide colleagues new to NASIG with a forum for telling their stories.  In essence, what led them to the world of serials?    This inaugural column features eleven new members:  Welcome!

MARSHA AUCOIN just retired after twenty-nine years at Louisiana State University.  While at LSU, Marsha was familiar with NASIG but serials were not her primary responsibility; that has changed in her new role as account services manager for EBSCO Information Services, and Marsha is looking forward to her involvement in NASIG.

EMILY BELL “became the collection development librarian at Roberts-LaForge Library, Delta State University, on July 1, 2008.”  She decided to pursue her MLIS at the University of Southern Mississippi after realizing, as DSU’s acquisitions and accounting coordinator, that, “I could not see myself working outside of a library.”  Emily goes on to say, “I had already served my local public library for seven years before moving to DSU.  I am very committed to libraries in general – even serving on the Board of Trustees for the library system in which I began my career.  Serving the Roberts-LaForge Library as the acquisitions and accounting coordinator gave me a solid foundation – knowledge of subscriptions, collections, purchasing histories, etc. – to begin my new career as the collection development librarian.”

JIM BERRY writes:  It seems as if I’ve always been a reader and had books in my life.  When I was just a youngster, an uncle regularly passed on to me his copies of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and my favorite time to read was stretched out in the back seat of the family car during long trips.  I eventually moved on to other genres, but I still enjoy a good old-fashioned mystery.

Professionally, I started my book career running a small specialty bookshop in one of the antiques districts of Portland, Oregon.  I did everything from help create our Paradox book database to selecting, ordering, receiving and shelving the books.  My favorite question from customers was, “Do you have a book on [insert favorite collectible here]?”  The best feeling in the world was to be able to say, “Yes, of course.  Let me show you.”

It was my step away from the retail book world, though, that brought me into the realm of serials and standing orders.  In 1995 I began working for Academic Book Center in the Standing Order Department.  It was challenging but rewarding to track down series that had split, or see to the (sometimes grinding) work necessary to confirm that a series had, in fact, truly been discontinued.  I was lucky enough to come into the business at a time when electronic content was just getting off the ground and remember many brainstorming sessions about how we could best handle getting our customers access (mainly I remember extensive use of Excel spreadsheets and lots of phone calls).

Today I work behind the scenes at Blackwell and remain curious and interested in the changes occurring in our industry, especially in relation to e-everything.  Though many of the same questions have been asked for years now, it seems that we may really be close to a tipping point where electronic content becomes mainstream and we can all agree on how to deal with it efficiently and effectively.

I hope through interacting with colleagues at NASIG I’ll be better able to understand the issues faced by our industry.  Without participation and collaboration how can any of us hope to make the best decisions, especially in these difficult economic times?

It strikes me as I write this on a small netbook, that it is almost the same size as those Ellery Queen magazines I read so long ago.  We’ve certainly come far since then, but we’ve a long way to go, and what’s to come is up to all of us to decide…both as industry partners and as consumers.  I look forward to participating and hope to meet many of you at the upcoming conference in Asheville.

In answer to the question of what brought her to NASIG, JENNIFER BRAND of SUNY Buffalo’s Central Technical Services Department writes, “It’s very simple, really.  I’ve worked with multiple formats for a number of years, but in my current position at UB, I work only on continuing resources.   I know about NASIG from a couple of co-workers and from what they’ve shared with me it’s a very good organization.   I’m looking forward to membership and hope to be a contributing member in some way.”

Likewise, JEANNIE BYRD, “[heard] about NASIG from colleagues, [and] knew that I wanted to join with others who share my love of serials work.  I look forward to meeting other members and learning from them.”  Jeannie writes of her life prior to librarianship, “I have held a wide variety of positions from school teacher to CPA to college professor.  When I joined the staff five years ago at an academic library, I knew that I had finally found my place in the universe.  I knew that I wanted a career in librarianship, so I earned my M.S. in Information Science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville while working as serials coordinator at Union University.  For the past two years, I have been the serials and electronic resources librarian at Union.  Working with serials has been both a challenge and a delight.”

In the words of ANGELA DRESSELHAUS:  Serials grew on me over time.  I started out in libraries at the University of Louisville as a part time student assistant while completing a B.A. in music.  Working in the music library helped me become an efficient user of the library and more importantly, I discovered a career.  Music was a hobby that I enjoyed immensely, but I never intended to find a job in the music industry. The library turned out to be one of my favorite places on campus, the work was enjoyable, and after a couple of years, I was certain about librarianship as a career.

When a serials acquisitions position opened up at the main library I had a chance to discover if working full time in libraries would be enjoyable. I was excited about transitioning to a full time job, but serials were an unfamiliar concept.  Initially, the new position was a challenge, but I felt that I could follow this satisfying career path.

NASIG entered the picture when Louisville was selected as a conference site and my supervisor at the time, Tyler Goldberg, was a co-chair of the Conference Planning Committee.   I remember being surprised that there was such a large organization dedicated to serials. Upon further examination of the website I was happy to see scholarships and grants for students seeking serials careers.  The process of applying for these scholarships and attending the 2007 annual conference as the Fritz Schwartz recipient demonstrated to me what NASIG is about.  Writing for the award required me to reflect on my experiences and form goals for my future.  That application became a roadmap for my educational and career endeavors.  The conference and the people attending provided excellent opportunities to learn about trends in the profession.

