The Skills You Don’t Learn In School

28/02/2012 § 29 Comments

Photo Credit: Flickr User Donna Cymek

Photo Credit: Flickr User Donna Cymek

Librarianship is a profession that’s all about helping people, which means we need to be able to work with them. Even if you don’t work with patrons, you’ll still have to work with coworkers that run the gamut. Cat lovers(ahem), gamers, tattooed drinkers, the sweet old lady who doesn’t know what email is(patron or coworker), you might run across them all. You can’t escape people in this profession! Whether you were drawn to this profession because you love books, or because you wanted to put off student loans, having people skills is a must. We’re expected to have some technology skills and maybe even more advanced programming skills. That’s all great! However, there are a lot of things library school can’t teach you. People skills being one of them. No one can teach you how to be in the world, that’s something that we all develop as we move forward in life. Employers are looking for folks who have these skills.

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Moving Forward

16/02/2012 § 3 Comments

Me and a couple of bosses.

About a year ago, I started spying on the HackLibSchool project. Anonymously peeking at the original Google doc, figuring out how to use Twitter so I could see what the big deal was, reading other students blogs. I had no clue what I was doing online then, I was just fumbling along, trying to figure out how to be an internet person. I’ve learned so much in the course of a year and it’s all because of this blog. I never thought of myself as a blogger, but I was kicking around so many ideas in my head that I thought I could try. I knew that I wanted to write a guest post for Hack Library School, so I wrote about developing an online brand because that’s what I was attempting to do. When Micah asked me to join HLS as a writer, I was shocked and excited. Getting involved in this project has meant so much to me as a student and a burgeoning librarian. I’ve met and collaborated with an awesome group of people with whom I can brainstorm with. We’ve really built a diverse network that extends beyond our time in school.

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Real-Life Strategies for Successful Library Job Hunting

27/12/2011 § Leave a comment

The job market is lurking in the minds of many of us who are about to finish up our degrees. It’s a tough market out there and getting a library job is not an easy feat. Fortunately, ALA has great webinars that help prepare job seekers for the library job market. On January 4, 2012, at 2:00 pm Eastern Time, Andromeda Yelton (@ThatAndromeda) and Tiffany Mair(@tiffanylora) will lead the conversation on job hunting strategies. This won’t be your usual webinar, this one will be interactive, engage people in conversations about various topics related to job hunting. Participants will be framing the agenda and sharing solutions as well. We plan on it being a very active and engaging session! HackLibSchool will also be helping out by moderating a Google Doc that participants can contribute to, as the webinar is going on. We hope that you join in, it’s free!

Register today to join the discussion with Andromeda and Tiffany on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Playing Nicely With Others: Doing Group Work

07/12/2011 § 13 Comments

Photo Credit to Flickr user MyTudet

No Bob, I don't want to stab you with these scissors. I LOVE group work.

How many of you have had to do group work in graduate school? What’s that? All of you? Okay, I thought so. Like it or not, group work is integral to library science curriculum. When I first started, I wondered why I had to do do so much group work. What’s the purpose of it? Is there a lesson to be learned? There are so many risks when you have to work with a group of people you don’t necessarily know that well. Coming from an undergraduate background in art history, where you sit in a dark room and stare at slides, you don’t even know who is in your class, let alone have to talk to anyone. It’s a solitary endeavor. However, library school is totally different. You’re expected to talk to your classmates, peer review their work and collaborate with them. That can be really off-putting for someone who is used to a) shy b) used to studying alone c) new to the program, thus not knowing anyone and d) a control freak. This semester, I’ve had to do a couple of large group projects and wondered how collaborating could be made easier.
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Art Librarianship

14/11/2011 § 5 Comments

Image by Flickr user wonderferret and used under Creative Commons License

Image by Flickr user wonderferret and used under Creative Commons License

Many of us start out library school with a particular area of focus in mind. Mine was art libraries, and while I have explored other areas of librarianship, this one is still of interest to me. There are many ways to be an art librarian, so when people would ask, “what kind of library do you want to work in?” I would get flustered. You can be a subject specialist in a university or public library, work in a museum, work for a non-profit organization, the list goes on. There’s not one way to be! Think about all the ways our society learns about art and imagine a librarian there to help with the process. That being said, there are quite a few good resources for students who are interested in art librarianship.


ARLIS/NA,  Art Libraries Society of North America – This is the organization for art libraries. They really are the go to people if you’re interested in art librarianship. Art Documentation, their official bi-annual bulletin has tons of great information about what’s going on in the art library world. It’s free if you’re an ARLIS member, students can join for a discounted price of $50 a year, so think about joining!

VRA, Visual Resources Association, is a multi-disciplinary organization dedication to visual culture. They’re also responsible for creating the VRA Core data standard, for those interested in cataloging or metadata.

For students, I especially recommend checking out  ArLiSNAP, a group just for students and new professionals in the field. They’re on Twitter too!

Both ARLIS/NA and VRA have annual conferences, last year they even had a joint conference. As a student, you can get discounted rates to attend, plus there are scholarships available if you do want to go.


Some schools offer dual degree programs if you want to get a second master’s degree while you’re in library school. The art subject specialist librarian that I spoke to before I started my program had a PhD in Art History, so having a secondary degree can really help you out in the job market.

Pratt offers a dual degree, plus it’s in a major art hub, NYC. You can’t beat that, there are so many opportunities available to students to work or intern in a specialized library of their choosing. Read our Hack Your Program posts (here and here) from other Pratt students.

Indiana University also has a dual degree program. IU Bloomington has several libraries dedicated to certain schools, and students can get experience working in a variety of different types of libraries, including art.

What if you’re in school now and your program doesn’t offer any coursework in art librarianship? You can always tailor your projects to your interests. In my reference and collection development classes, I focused my class projects on art libraries. You can also consult this incredibly thorough directory of LIS programs that lists out all the library schools and lays out what courses of interest each school may have for students interested in art or visual librarianship.

If this is an area of librarianship that you’d like to explore, I highly suggest you do a few things. First off, do some informational interviews with art librarians. As I said earlier, there’s not one type of art librarian so don’t talk to just one person, talk to a few and see what the differences are. Second, join ARLIS as a student member, or at least sign up for the list-serv and see what other librarians are up to. Out of all the list-servs I spy on, the ARLIS one has the most interesting reference questions (but I say that because I think art librarianship is awesome). Third, do an internship in an art library setting. I’m starting an internship next spring at an art museum and I really look forward to seeing the difference between a museum library and an academic library, which is where most of my work experience is. Another tip is to pay attention in your cataloging and metadata classes, visual resources and cultural artifacts require different standards and levels of description so it’s good to at least know a little about that.

Additional resources

This post is meant to give a general introduction to art librarianship and welcomes additional tips, resources, and questions, so if you have any please add them into the comments.


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