what i learned in library school

Today is my graduation.

Unfortunately I am not able to be there across the country for the ceremony, but whether I am there or not, I have my MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Science). Most people are very surprised when they hear that you have to have a Masters to become a librarian, but seriously it is a lot more than just shelving books.

Now the past two years and 15 classes have taught me a lot, but it wasn’t always what was on the course syllabus. Sure I took classes on retrieving information (aka how to google), working with children and teens, readers’ advisory (aka what do I read next?), and web design and I definitely learned things, but the real lessons happened when they weren’t planned.

Here is what I learned in library school.

  1. Group projects never end
    I don’t think I had a single class in grad school that didn’t involve some sort of group project and while they may have sucked in the moment (and believe me there were a lot of painful moments) real life librarianship involves working with groups of people constantly and having so many experience with different groups I feel like has prepared me for the challenge of working with difficult people in real life.
  2. Everyone has an opinion about libraries (and many haven’t been in one for years)
    As soon as I tell people that I am a librarian or that I was going to school to become one it was amazing the opinions that come out. Once on a plane a lady talked to me for a long time about how libraries were dying and no one used them anymore, only to then reveal that it had been decades since she had been to a library and had no idea what they were doing. While that does say a little about libraries needing to market themselves better, it is interesting to see people lecture you on your career that they really know nothing about.
  3. Sometimes you end up doing something you never expected
    I went into library school with the sole purpose and end goal being public libraries. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else and I have come out with a lot bigger view of the information world. My first post-grad job is in records management and I don’t know where the rest of my career will take me, but it I am sure it is in directions that I never expected.
  4. Libraries are so vast and much more than anyone ever expects
    On a similar note, my current job is not something I even knew existed before starting grad school and there is so much out there than I could have ever dreamed of. Big corporations, governments, law offices, and more need librarians, information professionals, and records managers let alone all of the public and academic libraries throughout the world.

    Now while I have taken some of my class lessons into my real world librarian life, these are the things that have really stuck and I really learned. I am excited to see where this profession is going to take me and what I still have to learn.

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