Many librarians have already heard of Marilyn Johnson’s This Book is Overdue: how librarians and cybrarians can save us all and despite my end of semester crunch I decided that this title was well worth reading amidst working on my final assignments. This book particularly interested me because of the non-librarian identity of the author. Since starting library school at McGill, all of the reading I have done on librarians and about libraries has been written by librarians or academics in the field of information studies. Marilyn Johnson’s journalistic observations allow a unique perspective on what an “outsider” considers the most interesting aspects of the world of librarianship. Recently I read that librarians should be more concerned about how libraries fit into the lives of their users rather than how users fit into the make-up of the library and I felt that reading Marilyn Johnson’s book would help me to adopt this approach. I read through This Book is Overdue very quickly and my interest and enjoyment varied greatly depending on the content of the chapter. Marilyn Johnson is without a doubt a great storyteller. In her book, she paints a picture of modern librarianship by sharing the individual stories of “modern librarians”. This personal touch is endearing and the reader feels compelled to care about the concerns of the librarians and their attempts to help users to the best of their ability. Probably the coolest part of reading this book was realizing that I already knew a lot of what she was sharing. Although, there were some very interesting stories about librarians who I had never heard of and who are working hard to provide great service to their patrons, I was extremely excited to realize that I knew many of the people that Marilyn was referring to as example librarians. Seeing people who are close to me like Graham Lavender (The Blog People, pp.52-53) and Amy Buckland (Wizards of Odd, p.149) appear in this book on “Librarians who can save us all” totally blew me away! I was enthused at the prospect that not even out of library school and I am obviously already running in circles with the right people (I already knew how cool they were but now their coolness is out there for the world to read about)! Hopefully their awesomeness is rubbing off on me so that I will also be able to “save the world”! Regardless, of whether you are associated with anyone in this book, the fact that it presents librarians in such an optimistic and positive light is such a breath of fresh air. Knowing that library users can see past stereotypes and appreciate the work of librarians is extremely encouraging and I hope that this book will demonstrate to the general public how cool librarians are and, to the librarians who read this book, I hope it will provide motivation that people are paying attention to our dedication and that with the right attitude we can really save people!
The Professional Partnering Program organized by the McGill CLA student chapter is now well underway for its 2nd year. The PPP, as it is affectionately known, is a student initiative at the McGill School of Information Studies to match MLIS students with professionals in order to establish contacts in the library community as well as receive insight on how things work in the real world of libraries. Most students met with their professional partners at a kick-off 5 à 7 event held in October. My partner however was away that evening at an annual Cégep librarian conference, so I was pleased to meet her last week at the library where she works. I am thrilled to be partnered with the librarian at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal. She was extremely friendly and I learned a lot about the role of cégep librarians.
For those of you not familiar with the Quebec education system, cégeps are the educational institution between high school and university and I specifically requested that my professional partner work in this type of library. I am curious to learn more about this type of library as I feel that this level of educational library is not addressed in my classes at McGill. (Why is this? They seem to be catering to the American and Out of Province students when they ignore such an important type of library found only in Quebec). Cégeps offer an ideal time for students to mature and discover themselves before entering into university, they also offer many technical programs for those training for a specific career like Police Foundations, Graphic Design, Library Technicians, etc. I felt that this type of institution can present unique opportunities for librarians. There are many academic-focused programs which means that teaching information literacy and research skills is important. At the same time, cégeps are usually smaller and more student-focused than universities; the institution’s structure is less hierarchical and the overall environment is less pretentious/formal than most academic libraries. My professional partner confirmed that her library is a dynamic and student-friendly environment where students go to further their education by accessing a cornucopia of both print and electronic resources.
There are no set rules for the Professional Partnering Program, each student and their partner determine how often they will meet, the subjects they will discuss, and what activities they will do together. Last year, Graham, the inspired library school student was partnered with an academic librarian from Concordia who offered advice on interviews and resumes in addition to providing concrete insight into the role of an academic librarian. He found this relationship to be very enriching and I hope to develop a similar relationship with my partner so that I feel comfortable asking her my many career-related questions. I look forward to seeing her again at the ASTED Conference “Investir le monde numérique” (Investing the Digital World) next week on Wednesday.
To any MLIS programs that do not have a Professional Partnering Program, I highly recommend that you reflect on the benefits of this type of program( very high). The relationship with a professional really is invaluable to the students and, since we are such a friendly bunch, most of the librarians are more than happy to be matched with a student and pass on their experiences. I also encourage librarians to get involved in a program like this because your advice is so precious to students and we honestly appreciate all the time you offer us to help us grow into your future colleagues.
The universe of Web 2.0 is powerful and librarians can either remain confused and intimated by all the ho0pla surrounding these technologies or they can experiment with them in order to discover a world of possibilities that may or may not work for them…but then at least they’ll know.
Since I started my masters in the School of Information Studies at McGill University, talk of the influence of Web 2.0 in the library world has been . I even co-organized a day conference entitled Web 2.You with the likes of Michael Stephens, Stephen Abram, Amy Buckland and my favourite Inspired Library School Student: Graham Lavender.
However, it wasn’t until hearing a discussion at the 2009 WILU conference that everything clicked. Interactive discussion on any topic leads to critical thinking and critical thinking leads to true learning and understanding. I realized that if I want to understand the many topics that interest me that I’m hearing about through readings, presentations, and conferences then I need to have a platform where I can voice my opinions about these issues and have constructive feedback from others.
Please take part in what will hopefully become a forum for librarians of all disciplines and hopefully we will all better understand why interaction makes learning and critical thinking so much more enjoyable and effective!