Five Questions for Peter Whiting about NASIG

Interview conducted by Camelia Naranch in an email exchange with Peter Whiting, September 9-14, 2011.

Camelia: When did you join NASIG and what prompted you to do so?

Peter: I first learned about NASIG when I took a class that focused on serials for my Masters in Library Science. When I took the serials class it was the same year that NASIG had its annual conference in Chicago and since I was in library school at Dominican University that is locate in a suburb of Chicago. The professor who was teaching the class was very active in NASIG so he asked the class of future librarians for volunteers to help at NASIG. The big issue that year in 1992 was the unbelievable increases in serials and what to do about it. Seems like some issues never go away!

C: Do you attend the annual conferences and if so, how often? What are they like?

P: My first NASIG was in 1992 as a student volunteer. Four years later in my first professional library job I attended the 1996 NASIG conference at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. I have been fortunate to attend each NASIG conference since then. I enjoy the NASIG conference because it is a conference that is not overwhelming with the right amount of people. Attending the conference is a great opportunity to learn about serials issues that I might not learn about in a listserv or reading a journal article.

C: Have you played a part in running the organization by serving on committees or performing similar work?

P: Volunteering has been a good way for me to meet others that involved in serials. Not only have I met other librarians, but this has given me the opportunity to meet vendors and publishers. I have been involved in a task force, committee work and leadership in NASIG. That has helped me grow as a professional.

My first opportunity to serve NASIG was on the Horizon award task force. I then went on to serve on the Awards & Recognition Committee, the Bylaws Committee, and the Conference Planning Committee for the conference in Denver and Louisville and the NASIG Treasurer. Currently I am the archivist for NASIG.

C: How has NASIG helped you as a professional librarian? How would you compare it to other library organizations, like the ALA?

P: All of this volunteering has benefited me because I have learned leadership skills such as negotiating and compromising with other people. I’m sure that if I was involved in ALA that I would I would probably have the same experience. The difference being in that NASIG is a smaller organization so there is more opportunities to volunteer.

C: What do you like the most about NASIG? Would you encourage new librarians in the field to join it? Do you think that librarians who are not serials specialists would benefit from being a member?

P: What I like the most about NASIG is that I am able to meet other librarians that interact in the serials chain. Outside of the librarian box I am able to meet and mingle with publishers as well as vendors. What I don’t like is that sometimes I feel that most of the NASIG attendees are not the decision makers or the heads of a unit (such as the head of technical services).

I would encourage librarians who are not serials specialist to join because serials are an important part of our library user’s quest for knowledge whether that is for research or leisure. I also see the blurring of the ebooks and ejournals because of technology.

Peter C. Whiting
Serials Technical Services Librarian
David L. Rice Library
University of Southern Indiana

Five Questions for Peter Whiting about NASIG

Interview conducted by Camelia Naranch in an email exchange with Peter Whiting, September 9-14, 2011.

Camelia: When did you join NASIG and what prompted you to do so?

Peter: I first learned about NASIG when I took a class that focused on serials for my Masters in Library Science. When I took the serials class it was the same year that NASIG had its annual conference in Chicago and since I was in library school at Dominican University that is locate in a suburb of Chicago. The professor who was teaching the class was very active in NASIG so he asked the class of future librarians for volunteers to help at NASIG. The big issue that year in 1992 was the unbelievable increases in serials and what to do about it. Seems like some issues never go away!

C: Do you attend the annual conferences and if so, how often? What are they like?

P: My first NASIG was in 1992 as a student volunteer. Four years later in my first professional library job I attended the 1996 NASIG conference at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. I have been fortunate to attend each NASIG conference since then. I enjoy the NASIG conference because it is a conference that is not overwhelming with the right amount of people. Attending the conference is a great opportunity to learn about serials issues that I might not learn about in a listserv or reading a journal article.

C: Have you played a part in running the organization by serving on committees or performing similar work?

P: Volunteering has been a good way for me to meet others that involved in serials. Not only have I met other librarians, but this has given me the opportunity to meet vendors and publishers. I have been involved in a task force, committee work and leadership in NASIG. That has helped me grow as a professional.

My first opportunity to serve NASIG was on the Horizon award task force. I then went on to serve on the Awards & Recognition Committee, the Bylaws Committee, and the Conference Planning Committee for the conference in Denver and Louisville and the NASIG Treasurer. Currently I am the archivist for NASIG.

