Ten Practical Tips for New Library Students

(Many thanks to Monique Lloyd for contributing the following article. The SLIM-OR SCALA Blog welcomes submissions relevant to library and information science. If you would like to submit an article, please attach it to an e-mail and send it to: VintageRedhead22[at]gmail[dot]com. We look forward to your contributions! –Laureen Burger, Web Manager)

by Monique Lloyd (OR-7)

If you really want something, and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities and never give up, you will find a way. ~ Jane Goodall

Here is a list of ten tips I’d like to have had when I began library school.I hope you find some of them useful.Please feel free to add others by using the comment function.

1. Be generous and gracious.

I never lost anything by giving things away. ~ Anonymous

  • If you come across an article on a topic one of your classmates is interested in, email the citation.Do the same with information about scholarships, opportunities for publication or positions in professional organizations, informative blogs, wikis, or book reviews.
  • If you discover a classmate has landed a great job, been given a promotion, awarded a scholarship, or had a paper published, send a congratulatory email.
  • Send handwritten thank you notes from the heart to those who have, in big or small ways, inspired you, encouraged you, and advised you.

2. Network.

The way of the world is meeting people through other people. ~Robert Kerrigan

  • Get business cards printed now with your basic contact information. Keep a half-dozen behind your nametag when you go to a conference and you won’t have to fumble around to find them.
  • Go to as many conferences as you have time and money to attend. Wear something distinctive like a pin, scarf, or tie every day you are there; it will help people remember you.
  • Volunteer.Join roundtables and sections and be an active member.
  • Be bold. Stand up and ask a question or make a comment at a session.
  • Be brave. Go up to someone you admire, offer a brief introduction, compliment or comment on their speech, article, or book, and ask to exchange business cards.

3. Do what works for you.

Know thyself. ~ Socrates

  • Some thrive on stress and others need order and calm.Some like to carefully chunk out small pieces of time to do their assignments while others like to do the research early and then give themselves plenty of time to think before sitting down to write.Some like to work on multiple projects at the same time while others like to concentrate on each individually.Figure out what works for you and then do it.
  • Examine your writing, presentation, and technological skills critically. Highlight your strong areas while working on your weak ones.

4. Life intervenes.

The essence of wise living is anticipating the unanticipated and expecting the unexpected.~Kevin A. Woolsey

  • No matter how well we plan, life happens; someone we love dies, we lose our jobs, we become ill or injured. Sometimes life throws something at us and all we can do is catch it, deal with it, and move on.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Be flexible and adaptable, remain aware of what might go wrong, and try to have backup plans in place.

5. Don’t tell. Show.

What you will do matters.All you need is to do it.~ Judy Grahn

  • Actions count.Go above and beyond what is required or expected.
  • Translate what you know how to do to actual projects.

6. Be professional.

Always dress for your next job.~ Karen Diller

  • The library world is a small one and your reputation is important.Future employers will very likely Google your name to see what they can find out about you. Be careful what you reveal on social networking sites.
  • Be aware of and conform to professional ethical standards. Do your work skillfully and well. Always represent your employer, your fellow workers, and yourself with dignity and respect.

7. Find a mentor.

Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight. ~ Anonymous

  • Take advantage of one of the mentoring programs offered by various professional organizations.
  • A mentor can advise and guide you by doing such things as reviewing resumes and cover letters, and providing advice on interviewing, salary expectations, and how to balance work and home.
  • When you are in a position to do so, give back by becoming a mentor to someone else.

8. Take care of yourself.

When your mother asks “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.~ Erma Bombeck

  • Remember all those things your mother told you about eating healthy foods on a regular schedule, exercising, washing your hands often, and getting enough rest?  Well, she was right.  And don’t forget
    to get a flu shot.
  • Don’t neglect your emotional and spiritual health.

9. Set aside time to think and reflect.

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~ Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun)

  • Thinking and reflecting provides an opportunity to integrate new ideas, commonalties, differences, and interrelations.It can include analyzing assumptions, becoming aware of contextual assumptions by realizing our assumptions are created socially and personally in a specific cultural context, imagining alternative ways of thinking, and questioning universal truth claims using reflective skepticism.
  • Consider keeping a weekly personal journal to capture and further examine your reflections.

10. Be aware of available resources and use them.

There are plenty of opportunities out there.You can’t sit back and wait.~ Ellen Metcalf

  • Begin examining resumes of those who have positions similar to one you hope to obtain and note what skills and experiences they have.Look also at job descriptions for positions you hope to apply for when you have earned your degree and note what skills, experience, and attributesemployers are seeking.Make a list and start working towards them.
  • Pay close attention to the techniques used by presenters you enjoy and strive to emulate them. The most compelling presenters have clearly defined goals, demonstrate mastery of content, proceed seamlessly from point to point, recognize various learning styles, and are original and creative. The very best presenters use humor, tell stories to illustrate points, and are passionate about their topic.
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6 thoughts on “Ten Practical Tips for New Library Students

  1. Michael says:

    Excellent tips, Monique! You hinted at one, but I want to mention it again merely for reinforcement:

    Ask Questions. Just because we are librarians-to-be and librarians doesn’t mean we know everything, or can find everything. Graduate programs are largely self-directed and you will miss out hugely if you do not speak up and ask questions in class, at conferences, of strangers, of everyone.

    This comes in handy when networking–it’s a natural way to begin and sustain conversations with people you do not know. Ask about their shoes, brooch, a tie, whatever it takes! But be genuine, they’ll spot insincerity like bacon at a bat mitzvah.

    Michael (OR-7, nearly graduated, nearly unemployed, and nearly anxious)

  2. [...] Ten Practical Tips for New Library Students – Here is a list of ten tips I’d like to have had when I began library school. I hope you find some of them useful. Please feel free to add others by using the comment function. [...]

  3. Chelle says:

    Thanks for the tips! I was surprised by most of them. Many sound like common sense but it’s easy to forget how important these things are. I’m a month into my MILS program so I’m grateful for the advice!

  4. S. Smith says:

    I survived eight mergers and acquisitions at my old job and left when I DECIDED to do something else. How did I survive through it all when friends lost their jobs?

    1. Professionalism
    2. I NEVER whined, bitched, pissed, or moan about ANYTHING! I sucked it up and worked harder
    3. I said yes, almost all the time and selectively said no.
    4. I joined the QA/QI and safety committees and wrote manuals and protocols. Hey, can you believe no one else thought of this before?
    5. I got along with ALMOST everyone I worked with on a really good basis. We can’t love every co-worker but I never let them know if I didn’t like them much.
    6. I worked from home (I could, I was mgmt) when my car broke down, I didn’t just say “sorry, not coming in.”
    7. I didn’t take all my personal, vacation and sick days.
    8. I did continuing education without being asked and got certified even when it wasn’t necessary

  5. Amanda Y. says:

    I think another good thing I have learned from starting a new program from the ground up in libraries is NEVER be afraid to take a risk. Be smart, but know what you have worked hard for may not work out. Take it all as a learning experience and press on.

    I love what you suggested. I will take those with me when I enter library school next fall!

  6. [...] Ten Practical Tips for New Library Students – Here is a list of ten tips I’d like to have had when I began library school. I hope you find some of them useful. Please feel free to add others by using the comment function. [...]

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