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 »
29/08/2012 § 31 Comments
As a second-year SLIS student, I’ve talked to quite a few new students in my program who are anxious about securing library jobs. I can understand how they feel; after all, one year ago I was a freshly minted SLIS student. I had never gotten paid to work in a library. I came to library school with the sage advice of my mentor, a very recent library school grad, ringing in my ears. She had conveyed to me in no uncertain terms that I should work as much as I could while going to school to build my resume. Because of her, I came to library school knowing I needed to jump right in—-but that didn’t make the process any easier.
By now I’ve held several jobs and it has led me to realize that my real education happens when I go to work every day. I view my coursework as something to get through; if my classes are enjoyable it’s a plus. I have taken enthralling classes, practical classes, boring classes, and enragingly irrelevant classes. They’ve fallen all over the spectrum. So while I attempt to do well in them, my main priority is working as much as is feasible. I firmly believe that library jobs should always trump coursework because if you do not work, you will not get a job in a library upon graduating. We could squabble about the particulars (maybe you could get a paraprofessional position without experience) but I don’t think it’s contestable. The library job market is intensely competitive and the more library experience you have, the better off you will be.
With that said, the following are a few tips I have for new students looking to work while in library school.