Communication. Each graduate of the Master of Library and Information Science program is able to demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for professional work including collaboration and presentations.
“Communication is one of those things that everyone has an idea of, and many ideas share similarities, but the basic definition of communication is hard to represent,” Hussey points out in Library Management 101: A Practical Guide. “It is dissemination of information, and yet this is only part of it. It is both speaking and listening, but there is still more involved. It includes the mode of delivery, word choice, body language and facial expressions, and anything else that has an influence on how a message is sent and received” (2013, p. 109). Stemming from Latin communicare “to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in,” literally “to make common,” related to communis (see common)—communication is about sharing information with others and creating a shared meaning.
“Today’s library is less about what we have for people and more about what we do for (and with) people,” Rich and Feldman observe. “This distinction is important because communicating the value of the library professional is the only way to ensure our future viability. We must tell the story in a way that resonates with the customer, attracts talent to the profession, and secures funding from key stakeholders” (2015). In the new reality, library and information professionals are expected to be skilled communicators. This skill is reflected in the profession’s core competencies. Librarians working in school, academic, public, special, and governmental libraries are expected to be skilled in effective communication techniques (oral and written) and knowledgeable of the history of human communication and its impact on libraries, according to American Library Association (2009, pp. 1-2). Special Libraries Association, in turn, mandates that information professionals possess enabling competencies, with effective oral and written communication, including influencing skills; and relationship building, networking, and collaboration, including the ability to foster respect, inclusion, and communication among diverse individuals (2016).
Types of communication
There exist various types of communication, such as formal and informal communication; interpersonal and group, or networked, communication; verbal and nonverbal communication; oral and written communication, etc. “Interpersonal communication is generally broken down into either oral or written, which can be formal or informal,” Hussey explains (ibid., p. 112). Oral communication is also referred to a spoken communication. It tends to be less formal than written communication: “almost every written communication has a formal component, as it provides a record of the communication,” the author argues. “Oral communication, on the other hand, is more often informal than formal. If an oral communication is a formal communication, it is documented in some way, such as a written record or witnesses to the communication” (ibid., p. 116).
While in the MLIS program, I had the opportunity to practice and fine-tune my communication skills in every class, working both independently and as part of a team. While participating in the course discussion forums, I based my communication on the principles of collaboration, professionalism, relationship building, inclusion, respect, and appreciation of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds of my classmates. In order to work successfully on group projects, effective communication is a key; in the online environment it manifests itself not only in good interpersonal skills and the ability to express thoughts clearly and concisely, but also in the proactive approach to discussions with peers and instructor, and participatory learning culture, overall. Maintaining regular and effective online communication with course instructors and classmates has allowed me to stay engaged, in a positive and meaningful way, with the MLIS community.
Furthermore, I learned not only to communicate effectively, but also to use communication tools, such as learning content management system discussion forums, web conferencing tools, Blackboard IM, WordPress, and others. The evidence I present below demonstrates, in particular, the oral and written communication skills I have practiced throughout the program, including the ability to produce presentations and collaborate with others.
To support my skills in this competency, I present the following examples of my work:
- The Personal Skills Needed to Succeed as an Online Student and as a Member of an Online Team blog from LIBR 203 (Online Social Networking: Technology and Tools)
- The Emerging Library Technology Implementation Report assignment from INFO 241 (Automated Library Systems)
- The Instructional Unit Proposal Introduction assignment from INFO 250 (Design and Implementation of Instructional Strategies for Information Professionals)
- My discussion forum participation from INFO 241 (Automated Library Systems)
LIBR 203 blog, Personal Skills Needed to Succeed as an Online Student and as a Member of an Online Team
The first piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency M is a blog I wrote for the LIBR 203 (Online Social Networking: Technology and Tools) class, Personal Skills Needed to Succeed as an Online Student and as a Member of an Online Team. Blogs have become an integral part of the information landscape. They are used for personal and professional communication, providing an opportunity to publish own ideas and share information with others. In this assignment, we were tasked with investigating a variety of social networking platforms, setting up a WordPress blog, and writing a blog post. In the blog post, I present my reflections on the personal skills needed to succeed as an online student and as a member of an online team. My feedback is based on the LIBR 203 tips for success, the readiness assessment surveys by SJSU SLIS (Is Online Right for You?) and San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) (Online Learning Readiness Assessment), and the expert presentations: Working in Teams by Ken Haycock (2007) and The Monster Inside Library School: Student Teams by Enid Irwin (n.d.).
This piece of evidence showcases my understanding of the importance of effective communication skills to the library profession, including both interpersonal and group, or networked, communication. Learning about the criteria of successful teamwork and useful techniques of managing team conflict better equipped me with strategies for success in the future group projects. Finally, it was thanks to this assignment that I learned how to work with WordPress—a free, open-source content management system. The WordPress skills has proven to be instrumental at the end of my MLIS journey, having informed my choice of a platform suitable for satisfying the SJSU requirements for a culminating experience—my e-Portfolio web site, on which I have demonstrated mastery of all program learning outcomes (core competencies) for the degree before graduation.
