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A Beginner’s Guide to Library Science School

August 28, 2012

Being at the library science department, prepping for, and taking my first class, it dawns on me. There are things I know! And lots and lots of people I know! Compared to how spooked and overwhelmed I felt beginning last semester, this is an amazing feeling: being able to greet familiar faces in the department, pick up conversations. It’s true, the thing I like best about library school is the people I’m meeting. As classmates, as instructors, as “neat people I see around the department and chat with and whose names I totally can’t remember, but I feel weird asking because we’ve talked for ages.” And then out in the wider world, the community of librarians is really cool! Blogs and the librarians’ lounge at BEA! I haven’t even been to ALA yet. I think my head will explode out of sheer giddiness.

Meeting new, incoming library science students, I find myself giving them advice. A great feeling.

Advice I Give to New Library Science Students 

  1. Be prepared to grapple with some densely theoretical reading. It’s not just “how to be an awesome librarian and learn skills” there’s also theory behind it, which mucks around with science and philosophy and gets convoluted and opaque.
  2. Related to #1, there will be reading and discussion pondering “what is information?” and taking about 10 pages to define it. Also, “what is knowledge?” Not all readings will define it as the same thing. They may define it at the same meandering length, however.
  3. Have an answer prepared for something along the lines of “But, won’t all the libraries be gone by the time you’re done with school?” Or “but isn’t it a dying/obsolete profession?”
  4. Also “What do you think about e-books?”
  5. Order groceries online as often as you can, and stock up on meals/food you don’t have to think about/prepare. Or get others to feed you, in exchange for you babbling excitedly about information, knowledge, digital things and books.
  6. Buy more socks/underwear/whatever you need to stock up on to let laundry slide.
  7. If your school offers a tour of the Library of Congress, TAKE IT! Go on that field trip! Even if you have to get up at the crack of stupid o’clock to get on that bus. Go! You get to see all the cool behind-the-scenes librarian-only stuff. And talk to librarians who get to do unbelievably cool things, like restore old books, archive photographs, or work in the same room as a map George Washington drew when he was a teenager!
  8. Hang out at the department as often as possible, to chat with fellow students, get the intel on different classes and librarian interests. (Or go to a bar with your fellow students, should you feel inclined to lubricate said discussion.)
  9. Make sure you do something to unwind/take care of yourself: run, yoga, get a massage now and again. It makes the thinking part go faster.
  10. You’ll be overwhelmed, and stressed, and you’ll have too much to do, no matter how many classes you’re taking, going full time, working, doing an internship, having a relationship, raising a kid, whatever you’re juggling…. but take it from someone whose default mental setting is “stressbunny”

I promise, new library science student… it will all be okay. 

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