Library School, Year One

Carolina Collection Reading Room by Caroline Culler

Suddenly, in the proverbial “blink of an eye,” I am finished with my first year of library school. In the past eight months, I have learned what seems to be more than I learned during my entire undergraduate career.  As I prepare for summer term and the remaining eight months until my graduation, I’ve been taking inventory, especially after reading Julia Feerrar’s post on Hack Library School about unexpected library school lessons.

I consider this to be my own inventory of “hacks” for learning — one that I’m sure will expand in the future.

1.  Introduce yourself to the seasoned and classy professional

While everything my instructors and guest librarians say is important, one has had a significant influence on my choices.  I admire her tremendously, and she has guided a great deal of my study at Carolina — and I attribute almost all of it to going up to her during orientation and saying, “Hello, my name is Robbin Zirkle.  I’m enrolled in your course, and I would love to get a preview of what it’s all about.”

2.  Deliver on Deliverables

During orientation, we got a talking-to about plagiarism and “deliverables,” and were instructed in the nuances of self-plagiarism.  What I wish they had said then was that after you turn in a deliverable and get feedback on it, you can share it with prospective employers!  That work will comprise your professional portfolio, so it is worth spending lots of time generating original, creative content that reflects who you are as a burgeoning professional right now.

3.  Listen to the Offbeat-Yet-Brilliant faculty member.

On my second day of library school, a professor told me that he didn’t believe his class should be required for all LS students, and that our time would be well-spent in other classes — specifically user education.  Rather than dropping his class, I added another, topping out at five courses during my first semester.  It is hands-down one of my best decisions, and helped me identify an area I’m passionate about that I wouldn’t have tapped into if not for him.

4.  Stop and Smell the Collegiality

I began graduate school under the impression that I would have no free time and would study, get my degree, and leave.  That was completely impractical, not just because networking is essential in this field, but also because fostering relationships is an investment in present and future happiness.  I’m fortunate to be in a program and profession full of people who “get” me, so the chance to work with them and laugh with them now is priceless, as well as an investment in the future: we will be working together and seeing each other at ALA conferences for the next fifty years.

I foresee this list growing during the next eight months, as well as afterward (hindsight is 20/20 after all).  I’m curious, though: what have I missed?


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