During the February 2022 Core e-Forum “What You Did (Or Didn’t) Learn in Library School,” our group desired to open a discussion about varied experiences in library school among librarians currently practicing. We know that there are many stories of processes learned once on the job as opposed to during our master’s programs. It was an interesting discussion that involved almost 40 participants and 150 posts!
On the first day we asked participants to introduce themselves and to share about a course in library school that they wish they had taken. Courses on preservation, vendor relationships, licensing, copyright law, cataloging, data and statistics, teaching information literacy, reference, collection management, budgeting, management, and classification were some of the courses mentioned. Next, we asked which class in library school was most applicable to the day-to-day work of participants. Overwhelmingly, participants believed that their internships and graduate assistantships provided the most valuable learning opportunities during their library school programs; further, it was agreed that internships should be required for everyone who seeks a master’s degree in library and information science. When posed with a question related to a course that has not been applicable to their daily work, participants had mixed feelings: some felt that the courses that were firmly grounded in the theoretical have not been helpful in their careers, while some appreciated the practical due to the rapidly changing nature of technology in libraries.
To wrap up day one, we asked about skills that participants wish they had learned in library school: marketing, original cataloging, and bookmaking were mentioned. We opened the day two discussion by asking about useful skills and knowledge participants have learned on the job. Among the answers were regular expressions, SQL database queries, macros, spreadsheets, usage of specific library products including ILS’s and discovery services, cataloging, authority control, project management, as well as interpersonal skills. Next, we asked whether participants had a particular professor in library school who advanced their skills, and it was agreed among the group that both professors and other mentors are crucial to developing library knowledge.
We wrapped up the day’s discussion by asking if participants are currently in the types of roles they thought they would be in after graduating from library school, to which several participants said “no”. Lastly, we asked about organizations and other networks that have been helpful in growing their librarianship practice and advancing their careers. There were a variety of responses, and it is worth noting that many found local organizations and groups around a single topic (such as OLAC and LD4) to be the most helpful. Additionally, SLA was specifically mentioned as a very accessible national organization, and participants also encouraged participation in mentoring programs (such as the ALCTS mentoring program).
Through the discussion during this e-Forum, we learned a lot about the library school experiences of our colleagues. It was a fun and interesting discussion! We appreciate all who participated.
–Laura Haynes, Nariné Bournoutian, and Kellie Barbato, Core New Members Interest Group, e-Forum moderators
Core e-Forums are two-day, moderated, electronic discussion forums that provide an opportunity for librarians and library professionals to discuss matters of interest on an email discussion list. These discussions are free of charge and available to anyone who wishes to subscribe to the email list.