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:
24/05/2013 § 7 Comments
One piece of advice that multiple people gave me around the time I started library school is: it is never too early to start reading library job ads (especially if you’ve already started library school). Of course the library hiring process is not so lengthy that you need to start actually seeking jobs if you aren’t within a few months of graduation. Rather, looking at job ads is a great way to discover a lot of things about yourself, your library school, your career goals, the job market, and the field that you have entered. While it can sometimes be disheartening (because you’re still far away from graduation) or strangely inspiring (because of the totally amazing opportunities and positions that are waiting for you) or even confusing (why would I need to know how to do that), reading library job ads will almost always prove to be an enlightening and worthwhile use of your time.
Here are some of the key reasons you should be reading library job ads now and how you can use them to shape your path:
18/02/2013 § 8 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.
15/01/2013 § 2 Comments
At Hack Library School, one of the most exciting things we get to do is collaborate with other individuals and groups within the library community. We are lucky to be starting off 2013 with some great collaborations, the first of which is with Hiring Librarians creator Emily Weak. We partnered with Emily to develop an interview series focusing on the career services offered by LIS programs across the US. The series debuted last week on Hiring Librarians with an interview with the Indiana University-Bloomington School of Library and Information Science; the second post about the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences went live today. While some of the interviews will be completed by the Hack Library School writers, the majority are completed by representatives of the LIS program in question. We wanted to give the programs a chance to discuss their services and philosophies in their own words, and often what they have to say and how they say it is quite telling.
Our hope is that these interviews will:
- Provide more information for current students (and alumni) about how they can best take advantage of their school’s career resources.
- Help people who are thinking about going to library school focus on their post-graduation employability, and how their choice of school might affect that
- Encourage library schools to provide high-quality career resources for graduates and alumni. Allow schools to share information about their strategies for providing career guidance.
- Engage library students in career-focused dialogue with their schools.
These interviews will be posted each Tuesday on Hiring Librarians, so make sure you visit frequently!
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 »