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Thu, May. 29th, 2014, 03:52 pm
alyssa_m92: New Library Science Student

Hello. I am a new library science student, and I'm having trouble deciding which direction I want to go in the library science field. I begin grad school in August, and am looking into researching some of my options. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Thank you!

Fri, May. 30th, 2014 04:36 am (UTC)

I think you need to begin with what drew you to library school. I imagine something did. Was it a desire to be in academia? Do you fantasize about storytime with young kiddos? Or geeking out with teens? Or researching and analyzing material to help your company get a leg up in the market?

I'd start there. Learn about what you think your fantasy job is. Put feelers out and see if you can do informational interviews and/or job shadow someone who does what you think you'd like to do. Take a class, if your school offers one, that focuses on the type of librarianship you'd like to do. Then interview/job shadow your second or third choice of possible jobs that'd interest you.

Join as many professional organizations as you can. Student rates are pretty cheap. Definitely join the groups that are the most active on campus. When I was in school, that was SLA. Not only was the student group active but they had a great relationship with the local chapter who would come to our events and invite us to theirs. It's a great way to meet people and find out what they did. Before I joined SLA, I never would have considered a special library. After, I really thought I'd be heading in that direction. I didn't. I ended up back where I thought I'd go when I first started library school but I'm still involved with SLA.

And start getting those internships/jobs now. Experience matters. And if you have experience in many different types of libraries, it'll open up your job prospects in the future.

Fri, May. 30th, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC)

You can certainly take a lot of actions to explore the various domains you could focus on in school. However, you also don't really need to be too concerned about it just yet. Look at the coursework, try out some new things, talk to other students and professors. Explore as much as you can your first semester, and let that help guide you. Sometimes you have no idea what speaks to you under you're stuck in a class doing it. Likewise, you might realize you don't actually like doing what you dreamed of doing. Try on as many hats as you can.

Fri, May. 30th, 2014 04:47 pm (UTC)

How do you feel about kids? In my city in the last year, our local public library hired zero external librarians, our 3 combined universities hired one, our community college only hired PT, and our local school district hired seven! A neighboring district also hired five! I say, go where the jobs are.

In my program, if you wanted to do the school library media track, you had to declare it your first semester and all your courses had to be selected from a state-approved group. So if it's something you'd be even vaguely interested in, you could always try it for a semester or two and see how you like it! :)

Edited at 2014-05-30 04:51 pm (UTC)

Sat, May. 31st, 2014 06:21 pm (UTC)

I definitely agree with getting experience--paid or unpaid. I worked at a library for almost a year before deciding to go to library school, because I wanted to test out the field before investing that kind of time and money into it. I found that with most of my classes, my experience working at a library helped me to do well in the class. That being said, I went into cataloging, which was something I could only learn in a classroom setting. (Working at a branch library meant we were isolated from most of the technical processing, so even if you wanted to learn, you couldn't...) I would also see if you can spend time with librarians in different fields to see what they like about theirs.

Mon, Jun. 2nd, 2014 03:27 am (UTC)

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I currently work in a library in Circulation Services, so I know a little bit about library work. I am interested in Digital Libraries, Archiving, and Rare Books and Manuscripts, but I don't know which way I will go. Another question, I will be signing up for 9 credit hours soon and was curious as to how the homework load in grad school is like.

Mon, Jun. 2nd, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC)

I worked full-time all through library school. 2 classes was manageable but got very stressful 2-3 times every semester depending on due dates/projects/etc. 1 class was preferable, but it makes the program really drag. I can't imagine doing 3 classes and surviving.

Wed, Jun. 4th, 2014 01:06 am (UTC)

I was at Drexel's online program, and worked full time, so I was a part time student (no more than two classes per quarter allowed). I would say I spent an average of four hours a week on each class. They said that the average amount of time you should spend PER CLASS was 8-12 hours. However, I can't remember ever spending that much time on a class, and my grades were very good when I graduated.