What do I need to learn in library school before I graduate?
October 20, 2010 9:57 AM Subscribe
What do I need to learn in library school before I graduate, if I'm not sure what I want to do when I'm done?
posted by zoetrope to education (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I work in an academic medical library, and I'm also in library school as a part-time distance student; I have another year and a half to go before I graduate. Which skills should I acquire, which organizations should I join, and what should I learn to make myself an attractive job candidate?
The problem is, I'm not sure what I want to do once I have my MLIS. I graduated from a great university in 2003 with a BA in English, and I've been working in my current job for five years. I do enjoy the organizational culture of my workplace, but am not very interested in medicine. I could see myself working as an academic, corporate, or law librarian, but I don't want to work in a public or school library. I love reading, researching, editing, writing, and graphic design, and I like helping people track down missing references or simplify frustrating searches. I'm also attracted to careers outside libraryland where I can use those skills, such as academic editing, technical writing, or competitive intelligence. Before I started working in technical services, I used to work for my library's research director, and I liked designing surveys, creating webpages, and editing research proposals and papers.
In my current position, I work around ten hours a week on the reference desk, and I think that I have a good handle on how to conduct a reference interview and interact with patrons. The rest of the time, I work in the technical services department. I'm working on a project where I get to do original cataloging (fun!), and work on the back end of our digital library, cleaning up the catalog and adding new resources. I like the cataloging project, but I do not enjoy the rest of my technical services work. It's repetitive and I'm not a fan of repetition. I'm at my most productive when I can work in relative quiet on things that have deadlines. I don't want to make a misstep in deciding what I should do with my career. What would I be good at?
As for my remaining time in library school, I know that I'm going to take a course on research methods and a course on Drupal. The classes I've enjoyed the most have been on information architecture, competitive intelligence, graphic design, special libraries, and reference.
I want for potential employers to think, "Well, she's been working in tech services in a medical library, but she'd be a great person to have as our [X]," whatever X may be. So, should I do a practicum in a different library? Volunteer on an open source project? Learn Perl or LAMP? Make a portfolio website? Join the student chapters of the SLA/ASIST/etc? I have a limited amount of free time due to work and school, but I'd like to make myself as appealing and all-around awesome as I can (even if I don't know exactly what I want to do when I'm done).