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Ashley Chassé is a Librarian

The Design of Everyday Librarianship

Librarianship… As you may (not) know, I am a recovering web developer/content manager, sloshing her way through librarianship by once again embracing my developer/manager side in a weird Librarian/Webmistress hybrid. I sort of feel like Captain Planet, except for the whole rings of power from the planeteers thing.


The 90’s were a strange and mystical era.


I read a lot about design. No surprise. I spend a lot of time designing things for work, friends, and myself. Not only am I interested in web design, I’m interested in all sorts of design fields from print to information design, systems and product design, and fashion and architecture. Design feeds my curiosity about how people design themselves (life isn’t about finding yourself it’s about creating yourself…) and their lives.

Now as far as librarians go I’m a still hatchling, just starting to recognize patterns of what makes a great librarian. And what I’m finding about many of my colleagues and librarians I admire are the different directions their lives took and the different careers they had before coming to librarianship. And the different interests they have that influence their roles as librarians. This isn’t a new idea. Personally, I’m still amazed at how much librarianship has in common with web development. Those things that make great designers and developers translate almost effortlessly into what makes great librarians.

Allow me to elaborate.

AListApart is one of my favorite spots on the web. Their writers, designers, developers, and content strategists explore topics on best practices and standards across the web world. Ever hear of the responsive web? Ethan Marcotte wrote a now-famous article on responsive design back in 2011 that many cite as the foundation of the now standard practice. To summaries, Marcotte was reading about a shift in architectural design where building designers began creating spaces that respond to the people in them. That’s when he had an ah ha! moment. He realized that the future of web design and development shouldn’t be about forcing sites to fit on the devices and screens of users. Instead web workers should focus on creating adaptable sites.

Source: http://www.bosse-media.de/wp-content/uploads/responsive_webdesign.gif

Pretty amazing, right? That may be oversimplifying it, but the point is, this kind of forward-thinking, future-proofing creativity, brought on by Marcotte’s interests outside his field, are exactly what how I’ve seen librarians approach librarianship for years.

Public librarians may still follow many of the decade-old conventions regarding patron services, reader’s advisory, collection development, reference and instruction, etc., but while they are making book displays and running read-a-longs, many also focus on the changing landscapes of their communities in the age of the internet. They respond by having an interest in, learning about, and adapting services to meet technological, educational, economic, and environmental needs. And by doing so, they make a meaningful impact on their communities.

People come to librarianship from many different places. Teachers. Lawyers. Musicians. Writer. Artists. Book lovers. Students. It’s wonderful! And even those who decided to enter the library world right from college or without having worked anywhere other than the library, their passion for the profession and the outside interests they bring can only help keep our profession forward-thinking and future-proof.

What’s your library origin story? What interests do you bring to the library that impacts your community.

Online Annotation or I Freaking Love Diigo

diigo is amazing | ashleychasse.com I’m a pen and paper kind of gal, keeping a journal on the regular for nearly two decades. But as much as I love writing and keeping my thoughts analog, for the past couple of years I’ve looked for every different kind of annotation method and program to keep my reading, notes, and ideas organized. Almost to no avail. In fact I’ve tried everything from Commonplacing to Bullet Journaling to Evernoting and once tried something called Pomodoro (which makes me think of Italian comfort food). Nothing worked. All the while I was using a program called Diigo to keep track online research for class and work.

With time off between my final semester of grad school (eeeee!) it recently dawned on me that, duh! Ashley! the system you were looking for was right in front of you!


Diigo is an online bookmarking and annotation program. And it’s your personal web highlighter, bookmarker, and note-keeper. You can tag articles, write notes directly on a webpage, keep things public or private, and it’s free. There’s a lot more. You can learn all about it on their website http://diigo.com.

How do you stay organized online? Do you have any tricks? Programs you like to use? Let me know!

EDIT: If you’re interested, here’s my Diigo Public Library.

