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.
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
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
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!