Library School To Do List

child's to do list

Photo by Carissa GoodNCrazy on Flickr

In getting my MLIS, there are things I’m glad that I did, and there are also things that I wish that I had done differently. To get a library job there are some important skills you need. If I had to do it over again I would make sure that I had all of these things checked off my list:

Real World Experience

You can’t expect to get hired out of library school unless you have some real experience to point to. The degree is important, but what really sets you apart is what you’ve done. There are plenty of ways to get experience. Get an assistantship, internship or graduate position at a library where you’re actually doing the job. Volunteer at a public, academic, or even jail library. Do a practicum as a part of a class. This doesn’t need to be full time professional experience, but you should show that you have something hands on that you can point to in your resume.

Some Technology Skills

Libraries and technology are integrally tied together. You have to make it a priority to develop some technology chops. I’m not going to enumerate specific skills you need (though I think some HTML is critical). You need to be comfortable with technology and the speed at which it changes. If your program doesn’t offer technology classes, do some outside work. Try something similar to the 23 things project. Start a tech in libraries club or get involved with the LITA chapter at school. You’re never done learning technology, so you have to learn how to play and evaluate technology and how/if it fits into your needs.

Professional Engagement

You need to show that you care about the profession and want to give back.  Join a professional organization like the ALA. Student memberships are often highly discounted. Besides an association there are tons of ways to be professionally engaged: publish an article or opinion piece, attend conferences, join a library club at school, volunteer at a library, give a presentation, join a professional committee. People like to see job-seekers who are passionate, engaged, and thoughtful about what they do.

Make Connections

Build and maintain connections with students, professors, and other professionals you meet. The library world is a pretty small one, and every connection is important. Make friendships with students and maintain them via social media. Connections that you make in library school can be lifelong and may be very helpful down the road, even if you don’t see it now. Besides librarians are some of the most fun people to hang out with anyway.

Get a Website

The benefits of getting a website is twofold. It helps you play with and learn technology, and it also is a place to show off things that may not come through in a paper resume. If you constructed a video tutorial you could highlight it on your website. If you gave an interesting presentation or Prezi you can embed it. It doesn’t need to be super flashy. You could just get a WordPress blog or create one in a couple hours using Weebly or Google sites.

Teaching Experience

This one I found very helpful personally. If you know for sure you never will be teaching this one might be optional, but this skill makes you so much more marketable. Volunteer to do workshops. If offered, take an instruction class. I took a practicum and it helped me immensely. Librarians are in the business of learning and information and that often means we need to be educators.


Reflections on Two Years as a Librarian

andy holding up the number 2

Today marks my second full year as a librarian and I’m still in love with this profession. My job is to assist people who are curious like me, people who want to learn, and I get paid for it! There have been a fair amount of changes around here recently, like the fact that we’re getting a new librarian, but it keeps things fresh. I posted at this time last year a few reflections and am still learning things, so I wanted to post some lessons I’ve learned this year.

  • Go with the flow – Sometimes things are going really great. You sometimes come across one of those moments that make it all worth it. Other times everything seems to get fouled up, or everything hits your desk at once and you get overwhelmed. This is true in any career and in life. Don’t dwell on failures because they’ll soon turn around. You’ll learn from your mistakes and be successful. On the flip side, don’t get too caught up with your successes or start boasting when things are going well. You don’t stay on top forever. There are lots of highs and lows in your career. Enjoy the good times and learn from the bad ones.
  • Give back – If you want your job to exist in 5, 10, or 20 years give back to the profession. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and join an ALA committee (though that’s an option). It does mean to give back in a way that’s meaningful and works for you. I helped organize a virtual version of the ACRL New England Chapter conference for Vermont librarians who couldn’t make the actual one. It was a great learning experience for me, benefited other librarians and the organization, and was a lot of fun. Giving back could mean presenting at conferences cool ideas your library has tried, it could mean mentoring a younger librarian or MLIS student, or it could mean volunteering with your local library association. With our actions we’re creating the future of librarianship; make sure you have a say in that future.
  • You can’t do everything – This one is especially hard for me to remember since my interests are really varied and I love trying new things. But sometimes you have to drop things. This goes for libraries in general as well as each of us in our personal careers. You can’t serve on every committee, take on every interesting project, write every paper, or teach every class. The same goes with libraries. They can’t try to be all things to all people. Once you start getting overwhelmed and stretched thin you have to think about what you can drop. Take time to reflect on what’s important to you and your career and concentrate on that.

I’m still a new librarian and am constantly learning. But I don’t think I can get away with saying, “Oh sorry, I didn’t know, I’m new,” anymore. This year’s been a good one personally and professionally. Now I have to look forward to year number three.


Come Work With Me!

We’re excited to be adding a new member to our team at Champlain College. We’ll be hiring a Scholarly Resource and Academic Outreach Librarian in the next few months. We’re looking for an “enthusiastic, collegial and service-oriented Librarian” to join us in the cool work that we’re doing here. If that sounds like you take a look at the job ad and apply online. You could soon be enjoying a view like this:

View from the Miller Information Commons