Paying 50 Years Worth of Library Fines is Not The Kind of Coverage We Need

Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the Library | ashleychasse.com
Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the Library, 2015

Google Alerts are amazing. Instead of spending time crawling the web for news on librarians, librarianship, programs, privacy, etc., Google takes care of it for me, leaving  me time to do the other librarian things I do. So imagine the eye-rolling annoyance that comes over me when I see the countless Google Alerts of late that amusingly cover stories like Son Pays 85 Years’ Worth of Library Fines or Library Book Returned After [Insert Number of Years Here]. It’s not that fluff news doesn’t have its place in the hearts and minds of readers. But this kind of clickbait is the opposite kind of the coverage libraries need right now.

But journalists, bloggers, and internet writers don’t know that. They know the nostalgia of a public library. They know what headlines get the best shares. They know how to write for the web (most of the time). What they don’t know is what you DO for a living. And why libraries are just as important as ever.

 So tell them!
Tell you local newspapers, bloggers, freelancers, school newspapers, journalist friends, friends with connections. In print. Online. It doesn’t matter! Pitch! Pitching an article isn’t arcane. Google it! You don’t even have to write the article. What’s important is the content. And context. Tell people we’re more than books and fines and messy buns and cat-eye glasses. Tell them what you provide for your community that isn’t well know. The large-print book collections, the homework help, the free WiFi, the classes, the tax help, the legal advice, the Veteran’s groups, the code clubs, the teen spaces, oh my god I could go on!
It’s always obvious to us what goes on in our libraries. But think about the times you’ve had to explain what you actually do everyday to someone outside the profession. Until we begin to share our stories and news about what makes our institutions so vital to our communities, the public at large can never really know what we’re good for.
Now let’s kick ass in 2017. And tell everyone about it!

The Professional Portfolio for LIS Students

As library students, we are not required to create a professional portfolio to graduate, but we should be. That’s a crazy thing to say, especially when there are so many requirements we already have: Homework. Assignments. Families. Jobs. Internships.Life. Why add one more to the mix?

Developing a professional portfolio is a worthwhile investment. It’s a way of organizing and sharing your educational and professional accomplishments. It is also a valuable tools that may help you secure an interview for a library job, get your name out in the library world, and be the 24/7 example of your expertise, experience, and dedication to the library profession. Beyond that, a professional portfolio is a well-organized kudos file to help you reflect on previous accomplishments and brainstorm new and exciting ideas.

What is a professional portfolio?

This seems like a stupid question to ask – we’re librarians: there are no stupid questions! – but it is important to define exactly what a professional portfolio is. In short, it is an online archive of your accomplishments both at school and in the field, highlighting your skills, knowledge, interests, and qualifications.

What goes in a portfolio?

Everything from your research papers to infographics should be included. Along with details on events or projects you’ve managed, shareable instructions for classes you’ve run, pictures of you in actions, video projects you’ve completed, etc. If it’s relevant to your current or future career as a librarian, it belongs in your portfolio.

Of course, I’m not just talking about library-only experiences. For example:

  • Were you on the board of a nonprofit or school organization?
  • Did you help your church/friends/business organize a fundraiser?
  • Were you the founder/leader of a book club?
  • Do you make your own beer?
  • Do you have a YouTube channel where you review movies, music, books?

You may not think there is value to including anecdotal or outside hobbies to your portfolio, but what people are looking for when they see your site is a person. Not a stereotype of the “perfect” librarian, but YOU, an awesome human being who also happens to be a librarian.

What doesn’t go in a portfolio?

I am just going to present you with my personal list of things not to include in your online portfolio. This is by no means comprehensive:

  • Very personal stories: like what you did on your 21st birthday.
  • Super sad anecdotes: like when your hamster ran away.
  • Really old content: that paper you wrote on imperialism in high school? Not relevant.
  • Other people’s information: unless you have their permission and it’s relevant.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? You are or will be a librarian. What you add to your portfolio should be relevant to that. You can make it fun, add the touch of personal; quotes you like, book reviews, reading lists, pictures. Just be sure it reflects who you are and what you bring to the profession.

