How I Learned to Love Printer Jams

25/03/2013 § 5 Comments

Do you ever daydream about your future professional life? Do you imagine yourself as a high-powered librarian, answering thoughtful reference questions or maybe cataloging rare and beautiful documents? Initiating programs that bridge the digital divide or solve access and licensing issues? I know I do.

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Approach with confidence…it senses fear and desperation

But here’s the thing: although I have big plans and aspirations, I recognize that life as an information professional isn’t always going to be the glamorous montage of my dreams. Example: I started working at the reference desk in an undergraduate library a few months ago and quickly discovered that I would spend much of my time assisting patrons with printing and scanning. Clearing jams, replacing toner and paper, explaining policies, walking patrons through the process…not the most exciting part of patron interactions, but a useful and necessary service. I’m sure there are plenty of ‘printing and scanning’ equivalents in other areas of librarianship, library school, and in all professions, for that matter. So, how do we deal? Can we ‘hack’ the mundane aspects of work and school?

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Presenting Your Best Self

20/03/2013 § 6 Comments

Library school is full of presentations. Whether it’s a short, informal talk or a long, detailed speech, I’ve had to give some kind of presentation for almost every library school class I’ve taken. Partly just a given in academia, frequent presentations will also be a reality for many of us in our future careers. LIS professionals are often expected to speak eloquently and concisely to everyone from peers to administrators to the general public.

Over the last few semesters, I feel as though I’ve learned so much more about presenting and presentation styles from my LIS peers and professors than I ever did in undergrad. Thus, I thought I’d share a little of their collective wisdom; some of these things seem fairly obvious, but many have changed the way I present myself and my information to others.

Must it always be a PowerPoint?
When planning a presentation, you always have to decide what, if any, visual aids you will use. “Presentation” has almost become synonymous with “PowerPoint,” but it doesn’t have to be! PowerPoint is a very useful tool, and it can be great for a lot of situations, but it shouldn’t be the only weapon in your arsenal. When you find yourself slipping into the same old PowerPoint layout, consider mixing it up with something more dynamic like Prezi.

Cut the amount of text in half; better yet, throw it out altogether
Crazy, right? Except it’s not. I recently had to help craft a group presentation for a marketing course. I was ready to plug away with some standard Title/Picture/3-5 Bullet Point slides. But one of my group members (who, it comes as no surprise, is already working in a management position at an academic library) insisted on minimal text. And when I say minimal, I mean very lean. We ended up only using images, a wee bit o’ text, and a lot of Smart Art (PowerPoint’s infographics):
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Lessons Learned Halfway Through Library School

18/01/2013 § 10 Comments

As of right now, I am officially halfway finished with my Master of Library Science and Master of Information Science. I am finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Professional librarianship! Benefits! A means to pay back my student loans! It is gratifying to recognize that the work I have been putting in for the past year and a half is building to something. Today I wanted to share some tips with you in the hopes that they will help guide you through your own library school experience.

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A Tale of Two Part-Time Library Jobs

09/11/2012 § 12 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alex Harrington.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” may be a bit melodramatic, but “it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness” fits pretty neatly when I try to describe my graduation from library school. See, I didn’t plan ahead, and I had no idea what to expect job-wise when I finished. I thought that having a graduate degree in library science meant I was automatically qualified to be a librarian. But I learned better, and now I have two part-time jobs in libraries (plus one non-library job). This is not what in-library-school me thought that after-library-school me would be doing, but so far it’s working for me. Because some of you might find yourselves in similar situations whether you expect to or not, I hope sharing my story and some advice I’ve learned along the way will help you in your post-graduate job searches.

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Tips for New Students Looking for Library School Jobs [Starter Kit]

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.

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