A Beginner’s Guide to Library School

This past weekend the OR-12 cohort had orientation. As OR-10 moves from library school and fully into the world of information professionals, it’s time to let the new kids take over, but not without some parting gifts. Those gifts: lots of links and information to help you out as your journey begins!

Congratulations! You’re in library school. And if you’re with Emporia’s School of Library and Information Management (SLIM), you are very lucky indeed.  It can be very overwhelming after orientation. There’s a lot of information (appropriate as Information Overload Day is in August) and two years can seem like a long time. First things first: it’s okay to be overwhelmed. There’s a lot coming at you all at once. Recognize it for what it is and then start to parse things out. Once you get into a rhythm, it becomes much easier.

Now some tips and tricks.

DO:

  • Get a Twitter account. Right now. And follow us @SCALAoregon. There’s a ton of information out there and Twitter is an amazing way to get a lot of information in small and easy to digest pieces. Are you stuck looking for a topic for a paper on reference? Tweet to your followers and get some feedback. Find out about events and goings-ons in your neck of the woods or follow live tweets from conferences and events you couldn’t get to.
  • Start a blog (like Turner). Or at least start following a lot of blogs. Share your ideas with the world, get involved in the comments, and connect with your community. I follow the Public Library Association (PLA), the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) blogs because I am interested in public youth librarianship. Where are your interests? Find the association relevant to that and start following their blog. Other great blogs to follow include:
  • Be like Jim Carrey in the middle of this movie. Say yes to every opportunity even it seems like you maybe don’t know how to do it (thanks to Rachel Bridgewater for this advice). Go to that conference. Speak up in class. Present that paper. You can do so much more than you know and even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, there are learning opportunities at every turn. This is how you start to network.
  • Listen to your adviser (especially if it’s Perri). She knows the system, knows how to help you, and can get you to the end. In fact, she is what will get you to the end and you’ll feel a sense of pride on graduation day when she calls your name.
  • Get a library job or a volunteer position. Like yesterday. Volunteering is a fantastic way to find out what you want to do with your degree or maybe what you don’t want to do. Libraries love volunteers and they love library students. Multnomah County’s Volunteer Services has a number of options for those who want to work in libraries. Go ahead and ask around.
  • Sign up for list-servs. Your school one, a job list, one for your state. If you’re in Oregon, Libs-Or is invaluable. You may want to filter them into a different folder so it doesn’t overwhelm your in-box, but this is a great way to get information about conferences, articles, what’s going on with your school and state.
  • Back up your work. Save it on your computer, then again on a jump drive or external drive (or both). Load it up into Google Docs (which changes the formatting, but the content is still there) or Dropbox (which doesn’t change formatting). As an aside, these last two are great ways to collaborate with your classmates on projects.
  • Read Turner’s advice for new students.
  • Join your student organization. Want to do more than attend events? Lead them! Gain leadership skills! Make friends! Learn how to fund raise and do it some more! (PS: Elections for the new SCALA Oregon board are on Saturday. More information will be posted soon).
  • Join a national organization. As a student you get a great deal with combo ALA/OLA memberships.

Don’t

  • Bemoan group work. You’re going to have a group project nearly every semester and likely one per class. Librarianship is about collaboration and what you do in library school is great practice. It teaches you how to work together, how to lead, and how to present. You will get very comfortable with your classmates and they are the easiest audience you will every present in front of. Cherish this time.
  • Freak out if you can’t do any or all of this in the first semester. Give yourself time to figure out how to organize your life. You’ll get there.
  • Forget your friends and how to have fun, but “I have a project due” is a great way to get out of anything. They’ll understand.

Good luck to OR-11 as they move into their final year and to OR-12 as they plunk away at the first months of library school life. You’re now a member of an amazing community. Welcome!

Rebecca Chernay is a member of the recently graduate ESU’s OR-10 cohort and specializes in children’s and youth librarianship. She is the current Web Presence & Social Networking Coordinator for SCALA, but is excited to hand the post off this Saturday.

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