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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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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[Series] So What Do You Do? My Practicum Experience at a Small Academic Archive

11/01/2013 § 4 Comments

This post is part of a new series called “So What Do You Do?” in which LIS students talk about their experiences as interns. We want to showcase the wide range of things people are doing in the world of library and information science.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Nicole Helregel and I’m in my second year of the MLIS program at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. My undergraduate degree is in American History, from Beloit College (in Wisconsin!). I’m currently a graduate assistant at an academic library, where I mostly work the reference desk, create exhibits, and update web content. On a more personal note, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that delicious soups are good for the soul and perhaps the best way to combat the winter blues.

So what do you do?

This past semester I spent over 100 hours working at the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections (one part of the larger University of Illinois Library system) as part of a practicum experience. Because I’m a townie, I was able to start my practicum during the summer (even though I was technically registered for it in the fall semester) and worked, on average, about six hours a week from August through December. It’s a small unit, with two full time employees and no graduate or student assistants; thus, they were very grateful and receptive when I approached them about a practicum.

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Explaining the Science of Library Science

19/11/2012 § 12 Comments

The leaves are falling, the weather is cooling (at least for those of us in temperate climates), and November is whipping by. I can hardly believe how quickly this semester has gone, but I am very excited to head home for the fast-approaching holidays. Like me, you may be looking forward to gatherings of family and friends in the coming weeks—and quite possibly anticipating a lot of curiosity about library school and librarianship.

The many questions and quizzical looks I receive when explaining my career aspirations and current studies surprised me at first. Until I started to apply for library school and to attempt to explain my plans to friends and family, I didn’t realize how misunderstood and underutilized librarians often are. I have received questions like: Why do you need a master’s degree to be a librarian? Why do we need librarians now that we can get so much online? And the crowd favorite: Are you going to take classes about shh-ing people?  I have found, as I am sure every librarian and wannabe librarian does, that those without a lot of experience in “library land” often have a fairly foggy idea of what librarians do and therefore have trouble imagining the training and study involved in master’s programs.

Image via

We need to get better at explaining ourselves. Topher offers great advice on fielding some common questions and misconceptions here. I’d like to build on his ideas with a particular focus on the term library science. Of all the questions I’ve received from friends, family, and acquaintances, I’ve noticed the most confusion surrounding the ‘science’ aspect: So you’re studying library science…what is that exactly? How can librarianship be a science? Why isn’t your program described as library arts or library studies?

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Getting Along With Computer Science Folk

14/11/2012 § 11 Comments

It’s a simple fact: each year library and information science becomes a more technical field; there is an increasing expectation that by the time you leave library school you will have some amount of technical skill (coding, web design, database creation, etc.). As many schools adopt more and more technical information science courses, the once harsh line that separated librarians from computer scientists has become a lot fuzzier.

Much has been done to increase dialogue, positive relationships, and collaboration between the two groups. Many LIS careers now include technical components and interaction with computer scientists, IT personal, and other technically-minded people is often the norm. While many LIS students approach technical classes with trepidation and anxiety, many others come away with a passion for the work and enough technical fluency to hold their own in a future workplace that includes highly-skilled computer science professionals.

Teamwork is the best! (Source:

However, I have noticed, both in personal and professional instances, a definite negative reaction when librarians tell computer scientist students and professionals that they are learning technical skills. I’ve experienced this myself and have heard similar stories from other LIS students. So, for my inaugural HLS post, I decided to reach out to my friends with degrees in computer science (of which I, coincidentally, have many) to figure out why library students and librarians are often met with such an icy reception from our CS counterparts, and what we can do to change it. From their responses, I gleaned the following reasons/problems, and have tried to posit solutions. Please keep in mind that the quotes and ideas below represent the opinions of individuals about a multi-faceted problem; my intention is not to stereotype or offend, but to explore ways to build partnerships and mend discord.

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