Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Librarians Advise Their Past MLS-Student Selves

Most of us who have advanced along a certain career path wish there were things that we had known at the beginning of our careers. Knowing these things, we feel, would have made that path smoother. This is a wisdom that we usually don't share with others. But this wisdom could benefit those who are just starting out.

Dude, what should we tell ourselves? A pivotal scene in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989).
Image via

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) recently hosted a Twitter chat that allowed veteran information professionals, new librarians and archivists, and current library and information science students to share what they have learned along the way. As someone who is now in library school and is selecting courses and engaging in professional activities that she hopes will help her land her first real-world library job, I found this Twitter chat extremely helpful.

Moderators of the SLA Twitter chat asked that participants answer four questions: 1) What subjects or skills do you wish you were taught or exposed to in library school? 2) What was your favorite class or project in LIS school? How have you applied what you learned to your career? 3) What formal supplemental education, if any, did you pursue after library school? 4) What recommendations would you give a library school student? Each question would be addressed in fifteen-minute intervals during a chat session that would last approximately one hour, and the hashtag would be #SLATalk.

I signed in to Twitter as the session began and saw the advice (and reflections) come in furiously. A few wished they were taught organization management as it pertains to budgeting and hiring and firing, recruiting and retaining, and motivating employees. Others wished they were instructed on the ins and outs of vendor relations, including license negotiation and contract signing. And at least one participant wished the importance of networking was emphasized in class. Other gems that followed were "Don't do a specific track. Taking a variety of classes will best prepare you for your entire career, not just your first job"; "Don't rule anything out. You never know where your career will take you"; "Apply for any job that interests you. DO NOT rule yourself out (that's HR's job)"; and "Get involved with professional groups. Network. Make friends. Play nice. Pay if forward when you have an achievement."

To read the SLA Twitter chat "What would you tell your past MLS-student self?," go to THIS LINK and start at April 9, 2013.

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