Start reading job ads now

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.

Now's the time!

Now’s the time to start looking! Image Source

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:

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Updates from the World of a PhD Student: Finishing Up the Second Year

05/04/2013 § 2 Comments

Hey everyone! I’ve been absent from posting as regularly as I used to, but I wanted to poke my head in and tell you all about how my PhD program is going. Hopefully it will be helpful for those of you considering a PhD yourselves!

I’ve posted a bit about my thought going into the PhD program on HLS (here and here), and at the end of last year I posted some of the things I learned from my PhD (and from the experience of moving to a new town) here. Another year has passed, and I’m currently in the midst of my last semester of coursework. It feels really strange to think that I’ll never be a student in a classroom setting again (save for the occasional seminar), but that I’ll still be a student doing my own independent work under the guidance of faculty. It’s a great transitionary period prior to going out into the workforce, though, and I’m really excited to have more time to devote to my independent projects (namely, my dissertation!)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the timeline of a PhD program, it has a few more steps than a Master’s program does. Most people finish in 4-5 years, but some people take more or less time depending on their research topic, how much they work outside of school, etc. Students in our program typically come in with an MLS. The first thing we do is take our coursework, which is usually about two years. Then we prepare for and take prelims (comprehensive exam). For my program, the prelims include written statements you prepare, from which your committee pulls your questions. Then, you write your responses over the course of one week. After you pass prelims, you advance to candidacy, and start working on your prospectus (the first 2-3 chapters of the dissertation in most cases). You defend your prospectus, then write the rest of your dissertation, defend the dissertation, and do any revisions your committee asks for. If it all goes according to plan, you should end up with a PhD at the end of it!

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Are We Learning Enough About Users?

15/02/2013 § 8 Comments

Well into my second semester of library school, I find myself still recovering from a bit of metaphorical whiplash I picked up in the fall.

You see, I’m not sure how to feel about users.

The reference desk at Bucknell's Learning Commons. via http://faculty.rwu.edu/smcmullen/Bucknell.html

The reference desk at Bucknell’s Learning Commons. via http://faculty.rwu.edu/smcmullen/Bucknell.html

I know it sounds like a no-brainer. Without users, after all, our workplaces would be nothing but big empty information warehouses.

But when it comes to users, it seems like there’s a contrast within MLS programs. In my library classes, there was a good amount of talk about user needs. Meanwhile, in my archive classes, users got little more than a passing mention. And fair enough- as any first year student will tell you, libraries aren’t archives and archives aren’t libraries. They’re two different types of places. But they both have users, and anyone working in the field needs to be able to understand them.

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Getting Political

13/02/2013 § 9 Comments

I’m always on the lookout for articles, blog posts, and anything else with some variant of “things they don’t teach in library school,” as I’m sure many of you are as well. These things usually fall into two categories: “things they should teach in library school classes, but don’t” and “things you have to learn outside the classroom.” As an LIS student who is trying to make the most out of her education, both inside and outside the classroom, I try to keep an eye out for both.

Thus, when I recently stumbled across an American Libraries Inside Scoop post by Chris Kyauk entitled “They Don’t Teach You Politics in Library School,” it really got me thinking. Should they teach us politics in library school? If so, how? Would that kind of education lend itself to a classroom setting? And aren’t library students and librarians already politically engaged as it is?

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Should Online Coursework Be a Library School Requirement?

01/02/2012 § 31 Comments

Photo by Wouter Verhelst

This semester I’m taking ‘Distributed Learning Librarianship’ online at the University of North Texas.  Needless to say online learning is on my mind.  In August of last year Rose L. Chou contributed a great HLS post In Defense of Online LIS Education,  and Laura Sanders’ recent post on Teaching Methods Used in Library School generated some good discussion that included comments about online coursework. I’d like to build on some of the ideas presented in these post and in my class.  I feel like every other day I have a conversation with someone about online courses that includes a statement like, “How does that even work?” or “I can’t imagine what a class would be like online.” This weekend it dawned on me–maybe you can’t imagine what an online class is like until you take one. Sometimes I feel like I’m describing driving to someone who hasn’t ridden in a car.

There is a growing population of online students in the United States. According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning  online enrollment experienced an average annual growth rate of 20% from 2002 to 2009. From fall 2008 to fall 2009 there was an online enrollment increase of nearly one million students for a total of 5.6 million students. Many areas of librarianship are affected by these online learners. As one would expect, online students turn to their University libraries for support–but they also use their local public libraries for school-related needs. Additionally, school librarians may be called on by K-12 students taking online classes. As more people choose to learn online, do we need more librarians who know how to serve them? There are many different ways to approach needs assessment—in the case of online learners I’m beginning to think needs assessment should come, in part, from firsthand experience.

I understand that online learning isn’t a great fit for every library school student and many people still resist the idea of online courses and degrees. 5.6 million online learners are proceeding anyway. How are we going to educate ourselves to meet their information needs?

I want to know what you think. Do we need to do more to anticipate the needs of online learners in our coursework? How does your school’s curriculum address online learning? Should library school students be taking more online courses? Let’s discuss.

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