Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Final Thoughts as I Retire and Leave the Profession of Reference Librarianship

I am writing this on Wednesday, December 20th, two days before my last day.  I am retiring from my position at NJIT and am also leaving the profession of reference librarianship.  I started this blog in August 2008 to reflect on my experience as a reference librarian.  As the years went by, the number of postings I have made has declined.  The reason for this is that number of reference questions has declined dramatically.  I remember years ago we used to get a steady flow of questions at the reference desk.  Now, at best there is a trickle of transactions with most of them being very simple questions about the availability of a specific book.  The dramatic decline of students who come in and ask for me has bothered me more.  Years ago a student would come in and say Professor X suggested that I come to see you to discuss my research.  This rarely happens these days.

The concept of information literacy has frustrated me greatly.  When I teach classes, I sense a disinterest or indifference by the students.  Perhaps they don’t take it seriously since their regular professor is not teaching this class.  At the end of each lecture, I show a slide which gives me name and contact information for students to reach me.  They rarely do.  I am being cynical by thinking that information literacy is a concept created by librarians in response to the declining reference transactions.  They must substantiate their existence.  I also feel that assessment of information literacy is an overkill.  It is a skill that is obtained over time and if it is to be evaluated, it should be done at the senior level by a standardized exam.

Students at a tech school are obviously “information savvy” and can search the database with minimal assistance.  It seems very often they just “Google away”.

I must admit that I am sorry that I stayed in this profession as long as I did.  I guess as people age, they become complacent and fear change.  I found out the hard way that it is difficult to make a career move at an older age.  For a 4 year period, I sent out resumes and interviewed at a few places.  It probably was just as well, that I didn’t change jobs since I really valued the job security that my university offered.  I was bored and frustrated, but at least wasn’t let go as I traveled on the dreaded career plateau.  I made the best of it by collaborating with a colleague at another university on research projects.  I am proud of my contributions to the American Chemical Society and the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

I have looked into some organizations that offer volunteer opportunities,  I will definitely not be a reference librarian again.

This will be my last post on this blog.  I will leave it up so I can share my thoughts with others.  I doubt if there are any regular readers to this blog since I have posted very sporadically over the past years.  If anyone wants to keep up with me they can do so on my personal blog

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Accepted for Publication

I got the word yesterday that the paper that I wrote with Selenay Aytac titled "Nobel, Priestley, and Perkin Medal Winners in Chemistry: Their Publication Productivity for the Years 1992-2016" was accepted for publication in Science & Technology Libraries.

I guess this will be my "Swan Song" as I will be retiring and leaving the profession in a month.  I guess I should leave the door open a little bit.  Maybe I will work or volunteer as a librarian in a different capacity.  I certainly don't want to be a reference librarian again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Last Lecture

On Monday, October 16 I gave my last scheduled class at NJIT.  It was my standard lecture on the literature of chemical engineering to graduate students.  I have given this once a year in the 25 years I have been there.  This class was limited to new students who have never heard my lecture before.

I explained that in order to become proficient in learning to use information resources, the students must follow up on what I taught them.  One can not learn to search Scifinder or any other database by just listening to someone.  This lecture was another disappointment as most students appeared disinterested.  On several occasions, I asked if there were any questions, but there were none.  A few student were rude by pecking away at their laptops.

There is nothing more I can do.  Hopefully, a few students gained something out of it.

Monday, September 25, 2017

I Announced My Retirement Today

Today, went to the Human Resources Department and filled out the necessary paperwork to retire as of January 1, 2018.  My last day of work will be Friday, December 22 which is the last day before the holiday break.  My career spanned about 41 years including 3 years as a chemist and 38 years of a librarian.  My early career was checkered, but I ended up with 25 years at NJIT.  I am 68 years old an want to enjoy whatever time the good Lord has given me.  Thankfully, I am in good health and will spend my time doing what I really enjoy.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Today is My 25th Anniversary at the NJIT Library

Where did all these years go?  Sometimes it seems like it has been forever since I started at the NJIT Library on September 14, 1992, and other times it seems like yesterday.  The university has certainly grown tremendously over a quarter of a century.  The student body is much larger than it was back then and there are much more buildings on campus now.  The Wellness and Event Center is nearing completion which will hopefully attract more students.  There has been so much technological change over 25 years.  Back then the internet was in its infancy with primitive e-mail and slow and text based browsers.

Time marches on.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Random Comments for August

It’s the end of August as we are only one week away from the beginning of the fall semester.  There were more people on campus today as the International Students Orientation was taking place.  Today I arranged for my first lecture of the new semester.  It will be in Chemical Engineering 396 where I give a general introduction to the literature of the discipline.  My feeling is that undergraduates don’t use the primary literature as they learn mostly from textbooks and laboratory manuals.

This will likely be my last semester at NJIT as my plan right now is to retire at the end of 2017.  I have worked for 41 years since I got my masters in chemistry and 25 years at the same employer.  At least I finally established a stable employment record.  Back when I first started in the 1970s, I had a checkered job history, but eventually, things worked out.

I think it’s time to transition to the world of rest and relaxation.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Opening for Associate University Librarian at NJIT

Associate University Librarian for Digital Services at NJIT

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) seeks applications and nominations for the position of Associate University Librarian for Digital Services.

Position Summary:
The Associate University Librarian (AUL) for Digital Services is the chief technology officer for the university libraries. The AUL reports to the University Librarian and has overall responsibility for the management, operations, and direction of technical services, including: collection budget, acquisitions, cataloging, and metadata creation; digital initiatives including digitization projects, preservation, and scholarly communication; and library information systems.

Qualifications Summary:
The ideal candidate must possess an ALA-accredited MLS/MLIS or equivalent degree; a minimum of five years of administrative experience including responsibilities in staff management, technical services, digital and information systems in an academic library, with demonstrated ability to lead, evaluate and direct staff through organizational change. Candidates must also have a track record of demonstrated leadership, strong analytical and decision-making skills, with the capacity to anticipate and adapt to priorities and the changing needs of an academic library.

University Libraries:
The Robert W. Van Houten Library, NJIT’s university library, houses a core collection of print books, group study rooms and has an Information Commons computer lab with more than 120 computer workstations and wireless access throughout the building. The Barbara and Leonard Littman Architecture, Art and Design Library, a branch of the university library, maintains a core collection of architecture, art, and design resources. The Libraries have a staff of 24, who are committed to developing innovations in access services, information literacy, and digital initiatives. The Libraries operate with a budget of $4.4 million and spend over 90% of the materials budget to acquire electronic resources for anytime, anywhere access. The collection comprises over 390,000 volumes with 34 full-text databases, over 55,000 electronic journals, 168,000 ebooks, and 222,000 physical holdings.

Application Procedure:
Apply at, posting #0604065.  In addition to a cover letter and vitae, candidates are asked to submit a one-page summary of their vision for an evolving digital and technology strategy to provide 21st century library resources and services in support of 2020 Vision: A Strategic Plan for NJIT.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a candidate is selected. Only candidates of interest will be contacted.

To build a diverse workforce, NJIT encourages applications from individuals with disabilities, minorities, veterans, and women. EEO employer.