29/08/2013 § Leave a Comment
Well, this is it, kids: my time in library school is over, and so too ends my time writing for Hack Library School. This is so long, this is farewell, this is auf wiedersehen and adieu. This is also when I’m supposed to write a nice post summing up my time here, or my time as a library student, or something like that. But I’m finding that a bit difficult, because at least for me the end of library school has segued straight into professional librarianship. So while on the one hand it feels as though everything has changed, it also feels like the road I’m on is the same one I’ve been on since my grad school orientation.
Back in the summer ending my first year in library school, I made a plan to transition to Boston. I had no leads there; I knew precisely one person, who was not a librarian. I was giving up a decent amount of library cred back in Portland in exchange for what I hoped would be a wider array of opportunities, but there was no question it was a gamble. I figured I would find a nice practicum somewhere in Boston, head back east, and somehow that would lead to a job. To my own immense surprise, that’s exactly what happened… I found and landed the practicum, moved back east, and at the very end my practicum– just as things were starting to look a bit dire, as though perhaps I’d made a mistake — I got a job. The day I flew back to Portland for my final capstone presentation, not an hour after my plane had landed, I received the email offering me the position. I can’t begin to express the relief and gratitude I felt that day.
Here’s the thing, though: the job I’m doing is not a job I’d ever have guessed I would do. I’ve always hedged my bets by following the digital librarianship track, but in my heart of hearts I was most interested in how people use technology in the library, and in teaching them how to master all these amazing new tools that technology has given us. Actually getting to do that seemed like a distant dream, though, to be won only through years of part-time and contract gigs, fighting for my chance to teach, or being turned aside and into some other track entirely. Then one day I found a job posting for a Digital Literacy Librarian at a boarding school of all outlandish places, and figured I might as well give it a shot. A week later, I went to interview. A week after that, I got the job offer. This week — only a month after first spotting that ad — I’m on campus for faculty orientation. It has all been startling and thrilling and exhausting, but I have no doubt that this is the next right step on my road.
So here’s my advice to you, as a old hand at library school and a total rookie as a professional librarian:
10/05/2013 § 2 Comments
Ever since the first day I entered library school, in a distant era I refer to as “2011,” I knew I would top off my MLS with a practicum. Even when I found a student job in a library; even after I’d completed a couple of volunteer gigs and an internship; even after making myself the kind of library student who probably doesn’t, strictly speaking, need a practicum, I still knew I’d do one. And I would advise you to do likewise. Why? Because more practical experience is always better than less. Library school is great, but classes are no substitute for spending time in the trenches at a working library. However much experience I got, I knew I wanted more.
A practicum is, in a nutshell, an opportunity for a student to get some experience working in a library for academic credit. Not every library school encourages them — not every library school even offers them — but to my mind, every library student should do one. At a fundamental level, the practicum is a chance for you to put into practice everything that you’ve learned throughout your LIS education. If you’ve not managed to find much library work during your school career so far, it’s a vital opportunity to accrue some early experience, while also performing necessary work and making a first contribution to your community. It’s a perfect win-win scenario: the library gets some much-needed trained help, and the student gets some fresh insight and knowledge, and probably a nice reference.
The possibilities are endless, and can be tailored to your professional interests and strengths. Here are a few examples from my own cohort:
27/02/2013 § 13 Comments
As library students, we’re all aware of how deeply digital tools have transformed out field, but sometimes we forget that those same tools are impacting other fields as well, fields with which our own work may eventually intersect. In the academic world, scholars are pulling computational techniques into the traditionally low-tech humanities, and finding that it offers exciting new approaches to subjects like literature, classical studies, and history. That is to say, our users and patrons are thinking of new ways to engage with information, and wherever that’s happening, there’s a place for a librarian.
Lindsay Skay Whitacre is a librarian at Boston College where she’s the go-to woman for scholars who want to start using these tools and techniques in their own work. She agreed to answer a few questions about her role at the BC library so that those of us who are considering a similar path can hack their library school experience accordingly.
25/10/2012 § 10 Comments
I recently started a new job. For the last year I’d been happily working at the circulation desk of a medical/academic library, and I was happy there. It was a comfortable spot: nice supervisors, nice work environment, and a job I knew inside out. But I’m aiming to work in digital collections, so when my library made some changes that brought a new emphasis to digital collections — including a new student worker position — I eagerly accepted when they offered me the spot.
I’ve been in this new job for a little over a month now, mostly writing metadata for a large digital collection of images. And if I were going to try to sum up that first month of work in a few words, they’d be:
02/10/2012 § 17 Comments
A few days ago, I stopped by the class of the freshly-minted new cohort of my program to say hello to them on behalf of a professional organization I work with, and to invite them to join and/or attend an upcoming event. It took all of ten minutes, no big deal. I got there a little early, and took the opportunity to spend a few minutes eavesdropping on a new variant of a class I was in this time last year. It’s a standard sort of foundational course about understanding patron groups and their needs, information seeking behavior, that kind of thing. And it’s always interesting to see how a different teacher would teach the same class. But this was more than a difference of teaching style — this seemed to be a totally different course.