Technology Stuff

The VLA News – May 2012 issue is hot off the presses. Below is my editorial, wherein I discover a magic balm for my student loan debt:

If you pursued higher education, especially in the last decade or two, then you’re likely in the same boat as me. My boat is barely staying afloat! I’m talking debt here; staggering I-can’t-believe-I’m-not-a-lawyer-at-this-price-point debt. Among the reasons someone might not get an MLS, the vast majority just can’t afford it. Those of us that were willing to mortgage our futures are finding there isn’t a chance we’ll ever recoup those expenses.

But lo! There actually is real hope, real help! I found out about it in the most unlikely way: at Essex Cinemas’ Throwback Thursdays for the showing of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I ran into an old friend from high school and the subject of continuing education and our respective debt loads came up. She works for the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) and was shocked that I didn’t know about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).

I looked it up and thought I couldn’t be qualified and I’ll tell you why: semantics. When I read the description of the program, it listed “public education or public library services” and “school library and other school-based services” as qualifying. In libraryland “school” means something different than it does to the federal government. As an academic librarian, I might have assumed I wasn’t eligible. Good thing I asked, because now there is a bright light at the end of a very dark tunnel!

As someone who is on an Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan for loans, mine are getting bigger every year. However, since I’ve consolidated my loans with Federal Direct Consolidation Loans, which is required and saved me money anyway, PSLF will forgive my loans after 10 years of qualifying payments during full-time employment at any kind of school or public library. My IBR counts and payments need not be consecutive but don’t begin until I start paying with Direct. I just have to have my HR department sign a form that verifies my employment, though I confess I haven’t done this part yet so it still feels too good to be true! So, instead of dying with these loans, I might actually be able to shed them in my early 40s. I mean, retirement might actually be on the table for the first time! And that is worth crowing about.

Additionally, there are some options for getting your MLS that are less expensive. First, you get a 20% discount at Drexel as a member of VLA. Second, the University of Southern Connecticut recently announced that they’re offering in-state tuition rates to out-of-state students if they start their program this summer, which applies to the Information & Library Science Department. Lastly, if you are looking to start or finish up your BA so that you can get an MLS, Simmons now offers a four year combo degree, which saves you having to pay separately for your BA and MLS.

So, if you have student loans that have kept you from getting your MLS, or if you got it and you are drowning in it, or you’re afraid to take on loans because of all the stories about heartbreaking levels of debt, don’t despair. There’s hope for all of us!

Helen Linda
VLA News Editor/Editorial Committee Chair
NETSL President
Systems & Tech Services Librarian, Goddard College

If you want to receive the current issue of the VLA News, you need to be an active member of VLA. You can read VLA News Back Issues at the VLA Website regardless of whether you are a member or not.

The VLA News – May 2011 issue is hot off the presses. Below is my editorial, wherein the New England Technical Services Librarians have an amazing, provocative, invigorating conference (totally not biased ;-P):

Nobody loves a conference like I do! They’re an infusion of theory and practice on the cutting edge. It’s important to occasionally break from the day to day to look out on the horizon of libraryland. Our profession is evolving so rapidly that it’s never been more necessary to embrace change. The New England Technical Services Librarians (NETSL) 2011 Conference was a provocative call to arms for all librarians, not just those of us in tech services.

A few salient points from the NETSL Conference:

1) Lean into your discomfort – An individual attitude adjustment is where it starts. Let’s choose to change our minds. Instead of anticipating failure, choose to expect success. To do otherwise simply creates fear and makes both libraries and librarians obsolete. A positive culture must also be fostered by institutional leadership. If leadership dares to greet change with faith instead of skepticism, staff will be less likely to shy away from the challenge.

2) Do less with less – Staff and budgets are too thin to do more with less. Outsource copy cataloging, get shelf-ready materials from consolidated vendors, try patron driven acquisitions, trim extraneous steps from policies and procedures. Free up staff to do what only they can do and focus on materials that only you can provide. Rethink local control. Pour energy into umbrella projects like the Green Mountain Library Consortium (GMLC). Focusing collective resources on one project, instead of creating parallel/competing projects, will save money and time while generating cohesion in the library community.

3) Be the geeks – Libraries are not the only credible source of information on the web. Our niche should be having the best and fastest tools to access the most credible sources. We need to reinvent the environment. Instead of continuing to cede search capability and computer expertise to Google, learn to code! Learn how our tools behave across technologies and make them better. Use social media to reach users where they are. The Department of Libraries Vermont’s 23 Things is a fantastic hands-on crash course in new media.

4) Learn Everything – Make use of webinars. Many are free, but even paid webinars are easier to budget for than conferences. If you can make it to conferences, focus on topics that will help your whole organization. Bring back fresh ideas and share them so everyone benefits. Join or start local interest groups and encourage them to make meetings available remotely. Fight for professional development. Being the best we can be for our organization includes identifying and acquiring skills needed to evolve with the profession.

I would add that librarians face the dual challenge of advancing the profession while bridging the digital divide. Absence of infrastructure forces many Vermont libraries to remain analog while the world becomes digital. Those of us both with and without high-speed access need to hold government and service providers accountable to the promise of statewide broadband. Find an existing effort through the Vermont Rural Broadband Project or gather your patrons and start your own!

Helen Linda
VLA News Editor/Editorial Committee Chair
NETSL Vice President / President Elect
Systems & Tech Services Librarian, Goddard College

If you want to receive the current issue of the VLA News, you need to be an active member of VLA. You can read VLA News Back Issues at the VLA Website regardless of whether you are a member or not.

When I saw this I got so excited I nearly had kittens! There is a browser add-on for Gmail (also for Outlook) that puts an Unsubscribe button in the menu bar for emails. It enables you to tell the software to figure out how to unsubscribe you from listservs, email lists, etc. instead of ferreting that info out and losing all that time doing it one by one.

On the free version, you get 5 unsubscribes a month with the option to upgrade to unlimited unsubscribes for a fee (though at that point one would have to wonder why you are subscribing to all of these things in the first place if you don’t want them ;P)


Also, as a delightful aside, you can now stream Netflix through your PS3 & Wii without a disc! Please see instructions in Netflix for details.

It’s about time!

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