So You Want to be a Librarian: is it necessary to visit libraries in person?

So You Want to be a Librarian: is it necessary to visit libraries in person?

by Emily Woodcock, Senior Assistant, INALJ Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

The short answer is YES!

While enrolled in the MLIS program at Western University in London, Ontario, I have gone on tours of a number of different libraries and information organizations, including:

  • Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
  • Canadian Broadcasting Centre (CBC)
  • Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU)
  • Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
  • Bibliocommons (they build online public library catalogues)
  • Western University Archives

emily woodcock portraitThe tours have been organized through the student groups of the Special Library Association (SLA) and the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA). These tours were as much about seeing the space and materials, as they were about finding out what the people who work there do on a regular basis.

Visiting these organizations has been an amazing experience because I have been able to learn from the people in a variety of LIS roles.  Additionally, seeing the spaces have taught me about how various information organizations function. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Meeting new people in different levels of librarianship
  • Receiving detailed descriptions of daily activities
  • Learning how to deal with real world library issues
  • Seeing unique and mysterious collection materials
  • Learning the ins and outs of networking
  • Hearing how partnerships work between organizations

Personally the experience of going to other information organizations has been very enjoyable for me. I hope that when I am out of school I will still be able to visit libraries and other information organizations, because of the knowledge I can gain from the spaces and the people that work in them.

I encourage other people to visit libraries and other information organizations, even if they are not still in school. Contacting an organization for a tour is a great way to network and learn more about what is out there in our area of interest. Also the majority of organizations will be extremely happy to have you come visit because they are just like you in the sense that are always looking for ways to spread their knowledge and learn from others.

So take any opportunities your school or association gives you to get out there and see where librarians are working in person.  It made a difference to me!