Carolyn Caffrey is in her last semester of the MLS program at Indiana University Bloomington. Originally from Southern California she relocated to the land of corn where she works in instruction and reference. She is an aspiring instruction librarian, who loves roller derby, office supplies, spring, and critical information literacy. You can find her on twitter (@cmcaffre) or at her blog.
Following up our recent editing-team post about Internships, here’s another way to get experience while in school. Carolyn has written a thoughtful post with great specifics for those interested in information literacy and instruction. Comments and other tips are welcome!
As LIS students we’ve heard over and over again how important it is to gain experience to get that job when we graduate. Information literacy and library instruction experience can be a tricky thing to gain in library school. Like any other interest it just takes some creativity and a lot of motivation.
This is the dream, get yourself a paid position:
-Check out your library’s department in charge of instruction, this may be reference, public services, or their very own teaching & learning department. Not all libraries allow LIS students to fill these positions but chatting with the librarians about the type of experience you would like to gain and what you can offer never hurts.
-If you can’t find a position teaching information literacy in the one-shot or course integrated model, look for ways to highlight other information literacy moments. While working at the reference desk you engage in one-to-one teaching moments. Thinking about a reference transaction as a library educator might change how you answer questions. Also, if you engage in e-mail or IM transactions, consider spicing up your instruction moment with screencasts such as the free software, Jing. Plan on how you can articulate these moments to a future employer in order to highlight your involvement with information literacy every day.
Observe library instruction in action and volunteer:
-Can you sit in on a one-shot library session? Perhaps the librarian would be up to co-teaching a session, or even letting you teach a session all on your own with their guidance.
-Don’t neglect distance education students. Is there a way you can help maintain online learning objects or test out new tutorials?
-Katie Westlake recently posted about her volunteering experience and many commentators recommend volunteering as a way to gain real world skills. If there aren’t opportunities in an academic library, think outside the academia box. Maybe you can work with the public library on their literacy initiatives or technology fluency?
Network and attend professional conferences:
-Professional librarians love to see students involved, and many are willing to mentor and support you along the way. Conference activity has been my favorite mode of involvement. LOEX is a conference dedicated solely to information literacy. Considering doing a poster presentation, since it’s relatively small it’s a great one to get your feet wet.
-Can’t physically attend a conference? Consider virtual attendance! ACRL is coming up and student virtual registration includes presentation slidecast access for a whole year. Lots of those sessions are devoted to information literacy in theory and practice.
-Be involved on twitter, blogs, and listservs. I get most of my information from twitter and blogs, but I do love the ACRL Il-I listserve
Finally, stay informed and learn on your own:
-Take any instruction courses your LIS program offers. Also branch outside of LIS to your school’s education department. My school offers a graduate course through the School of Education on “Teaching & Learning on the College Campus”. Many future instruction librarians have audited this course.