by Nicolas Resteiner, Head Editor, INALJ Mississippi
4 Things I Learned My First Year in Library School
Come early May, I will finally have completed a year at the University of Arizona’s SIRLS program! While I was in school I worked first as a page, then as a library assistant. I also completed an internship with my library district and took five classes that covered subjects from information behavior and management (such as metadata creation and databases) to marketing and library technology. Here are a few of the things I have learned:
- It is vital to pair your education with practical experience: There are so many things that working in a library can teach you that a class or a degree cannot, things that are usually a larger part of a librarian’s day-to-day job than, for example, AACR2. These include good judgment, interaction with patrons, and how to deal with problems. These can, of course, be learned on the job as a librarian, but by acquiring these skills throughout your education, it makes you a more attractive candidate when you graduate.
- The courses are both simpler and more challenging than you might think: This can largely depend on the selection of classes that each person takes, and thus will likely vary from person to person. Some of my classes, such as marketing and technology in libraries, were easy classes. They taught a lot of information (such as the proper way to troubleshoot a problem and how library marketing often differs from other forms of marketing) that is useful, but not particularly challenging. On the other side, you have classes that teach metadata models, coding, and research methods. These are challenging classes that, depending on where you end up as a librarian, may be used more often than marketing.
- Group work is everywhere: In every single class I have had, group work has been a huge component. This past semester, all of my assignments were done with a group as a matter of fact! This emphasis on working as a member and/or leader of a team is not just in graduate school, but carries over into the professional world as well (think of how many conferences, committees, and associations librarians have). It is essential to get comfortable being part of a team. The perception that librarians just work by themselves is simply not a valid part of our profession.
- An increasing focus on technology: This is not news to most people who are in library school, but courses are increasingly focusing on the role that technology plays in libraries. This makes sense, since many of the resources that people come to libraries for (books, music, tax forms, etc.) are now online and accessible through the library. However, many people do not know how to navigate these digital resources, so it is important that future librarians are not only comfortable navigating the digital space, but also creating content in that space.
This year has been one of growth, both academically and professionally. It could not have happened without all of my wonderful teachers at the SIRLS program at the University of Arizona, as well as my fantastic manager and amazing coworkers. It is because of them that I feel I will be well-prepared for my library career. My passion for librarianship has only grown the more people I have met in the professional community and the more I have learned.
To everyone else whose semester is almost over, have a great summer!