Thursday, April 12, 2012

Attending a library/information science program in the fall? Five things you should do now!

Artwork by Margie Hughto in iSchoolThis spring, many people are being admitted to library and information science programs and they will start school in the fall. If you are one of them, here are five things that you should do now in preparation.
  1. You are already looking at the course catalogue and thinking about what you want to take.  Go one step further and read-up on the people who are teaching those courses.  Start with the person's online biography and then delve deeper, if the person intrigues you.

    Why?  First, it can be helpful to know something about your professors before you start classes with them.  You will know more about their mindset, areas of focus, etc.  Second, you may find someone with whom you'd like to work.  Perhaps a person's area of research is exactly where you want to focus.  If you discover that now, would you take different courses?  Approach the person for a work opportunity?  Third, it makes the person more human to you.

  2. Develop a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn (if you're not already using them), and then use both tools to connect to practitioners and others students.

    Why?  This is important because our profession is using social media to make strong connections between people, to share information, and to collaborate.  You cannot wait until you graduate to jump into this community and expect to make the connections you need immediately.  Instead, you should start now by making a few (e.g., current information professionals, other LIS students) and then growing the number of connections that you have over the coming months.

    Keep in mind that just connecting is not enough.  You must be willing to share information.  Why you may not think that you have information that is worth sharing, the next item will help you address that.

  3. Read library and business literature, including hardcopy and online periodicals, and blogs.

    Why is this important?  First, because it jump starts your education.  You will already know what challenges and opportunities our institutions are facing.  You might discover a career path that you didn't know existed.  You might even find topic that you will want to study in your graduate program.  Second, you will come across information that you can share with others through Twitter, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook, Google+, etc.  Yes, information is power and information SHARED is more powerful!

    Yes, it is important to read library (information science) AND business literature.  Remember that libraries are (not for profit) businesses. In addition, libraries are part of the business community and what impacts the business community, impacts libraries (all every kind).

  4. Get familiar with more technology, including HTML, XML, mobile devices, ereaders, and online collaboration tools. While you can teach yourself the basics of HTML, XML and online collaboration tools, you can also turn to your local public library and friends for assistance.  In fact, the best way to learn a collaboration tool is with a group.  Your local public library may also have ereaders and other mobile devices that you can borrow OR offer workshops on them.  Of course, you could go to a store that sells those mobile devices and ereaders, and give them whirl there!

    Why do this?  Your LIS program will be more focused on technology than you realize (and will use more technology than you realize).  In addition, your classmates will be using a wide variety of technology when they walk on campus. Best for you to expand your technology repertoire now, so that you'll be more comfortable with what you have access to in the fall.

  5. Start a blog.

    Really?  Yes.  You need to get comfortable thinking about information profession and talking about it.  What better way than a blog?  Write about what you are reading (and even provide links or citations).  Write about what you are thinking about in terms of the profession. Ask questions and provide answers.  Consider a place to cogitate and illuminate.  Point to your blog from your social media accounts, so that others can follow what you are writing.  And once you've started your graduate program, keep your blog going by writing about your classes and what you are learning.
Yes, there are a myriad of other things you could be doing.  I suspect that if you start with these five that you'll be adding more things to this list in no time!  Along the way, you will be exposed to ideas, concepts and tools that provide a foundation for your studies in the fall.


    calimae said...

    I just wanted to add that if blogging seems intimidating, Tumblr may be a good place to start. It's much more about visual items and shorter bits of text than a 'typical' blog often is, and the reblogging function can be a good way to find material and share it on your own account along with your brief thoughts/comments. And there are plenty of library-related accounts to follow on Tumblr, like NYPL and Library Journal. :)

    evelyn.n.alfred said...

    I hadn't thought about the first one on your list. Thank you.