by Oscar Giurcovich, Senior Editor
How I Survived Library School
For my first blog post, I thought I’d talk about something that has recently happened in my life: finishing library school. Before I continue, let’s set the scene: I live in a state that does not have a MLIS-type program, so I had to do it all online as I was not in a situation where I could easily move. The campus was in Michigan, and in-person meetups were not in the cards. Also, I worked full-time in a non-LIS field during the 2.5 years it took me to get through the program. Thankfully, over time I somehow made all of this fall into place. Here are a few strategies that got me through it all, and I hope you can get something out of them as well.
I Made LIS My Life…
I got into the habit of logging in to check on my classes every day, including weekends. Even if it was for 5-7 minutes to read the latest discussion posts from classmates, this got me feeling like I was in the loop of things despite being 2,000 miles away from campus. There were a couple of time periods where I could not do this, and boy did I feel lost and alone.
After earning a bachelor’s degree the old-fashioned way, I had become accustomed to having opportunities to talk about classes or just vent. This required a bit of creativity in an online environment, but it is totally possible. When meeting for group projects, for example, either I or another group member would chat a bit about the class or the program in general. Most of the time, my classmates also had things they needed to talk about, and this extra 30-45 minutes of real-time chatting was worth it. There was a student-only listserv as well, and I made sure these emails reached my personal inbox.
An ALA student membership also helped immensely. Looking back, I didn’t do much pleasure reading while in school, but their magazines and other publications were still a nice change of pace from class-assigned journal articles and textbooks. Also, I was fortunate enough to have had Annual 2014 in my hometown and while it was an overwhelming time, it was a much-needed way to immerse myself in all things library. More on this in a future post.
…But I Also Made Time for Myself
Other colleagues have posted about this elusive concept called…what is it? Ah, work-life balance! Although I remember saying “no” to my friends and family quite frequently, I did generally allow myself one night a week do something fun out of the house. Considering where I currently call home, it would have been torture not to go out at all! During the more stressful times in my MLIS journey, Friday nights seemed like a light at the end of the tunnel, even if there was yet another tunnel up ahead right after it.
I was sometimes able to schedule things so that I could have most of my schoolwork done in the early part of the week and get out of town for a few days. Even if I had to schlep my books to say, San Francisco, an hour or 2 of reading pales in comparison to a late morning, afternoon and evening of taking in the sights and nightlife. Getting away a couple of times a year helped break up both my school and work responsibilities, and I always came back refreshed and ready to tackle whatever needed to be done next.
For the past few years, I have watched less and less TV, but I still follow a few shows. After a day of work and school, the choice between sleep and TV was an easy one, and I hit the sack. Instead, if I didn’t need to do homework on my lunch break, I would watch last night’s episode on my smartphone, for instance. While I could not partake in the water cooler chat about it in the morning, I was ready to jump in by the afternoon. Streaming programming can cost a bit each month, but this and other benefits made my everyday life all the more balanced.
During my last semester, all of this was put to the ultimate test. Between work, school and a practicum, free time was at an absolute premium. I began to forget what it was like to have a day off since I interned on my 2 days off from work. Now that I’m completely done with school, I see I did have to make a few sacrifices along the way; I was not involved in student organizations nearly as much as I would have liked, for example. However, by keeping up on what was going on in class, the LIS field and offsetting that with some fun, I feel prepared for what’s next. Best of all, I have kept my sanity. Good luck!