Archive | August, 2010

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Library School

27 Aug

1)      Never underestimate the importance of developing friendships with classmates

I only really got this concept near the end of my studies. Librarians and more specifically library school students can form a unique bond based on shared interests. People who decide to pursue a MLIS often come from diverse academic backgrounds and can be at various stages in their lives. Some classmates have just completed their undergraduate degree, some want to start a second career, and some are parents who must coordinate homework and group projects around their kids. Regardless of different backgrounds, your classmates in library school will most likely be passionate about libraries. Take advantage of this common ground to start great discussions and develop meaningful friendships! During my studies, I took for granted being surrounded by people who shared my librarianship values, now that I am the only professional librarian at my library, I completely appreciate being able to reconnect with my friends from library school through the internet to discuss the new library trends and annoying patrons!

2)      Your passion for becoming a librarian will be tested. Stay strong!

I guarantee there will be many moments during your MLIS when you will wonder what the heck you are doing. I knew a few people who dropped out of the program in first year because it was not what they were expecting. I promise that your studies do not reflect what being a librarian is actually like. Everyone has dark moments in Library School; mine usually came while researching particularly difficult reference question assignments in my Humanities and Social Sciences class. When I couldn’t find the answers, I’d convince myself that I was going to make a horrible librarian. One of the best librarians I know almost failed Cataloguing. Don’t be discouraged! Never forget your initial dream and hold onto that throughout your studies. Remember, a MLIS is only 2 years but being a librarian will be a fulfilling life-long career!

3)      Don’t buy all the textbooks (and certainly not at full price in the bookstore)!

During my undergrad, I had to buy all of the required books on the reading list. I wrote essays on these books and my exams were based on their content. It would have been pure insanity not to have had my own personal copies that I was free to highlight and make notes in the margins. In library school, there are certain courses that have a required textbook but that I swear will never again be mentioned for the rest of the semester. Most often, the professors will summarize the contents of the readings in their lectures. The most ambitious students continue to follow the reading list for perhaps a month but in the end, being Masters students and all, we are smart enough to realize that our time is more productively spent doing something other than lengthy readings that will be summarized for us or not ever discussed again. I especially recommend talking to the second year students to get advice on which textbooks are important to purchase. If you must purchase a textbook try and organize buying one second-hand as you can save lots of money!

4)      Learn to like or at least be able to feign an interest in cats

The stereotype that librarians are cat-people? It’s true.

5)      Facebook will become an invaluable informal learning tool

Most people in the MLIS program will have a Facebook profile. This is a great way to connect with your busy classmates while outside of class and get quick answers to your burning questions on assignments and where people are hanging out on the weekend. When I started library school, I was extremely selective of who I confirmed as a Facebook friend. I declined those who were casual acquaintances because I maintained that a Facebook friend needed to be someone who I truly considered to be a friend. I soon realized that adding other library school students and professional librarians on Facebook was a fantastic way to find out more about that person and that it could become a valuable sharing tool. I have discovered so many interesting articles, videos, and websites that have been posted by people in the library field. Also, on more than one occasion, I sent out a desperate message asking whether anyone could help me understand an unclear question from an assignment. Luckily someone was always online, usually working on the same assignment so that we could discuss the ambiguous question together. So if you haven’t done so, clean up any potentially embarrassing personal pictures/info and add some new library school friends who will help you integrate more smoothly both socially and academically into your MLIS program!

New video on Asturias Academy

14 Aug

Here is a new video on Miguel Angel Asturias Academy where our group of McGill’s Librarian Without Borders volunteered to help develop a library project in April. It is such an amazing place that fosters a passion for learning in all of its students. I was completely blown away by the founder and director Jorge Chojolán who narrates this video; he is truly an inspirational man with a great vision. I actually danced with him on our final night in Xela!


I am beginning to sponsor a student to attend Asturias which I think is an incredibly worthy cause. As a condition of my sponsorship, Steve Mullaney, the Director of Development and acting Librarian, is ensuring that the student I sponsor is a member of the school’s Book Club. For more information on Asturias Academy please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit the school’s website.

Biblioblond takes on libraries in Ireland and England Part 1

12 Aug

Linen Hall Library Belfast

I’ve only been back at work since Monday and already my mind is overwhelmed with the end of summer reading club, the compilation of summer statistics, and the organizing of activities and programming for Fall 2010. My memories from my vacation to Ireland and England are unfourtunately quickly fading fast into the back of my mind. I did however really want to share the geekier librarian moments of trip. Luckily I was travelling with a fellow enthusiast for libraries as tourist destinations and so in total we visited 5 libraries during our 9 day trip. Since I enjoyed these visits so much I’ve decided to write a post about each library we visited.

In Belfast, I particularly enjoyed visiting the Linen Hall Library,Belfast’s oldest library (originally known as the Belfast Reading Society) LinenHall Library logoand home to some fairly recurrent paranormal active. When we were there we actually saw the Paranormal Ulster’s team working in a library meeting room (they all had t-shirts on that said “Paranormal Ulster”). This was especially exciting because we had just gone on a Haunted Ghost Tour of Belfast the night before!

The Linen Hall library is a subscription library that has an impressive collection with many new releases but also has definitely succeeded in preserving its historic caché. The Troubled Images exhibit displayed in the new section to the library was extremely educational and I can imagine quite controversial since it presents political “propaganda” posters from Northern Ireland’s recent violent past.  When talking with our Irish hosts, I assumed their usage of the term “the troubles” was their own euphemism for the violence in Northern Ireland but it seems to be the official term. I found the most interesting poster to be an image of a soccer ball with the slogan “Does it Matter which Foot you Kick with?”. This slogan uses a typical Ulster idiom that refers to the myth that while farming Catholics dig with their left foot and Protestants dig with their right foot. Therefore the idiom to ‘dig with the other foot’ means is to be of the other religion. Likewise in soccer, someone of the opposite religion becomes one who ‘kicks with the other foot”. This poster was used in 1996 by the Community Relations Council to encourage cross-religion relations. I thought that this exhibit was well done and I found the brochure with explanations of the context of the posters to be especially helpful. There was also a prominent display in this area on U.K. author Joan Lingard, who wrote the Kevin and Sadie series about star-crossed lovers, a Catholic and Protestant teenage couple during the Troubles. These books have been reprinted several times so I am hopeful that I will be able get my hands on a copy in North America to read more about the Troubles from a fictional perspective.

What can I say? I love learning new things even when I am on vacation.

The prominence given to history at the Linen Hall Library has got me thinking about how the Tracadie-Sheila Public Library could incorporate more its rich Acadian history in the form of displays or exhibits.

Stay tuned to my next post I will write about the Belfast Central Library.