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.