Hello! I’m Catherine James and this is my second semester as a UA SLIS student. I’m a lifelong resident of Tennessee and currently I’m a full-time graduate student. My personal interests include reading, gardening, and teaching first and second-graders in Sunday School. Both my undergraduate degree and prior master’s degree are in history from the University of North Alabama. My master’s thesis was entitled “Birmingham’s Culture of Fear: How a Southern City Experienced the 1918 Influenza Epidemic” and I integrated information across a wide spectrum, encompassing geography, history, medicine, law, government, African-American studies, women’s studies, religion, and popular culture.
My interest in librarianship arose from my student work experience as an admissions and financial aid assistant. In that capacity, I served people’s information needs, including helping to fill out applications, answering telephone inquiries, and explaining degree-specific course requirements, and I provided support to a diverse student body, whether first-generation enrollees or non-traditional students. From the variety of institutions where I conducted research and the range of sources I consulted to my integration of a large amount of data into a cohesive project, my thesis also confirmed my desire to know more about the librarian’s role as a disseminator of information in society. Finally, as a pediatric cancer survivor, I know firsthand the power of good information to positively shape someone’s future, enabling healthier and better-informed decisions.
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT LS 560 & MY IT FLUENCY LEVEL
When I think about information technology, Alexander Graham Bell, NASA and mission control, IBM, men wearing dark-rimmed glasses and pocket protectors, and Thomas Friedman’s globalization treatise The World Is Flat come to mind. I would neither classify myself as technology-phobic nor highly tech-savvy. I have mastered basic IT skills such as Microsoft applications and email. While I consider myself capable in the intermediate IT concepts category including database searching, I know that I need instruction at the advanced intellectual fluency level. I view this class as offering necessary and important knowledge for any future LIS job. Last semester, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed learning about the more technical aspects of information organization in LS 500 and I look forward to this class building upon that knowledge. As far as class topics, I am particularly interested in information access, or how information technology can be used to prioritize certain users or user experiences at the expense of other population segments, genders, or age groups.
MY PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNOLOGY FOR INFORMATION WORK
I believe that people expect to have librarians as backup when they are frustrated in their searches or just do not want to do the research themselves. In my opinion, librarians must integrate the human factor of why people seek information, its relative worth to them, and how they intend to use their findings. Only then can information systems attempt to serve all users and their varied information needs. Personally, I think that librarians could help people find more material or better data if their role shifted from being a gatekeeper of information to being an expert fireman/woman, showing people how to aim and control the hose of information.
MY USER PROFILE ACTIVITY
My mom, Nita, graciously agreed to be the subject of my user profile activity. She’s a Baby Boomer and she started using IT while working in public school library. My mom’s first IT encounter was assisting in retrospective conversion from the library’s card catalog to an electronic catalog and circulation system as well as helping students take computer-based accelerated reading tests.
Here are my IT Fluency questions and her answers:
- Do you use email? Yes.
- Can you create a document in Microsoft Word? Yes, a basic one.
- Do you reply to text messages? Yes.
- Do you send attachments through email? No. Do you know that you can? Yes, I’m aware of that possibility.
- Do you order clothes online at retailers’ websites? Frequently!
- Do you use Google to find information? No. You do searches for me.
- Do you take selfies and then post them on Facebook? No, never.
- Do you install and maintain anti-virus software on your computer? No, I usually ask you to take care of that for me.
- Did you Google the BBB for recommendations of reputable HVAC installers or did you look in the printed Yellow Pages? I looked in the Yellow Pages.
My mom has strong basic IT skills, some familiarity with conceptual knowledge such as filling out an online order form at LL Bean, and her intellectual fluency level is on par with that of most Baby Boomer digital immigrants. I routinely act as her “Google” when she needs information! Overall, my mom sees information technology as simplifying her life, but at this point in her life there are many more things she would prefer to do rather than spend time increasing her IT Fluency capabilities.