Currently, I’m a fast track serials cataloger at Indiana University and a student finishing up my MLS this summer.  Working at IU has exposed me to many excellent catalogers who care about what they do for the library and patrons.  At the moment, I am enjoying my work as a serials cataloger and my library science classes.  I also enjoy drumming up interest in NASIG by serving as library school ambassador for Indiana University.  I have been so impressed with NASIG and how they welcome students into their organization that some may think I post scholarship announcements a bit too often to our student listserv.   After graduation I look forward to becoming more active in NASIG.

reports:  Unlike most of my classmates, I gravitated toward cataloging in library school.  Although many describe me as a “people person,” I was always more interested in working in technical services.  Despite that, I began my library career in reference, complementing my work with a part-time cataloging position.  Then I read a job posting for a serials/electronic resources librarian, and the rest is history.  Serials seem to be the perfect fit for my interests, abilities, and professional aspirations.  After less than six months on the job at Hofstra University, I am still learning the ropes, but I know I’m in the right place.  I discovered NASIG while scouring the Internet for resources for new serials librarians; needless to say, I was very happy to find it.  I look forward to the networking, resources, and professional development opportunities NASIG has to offer.  I hope to make it to the 2009 conference and meet some of you personally!

As a Bryn Mawr College library assistant who is pursuing an MLIS, SARAH HARTMAN-CAVERLY “[is] always looking for ways to connect to professional librarians and to be active in the professional dialogue.  A colleague recommended that I look into joining NASIG, since I work primarily with print and electronic serials.  NASIG seems like the kind of organization in which people are talking about the challenges and opportunities that librarians who work with serials are facing in the digital realm.  NASIG also provides opportunities for MLIS students to apply for support and to network with library professionals.  These attributes make joining NASIG an excellent opportunity for paraprofessionals working in serials to learn more about the field.  I find my work with serials to always be challenging and – because of changes brought on by digitization – exciting, and NASIG is full of people who share those views.”

Echoing interests in learning from and giving back to NASIG is AMANDA BAKER HIRKO, who “[has] been working [as a library marketing manager] with Oxford Journals, a division of Oxford University Press, for over six years, marketing to authors, readers, and other end users.  In October 2008, I moved into a new position at Oxford Journals focused specifically on library marketing to institutions in North and South America.  I joined NASIG so that I could both learn and become more involved in the serialist community.  As an organization dedicated to promoting serials-specific communication, education, and relationship building, NASIG seemed like an ideal organization to join.  I am looking forward to this year’s annual conference in Asheville, NC, my home state, and to engaging more with the NASIG community.”

Another new face at this year’s conference will belong to BETH M. JOHNS, who writes:  I’ve been working as a librarian since 2006 at Saginaw Valley State University, after graduating from Wayne State University in late 2005.  I’m one of those “second career” librarians, having previously worked in the legal field as a paralegal.  My official title is electronic resources & reference librarian and I really enjoy working in both of areas of the library.  Half of my job is as a traditional reference librarian and the other half is working mainly with electronic serials, specifically, managing our A to Z list and link resolver.  Like many new librarians, I didn’t have any experience with electronic resources, other than as a user.  Most of my education in this area has been through a lot of self study and learning on the fly.  I was surprised to find that serials work is really interesting because it is not an area I ever saw myself working in as a student.  I am interested in working more deeply with serials in the future, perhaps becoming more involved with acquisition.  I joined NASIG due to my continuing interest in serials and also to network with others in the field and explore educational opportunities.  I plan to attend the annual conference this year, so maybe I’ll meet more of you in June!

And then there’s TARYN RESNICK:  As is common in our field, librarianship is a second career for me but, in retrospect, it seems that my prior work and life experiences were all leading me in that direction.  I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English—and not a clue as to what to do with it.  I worked briefly in publishing and for arts organizations in the Boston area.  I took what I thought would be a part-time, temporary job doing administrative work in a basic science research laboratory at Harvard Medical School.  This eventually morphed into a full-time job managing that laboratory.  I then moved to New York to manage a laboratory at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.  After fifteen years of this work, I was burnt-out and increasingly dissatisfied.  I became a full-time library graduate student in 2002, and my experience in academic medicine, combined with a life-long love of reading, research, and locating and organizing information, led me to a career in medical librarianship.

After I received my MLS in 2004, I applied for jobs in academic libraries all over the country.  Despite an extreme desire to leave New York, I never dreamed I would end up relocating to Texas, where I now work at the Texas A&M University Medical Sciences Library in Resources Management Services (aka Technical Services) as the resource management librarian.  I experienced major culture shock but was ready to embrace it.  Texas A&M has its own distinctive culture and traditions and, of course, so does Texas; both continue to surprise and educate me every day.  I have come to realize I will always be a “Yankee” no matter how long I live in Texas, but I really enjoy it here—and I certainly do not miss the snow and cold.

My MLS program did not include any coursework in serials acquisitions and I must admit that I completed the single required course in cataloging (which focused on books) with the thought, “Thank heavens I never have to do that again!”  Of course, I now have a much different view and have learned an enormous amount in my four years on the job.  The specialized nature of the Medical Sciences Library means that I get a big-picture view of library operations through extensive, hands-on involvement in acquisitions, cataloguing, subscription maintenance, collection development, vendor relations, and records management.  I also investigate online products, arrange product trials, and negotiate licenses with vendors on a local and consortial level.

I joined several national library organizations, such as the Medical Library Association, in library school, taking advantage of student memberships.  After graduation, I just kept on automatically renewing my memberships in these same organizations.  This year, it finally dawned on me: NASIG’s mission and activities are directly related to my work as a librarian; as an organization, it is a perfect fit for me.  I look forward to becoming involved as an active member.

In conclusion, your humble columnist would like to note that he looks forward to all these new members becoming more involved in NASIG, too.



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  1. Welcome to all the newbies! (And congrats to the news staff for this new column – great idea!)

  2. Thanks Char! The idea originated with Lisa Blackwell (D&D chair) and Kurt Blythe (Newsletter columns editor). The idea for the name, which I think is great, came from Jennifer Duncan (Newsletter blog ed). Yay team!

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