E-Portfolio Reflection Paper
3 March 2012
At the dawn of my graduate school career I was considering a career change. After a decade in publishing I thought I might prefer a dramatic shift toward library science with, perhaps, an emphasis in archives.
That was my intention in my first semester. The early artifacts in my portfolio reflect that sincere interest in archives and preservation, particularly the paper I wrote, On the Society of American Archivists and the Future of Archiving; the pathfinder I compiled, View-Master Viewers and Reels (a hobby that I was interested in “practicing” my new archiving skills on); and my research on the archives at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio that resulted in a poster presentation and display.
My portfolio reflects the changing nature of my interests in information science.
While I still find archives an important and interesting field of study, my emphasis changed as my personal and professional life evolved. I was laid off from my publishing job in the middle of my graduate school journey and found myself at a crossroads—I could jump into library science or continue to look for publishing work. As luck would have it, I found a strange place in between.
I took LIS 770 and enjoyed it much more than I was expecting. It was the best of the core classes, in my opinion. I discovered a world beyond archiving and public libraries. I enjoyed thinking about the big picture in terms of organizations and information. I switched tracks and decided to pursue a knowledge management certificate. This was prompted in part by my success and interest in LIS 770 but also by the fact that I was picking up clients and starting my own freelance editing business. Clients were interested in technology, content management systems, web development, and big picture thinking. And, it turned out, so was I.
During LIS 770 I wrote Managing Green: Library Management, Environmentalism, and Economic Reality Collide in Public Libraries. It was a turning point in my education. It combined my background—writing about architecture and green building—with my interest in change management and the future of public spaces.
From there, I took what was for me the best class at Dominican: LIS/GSB 624, Organizational Analysis with Molly Burke. I learned a great deal about the way organizations work. Among the projects I completed for the class was a case study on Proctor and Gamble. I would never look at organizations and corporate culture from the same perspective again.
I also took LIS 880, Knowledge Management. We reviewed numerous case studies and relevant literature that culminated in a long “journal” totaling over 40 pages of analysis and reflection on knowledge management. Having nearly all of my thoughts on a given topic in a single file allowed me to consider all I’d learned and the ways in which those lessons might apply to my burgeoning freelance editing and consulting career.
During the time that my interest had turned to the business and theory end of library science, I was also immersed in learning new skills to add to my resume, including HTML, CSS, content management administration, and much more. I created two websites that are not beautiful but are functional and are stepping stones to greater technical skill and knowledge. Given the skills I brought to the table when I began this journey, they are singular accomplishments despite their seemingly rudimentary nature. I made a personal website for my business, www.rebeccakilbreath.com, and then I made a more advanced website on the same topic: http://786s07.learningdoingsharing.com.
I learned basic HTML, built on that with CSS, and learned a little PHP. From there, I learned about Drupal (a content management system) and content modules and website design and evaluation.
These skills contributed directly to advancements in my career as one of my clients has made me their web editor, responsible for utilizing knowledge management skills in maximizing their website content and traffic. I also inferface with Drupal’s main competitor—Joomla—on a daily basis. I use my content management system skills to improve the frequency of updates and therefore the freshness of my client’s website. I was part of a team that launched their new website, did troubleshooting for them, and continues to de-bug the site on an ongoing basis in addition to posting new content regularly. Because of my success in those areas, the company has also made me a project manager, spearheading webinars and other web-based activities.
The evolution of my interest in information science is evident in my portfolio, and reflects the real-world work opportunities I am encountering.
I hope to continue to employ the knowledge I have gained at Dominican with clients in the future. I would love to start a community of practice in a future position. The paper I wrote, Communities of Practice: A Knowledge Management Power Tool, provides an overview of what a community of practice is, sample case studies, and criticisms related to communities of practice. This is an area that is still ripe for development and I look forward to employing this tool in the future. It’s one of the strongest pieces in my portfolio, I believe.
During my time at Dominican, I have come to appreciate many aspects of library science and librarianship that I had not given much thought to previously. I am looking forward to graduating and pursuing a career track that is not exactly typical of library students but I will continue to support public libraries in any way I can, including volunteering my time and energy.
One of the ways I plan to extend information science in my personal realm is in advocacy and education. I educate my clients on how they can better communicate to their audience, either online or in print. I provide concise and clear social media representation, and I find the best way to provide access to information is via clear communication. It’s our job to create a bridge from information to individuals in our communities.
The first paper I wrote for graduate school was a response to the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The concept of new technology providing access to information but not necessarily knowledge has been a theme throughout my graduate school education. The fact of the matter is that people are barraged with information on a daily basis and it’s our job as information science professionals to help weed out the noise, provide clear pathways to information, operate with informational integrity, and do it all with a strong sense of service and purpose.
That is what I will take from my time at Dominican.