Asking for Help When You Need It and Knowing When to Help Yourself

02/04/2014 § 1 Comment

Do you remember what it was like to be an undergraduate?  I took a few years off between college and my MLS, but I can still recall the endless “student social events,” the finals-week pampering and “de-stressing” events that my college hosted without fail.  The intro-to-the-library session all the first-years received. Basically, the hand-holding.

I’m not saying undergrad is a breeze.  There’s plenty of work involved, and those degrees are earned.  But undergrads enjoy a lot more basic support structures and failsafe measures to keep the clueless from falling through the cracks.  Masters and PhD programs, while wonderful, are a whole different deal (especially when you’re online). There are very few measures to catch you if you screw up, and while I’m sure your program wants to see you succeed, you’re the only one responsible for your success.

But that’s not to say you won’t get help if you need it.  The key is knowing who to ask, when to ask, and when you should really be helping yourself.  Here are some common problems and ways that they might be solved.  Please add your own problems and solutions below the line! « Read the rest of this entry »

Hack your Enthusiasm: Boosting Motivation When Torpor Hits

20/03/2014 § 4 Comments

Library school is great.  After a standard Bachelor of Arts and a few years in the workforce I’m finally making progress towards my career goals, and it’s refreshing to be in classes that I chose myself and will impact my career in real and direct ways.  On most days I approach my classwork are enthusiasm, interest, and excitement.

But there are days that this is not the case. I absolutely want to be a librarian; but sometimes being a student all over again saps my will, and even the best classes have units that are critical and practical but not inspiring or engaging.  There are days when a Netflix marathon and a craft beer or two are far more enticing than 50 pages of theory-heavy reading in 10-point font. I’m sure many of you have days just like this. Lethargy: it happens. But unless you want to give up your librarian (or archivist) dreams you’ve got to figure out a way to overcome this torpor and get your positive momentum back.

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Full Time Work and an MLS: Will it Work for You?

20/02/2014 § 8 Comments

Like any graduate program, library school is a big time commitment.  Whether your program is online or in person, full time or part time, there’s just no way to get the education you need to be a librarian without putting in a significant chunk of your life.  But if time isn’t something you’ve got in spades, is it reasonable to think you can work full time and still do your degree?

My answer: very often yes, but it depends. Many of my classmates work, many are parents.  I have to travel once or twice a month for my full time job. Everybody has a life, and most MLS programs get that. That doesn’t mean that every MLS program is going to work with every full-time job though. So how do you go about answering this question for your own life? « Read the rest of this entry »

Defending your chosen profession to friends, family, and complete strangers

15/01/2014 § 6 Comments

Today’s post was supposed to be a fluffy list of librarian-centric movies you could work into a nice Netflix binge on your last weekend or two before the spring semester starts up. I had actually started to compile a nice little list for you. But then Saturday night I stumbled onto an article in The Guardian about an increase in volunteer-run libraries in Great Britain. The volunteer question is worth discussing (Anna-Sophia addressed it nicely a few months ago), but the thing that made me sit up and foam at the mouth for a few hours was the comment section. We had some defenders, but there were also a whole lot of people saying very blatantly that librarians aren’t real professionals, and not worth our salaries. Some were trolling but others seemed to genuinely believe that being a librarian is a simple job that can be taught with a few hours training.

I get a softer version of this attitude all the time. It’s constant and insidious, and rectifying these misconceptions without pigeonholing your listeners can be really difficult. I’d love to hold forth for an hour or five, but in the social situations where this question often comes up a snappy soundbite is all people really want.  Soundbites are difficult to create on the spot, especially if you’re like me and blind fury and/or nerves sometimes make it hard to reply coherently at a moment’s notice[1]. But it can be done.  Here are some of my standard fallbacks for fighting off the inevitable vultures: « Read the rest of this entry »

Tackling Library School Debt with Scholarships

18/12/2013 § 4 Comments

For many of us, library school = big student loans.  Some programs are less expensive than others, particularly if you’re able to get in-state tuition, but we all know that none of them can really be described as cheap. Have you looked at your student accounts lately?  Take a moment, figure out how much you’ve borrowed so far, how much more you’ll need to borrow, throw in summer tuition if you’re taking summer classes, factor in books and technology purchases.  Tell me, how much debt will you be in when you graduate?

If you’re in a situation anything like mine, the answer is “far more than I really wanted to be reminded of during the holidays, thank-you-very-much.” That’s if you could bring yourself to answer me at all. But while it’s no fun to ponder the massive debt you’re running up, the fact of the matter is that you’re probably between semesters for the next 6-8 weeks and suddenly have some extra time on your hands. So rather than whimpering under your desk, why not put your time and your budget fears to good use and write some really fantastic scholarship applications?  Even if they’re not due until April, when else will you have the time?

I realize that it’s your holiday break and you might not want to do this, so here are some national-level scholarship programs with relatively painless application procedures to get you started. Some of these will even let you apply to more than one at a time!

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