06/12/2013 § Leave a Comment
One of my courses this semester (Community Informatics) required a sizable amount of “service learning” (for those who don’t know, service learning is basically community service/volunteering activities that are incorporated into a course). When I mentioned the extensive, unpaid time commitment that the service learning represented to a friend of mine, he balked: “So they’re basically making you volunteer? That’s crazy. Plus it can’t really be considered volunteering if they make you do it…” This got me thinking about the various pro’s and con’s of service learning, a course component that seems to be more and more prevalent these days. For those who have a service learning component in an upcoming course or who are interested in designing their own service learning experience, here are some pros and cons (as I see it) of service learning:
- Con: Service learning is time-consuming. This semester I had to commit to 4 hours a week of volunteering at a library or computer lab. While this doesn’t seem like much, I also work 20 hours a week, take classes full time, am an officer for a student group, and contribute to this blog (love you guys!). Not to mention I live in the same town as my family, and am thus often committed outside of school/work. Therefore, I do not often initially relish seeing a service learning requirement on a syllabus. A service learning component can also require an initial time commitment to scout out a site, go through an orientation, and set up training (depending on what you’re doing). There’s also the transportation time, field notes time (as you often can’t jot down info until after your shift), and reflection time (as service learning usually involves reflection writing assignments).
- Con/Pro: Service learning is hard work. Whether it’s explaining to a senior citizen how to log in to a computer, open a browser, and log in to their email for the 100th time (ok, so it hasn’t happened 100 times, but sometimes it feels like it) or building custom-made wooden computer stations in your professor’s workshop (see below), service learning will challenge you in a variety of ways.
21/08/2013 § 2 Comments
I have a confession: I don’t always love library school. I know I want to be a librarian, and library school is helping me to achieve that, but the fact is, it isn’t always rainbows and smiles. Sometimes you have to take classes you don’t enjoy, do assignments that don’t seem relevant, or deal with people you’d just rather avoid.
This summer has been one of those times for me. I’ve been busy from the get-go, finishing up the fieldwork requirement for my program, taking classes, and working on a very time-intensive project for my graduate assistantship. While I recognize the value of all of these things, it hasn’t been the most fun or exciting summer.
Now, the fall semester is about to start up again, and I’d really like to get back some of the excitement I felt a year ago, when I was first beginning my library school journey. So I took to the internet, in search of inspiration, of something that would remind me why I decided to go to library school.
10/07/2013 § 9 Comments
In part, what it means to be a library professional is staying current with developments in the field of librarianship at large and not just focusing on your specific job duties at your institution. While you are in library school, this task is often easier because your classes encourage you to read and research into contemporary issues in the field, but afterwards, many librarians note that their workloads keep them from being able to read news and research as much as they would like. Developing good, efficient practices for staying current on library world news while you have the time, then, especially important.
Winston retrieved the Tulsa World every morning. Photo by S. Carter, 2004.
I’d love to hear from readers about two things:
- What is one source of library news that you check regularly to stay on top of the news (listserv, blog, professional magazine, scholarly journal, podcast, etc.)?
- What is one current library news item that has caught your attention recently?
For myself, I have many library-related rss feeds set up in my Feedly account, and while I often just read the headlines of blog posts, at least I have a sense of what kinds of news items are current. I also recently started using my Twitter account more regularly to follow various librarians who post about library topics. I’ve found that Twitter often has more up-to-date links to news items than blog posts since it takes people a little longer to compose a blog entry with reflections on the news item. For example, ALA’s publication American Libraries has an active Twitter feed of news.
The news story that I am thinking about lately is the announcement last week at the ALA conference from President Barack Obama in which he charged public libraries to provide access to health care information once new laws about mandatory coverage take effect. (My co-conspirator at Information + Publics recently blogged the topic.) I first came across a mention of the story the weekend of the announcement via a Twitter post.
How do you get your news? Reflecting on your own practices in finding news information (or having it find you, in the parlance of Web 2.0) is helpful in clarifying for yourself how you engage with information.
24/06/2013 § 1 Comment
This weekend I’ll be travelling to Chicago and attending ALA Annual as part of the Student to Staff (S2S) program. S2S is an opportunity provided by ALA wherein individual student representatives from 40 of the ALA-accredited library schools are selected by their institutions and then sent to ALA Annual. S2S provides conference registration, hotel accommodations, and per diem for food and in exchange the student representatives work 4 hours a day (for a total of 16 hours over the conference) assisting an ALA sub-group. It’s a really great opportunity for students to go to ALA pretty cheaply, network within a library group, and participate in the largest library conference of the year!
You have to first apply at your school, through your student ALA chapter; then applications are forwarded to the ALA offices and the first 40 suitable candidates are chosen as participants. Here is a list of the 40 participants going this summer: S2S 2013.
Here’s a brief look at parts of my schedule, to give you a taste of what ALA S2S entails:
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: