[Series] Experiencing LIS

You can sit in an LIS class and soak up everything the instructor has to say, but when it comes down to it, you’ve got to have some experience in the field if you’re going to become an innovator, a diva director, a YES! youth-services librarian, an intelligent instructor, a [fill in your dream-job position]. Being a student, gives you tons of opportunities to get experience. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Please share other ways you’ve been experiencing LIS outside of class. 

What are types of experiences?

  1. Internships — What organization doesn’t want someone who’s interested in working hard and learning a lot (for free, usually)?
  2. Volunteering — This need not be just in a library. Anywhere with people and information! (schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, Senior Citizen Centers, Adult Basic Education classes, etc.)
  3. Starting it yourself! — Take HLS for example. Micah Vandegrift had a brilliant idea (Hack Library School) and now we’re putting it into motion and gaining tons insights into group collaboration, technology, social media, etc.
  4. Part-time employment (or full-time for that matter) — I’m not expanding on this. You know what I mean.

How do I find these opportunities?

  1. Talk to your instructors. They’ve always got projects going on and they’re always looking for some (free) help!
  2. If you went to a panel, presentation or had a guest speaker in a class and everything they said resonated with you and you find yourself thinking, “I want to be just like them when I grow up!” — contact them. If they’re excited about what they do, they’ll be a great person to work with. And if they came to talk to LIS students, they’re probably open to working with them.
  3. Remember those really intelligent (and often hilarious) classmates you have? Go to happy hour, have a cup of coffee together, start a group chat on Skype, whatever. Talk through your ideas together. Make a plan and get started!
  4. Join a couple of listservs that interest you. The University of Washington has a student job and professional job listserv where Internships, Volunteering opportunities and Jobs are sent out daily. (And if your school doesn’t have one of these, start it yourself!)

So, that’s just the start of this series. Look for more from us soon about our experiences outside the LIS classroom. And let us know if you’d like to share yours on here, too!

4 replies

  1. This is great advice! Thanks for posting it. I definitely agree that learning the profession will only get you so far – you have to actually experience it. For one of my classes, I had to teach an information literacy class. I asked the library if I could do it (in whatever topic they wanted), and they let me. Of all things, I taught adults about Facebook. I still do it, actually! It’s easy, and at least some experience.


  2. Lauren-that’s a great idea! I love that both you and Heidi have given examples of ways that being proactive and approaching others with your ideas helps to open doors for new experiences. Because people in LIS are awesome, I’ve often found that doing this ends very well!


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