Sunday, April 10, 2011

Musing of a Grad Student: Update and Advice

The end of my second semester as an LIS student draws near! Here are a few things I've been learning so I will be a competent librarian some day.
  • I am now able to make a database using MYSQL and create web forms using PHP. This means that I can take user input (from the web), store it as data in a database on a server and  recall the data and display it to the user on a web page. I'm not that good at it yet (it takes me a long time) but I can make a very simple database function. 
  • Having worked at a medical library for six months I am familiar with many medical database resources. I like using PubMed's MeSH terms! It's so easy but most people don't know about MeSh terms because...well, MeSH is a dumb acronym and no one knows what it means. I am no longer working there but my reference desk experience at the Health Sciences Library was valuable training.
  •  My new job as a children's department intern at my local public library is going great! I'm looking forward to helping with our Book Babies program and other programs, too! It's a very busy library so I'm trying to keep up and learn as much as I can!
I recently attended a conference called "Unpacking the Library" held by my Library and Information Science Student Organization in which a university librarian on "The Hiring Squad" panel made a remark to this effect: It's better to get the "B" and have work experience than to get the "A" and have little or no work experience in libraries. I am usually a very grade-driven student but I've changed. It's not that I don't take my classes seriously but I think the advice is sound. I am learning as much if not more on the job than I do in class. I'm trying to make my classes work for me. I'm getting what I need out of them. And frankly, I don't need an "A." I need to be learning and I am.

I work at my job but I need my job to work for me, too. If you're not getting the experience and skills you want to list on your resume seek out opportunities to get those skills. Take temporary jobs (I did and for two weeks I worked in our Special Collections Library. I know more about archives than I did before!), volunteer (I did at an after-school program for a few hours to get experience with kids), market yourself (I make it known to everyone that I am interested in working with youth and that's partly how I got an awesome internship - word-of-mouth!). Make your time in school work for you. It's the best opportunity to try out different areas of librarianship to see what you like doing. By being pro-active you'll build your resume. "The Hiring Squad" made it clear that the degree just isn't enough. Besides, you're a library student so working in a library should be fun!


  1. I start Iowa in the fall in the new-ish BAS program on my way to LIS program. I think the advice on B's vs A's was excellent as well and maybe it will sink in with me too.

    The new Patient's Library at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is my newest haunt since my daughter has been sick, but it is really a growing facility with a wonderful atmosphere.

  2. Laura, I had not heard of the BAS program but your plan sounds great! What classes will you be taking? I've heard that undergrads can take some LIS courses before being admitted. Have you looked into those?

    I tried to visit the Patient's Library once but they were closing when I got there. I've yet to check it out. I hope your daughter feels better soon! It's a good hospital even if the cafeteria leaves much to be desired.