This Fellow Reflection was written by Treshani Perera (@LibConfLady), recent MLIS graduate and Music and Fine Arts Cataloging Librarian at University of Kentucky Little Fine Arts Library (starting Jan 2018). She received an ARL+DLF Forum Fellowship to attend the Forum.
It has been a month since the 2017 DLF Forum ended and a year since my first DLF Forum. I attended the 2016 Forum during a time of uncertainty and sorrow – trying to narrow down career options going into my last full year of graduate school and learning about a former library supervisor’s untimely death the same day as the 2016 Presidential Election results were announced. I was in my “home” town and had the fortune of going home to my partner and sharing my fears and concerns as an immigrant and person of color, but for almost all DLF Forum attendees that week posed a different reality. On the second day of the Forum, I left my apartment in Milwaukee and walked into The Pfister Hotel with a heavy heart, but throughout the day I was reminded, session in session out, that I was in a place of care and solidarity and among people with similar values and a passion to “do better”.
That inspiring first DLF Forum experience was the sole motivation to come back this year! I completed my MLIS degree in August 2017 and was on job search process at the time of submitting my DLF Fellowship Application. I had encountered multiple job rejection letters – three emails in one weekend! – and I needed one little miracle to restore my faith and potential in this career path! I was ecstatic to learn that I was awarded an ARL+DLF Fellowship while preparing for an in-person interview for a “dream job” (which I ended up getting, by the way!); the award to attend the 2017 DLF Forum was an instant confidence booster! An ARL Diversity Fellowship made it possible for me to leave a failing-but-still-hoping-for-a-break career as a freelance musician and become a librarian, which had been a dream since 2011, and now an ARL-DLF partnership was making it possible to keep my spirits alive through a really hard job search process (not to mention that I was working three jobs, totaling to 60+ hours a week, at the time).
In case you’re still reading this reflection and wondering, “What’s her point? Reliving the past?”, Yes, to some extent. Being able to attend the 2017 forum meant so much to me because of how the 2016 Forum had shaped and inspired me to seek opportunities and networking connections outside of my comfort zone. At the 2016 forum, I lurked in the back of the room during the DLF Metadata Working Group luncheon meeting, which inspired me to look closely into career options in cataloging and metadata. I learned about personal digital archiving, which then blossomed into helping local musicians be more cognizant of their own personal practices into archiving. Most importantly, I made new professional connections that uplifted and encouraged me all year long, long after the forum and friendly professional conversations had ended. In the last year, I continued to reach out to several DLF members for career advice, inspiration, and encouragement during a year of changes and challenges, both professionally and personally.
There were a few themes that piqued my interest during this year’s forum. The session that made the most impact, at a very personal level, was the the Resisting Imposter Syndrome Lunch Workshop (#m2d) with Bess Sadler (@eosadler). For anyone interested in content explored during the workshop, the material comes from the Ada Initiative Imposter Syndrome Training documentation. I can confidently say that I experienced a mental and emotional transformation from being an under-valued and over-worked recent graduate to recognizing my value as a professional, albeit a new one, as I am transitioning to my first professional librarian position post-MLIS.
Many of the sessions I attended allowed me the opportunity to start thinking of myself as a cataloging and metadata librarian and dig deep into areas directly and indirectly related to my future position as the Music and Fine Arts Cataloging Librarian at the University of Kentucky Little Fine Arts Library. I attended sessions related to cataloging, metadata, and linked data covering current and future trends and projects in these areas. I really enjoyed the two-hour Metadata Migration Workshop (#t5e) with real-world examples, covering the gamut of data migration from project management to data clean-up tools and workflows, allocation of labor, and everything in between. The documentation and workshop exercises were created with care for any librarian (and not just technical services staff) that may find themselves in a data migration project in any size library, and the session gave me lots to think about my current work in data clean up and catalog management.
This was my last tweet during the DLF 2017 Forum, aptly summarizing what this professional community has proved to be since my first forum in 2016. A sense of belonging comes from being able to actively contribute content and knowledge across all LIS disciplinary areas, and the DLF community has been consistent in facilitating a venue for its members to not only be authentic in their expression of self but also to care for others through ownership and personal investment. Thank you to Bethany Nowviskie, staff at DLF and CLIR, the program committee, and all the presenters that led by example of what it means to be a professional community that puts its mission first: “advancing research, learning, social justice, & the public good” as they apply to digital libraries and the work performed by librarians in this area.