How do I begin?

I believe it was Don Draper from Mad Men who said “make it simple, but significant.” When it comes starting your professional portfolio, that’s exactly what you should aim for.

How to begin:

  • Google Librarian Portfolios. See what other people have made. Get an sense of how you’d like your own site to look. Try drawing it out on paper. Once you have a good sense of what you want you can start building your own.
  • Pick a website service. A place where you can create a site for free or cheap that allows you enough freedom to make something nice, but doesn’t require you to be a coder — unless you want to. Here are a few free ones I’ve used in the past…
  • Get your resume in ship-shape to add to your portfolio.
  • Gather together the most important and relevant work you’ve done to date
  • Start posting. You can organize it any way you like. (I just blog about the stuff I do and categorize it for easy retrieval.)
  • Share you page with friends and colleagues for honest feedback.
  • Add a link to your portfolio to your resume, LinkedIn, business card, Twitter profile, etc.

Final thoughts

The purpose of a portfolio is not just for job searching or professional enhancement. It’s also a way for you to keep a record of everything you’ve done through school and into your professional life. Sometimes we are so focused on what needs to get done now that we lose track of what we’ve already accomplished. Don’t get hung up on the need for super-shiny perfectionism. Let your site develop naturally throughout the rest of your library school experience. By the time you graduate, you will have a kick-ass showcase of your kick-ass self.

Still have questions about professional portfolios? Already have an one you want to share? Post them both in the comments below!

This post was originally published for the Syracuse iSchool InfoSpace Blog.

Let’s Talk About Portfolios

I love Syracuse University iSchool. Not only do they provide an incredible educational environment for their students, they also host a number of career-oriented workshops for budding librarians. Today I got to speak at one of those session on building a librarian portfolio.

Thanks so much to Dr. Marilyn Arnone for kicking off the session and for the amazing ladies at LISSA for inviting me to speak.



Online Portfolio || Library Schooll || Ashley Chassé || ashley chasse.com

How to Interview for a Librarian Job

How to Interview for a Librarian Job || Library Jobs || ashleychasse.com

What do you do when you get the call to interview for a librarian job? Well, friends. Let me share with you what I did when I interviewed for the librarian job I have: web services librarian!

Role Play

The moment I got the call for an interview, I immediately asked my partner to help me prepare. We sat down at a table, I dressed up in my power suit, and he asked me questions you can almost guarantee will be asked at any library interview:

  • Why are you the right person for this job?
  • Describe a good/bad interaction you had with a patron and describe how you managed it.
  • Tell us a bit about what you know about this library.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What are your goals for this job?
  • Why do you want to be a librarian?

Get Your Answers on Paper

The mock interview we set up wasn’t a one-time deal. We repeated it several times. He asked me a question, and I responded.

When I got flustered, I would write down my responses. Although my responses usually started as paragraphs, I whittled them down to keywords or short sentences. These words served as triggers for more thoughtful responses. For example:

  • Q: Why do you want to be a librarian?
  • My trigger word: Impact
  • A: “I want to be a librarian to make a positive impact on my community … “

I refined my responses to the fundamental points I wanted to make. Eventually, I could nail the answers I wanted to give without the “um”s and “uh”s that normally trip me up.

Read or Watch What You’re Given

Before the interview, the library gave me several articles to read based on responsive design and coding. I didn’t just read them. I printed them out, highlighted important passages, wrote notes in the margins, and memorized key points I felt would be brought up in the interview. You’re not given articles for kicks – the interviewers want you to read them and prepare for the key facets of the job.

Practice Your Skills

In many cases, the interview will be more than sitting at a table answering questions. You will be given a task to complete. It could be a presentation based on a question (teach a lesson to 5th graders on credible web sources), a class focused on a particular audience, or a coding challenge. You won’t be asked to go in blind.

