20/02/2014 § 8 Comments
Like any graduate program, library school is a big time commitment. Whether your program is online or in person, full time or part time, there’s just no way to get the education you need to be a librarian without putting in a significant chunk of your life. But if time isn’t something you’ve got in spades, is it reasonable to think you can work full time and still do your degree?
My answer: very often yes, but it depends. Many of my classmates work, many are parents. I have to travel once or twice a month for my full time job. Everybody has a life, and most MLS programs get that. That doesn’t mean that every MLS program is going to work with every full-time job though. So how do you go about answering this question for your own life? « Read the rest of this entry »
17/02/2014 § 5 Comments
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
The month of February is most recognized as the time we celebrate our love. It’s a time when we speak the “language” of love as a means to show our devotion to that special someone. But what happens when the language we speak to express ourselves is not the same language expressed by others? How do we communicate to one another simple tasks that feel impossible when language becomes a barrier? What can we do as library professionals, to make expressing ourselves, not necessarily in the language of love, but of compassion for those whom English is their second language?
Quite simply, a lot. Let me share with you, my story…
English is my second language. When I was six-years-old my parents divorced and my mother decided to move our family – myself and my two younger sisters – to Florida from Puerto Rico. She believed that learning English would ensure our success as adults and decided that our new home would provide us with more linguistic opportunities than in our home town of Fajardo, Puerto Rico. I had begun my elementary schooling there, but would continue the remainder of my schooling in Central Florida. When I was a first grade student, I had a hard time comprehending English. I pronounced words such as “chair” and “chicken” with a “sh” sound, rather than a “ch” sound. And I could not understand why it matter that the way I spoke was incorrect to others. I struggled a lot and did poorly in my school work. I would eventually be sent to a school for foreign language speakers, and after three days of horrific experiences (I didn’t know where my class was or how to get lunch, I was yelled at by a peer and a teacher when I couldn’t understand instruction, and I was physically pulled and tugged at when I failed to understand directions).
After many nights of crying and pleading with my mom, I was “dis-enrolled” from that school and the next best option was to return to my elementary school and take ESOL classes. It proved to be very successful and my teacher was extremely patient with me and my peers. By the latter half of elementary school, I struggled less and my grades significantly improved. It was a tough part of my early childhood, but I learned first-hand what it was like to speak a language not commonly expressed by others while trying to integrate into a new environment. I also learned what it was like to be bullied, talked down to, thought less of, and isolated from others.
So can you imagine, for a moment, when someone who does not speak or understand spoken English very well, be it due to primarily speaking a foreign language or an impairment such as being deaf, what they must feel when they need to communicate with you?
Now can you imagine what it must be like if you could understand them, their feelings, as well as, their language?
14/02/2014 § 5 Comments
Here at Hack Library School we talk a lot about ways to further our LIS educations outside of the classroom, including pursuing part-time work, completing internships and practicums, joining student and professional organizations, and attending conferences. These kinds of experience are essential for shaping professional interests and developing skills. Throughout my time in library school I’ve tried to consider new opportunities to learn and grow as a librarian-in-training, and I want to share an option that I hadn’t thought about until more recently: joining a committee.
Initially, the idea of joining a committee sounded a little scary to me. Up until a few months ago, I had a fairly formal mental image of committees; I imagined intense, stately people talking about intense, stately things (when I thought about committees at all, which wasn’t too often). I hadn’t really considered the possibility of taking part in a committee as a student, so when one of my supervisors suggested that I join the conference planning committee for the librarians’ association at UNC, I was a little taken aback. But, not wanting to turn down an opportunity, I decided to give committee work a try.
My experience on the conference planning committee has been really great so far, and certainly not the intimidating endeavor I might have imagined. During our first meeting I realized that a committee can be as simple as a group of people trying to figure something out and get something done. Not scary, right? Too often I imagine that the professional librarians around me have everything together and know exactly what they’re doing all the time. Serving on a committee has been a good reminder for me that even the most brilliant librarians are constantly figuring things out. We all experience new challenges and problems to solve all the time and I think that’s a good thing.
12/02/2014 § 3 Comments
Hello! Topher here, happy to introduce guest poster Elizabeth Lieutenant! If you’re like us, you followed all the advice out there and enrolled in an ALA-accredited institution. But what does that really mean? This is your chance to find out! We were fortunate enough to attend a session at ALA Midwinter about the changing world of LIS program accreditation standards. Here’s what we learned:
Meet the COA:
Accreditation has been a part of US librarianship since 1923. In 1956, ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (COA) became a standing committee of ALA. COA is responsible for the execution of the accreditation program of ALA, and to develop and formulate standards of education for library and information studies for the approval of ALA council. The mission of the ALA Office for Accreditation (OA) is to serve: “the general public, students, employers, and library and information studies Master’s programs through the promotion and advancement of education in library and information studies.”
One important thing to understand about the Standards for Accreditation is that they are meant to be qualitative, not prescriptive. The Standards are not mandates for programs to teach particular courses, or for all students to have a particular level of skill in a given aspect of the profession. Instead, the Standards are meant to ensure LIS programs are adequately preparing students to meet the ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship. Their focus is not on training students for the jobs of today, but instead preparing students to be leaders in the field and carry the LIS profession into the future. If an ALA-accredited program fails to meet the Standards, they’ll be placed on conditional accreditation status, and if significant improvements aren’t made, COA will withdraw accreditation.
Why should you care? « Read the rest of this entry »
11/02/2014 § 7 Comments
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Alex Berman.
Alternative careers for LIS graduates is something that’s not often discussed and, in classrooms, is often ignored. Yet you might be surprised to know that your LIS degree is good for more than just libraries and archives. In this post, we’ll look at LIS skills that are in high demand (almost all of them), what kinds of alternative LIS jobs are out there, and (using my own experience) how you can go about getting yourself one of these jobs.
It’s a tale as old as time: Go to library school, take a lot of classes in library school, get a job in a library. But what happens when this narrative goes off the rails? What happens if you decide that working in a library isn’t for you? Or if the choice is even tougher: what if you can’t get a job in a library? As the LIS field becomes more saturated with recent graduates and non-retiring librarians this scenario is becoming the new norm, not an exception. For people on the tail end of their LIS education this can be an extremely frustrating experience. You’ve taken out loans, put off a career, switched careers, and may even have a family to support – and now you’re confronted with an extremely tough job market. In this case, LIS school job boards aren’t much help since they aren’t really geared to helping graduates get non-library jobs. Professors are similarly of minimal use because the whole reason they are hired is because of their expertise in the LIS field. So is it all for nothing? Is your post-graduate life really doomed to be a series of part time low wage jobs? Nope. Although LIS schools are focused on giving you the skills needed by the library and archives professions, those same skills are in high demand in many other industries.