I am 10 days away from the official graduation date for University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science. So I thought I’d write a little reflection on grad school.
I have been in school of some sort since age two or three, and working hard has never been a problem for me. But I have never been in a situation where I was doing so many different things within one field. I took many classes in high school and college, but even when I was taking all English and History classes, that wasn’t like grad school. Here I was immersed. I worked in a library, hung out in a library, took classes about libraries, and worked in a bookstore. Everything I did surrounded the fact that I was going to be a librarian, and that was a first for me.
Grad school itself (the classes) was interesting, and I learned a great deal about a great deal, but what really made my MSLIS special was my assistantship. I got very lucky (and had a good interview) and got an assistantship at the Undergraduate Library (lovingly called the UGL or sometimes the UGLY) where I had the opportunity to actually put classwork into practice. I was working more than one reference station, teaching classes, doing collection development…even supervising! And suddenly it clicked for me. THIS is what library school is about. It’s important to take the classes and learn the information, but library school is about doing the job and working with patrons. Library school is about getting excited when you get an in-depth research question at the reference desk. Library school is about confidently teaching two or three 75 minute instruction classes in a row without losing your voice, your poise, or your mind. Library school is about people.
And so here I come to the end of library school, and what did I learn? How to be a librarian. Yes, I learned from my classes (at the best school in the country!) but I really learned from doing.
Here’s hoping more assistantships will add more to more people’s experience in library school. And here’s a hearty FAREWELL to grad school. ‘Till the next degree!