Mentor-Making

05/09/2013 § 3 Comments

In an effort to tap into my happy childhood memories of summer reading and perhaps to evade some adulthood stress, I’ve been re-reading Harry Potter. It’s been lovely comfort reading and a very welcome frame for some of my library-related thoughts. You see, I’ve been thinking a lot about mentorship. The power of a great mentor like Albus Dumbledore has had me thinking about how to seek out mentors and make the most of their advice and encouragement during library school. What do we look for in mentors? What lessons and inspiration can they provide? A mentor can be a powerful motivator and guide. But now, as I begin my second year of a two-year master’s program, I’m also thinking about mentoring from another direction: the peer leadership of Neville and Ginny, and of course Harry, Ron, and Hermione. How can we, as students and budding professionals, be effective mentors for each other? What does good peer mentorship look like and involve?

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Photo © Joy A. Feerrar

Peer mentorship is especially useful within the context of a master’s program. The relative brevity of library school means that we’re put in a position of being “in the know” pretty quickly; whether we feel it or not, we have lots of useful knowledge (advice on selecting classes, navigating work opportunities, directions to various campus locations, library policies) to share with fellow students. Furthermore, learning doesn’t just happen in one direction within mentorship—taking on mentoring roles gives us opportunities to reflect on values and goals, to hone interpersonal skills, and to think about professional and academic questions in new ways. Being a good mentor doesn’t mean having all the answers and providing perfect guidance (I mean, even Dumbledore made some big mistakes). I like the idea of a “let’s figure things out together” form of peer mentoring; it makes sense to me within the collaborative context of library school and librarianship.

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Goodbye Library School, Hello High School

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.

This has nothing to do with anything, I just liked it. Image by samdecle, licensed through Flickr.

This has nothing to do with anything, I just liked it. Image by samdecle, licensed through Flickr.

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:

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Obstacles & How to Deal with Them

23/08/2013 § 2 Comments

As I finish up my MLIS (August graduation!) and start my certificate program, I find myself wanting to share a little library school wisdom. So things might get a little feelings-heavy, but bear with me; also, this advice goes to both new and returning library students:

Library school is a journey. You will encounter numerous experiences, guides, and opportunities along the way. But you will also almost certainly encounter a number of challenges, hurdles, and roadblocks. As Joanna wrote in her fabulous post, Apply Yourself, so many lovely opportunities are just waiting for you to take the initiative and grasp them! We’ve also featured numerous posts about how to do proactive things like changing your curriculum or doing an independent study. As you navigate numerous challenges and opportunities on your library school journey, here are some obstacles you may encounter and some productive ways to overcome them:

(CC licensed image from Flickr user rcstanley)

(CC licensed image from Flickr user rcstanley)

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When You Need a Little Inspiration

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.

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MOOCing up Librarianship

07/08/2013 § 5 Comments

During my final month of library school I decided to add one more item to my to do list: take the New Librarianship MOOC. The massive open online course (MOOC) was offered by Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies for graduate or continuing education credit, or just for fun. MOOCs can be a great way to supplement your library school education, so I enrolled just for fun as a final library school experience.

Previously Topher introduced the topic of new librarianship to Hack Library School readers, and Micah wrote an unbook unreview of Atlas to New Librarianship. The MOOC builds off of Atlas and primarily asks the question, What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees? It explores the core of librarianship and seeks to generate discussion about the future of librarianship.

The mission of New Librarianship.
I’ve seen countless mission statements for libraries and information organizations, but not one for librarians. Do you agree with this mission statement? Do you have your own?

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