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1. What library program are you in? What is your favorite thing and least favorite thing about it?
I’m enrolled at the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University. My favorite thing about it is that it’s a blended format – I do most of my coursework online from home, and I drive to Emporia for face-to-face course meetings about once a month. Since I’m not taking classes in a traditional format, I get to work full-time, and I didn’t have to move away from my family. My least favorite thing about the program is also that it’s a blended format. It was important to me to be able to continue to work and to live near my family, but being enrolled in a program that’s mostly online means that I’m not getting the traditional student experience, and I sometimes feel less connected with my classmates than I would in a traditional face-to-face program.
2. What are the benefits and drawbacks to working while in library school?
One of the major benefits of working while I’m in library school is that I’m getting hands-on experience. Right now I’m a supervisor for a university library’s circulation department (full disclosure: the LIS Queen is one of my supervisees, so I was flattered when she asked me for an interview), and the time I’ve spent at work has taught me some valuable lessons. None of the classes I’ve taken have taught me how to deal with a patron who’s so angry he’s cursing at me, nor have they taught me how rewarding it is to connect a frustrated patron with the materials she’s been trying to find; I learned both of those things at work. From a more practical standpoint, working while I’m in school means that I have peace of mind about my financial situation, since I know that I’ll have a job when I graduate, even if I’m not able to find work as a librarian right away.
The major drawback is that I have less time for everything else, and sometimes I get stressed out just trying to find the time to do things that aren’t related to work or school. I was going to school part-time during my first year, but I’ve gone to a full-time course load this academic year so that I can (hopefully) graduate in May. This means that I have less time to spend with the people I care about, and it also means that I don’t always get as much sleep as I should.
Working full-time while going to library school isn’t for everyone, but since it’s a professional degree, I do think it’s important for library students to do some kind of library work (internships, graduate assistantships, part-time library jobs, or even volunteering) before they graduate.
3. Who is your mentor or librarian icon?
I don’t exactly have a mentor right now (I ask different colleagues, librarians, and professors for advice depending on the situation), but I have two librarian heroes: Nancy Pearl and children’s librarian at the branch I went to while I was growing up.
When I started library school, I was very gung-ho about reference and reader’s advisory. Ms. Pearl has some of the best advice I’ve heard about good reader’s advisory, which is to read outside your comfort zone, and not to take it personally if a patron ends up not liking a book you recommended. I’ve been more interested in metadata and cataloging of late, but I still very much admire Ms. Pearl and her efforts to connect readers with books they’ll love. (Also, I have her action figure on my desk.)
My other hero, the children’s librarian at the library branch near my parents’ house, is enthusiastic and dedicated; her branch consistently has the largest summer reading program of any of the town’s branches, in large part because she reaches out to the local community. She clearly loves her job, and I think a lot of that has to do with how she’s made it her own. She is the kind of librarian I want to be.
4. What is your favorite resource as a library student?
This varies from semester to semester, depending on the courses I’m taking, but one of my perennial favorites is the Annoyed Librarian’s blog. One of the things I value about our profession is that, in general, we’re optimists. However, I think that sometimes this optimism can whitewash some real concerns about libraries and librarianship, so I think the Annoyed Librarian’s perspective is important. Her blog is clearly snarky and sarcastic, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but she says the things that no one else is willing to say.