The Portfolio, or Ending with a Bang and Not a Whimper

25/02/2013 § 5 Comments

Image courtesy of the Ohio University Libraries

Image courtesy of the Ohio University Libraries

Let’s just say that you’re in your final semester of library school. It’s an exciting time, the end is near, you’re anxious to start the big job hunt, or if you’re lucky enough to have a library job, maybe you’re looking forward to moving up the library ladder. Nothing stands in your way now, except for one thing. The culminating experience – the academic gatekeeper that vets your qualifications and once and for all declares you ready to enter the world of paid (hooray!) librarianship. No pressure.

In the SLIS program at San Jose State University, we have our choice of two possible routes through the culminating experience, which is what our department calls the final, cumulative project of our LIS career. Any SLIS student wishing to graduate may either write a Master’s thesis or complete a portfolio, which is a comprehensive overview of your work in the program. Though I was tempted by the in-depth nature of writing a thesis, I decided early on that it would make more sense for me to do a portfolio because it would explicitly tie my strongest accomplishments together while requiring me to review everything I had learned in my courses, thus helping prepare me for job interviews along the way. It sounded like a no-brainer in my first semester, and it was definitely the right choice for me, but its a lot to bite off – an amazingly-lot to bite off – and it’s best to lay the groundwork early and often.

So, for those of you in the middle of your culminating experience, whether it be a portfolio, a thesis or something else entirely, here is what I’ve learned (so far) about keeping your sanity through the process. And, for those of you have yet to tackle this wily beast, read on for a little advice about how to start preparing for it way, way, way in a advance.

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Apply Yourself

20/02/2013 § 30 Comments

When I tell people what I am doing in Florence, Italy for a year, I am invariably asked one question: “How did you land such a position?!” To which I smile broadly, often chuckle a little and answer simply and honestly: “I applied.” This, my LIS, MLIS and MSIT friends is one of my best hacks for library school and life.

Oldtimey Librarian

“Library Automation 6″ by quisnovus via Flickr under CC.

“80% of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

You have to show up. For most positions and roles that you want to land, that means tossing your hat in the ring with an application.

If you have been following HLS’s new series “So What Do You Do?” you have heard about a number of great internships and programs to round out your LIS education. In none of them (at least so far) does the hacker say: well I was just standing around on a street corner and someone said “come do this thing.” Whether it be getting into library school, volunteering, taking a leadership position in the club which eventually leads to the internship which then leads to a job with your dream organization… all the steps start with some sort of applying yourself — even if it is as simple as showing up.

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Call for new writers!

18/09/2012 § Leave a comment

Greetings readers!

Here at Hack Library School, we pride ourselves on providing engaging, thoughtful, and useful resources for Library and Information Science students.  The best part of this experience, in my opinion, is the community the writers have with each other and our readers.  Unfortunately, because we’re a blog by and for students, eventually we have to move on to bigger and better things (like full-time professional gigs).  The good news for all of you is that we’re looking for a new group of dedicated students who would like to be regular contributors here.

We’re looking for people who are enthusiastic, skilled writers who have backgrounds and specialties that we’re currently lacking at HLS.  We’re looking for a diverse group of writers: diversity of experience, professional interests, and opinions.  We strive to critically engage with topics and we’re not afraid of “stirring the pot,” and we hope you aren’t either!

The commitment is relatively low.  We try to post 3 times a week.  As the schedule sits now, each writer contributes about a post a month on the topic of their choosing. New writers will get paired up with a mentor (an “original” Hack Library School writer) to help with your first few posts and generally ease your nerves.

If you’re interested in regularly contributing to the blog, please send Brianna (bhmarsha at indiana dot edu) an email with the following “application materials” by Oct. 5, 2012:

  • A brief bio about yourself.
  • Your school and anticipated graduation date.
  • Your professional interests and 2-3 topics that you would like to write about.
  • A writing sample, if possible.  This does not need to be formal.  Feel free to link us to a personal blog, a paragraph of a paper, etc. We just like to get a feel for your writing style.

If you are a recent graduate or can’t commit to being a regular contributor, please consider writing a guest post for us! Just indicate that you are interested in a guest post in your email.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Swimming in a Sea of New Terminology

10/09/2012 § 5 Comments

I’m starting the first semester of my second year of my LIS masters degree at the University of Tennessee, School of Information Sciences. So far this semester, I’ve felt pretty overwhelmed because I’m taking very tech heavy classes with loads of new terminology. Last week, one of the other Hack Library School writers wrote to say that they may not be able to get their post out on time because their brain is just overloaded. I related to that. (Thankfully, we at HLS believe it is an avocation for us, so if we need to let a post slide to give time to our classes, so be it.)

Recently, I was thinking “how will I ever master these terms?” Then it hit me: I had the same thought last Spring. And then it hit me again: I had the same thought last Fall! Apparently, this is not new. And at the end of the day, I made it through those semesters just fine. So I’m here to tell you students, new ones and old ones, that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed early in the semester (heck, even later in the semester!). You’re not the first student to feel that way, and you won’t be the last. Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of the process of learning a completely new field. What you’re experiencing is what everyone feels when immersed in a new language, and that’s just what you’re doing — learning a new language. First year students get dropped into a new world and get lots of new terms thrown at them almost all at once. You’re sure to feel the overload. But take a breath, don’t hyperventilate, and relax. I promise you it gets better. It takes several weeks of being immersed in a new language before it even begins to sound normal. But I guarantee you that, over time, the terms will begin to make sense, and they will become a normal part of your vocabulary.

I’ve pulled together some posts from HLS that deal with the stresses of being a library school student, because they contain a wealth of information on how to deal with that stress. Everyone of us feel it and we all deal with it differently, but we all have to deal with it somehow. I hope you will find something in one of these posts that will help you get by. Just find that one thing that is the lifeboat for your stress, and remember…IT GETS EASIER!

LIS Overload!
It’s OK to Not Have Time
Beginner Status
The Finals Push: Dealing with Your Stress
How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Love Library School
Work/Life Balance in Library School
You are Now an Information Professional: First Year Reflections

Student Governance {Starter Kit}

23/08/2012 § 4 Comments

Another school year is upon us! Over the next few weeks, we will add some more tips and discussions to our Starter Kit Series as we welcome new library students to the blog. We’d like to encourage returning students to revisit the series along with us as well and especially to dive into the comments to share your own experiences and tips.

Voting station at Foster City Library.

For today, I’d like to bring up the idea of joining and serving in student governance as a useful part of a library student’s education and experience. Librarians foster civic participation by providing education and information for informed citizens in electoral campaigns. Librarians also face the challenge of being advocates for libraries to legislative funding bodies, corporate boards, and other governing organizations that hold the purse strings for libraries’ budgets. All of this work requires a solid understanding of on-the-ground politics and how to navigate bureaucracies and hierarchies. Please also take a look at a related and overlapping post by Britt last year, Student Organizations and LIS Education, which focuses on the many benefits (and difficulties) of being a part of student organizations on campus such as ALA student chapters, professional development clubs, and special interest groups. Make sure to read through the comments there, too, which offer an excellent conversation with many people sharing thoughts on their schools’ particular organizations.

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