29/04/2013 § 6 Comments
Some of my favorite questions to ask librarians during informational interviews revolve around surprise: What has most surprised you about your current role or about your career path? Is there anything you wish you had known sooner? I’ve found their answers to be particularly useful as I try to figure out how to focus my time and energy during school. As my second semester of library school draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about how I would answer this type of questions myself. What has surprised me about library school and what unexpected lessons have I learned so far?
25/03/2013 § 5 Comments
Do you ever daydream about your future professional life? Do you imagine yourself as a high-powered librarian, answering thoughtful reference questions or maybe cataloging rare and beautiful documents? Initiating programs that bridge the digital divide or solve access and licensing issues? I know I do.
But here’s the thing: although I have big plans and aspirations, I recognize that life as an information professional isn’t always going to be the glamorous montage of my dreams. Example: I started working at the reference desk in an undergraduate library a few months ago and quickly discovered that I would spend much of my time assisting patrons with printing and scanning. Clearing jams, replacing toner and paper, explaining policies, walking patrons through the process…not the most exciting part of patron interactions, but a useful and necessary service. I’m sure there are plenty of ‘printing and scanning’ equivalents in other areas of librarianship, library school, and in all professions, for that matter. So, how do we deal? Can we ‘hack’ the mundane aspects of work and school?
18/02/2013 § 7 Comments
When I was applying to library school I asked some of my college librarians if anything had surprised them about their library work. More than one said their jobs involved more teaching than they anticipated, and I realized that if I was going into academic librarianship I should prepare for instruction to be a part of my job. While the idea of actually standing up in front of a classroom was pretty frightening to me, I saw the user education side of libraries as incredibly important and exciting. Somehow I imagined that when the time came for me to stand in front of a classroom, I would be totally accomplished and knowledgeable, and therefore confident.
When I began a student assistant position in reference and instruction this semester, the time to brave the classroom arrived without my previously anticipated sense of preparation and confidence. I was excited and terrified. A part of me believed that I could be quite good, while the other part waited for the fraud police to stop me before I could present my novice self to a class of undergraduates.
14/01/2013 § 4 Comments
Last week I found myself suddenly teary-eyed during a meeting with a librarian. No, I wasn’t sad or upset. The librarian’s obvious love for his work had just inspired and moved me so much that I couldn’t keep my eyes from filling.
I’m only a little bit embarrassed to admit that this wasn’t the first time I got a little misty about librarianship. There are few things I find more inspiring than talking to people who love what they do, and that goes for librarians especially. Accordingly, incorporating informational interviews into my supply of professional development tools was one the best things I did during my first semester in library school (shout out to Zack Frazier and his tips for the first semester). Talking to librarians about their career paths and current positions has given me opportunities to learn about specific library settings, the skills involved in certain positions, and the challenges and joys of librarianship as a profession. I have also expanded my professional network, gained confidence in my interviewing skills, and boosted my enthusiasm for the future.
The web has lots of resources about informational interviewing. This tutorial from Quintcareers.com and this article from About.com offer guidelines for preparation, active listening, and follow up. Instead of rehashing all of the information found on these and many other sites, I’d like to offer my thoughts on two aspects of informational interviewing that I see as most challenging: working up the courage to ask for an informational interview and figuring out how informational interviews can play a part in job hunting. « Read the rest of this entry »
19/11/2012 § 12 Comments
The leaves are falling, the weather is cooling (at least for those of us in temperate climates), and November is whipping by. I can hardly believe how quickly this semester has gone, but I am very excited to head home for the fast-approaching holidays. Like me, you may be looking forward to gatherings of family and friends in the coming weeks—and quite possibly anticipating a lot of curiosity about library school and librarianship.
The many questions and quizzical looks I receive when explaining my career aspirations and current studies surprised me at first. Until I started to apply for library school and to attempt to explain my plans to friends and family, I didn’t realize how misunderstood and underutilized librarians often are. I have received questions like: Why do you need a master’s degree to be a librarian? Why do we need librarians now that we can get so much online? And the crowd favorite: Are you going to take classes about shh-ing people? I have found, as I am sure every librarian and wannabe librarian does, that those without a lot of experience in “library land” often have a fairly foggy idea of what librarians do and therefore have trouble imagining the training and study involved in master’s programs.
We need to get better at explaining ourselves. Topher offers great advice on fielding some common questions and misconceptions here. I’d like to build on his ideas with a particular focus on the term library science. Of all the questions I’ve received from friends, family, and acquaintances, I’ve noticed the most confusion surrounding the ‘science’ aspect: So you’re studying library science…what is that exactly? How can librarianship be a science? Why isn’t your program described as library arts or library studies?