INFO 241 Emerging Library Technology Implementation Report
The second piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency M is an Emerging Library Technology Implementation Report assignment from INFO 241 (Automated Library Systems – Topic: Emerging Technologies). In this paper, I present a report on the implementation of linked open data at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Libraries. Following the overview of the Libraries’ digital collections and their user needs, as well as history of linked open data (LOD), this paper focuses on the LOD implementation at UNLV, by way of transformation of the local digital collection metadata into linked data using open-source technologies. This analysis is mainly supported by the LOD implementation reports published by the UNLV team, as well as additional professional and scholarly reports from the field.
This piece of evidence demonstrates my written communication skills, in particular as they relate to producing library technology reports. The excellent score I received for this assignment proves that I am capable of writing professional reports with 100% grammatical correctness, clarity of prose style, and quality of critical evaluation—both evaluation of pertinent literature and of the particular technology in question.
INFO 250 Instructional Unit Proposal Introduction assignment
The third piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency M is an Instructional Unit Proposal Introduction assignment from INFO 250 (Design and Implementation of Instructional Strategies for Information Professionals). Here, I present a video introduction to a proposal of an academic library instructional unit I wrote for the INFO 250 class, WorldCat Basics for College Freshmen. The purpose of this video is to introduce my instructional unit proposal on a discussion forum and serve as a gateway to subsequent peer review of the proposal by fellow INFO 250 classmates. I used PowerPoint and the Open Broadcaster Software to produce this video presentation.
From this assignment, I learned to design video introductions to instructional unit proposals for information literacy programs. This piece of evidence demonstrates my oral communication skills and the ability to use technology tools necessary for producing professional, visually appealing presentations.
INFO 241 Discussion Forum Participation
The fourth piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency M is a record of my participation in the discussion forum of the INFO 241-11 (Automated Library Systems – Topic: Current Expansions of the ILS (E-Books, Social Media)) class. Discussion topics featured in this artifact include Self-Introduction, Library OPAC Discovery Layers, Virtual Reference Services, E-book Experience, and Mobile Applications in Libraries and Beyond.
While participating in the discussion forum, not only did I gain knowledge about the current expansions of the integrated library systems, I also had the opportunity to partake in the participatory learning culture of the online learning environment. My own discussion posts presented here, along with the replies to my classmates, demonstrate my written communication skills, as well as the interpersonal and group communication skills, based on the principles of collaboration, professionalism, relationship building, and collegiality, including the ability to foster respect and inclusion among diverse individuals.
While discussing the future of libraries, Stephen Abram, vice president of strategic relationships and markets for Gale Cengage Learning, predicts that communication, collaboration, and social networking will play a critical role in the library in 2020. “A key service of librarians in 2020 is the personal-information consultation—more far reaching than traditional transactional reference but based in the offer of transformational advice underpinned by good research and content,” the author forecasts. “Communication in libraries will be centered on the modern reference-interview exploration, and thousands of initiatives in virtual reference are still reaching real fruition” (Abram, 2013, pp. 44-45).
As I position my role in the library of tomorrow, I understand that the ability to communicate effectively using different types of communication and modes of delivery is essential for library and information professionals in the design and delivery of information services to diverse audiences, with equal importance across the entire spectrum of library professions, be it an academic reference librarian, a library technology specialist, a library consortia administrator, or a youth librarian in a small public library. I recognize the importance of effective communication and teamwork for our service to the community, as well as the need to evolve into an even more effective communicator and team player in the future.
Abram, S. (2013). II. People. Chapter Six. In J. Janes (Ed.). Library 2020: Today’s leading visionaries describe tomorrow’s library (pp. 41-48). Lanham : The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
American Library Association. (2009). ALA’s Core Competencies of Librarianship. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/sites/ala.org.educationcareers/files/content/careers/corecomp/corecompetences/finalcorecompstat09.pdf
Hussey, L. K. (2013). Organizational communication. In D.L. Velasquez (Ed.). Library management 101: A practical guide (pp. 107-120). Chicago, IL : ALA Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.
Irwin, E. (n.d.). The Monster Inside Library School: Student Teams, PowerPoint Lecture. Accessed via the LIBR 203 course materials at San José State University.
Rich, H., & Feldman, S. (2015, June 9). Transforming the library profession: Recruiting librarianship’s best and brightest. American Libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/06/09/transforming-the-library-profession/
Special Libraries Association. (2016, April 13). Competencies for Information Professionals. Retrieved from https://www.sla.org/about-sla/competencies/