Monday, September 23, 2013

Welcome, New Librarians!

This post originally appeared on Information Space, the blog of the iSchool at Syracuse University on 3 September 2012.

I’ve seen a bunch of posts across the blogosphere welcoming the new class of librarians; who am I to buck the trend? Congratulations! You’ve embarked on an exciting career in the information world.
That said, I remember how overwhelming the first month can be. Here’s how I handled it.
Look for Advice
Checklists are useful. There’s a lot to do during the first semester, and many people have different ideas of what to prioritize. Hack Library School has a series of Library School Starter Kit posts; When I started out, this one was super-helpful.
Besides looking for blogs, get to know your adviser, and the other faculty members you like. Having someone to ask when you aren’t sure exactly in which direction to head can be a lifesaver.
Get Connected
Network with your classmates, as soon as you can. You never know who might end up giving you a reference someday, and library school is better with colleagues you enjoy.
See if there’s a student chapter of ALA or SLA at your school. It’s never too early to get involved with a professional organization! Everyone you meet will be an example; hopefully, most will be good examples, but don’t get discouraged if you encounter some negativity. Joining ALA and/or SLA will give you access to librarians who are already working, and most people I’ve met through the professional organizations enjoy giving advice and sharing their experiences.
I mean this in two different ways. First, there’s no one true way to find success in library school, just as there’s no single path to follow once you’re in the field. Take an experimental approach; what works for you? Where does your passion take you? Tech? Education? Early Literacy? If you don’t know where you want to end up, start trying things, early and often. You’ll figure it out.
Second, librarianship needs people willing to experiment. Desperately. Don’t be shy: question everything. “We’ve always done it that way” should NEVER be an acceptable answer. Ours is an ancient occupation, but change is a constant. Newcomers have the freshest eyes; you’ll see things that “seasoned” professionals will take as writ. Stick to your guns if something doesn’t make sense to you, and find an answer.
Have Fun!
This is the most important part. Enjoy what you do. Library school is an adventure–it should be worth embarking upon.
What else are you doing to get adjusted to library school? Let us know in the comments!

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