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Elizabeth said in July 22nd, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Do take a wide variety of classes! You never know what kind of library you are going to end up in. Just because you want to be an academic reference librarian doesn’t mean that you won’t end up an accidental medical librarian (

Lauren, you are so right about getting involved. Not only is it a great way to build your resume and make good contacts, but it’s really fun too! I enjoyed every minute of my time on SAC and made some really great friends in the process!

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Lauren said in July 22nd, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Elizabeth, I agree with the variety of classes for sure. Unless you know 100% what you want to do (for example, school media or children’s librarian), it almost works against you. I’ve been keeping my options WAY open.

I also agree with you about SAC – I loved being involved with it!

I forgot to mention in the blog that if you’re (you = library students) going to get involved, I highly recommend trying to get an officer position – president, secretary, treasurer, anything. It will definitely build your leadership skills and open more doors for you.

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Julia said in July 23rd, 2010 at 4:22 pm

This is great advice! I also encourage folks to try to publish as students too–some of the stuff we do, especially in researchy classes, is of publishable quality (or can be with a bit of work). Publications look great on resumes! Our school has its own student journal, but seek out LIS journals (Library Student Journal is a good one, Libri is a library science journal that offers an annual student paper prize each May. I didn’t get the prize last year, but I still got published!) Even journals in related fields, depending on what you’re doing, might be interested.

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Lauren said in July 24th, 2010 at 10:28 am

Julia, I agree – great tip! If you can get published as a student, that is great, and there are a lot of opportunities out there. I also neglected to mention opportunities like poster sessions, which are a really good place to start if you’re nervous about getting into research. I co-presented two posters at the Alabama Library Association conference, and it was a very relaxed atmosphere – I also made a lot of great contacts! Now my fellow co-presenters and I are presenting a similar poster at another local conference, and working to turn our idea into a journal article. There are so many opportunities out there for students to get involved, network, and disseminate valuable ideas for the field.

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Jason Dean said in August 4th, 2010 at 11:54 am


I want to echo your comments about volunteering – I think many library students neglect this possibility – certainly from what I have seen at the local library schools. The internship, by itself, just doesn’t cut it. All library jobs require some form of significant experience – and I think the internship provides scant experience for many job requirements. Doing anything to make yourself stand out and above the other applicants is key.

Actively examining the profession, your ideas, and overall trends is key as well – and then sharing them in a blog is very important. And, while I think involvement in associations is important, I don’t think it is as important as “getting your hands dirty” volunteering or doing part-time work in a library.

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Lauren said in August 4th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Hi Jason,

I completely agree — volunteering is an excellent way to supplement your library school studies, and as you noted, experience is crucial.

I also agree with blogging — I’ve only recently started blogging, but already I’ve connected with other professionals and library school students, and I’ve found that I think more critically about library issues when I blog about them.

As for involvement in professional and student associations, while it’s not more important than actual library experience, I think it offers great opportunities for both leadership experience and networking. That’s why I think that library school students can’t afford to let those kind of opportunities pass by — it lets them stand out in another way.

Thank you for dropping by, and for your very helpful comment!

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Andy Burkhardt said in August 11th, 2010 at 11:56 am

I really like your first don’t. There are lots of people who have degrees. It doesn’t make you a librarian. You really do need to work at it (and do the things in your list) to get a job. Good post!

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Amanda said in August 11th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Great tips. I strongly agree w/ #5 – I’ve been thinking lately about how with library school, you really get out of it what you put into it. I had some classmates who seemed to have that attitude that their classwork was basically a series of hoops they had to jump through to get the degree. And I had some amazing classmates that took their assignments as an opportunity to really learn something and grow as a professional. I know who I would rather work with once I get that first librarian job.

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Robin M. Katz said in August 11th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Students are actually lucky because everyone (supervisors at jobs or internships, advisors in school) expects a student to be there to learn new skills. No one thinks you will waltz in already knowing how to do everything. Take advantage of this by knowing what skills you want to build and seeking opportunities to accomplish those tasks. As a student you can literally say, “I want to learn how to do X, but don’t know how to yet. Can you please show me how or support me as I experiment?”

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[...] The Dos and Don’ts of Library School – from Lauren Dodd [...]

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[...] mentioned this in my Do’s and Don’ts of Library School post, but if possible, work on a project that produces something tangible for your [...]

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[...] The Dos and Don’ts of Library School – from Lauren Dodd [...]

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archiValerie said in December 3rd, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Excellent advice all around. I’ve learned as much in my internship work experience as I have in class. Also, people you work with are always glad to answer questions and even write letters of recommendation.

Also, if you’re going to school in a region of the country that isn’t the one you plan to stay in, try networking with the local chapters of places you want to move to. I’ve been playing email tag with my chapter of SLA and Northwest Archives and they’ve been nothing but great at getting back to me.