Before I started my MLIS, I had preconceived ideas about the reasons why I wanted to be a librarian and go into this field. I always thought that I wanted to help the people, support the education of society, help people do research, and contribute to society in a positive manner. Now, this is all still true, but I had no real ideas as to how librarians really do this. I was probably thinking about the usual service functions like the reference desk, but now I realize that is just one part of a bigger structure. It was only after I started school I began to see the fuller picture, of how the different departments in the library support one another and create a functioning establishment.
Recently, I’ve been participating in a mentorship program at my school, which basically partners library school students with faculty in the library. In the past month that I’ve been a mentee, I’ve learned so much about what an academic librarian does. My naïve “librarians shall bestow knowledge amongst civilians” has been blown out of the water. Basically, I had no idea exactly how that happened and through shadowing my mentor, I’m learning what role a librarian plays, in not just the university, but the surrounding community. My mentor is a subject liaison to the nursing school, so she does what many subject specialists do in the library. She works the reference desk, she does reference consultations with students, teaches information literacy courses and she also assists in higher level research. This part of the job is something that I am unfamiliar with and it has been amazing observing what goes into creating research proposals.
A few weeks ago, I went with my mentor to a meeting with a group of nurses who had been trying to find a research proposal for their hospital so they could research and then publish an article. They quickly dismantled all the citations in the article and tore the article to pieces. I was impressed at how perceptive they were and the level of research they were aiming for. It’s very different from the way my classes discuss articles, that’s for sure. This experience has made me realize how connected to the surrounding community librarian’s are. It really expands beyond the university, which is something that I hadn’t considered before. I think I’ll be learning much more about the role of the academic librarian in the months to come.