Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Member Profile: Astrid Lange

For the past ten years, Astrid has had an exciting library career as a news librarian for the Toronto Star's news library.

Astrid finds her work environment to be very exciting and engaging. She loves to work with different people and is happiest when she is able to research a variety of topics. Astrid has become a "jack of all trades" when it comes to research as she is just as proficient at researching sports as she is national news.

The Toronto Star's work environment is also very deadline driven. Due to the increasing speed of information production, deadlines have become increasingly shorter for both reporters and the librarians at the Toronto Star. In the past Astrid may have had a few day to compile research for a reporter's story, but now reporters may need the same information within a half hour. Due to this, prioritization is a very important aspect of Astrid's career.

Astrid's time at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information Sciences (FIS) also helped to prepare her for a career in news librarianship, as the program offered a variety of courses. For example, taking courses on government publications, legal librarianship, and online information retrieval helped her become a more effective news librarian. Astrid also took the time to develop her technology skills with courweb design and databases. While Astrid felt that her studies at FIS helped her develop a well-rounded knowledge base of best practices in librarianship, she did comment that a course on pedagogy would have been extremely useful. She has found that as electronic sources have become more important in the realm of information, she spends a lot of time teaching users how to navigate various databases and perform effective online searches.

Astrid advises future librarians to not only be well-rounded in your studies, but to also be involved in clubs, activities, and professional associations. In fact, Astrid found her involvement with the student chapter of CASLIS to be instrumental in helping her to network and develop useful skills. When she became the student liaison for CASLIS, her chapter decided to build a website. Since she had recently taken a web design class at FIS, she eagerly put her new skills into practice. Through this experience she was able to meet a variety of students and library professionals and developed a number of strong friendships that she still maintains today.

Some other words of wisdom stem from the manner in which Astrid started working for the Toronto Star. Instead of waiting for job postings to show up on employment websites, Astrid was proactive and decided to scout out a number of organizations she was interested in working for. By sending a cover letter and resume to the Toronto Star, she was able to secure a summer internship. She made a fantastic impression and this eventually led to her becoming a full-time employee when she graduated.

Astrid's final advice is for students to think long and hard about where they would like to work and what type of experience they are hoping to gain. Even if your chosen organization is not hiring, it is always worthwhile to cold call the organization or send out a resume. But before you email a resume and cover letter, make sure to emphasize why you like the company or library, so that they remember who you are when it comes time for the organization to hire.

Profile by Stephanie Quail
iSchool MI Candidate

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