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.
13/08/2012 § 16 Comments
Librarians are, as a profession, exceedingly generous toward their newest members. I expect most of us have had at least a few great interactions with professional librarians who have given us their time and attention for interviews, given us professional advice, written us references and recommendations, and generally been on the lookout for the students and early-career librarians around them. So far, every librarian I’ve asked for help has made time for me, and I always come away from those experiences feeling grateful and astonished at how willing librarians are to help even a lowly library school student.
But just as we all come across these instances of personal generosity, I expect we’ve all probably had to contend with the other side of that coin as well: librarians can be awfully negative. And often that negativity ends up aimed right at us, the library students. From generalized rants about how the schools are producing too many of us, to complaints about all the ways in which our educations fall short, to comments about our own foolishness for wanting to join the profession, I don’t personally know any library student who hasn’t gotten a dose of negativity from a librarian at least once.