when did the fall semester come and go?

16Jan09

I realize that I never posted about all the fabulous things I experienced last semester. I evaluated roughly three million reference materials, which inspired me to ask for (and subsequently receive) Emily Post’s ginormous guide to all things etiquette for Christmas. I used cool tools like the LibGuide Pathfinder (the link will take you straight to mine… a very cursory example of the tool), the likes of which I am already dreaming of utilizing in a school library, should that be the direction in which the tide takes me.

The most important thing that I was able to take away from the fall semester (aside from the nuances of distance learning) was the difference between public and academic libraries. The majority of my library experience had been in academia, so I capitalized on the opportunity to log some observation hours in the public library across the street from where I work. It was amazing to learn about all the different ways that the public library serves its patrons. In my college library, the focus was heavily on helping students with their scholarly research and studying needs (go figure!). My observation taught me about the wide variety of alternative information that networks of libraries can provide for patrons. I had heard about knitting circles that meet in libraries, but I was pleasantly surprised at the prevalence of community outreach that was taking place in the facility.

The diversity of programs offered by the public library introduced me to a whole slew of new patron demographics. I enjoyed the socializing that was taking place, and had an absolute ball during my tour of the children’s area. However, the public library also attracts the impoverished, the elderly, and those with child custody that is limited to public spaces. The reference librarian under whose tutelage I observed explained the stress that these kinds of patrons can cause. Today’s public librarian has to have a firm grasp on all things included in information sleuthing, but they also have to be authoritative, friendly, and tech-savvy. A librarian in a public facility has to be a jack-of-all-trades with great customer service skills.

I’m not saying that I don’t possess the ability to become all of these things, but last semester opened my eyes to the possibility that I might not be up to such a task. I’m slowly fumbling my way through the different aspects of librarianship, but I’ve got a long way to go, and a lot of introspection and growth ahead of me.

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One Response to “when did the fall semester come and go?”

  1. Hey Karen! It’s so interesting to see your reflections of school. Please keep writing! We absolutely have to collaborate on something – article, presentation, etc. Let me know if something interesting comes across your radar.

    I worked in a public library for about 6 months, and realized that I wanted to stay in academic. I’m not up for all of the public library related challenges. Not that academic is “easier” – it’s just a different set of hurdles to jump. What are you taking this semester? I just started my first class for my MA in English. It’s about cultural studies and I think it’s gonna be really fun. But it’s very weird being back in an actual classroom instead of WebCT. Ha.

    Good luck this semester! It sounds like you’re doing juuust fine. :)


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