Alum Donna Frederick Shares Research Findings about Distance Librarianship Career Trends at Library 2.012 Conference

Alum Donna Frederick and several current SJSU SLIS students joined faculty member Kristen Rebmann in co-presenting at the Library 2.012 Worldwide Virtual Conference, where they discussed their research regarding distance librarianship career trends. The group of researchers included several members of the School’s Distributed Research and Writing Group. When the committee chose to examine job announcements to determine the skillsets and responsibilities of distance librarians, as well as career trends in this growing area of librarianship, she wanted to be involved.

Their presentation, Who is the Distance Learning Librarian? Exploring Job Announcements to Understand Evolving Professional Roles, describes their analysis of a rich dataset, which provides a better understanding of distance librarianship.  The recording of their hour-long presentation is freely available on Library 2.012 archives website.

“Looking at close to 200 job announcements for distance librarians, each member of our research group had to become an expert on a different facet of the job announcements and then present our findings at the conference,” said Frederick, who presented her portion while sitting in front of her home computer late in the evening. “My particular section looked at the preferred requirements for a distance librarian, as opposed to the required ones. What I found was that employers appear to be expecting to hire recent graduates.  Applicants with an academic background and those with some sort of library experience are often preferred.”

Since she was previously the System Trainer for the Saskatoon Public Library for over ten years, Frederick has experience presenting, so she didn’t find the process nerve-wracking. “The only stressful part was worrying that I might lose my connection, since I had earlier in the day while attending other Library 2.012 sessions,” she recalled. “My co-presenters knew about that issue, and we made a plan for covering each other’s material if needed. Because we had had so many virtual meetings leading up to the presentation, using the same web conferencing platform we used for our presentation, we knew what everyone was doing.”

Frederick got involved in the School’s student-alum organization SLISConnect Distributed Research and Writing Group because it complements the work she does as an academic librarian. She graduated from SJSU SLIS with her MLIS degree in December 2010. She is now the Metadata Librarian at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.  She spends her days cataloging, working with new Discovery products and link resolvers, and developing metadata for new collections and digitization projects.

“I do a lot of trouble shooting with ebooks and electronic resources,” she said. “When I was enrolled in the MLIS program, I chose courses based on the skills they covered. I didn’t have metadata experience prior to taking those MLIS courses, and that’s the kind of work I’m doing now – it’s really in demand.”

Influential Classes

LIBR 248 (Beginning Cataloging & Classification) and LIBR 287 (Seminar in Web 3.0 and Emerging Trends): “Some of the things I produced in these classes were really impressive. When interviewing, I got a lot of questions and comments on them.” LIBR 275 (Library Services for Racially and Ethnically Diverse Communities): “Employers seemed to be looking for this class.”

Best Conference

ACCESS (Canada’s premier Library Technology conference): “When I attend the conference, I get a chance to hear about innovative ways libraries across Canada use technology to solve problems, improve access to information and offer new services to library users.”  ALA’s midwinter conference: “I learned so much and found it very valuable. There are more sessions than I could possibly attend – I can’t even imagine how overwhelming the annual conference must be!” 

Tech Tip

“Cataloging and metadata students need to have a basic background in traditional cataloging.  Learning the new and emerging standards, such as RDA or MODS, as well as developing practical skills, such as using MarcEdit to process records in bulk, will give you an edge in your career pursuits.”

Career Tip

“If you want a career as a librarian, get library experience while you’re in school – even if it’s just a shelving job. You’ll speak with library workers, see what skills you really need, and you’ll get opportunities to develop those skills.”

Preferred Newsletter

ALA’s American Libraries DIRECT: “The newsletter has book reviews, news, and information that covers all library sectors.”

Professional Affiliations

American Library Association (ALA), ALA’s International Librarians Roundtable, Canadian Library Association