Heidi Taylor-Caudill, former Head Editor, INALJ Kentucky
previously published 5/13/14
Four Things I Wish I Had Done in Library School
Next week, I’m graduating with an MSLS from the University of Kentucky’s School of Library and Information Science. As with any milestone, one has a chance to reflect on successes and failures, things done right, and things that should have been done differently. Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about advice I’d give to myself two years ago. Here’s the top four suggestions:
#1 Join library societies/associations
Membership in library societies and associations is one of the best ways to become professionally involved during school. Don’t just pay your dues, but take the chance to network and build your skills by participating in round tables, sections, and committees. To learn more about how memberships can benefit your career, check out these articles by INALJ head editors Roselle Pendergast, Sean O’Brien, and Elinor Crosby. There are a lot of choices, including state societies/associations, national associations like the American Library Association (ALA), and field-specific societies/associations like the Society of American Archivists (SAA). Most offer student memberships at reduced rates, so this is your chance to experiment.
#2 Go to conferences
Conferences provide excellent opportunities to network, build relationships, and learn about key issues, new technologies, and research. The people who speak at conferences are experts in their fields, so you may learn things that aren’t covered in your classes. Some of the connections that you make with other attendees could benefit you in the future. Take a look at these articles by INALJ head editors Sara Dixon and Rebekah Kati for more reasons to attend library conferences. Concerned about the costs? LISJobs.com provides links to scholarships, awards, and grants to attend local and national conferences. Also remember that your society/association memberships sometimes offer discounts on conferences.
#3 Seek out different experiences
How can you know what you really like, unless you try new things? Take a mixture of courses, even if you’re not sure you’ll like the topic. Look for opportunities to research, publish, and present. Hunt for internships and jobs that will give you practical experience, especially in different areas of librarianship. Browse through some of the many articles on INALJ.com about other people’s experiences in the profession. Be open to the idea that your direction could change.
#4 Get to know other library students
I completed my master’s degree online. It wasn’t until last October, when I started working in a campus library, that I finally met another student from my program in person. While the online format was convenient for my schedule, it hindered the development of real relationships with my professors and classmates. Use every opportunity to meet other students, whether you’re taking classes online or not.
As Lady Macbeth said, “What’s done, is done.” It’s a waste of time and energy to have regrets from library school. If I could go back in time and talk to my former self, though, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the three things on this list. Think about the things you wish you had done and consider how you can accomplish them now.