Eileen Onlineboswell@ctaa.org NRCtransportation.org embeddedlibrarian.blogspot.com
Good afternoon. Im Eileen Boswell, Information Specialist at the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) in Washington, DC. I usually talk too fast but I am going to use my notes and try to focus on the most important aspects of my job as it relates to evolving definitions of the terms informationist and embedded librarian.*Disclaimer #1: I have never worked in another library except a brief project during Peace Corps.
I am not an expert on Embedded Librarianship. My mentor, Dave Shumaker, whom you may know as last years winner of the SLA Vormelker award. Dave was one of my library school professors and, along with his colleague Mary Talley, has been writing on the topic of embedded librarianship for a few years, including an SLA research grant-funded report that I will reference.
Anything I say about the term Informationist I either learned from Dave or researched for this presentation.
I will start by explaining a little bit about CTAA and my job here as a general overview of my traditional and non-traditional library duties. Then Ill go through the academic definitions of each term Informationist and Embedded Librarian and next I will explain in more detail how I function in the context of my organization, and how there are aspects or both models in my situation. I will try to weave in as much as I know about jobs other than my own, but I hope you will be thinking of your own examples as well, or the jobs of other librarians you know, so we can have a rich discussion about this emerging model.*My background is in educational testing and applied linguistics. As recently as three years ago at this time, I was embroiled in a top-secret language testing project that was (and still is) part of No Child Left Behind. It was not a good fit for me.
I ended up doing a lot with technology at that job, specifically managing online courses for teachers, and I decided to go to library school. I completed my degree at the Catholic University of America between Fall 2007 and Spring 2009.
Shortly after I started library school, I decided I wanted some library experience so that when I completed my degree I could go straight to Georgetown University as an academic librarian working with the linguistics department.
During the time I was applying for jobs, I heard a presentation by Karen Huffman of National Geographic (during a SLIS class) in which she said, Special librarians work in the white spaces of the organizational chart. The next day, I had three interviews, and the last one was at CTAA. When asked, What do you see as the role of a special librarian in an organization such as ours?, I replied, Special librarians work in the white spaces of the organizational chart. I got the job.
I never intended to stay, but as it turned out, I had joined a wonderful community of transportation librarians who would usher me into the field while I was completing my MLS.
I contacted National Geographic, told them my story, and asked who originally said Special librarians.. because I wanted to start a blog around that theme. I was told that Susan Fifer Canby was the genius behind this particular pearl of wisdom.
Around this time Dave Shumaker was studying Embedded Librarianship and this job seemed to fit that description, so I used embeddedlibrarian as my username for a bunch of accounts and free tools (Blogger, Delicious) that I started around that time.
In the spring of 2008 I took Marketing with Dave and one of the potential host sites for our field projects was TRB. I voted early, hoping to secure this as my project site. None of my classmates fought me for it.
During the first six months of my time at CTAA, I was interning with Barbara and Jessica. Since I was learning about librarianship in general in my other classes, and learning about transportation in general at work, the relationship with Barbara and Jessica so early in my tenure here helped me integrate what I was learning into a true transportation librarianship education.*CTAA is a membership association for specialized transit organizations. These include tribal transit organizations, paratransit (wheelchair-accessible), non-emergency medical transportation, senior transportation employment transportation and rural transit providers.
We do advocacy. We do research. We do technical assistance for our members (How should a policy for ___ read? How do I hire/fire/train bus drivers? How do I insure volunteer drivers? Can I use DOT money for ___?) . We publish two magazines and I do some work on those as needed. That arose simply because I have a good relationship with the editor-in-chief.
*We operate several federal grants.
Many of these grants call for a part-time information specialist, which is how they are able to fund my position full-time. Most of these grants require some sort of resource center as a deliverable, so I am included in many of the grant applications and sometimes I even get to write that part of the grant.
Duties at CTAA:Manage incoming print resources (from the government, academics, our members and others)Coordinate outgoing resource alertsDo research to support our Technical Assistance specialists Support for magazines we publish (RAIL and Community Transportation)Developer on website for National Resource Center for Human Service Transportation Coordination
*You know that state-by-state Medicaid survey that Jo