Five Things I Learned in Library School That *Actually* Helped Me & Five Things I Wish I'd Learned

Today marks the six month anniversary of me starting at Southeast Regional Library.  It's hard to believe how time is flying – I think any job tends to go faster, the longer you're there and the more comfortable you get but this one, mixed with the new baby which also helps to make time pretty much meaningless, is really flying. 

I had my six month performance review on Thursday and I didn't get fired so that's good!   In all seriousness, they're pretty happy with me which is always nice to hear.  Like anyone, I have my weaknesses and if you knew me at FIMS, I'm sure you can guess what a couple of those areas for improvement are! 

It's amazing to think of how much I've learned in the last six months.  Someday (maybe when I'm done this contract), I'm ruminate on this further. 

One thing that's been in my head the last few weeks – my letter of offer mentioned that I would be spending 2-3 days on the road but the first few months saw me thinking “really?”  But the last few weeks have more than made up for that – I've probably traveled 1500 km in the last two weeks alone.

What else?  I was trying to think of a list to commemorate this special occasion and I was able to come up with two:

The Five Most Helpful Things I Learned In Library School That Actually Help in the “Real” World
1. How to Juggle Multiple Assignments and Tasks Successfully

2. Advocacy Class

3. Collection Development Class

4. I'm really glad I got at least a little exposure to library layout and design in the “Management of Special Libraries” class, especially since I ended up in a rural system with 48 branches that are in all shapes and sizes of buildings including everything from stand-alone buildings to one that's connected to the town laundromat!  Since I started, three branches have undergone or are undergoing a move to new space so this training has come in very handy!

5. Who to ask to get the answers I need (and not to be afraid to ask people for those answers.)

Five Things I Wish I Had Learned
1. It's always hard to admit when you're wrong but I wish I'd taken more management classes and not poo-pooed the idea of “management theory” as strongly as I did (although if you were in 506 with me, you know why I was so resistant!)

2. On a related note, it would've been good to get more training about the different aspects of working in a unionized library environment – both pro and con. 

3. How To Make Tough Decisions.  This is probably something that comes with experience more than being taught but I wish, even in a theoretical framework, we did more scenarios about some of the tough decisions you'll face as a working librarian.  For me, in six short months, this has covered everything from the possibility of branch closures to handling patron suspensions to staff discipline to navigating municipal politics and even bigger issues than any of the examples I listed.

4. This doesn't directly apply to me (right now) since I did end up finding work eventually.  But recent conversations with a variety of classmates have illustrated just how tight the job market is for new grads.  I don't think that would've changed my decision to take an 18-month contract over a full-time permanent position I was offered but I admit that I did buy into the “old boomer librarians will be retiring in droves” line and the knowledge that this isn't necessarily so does have me thinking about where I might end up next earlier than I thought I would.

5. Librarians don't sit in an office somewhere reading the latest bestsellers for eight hours a day and mulling over their potential significance to society.  I really wish somebody had told me that! 

Comments 2

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Librarians don't sit in an office somewhere reading the latest bestsellers for eight hours a day and mulling over their potential significance to society.
    You…you mean…they don't?
    Darn, there goes that career choice…who knew? 😀

    Posted 02 Oct 2007 at 5:58 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Probably a lot of us wouldn't have went to library school if we knew this was the case!

    Posted 08 Oct 2007 at 4:57 pm
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