3 Unexpected Library School Lessons

29/04/2013 § 6 Comments

Some of my favorite questions to ask librarians during informational interviews revolve around surprise: What has most surprised you about your current role or about your career path? Is there anything you wish you had known sooner? I’ve found their answers to be particularly useful as I try to figure out how to focus my time and energy during school. As my second semester of library school draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about how I would answer this type of questions myself. What has surprised me about library school and what unexpected lessons have I learned so far?

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Questionable Promotion/Advocacy

24/04/2013 § 8 Comments

I recently received an ALA Store catalog in the mail and was happily flipping through the pages, considering whether or not I should order my own supply of Love My Library buttons, when I stumbled across this t-shirt:

Sold by ALA Store, design by Andy Woodworth (Image source: ALA Store)

Sold by ALA Store, design by Andy Woodworth (Image source: ALA Store)

It has pictures of endangered animals (a giant panda, a mountain gorilla, a black rhino) and then the library symbol, the point being that libraries are endangered. I’m sorry to say it but something about this t-shirt does not sit well with me. It rings a little alarmist and reminds me of the Huffington Post “Libraries in Crisis” page which Turner Masland covered in an excellent Hack Library School post called HuffPo: Helping or Hurting?.

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Getting Through the End-of-Semester Slump

22/04/2013 § 1 Comment

?????????????????????sThe end of another academic year is upon us.  Here at Syracuse, we have a little more than two weeks left in the semester, and, as usual, that means that things are coming together in a perfect storm of final projects, presentations, and other end-of-semester tasks.  I’ve been running around like a crazy person, trying to finish projects, schedule webinars, attend campus events, and see classmates who will soon be graduating or leaving for the summer.

All of this end-of-semester craziness has sent me into a serious slump.  I find myself lacking the motivation to work on projects, putting off routine schoolwork until the last minute, and avoiding anything that requires making a decision.  Recently I’ve had to resist the urge to curl into a ball and cry because of the pressure to just do all the things.

to-doDespite all of my wishful thinking, though, these things aren’t going to disappear.  Projects need to be finished, classes require participation, and I still want to do what I can to become a great librarian, even in the midst of my slump.  So how can we make it to the end of the semester without suffering a nervous breakdown?  Here are some thoughts: « Read the rest of this entry »

How to Survive and Prevent a Bad Internship

29/03/2013 § 8 Comments

There’s a good chance that you’ve had a bad internship or job experience. Maybe it was mundane tasks, unfriendly co-workers, or damaged expectations that did you in. Many MLS/MLIS programs require, or at least strongly recommend, an internship or practicum before graduation. Internships are great ways to taste-test a type of librarianship, network, and get practical experience. The unfortunate reality is that we don’t always know what we’re walking into when we begin an internship. So, how do we survive or prevent a bad internship?

Frustrated man at a desk (cropped)

Alternative title: How to avoid looking like this.

Survival
If you’re already going through a bad internship experience or find yourself in one later, you’ll need to know how to surive. Take a deep breath, remind yourself it is an opportunity to learn that will only last a few months, and use the following tips to better your internship experience.
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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.

photo

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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