A few days before my interview, my interviewers gave me the coding challenge to complete at the interview. I practiced it over and over, knowing they would throw in a curve or two. During the actual interview, the curve threw me, and I made a mistake. But because I had practiced, I corrected the issue right away, and my speed and accuracy impressed my interviewers.

Learn About the Library

You need to learn as much as possible about the library before you interview. It isn’t a matter of impressing the interviewers on your knowledge. You want to gain as much insight into the workings of the library as possible.

In the end, you want to be sure their goals and policies align with yours. Learn about the:

  • Events and programs they run
  • People you might be working with
  • Boss you might be working for
  • Culture of the library

And remember to visit the damn place! I mean it. Go to the library. Walk around. Observe the staff and patrons. How you feel about a place will impact how much satisfaction you’ll get on the job.

Be Nervous, but Confident

That’s right! It’s okay to be nervous. Just remember to be confident, too. you’ve got this and you know your stuff. You were asked to interview for a reason. Being nervous is normal for anyone applying for any position in any profession. It shows you care about the job, you want it, and you are willing to work hard to get it. But remember:

“I know what I’m doing.”

Repeat that to yourself when you’re about to interview for that first (or any) library job you want. You sent in your resume and polished up your portfolio. You’re qualified.

As a new librarian who just went through the interview process: I am just as nervous, confused, and overwhelmed as everyone said I would be. One thing I can say with confidence is that the library hired me because I am a qualified and capable librarian.

You won’t get an interview for every application you submit to a librarian job opening. But as a famous hockey player once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Even if you interview but don’t get the job, you were qualified enough to get a shot at the position. So give yourself a hand! That’s no small feat in the hyper-competitive world of librarian jobs.

So submit your resume, prepare yourself, and blow the interviewers (and yourself) away!

This post was originally published for the Syracuse iSchool InfoSpace Blog.

Exciting News Is Exciting! (I’ve got a new job!)

Bob's Burgers Animated GIF of Excitment || ashleychasse.com
Source: https://media.giphy.com/media/e07y5SEwFMDm0/giphy.gif

I think it’s safe to say very few people declare their intentions of entering librarianship when they are kids. No one dresses in a cardigan and sports a tight bun an career day in kindergarten and tells their classmates they want to be a librarian when they grow up. Ok! Some of us do. But I’ve only met one person who fits that description. Everyone else came to the profession by happenstance, happy accident, over after years of soul searching and job hopping. I fall into the last category.

I’ve only been working in libraries for two years and still have a year to go until I finish my MLIS, but it feels like the last decade of my life has been preparing me for this field. I’ve work as a web manager, web production associate, technology and Google Apps trainer, web developer, and circulation specialist. Soon, I will take on my first professional role as the Web Services Librarian at Newton Free Library. I’ll be working in the reference department, which is awesome, and if I’m lucky I might actually get to work on developing STEAM programs. I am beyond thrilled!

Here’s to the next adventure.


Quotes We Share: Mark Twain

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain || Quotes || ashleychasse.com

In high school my mom and I began this odd and beautiful exchange of quotes via email. I had just opened my first email account (I don’t remember the address but I do know it was very teenage angsty). I’ve been out of high school a while, but I’ve kept every quote we shared. They are saved in a text file that now lives on my Google Drive. The only information I never thought to save were the dates we sent out quotes.

The first quote my mom ever sent me is one I’ve read hundreds of time and still makes me smile. It from Mark Twain, and I’m sure you’ve seen it too:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

I hope to share more quotes over time.


#IST646 Final Project.

Well. Here it is. My final project for IST646: Digital Storytelling. This was something I had talked about making for a while now, and now I’ve done it! The journey of a book from processing to patron. You’ve probably never thought about it. Neither did I. But there’s a lot that goes into getting materials from technical services to the stacks. I hope this helps demystifies the process.