06/12/2013 § 1 Comment
One of my courses this semester (Community Informatics) required a sizable amount of “service learning” (for those who don’t know, service learning is basically community service/volunteering activities that are incorporated into a course). When I mentioned the extensive, unpaid time commitment that the service learning represented to a friend of mine, he balked: “So they’re basically making you volunteer? That’s crazy. Plus it can’t really be considered volunteering if they make you do it…” This got me thinking about the various pro’s and con’s of service learning, a course component that seems to be more and more prevalent these days. For those who have a service learning component in an upcoming course or who are interested in designing their own service learning experience, here are some pros and cons (as I see it) of service learning:
- Con: Service learning is time-consuming. This semester I had to commit to 4 hours a week of volunteering at a library or computer lab. While this doesn’t seem like much, I also work 20 hours a week, take classes full time, am an officer for a student group, and contribute to this blog (love you guys!). Not to mention I live in the same town as my family, and am thus often committed outside of school/work. Therefore, I do not often initially relish seeing a service learning requirement on a syllabus. A service learning component can also require an initial time commitment to scout out a site, go through an orientation, and set up training (depending on what you’re doing). There’s also the transportation time, field notes time (as you often can’t jot down info until after your shift), and reflection time (as service learning usually involves reflection writing assignments).
- Con/Pro: Service learning is hard work. Whether it’s explaining to a senior citizen how to log in to a computer, open a browser, and log in to their email for the 100th time (ok, so it hasn’t happened 100 times, but sometimes it feels like it) or building custom-made wooden computer stations in your professor’s workshop (see below), service learning will challenge you in a variety of ways.
23/09/2013 § 6 Comments
If you’re considering library school, if you’ve been accepted, and especially if you’re already there, I would strongly recommend getting hands-on experience as soon as possible. An internship or even just a bit of volunteering will help you to build a foundation of knowledge and skills as you pursue your degree. Other hackers have written on finding opportunities and making the most of them, but I’d like to address some key benefits of getting pre-library school experience in the first place:
Identifying Interests and Goals
Before starting library school I had never been paid to work in a library. However, I had spent considerable time interning and volunteering in them and had been an enthusiastic patron for as long as I could remember. During college, I spent two summers in a small academic library and one semester in my college archives, building an understanding of various kinds of library work. In addition to providing me with a basic ’how things work’ familiarity with many areas of academic libraries, my internships helped me to identify some of my interests and strengths, and to identify areas of librarianship I wanted to explore further. For example, after spending a lot of time by myself with boxes and files of papers in one internship, I decided that it would be important for me to pursue positions with more collaboration and patron interaction in the future. Figuring out what you don’t enjoy can be just as useful as discovering what you do.
24/07/2012 § 4 Comments
Editor’s Note: This is a Guest Post by Anita R. Dryden
This past year I had the pleasure of participating in the American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders program, which is designed to help new librarians get involved in ALA. Throughout the course of the program you attend leadership training, meet many of the current leaders in ALA, and are assigned to a small group to complete a project for a Division or Round Table. The EL program was a wonderful experience – I loved getting to know a group of really engaged, passionate young professionals while working on an exciting and beneficial project that helped me learn more about how the beast that is ALA works.
26/08/2011 § 16 Comments
If you’re a brand new library school student, you may feel it’s a little early to start thinking about internships/practicums. While I do think you need a few weeks to get settled in and feel less overwhelmed by the new atmosphere (and information overload), it’s a good idea to begin thinking about internships as soon as you’re able. My number 1 tip for new students is to start perusing job ads – subscribe to job lists in Google Reader, and save the ones that interest you. You don’t have to have your “track” figured out yet, but if you know some of the skills you will need to meet job requirements, you will feel a bit more focused when it comes to choosing classes and internships.
LIS programs vary when it comes to internships and practicums; some are required, some are optional. At UA, internships are optional, but students are strongly encouraged to do at least one semester-long, 150-hour internship for pass/fail credit. It doesn’t hurt that SLIS has an amazing internship coordinator who is not afraid to call any library – students talk to her about their interests, she names off some choices, and they go from there.
First things first: if an internship is not required, DO ONE. There are some exceptions to this. If you’re already working in a library part-time or full-time, you may not need an internship. If you can’t physically fit one in your schedule due to life conflicts, it’s understandable. Otherwise — do it. I can’t stress this enough.
Now for the other tips: « Read the rest of this entry »