Back To School

Fall is one of my favorite seasons.

We’re off to a new school year. For some of us who are still in school (or work at one), this is a fun/busy time as we all get back into the swing of things. Lately, there have been some excellent posts with advice to the new library school student. Andy Woodworth wrote a great post to the MLS Class of 2013 and over at HackLibSchool, the Library School Starter Kit has a TON of tips and advice for the library school n00b. Seriously, I wish I was more plugged into the library world last year when I was just starting. I really had no clue about the wealth of knowledge and great community that existed out in the interwebs. I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on where I have come from a year ago. For any new library school students, I hope they can learn from some of my mistakes.

 

A year ago, I sat in a new student orientation. I had recently moved to Indianapolis from California and was adjusting to my new settings. I will admit that I did not do a lot of research into the online library community before I started school. It didn’t even occur to me to do that, because I was a very low tech, not plugged in person. I used Facebook and that’s about it. I didn’t even know what an RSS feed was, I didn’t read any blogs except for webcomics, I didn’t know that Twitter had any purpose, I didn’t know that writing in a blog would be therapeutic, I didn’t know what “the cloud” was. Really, I did not know a lot. In fact, it took me quite awhile to get to where I am now. My remedial tech skills class taught me what Google Reader was, and forced me to go out and find library blogs. From there, I was able to find a way to connect to the online library community. After forgetting my flash drive at school MULTIPLE times, I figured out what Google Docs was. I have had a Gmail account for a couple of years and I did not use it to it’s full power until a year ago. This is so shameful. But from this shame and all these mistakes, I grew and I learned. Yay for life long learning!

I learned that it would be important for me to connect with the library world. This means keeping up with current events, finding librarians and library school students on social media and going to conferences. No, you don’t have to join Twitter, there are plenty of librarians and library groups on Facebook too. Even Linked In is a great place to connect with other professionals. I can’t stress how important connecting and staying current with the field is. Every library school student should be doing this, because we are so fortunate to be in a field with many people who are willing to help and answer questions. As a student, we have so many duties and obligations to our studies and our jobs; but taking the time out to just see what’s happening in the library world really enriches what you bring into the classroom and your job.

I have come a long way from where I started a year ago and a large part of it was just trying to be more active in the library world. I know that this year things will change even more dramatically but that’s another blog post. What have you guys learned from the start of your library school experience? Any other tips you want to add?

General Updates

This isn’t really going to be an official blog post, just a sort of update on what’s going on in my world.

First, I want thank the super awesome editing team at Hack Library School Blog! Everyone there is so helpful and are all innovators in their own right. Recently, they have added me on board as a co-editor so look for some posts by me over there.

Secondly, I will be attending my very first ALA annual conference this summer in New Orleans. I look forward to meeting other students and professionals in the field. I just got the OK for a travel grant through my school and I highly recommend everyone apply for any travel grants or scholarships they can. What a great opportunity this is!

Third, it makes me very happy to see that Measure L in Los Angeles, California passed! This means the city can allot more of its budget to public libraries which have suffered from previous cuts. I’ve been hearing some not very good things happening in California, my former state. The Governor was cutting all state funding to public libraries, which is very terrible. In times of need, people tend to rely on public services the most, and those programs are always at risk of having their funding cut first. Libraries are often on the chopping block so for once I’m glad to see that people voted in favor of funding public services. It probably helped that Measure L didn’t seek to raise taxes.

Life is busy as always but next week is my spring break! I am visiting a friend in Atlanta and will be stopping in with the Metadata and Cataloging Department at Emory to have a behind the scenes peek at what they do. Yep, even on my break I’m doing library stuff.

Risky Business!

Before I moved to the midwest, I worked at a coffee shop in California as a slave to the bean. One of the regular customer’s wrote me a really nice card before I left for library school and in it he wrote “nothing great comes without risk”. Lately, these words have held a lot of weight in my mind. This semester, I’ve tried to kick my participation level in school into high gear and jam pack my week full of stuff to do. At the end of a 12 hour day in the library, I’m totally exhausted and when I go home, I procrastinate on homework by looking at library blogs. I’ve become so obsessive that my boyfriend told me “library, library, library = brain fry”, but I really can’t help it because I’m so excited by the possibilities.

The bigger looming question is : what is all this worth if I can’t apply it? What if I had taken a huge leap into going to school far away from my familiar resources and I fail? I know I’m not the only one who has these fears. I had spoken to another student who was hesitant to apply for a position because it was tenure-tracked. You have one chance to get it and if you don’t get tenure, you have about a year to find another job. At first, I was very surprised because I thought this person was very qualified for the position, but then I thought more of the reasoning. She was afraid of failure. There are so many people in the world who prefer to maintain a state of inertia, complacency because they’re afraid to try. Nothing makes me more sad to see people with intelligence and the potential to be great leaders not utilize those skills because they don’t see their worth.

As a group, librarians tend to be very helpful people, which includes helping each other (students too!) with professional development. This is what sets us apart from other disciplines, our model is service, so it’s natural to encourage each other, which is why I love the idea of hacklibschool – a site that’s by and for library students. The friends that I’ve made in library school are some of my biggest cheerleaders, they cheer me up when I am down and I do the same for them. The other thing we should keep in mind is to encourage risk taking, to do stuff that we’re not comfortable with (for more insight check this advice to students ).

I think it’s important to push each other out of our comfort zones, to take risks because “nothing great comes without risk”. So far, I’d say my experiences in school have been worth it.