C: How has NASIG helped you as a professional librarian? How would you compare it to other library organizations, like the ALA?

P: All of this volunteering has benefited me because I have learned leadership skills such as negotiating and compromising with other people. I’m sure that if I was involved in ALA that I would I would probably have the same experience. The difference being in that NASIG is a smaller organization so there is more opportunities to volunteer.

C: What do you like the most about NASIG? Would you encourage new librarians in the field to join it? Do you think that librarians who are not serials specialists would benefit from being a member?

P: What I like the most about NASIG is that I am able to meet other librarians that interact in the serials chain. Outside of the librarian box I am able to meet and mingle with publishers as well as vendors. What I don’t like is that sometimes I feel that most of the NASIG attendees are not the decision makers or the heads of a unit (such as the head of technical services).

I would encourage librarians who are not serials specialist to join because serials are an important part of our library user’s quest for knowledge whether that is for research or leisure. I also see the blurring of the ebooks and ejournals because of technology.

Peter C. Whiting
Serials Technical Services Librarian
David L. Rice Library
University of Southern Indiana

Teamwork: reflections and reactions from the real world

I realy enjoyed this module because of the stress it placed upon the interactive communication strategies in real world group based environments. The presentations by Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin  prompted me to reflect upon the dissonances between my individualistic educational upbringing and the multiple experiences as working as part of collectives since graduating from university. They are right! It is important to practice teamwork skills as part of one’s professional training not as postscript. Indeed the integrated approach that the speakers advocated makes a great deal of sense to me. Both emphasised the importance of having a positive attitude towards teamwork. A little enthusiasm can also go a long way when it comes to breaking down the barriers that often impede group productivity.

I especially liked the way that Ms. Irwin used examples from previous SJSU classes she has taught in order to illustrate the necessity of teamwork in order to achieve specific outcomes that would be hard for one person to achieve on her own. After working for a number of years at research libraries, I can definetly relate. Let me give you an example from my experience at Johns Hopkins University as a cataloging assistant. Academic libraries always have work to do but the start of each semester brings with it a number of distinct challenges. One of this challenges was to provide all the books for hundreds of classes in a very short amount of time. I was one of the three member team assigned with the task of taking care of all the rush notifies. A rush notify happens when an instructor requests a book at the last moment (which was quite common the week before the classes started and a few weeks thereafter.) In order to complete this task succesfully, the three of us worked out a system in which we would take time out of our regular work routine in order to resolve the most pressing rush notifies. Teamwork, trust, and coordination were all essential in order to deal with unpredictable and sometimes overwhelming number of requests that we received.

I conlude this posting, then, by seconding the importance of developing excellent teamwork skills as part of one’s training as a professional librarian. It’s never too early to start and the more practice you can get the better!

Becoming a librarian: the journey begins

I would like to begin my blog by sharing with you an important experience that I had this summer, which has proven to be an important stage in my journey towards becoming a professional librarian. In June of 2011 I attended the26th annual NASIG (North American Serials Interest Group) conference. I was able to attend because I received the Serials Specialist Award (http://www.nasig.org/about_awards_specialist.cfm) that allowed me to travel to the conference and meet professional serials librarians, one of whom was assigned as my mentor. You see, for the past ten years I have been working for university libraries in a variety of paraprofessional positions. For several years now, at least since I began working at Johns Hopkins University as a cataloging and acquistions specialist I had been contemplating the posibility of getting my degree in library and information sciences. These plans came to fruition because of the support from my current employer, the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford University. My supervisor and colleagues, many of whom received their degrees from SJSU, actively encouraged me to apply for the MLIS program. In fact, it was a colleague who suggested that I apply for the NASIG  fellowship in order to experience first hand what it would be like to be a professional librarian and meet other librarians from around the country who are specialists in my current area of expertise.

In fact, I had a great time in St. Louis. I gained a new appreciation for the importance of serials in libraries. I also found my fellow librarians to be fun, gracious, and intelligent people who enjoyed sharing their experiences and knowledge with others – including myself! Attending the NASIG conference really helped motivate me to begin my masters program at SJSU. It has been a long time since I was a student, and I was admitedly somewhat anxious about the prospect of starting something new. The people whom I got to know at the NASIG conference helped enormously to alleviate my fears. I am now very excited about becoming a professional librarian and hope that this blog will encourage others to follow my example.