[Series] So What Do You Do? School Library Observation

This post is part of a new series called “So What Do You Do?” in which LIS students talk about their experiences as interns. We want to showcase the wide range of things people are doing in the world of library and information science.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Celia Dillon. I am in my second year in the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in Queens, New York. I am working towards my Masters Degree as part of the School Media Specialist program. I also currently teach first grade in Harlem, New York. I am a proud of alum of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where I majored in political science.

So what do you do?

This semester I took my first class within the School Media Specialist program and as part of the class I had to observe a school librarian over the course of the semester. I observed a kindergarten through fourth grade librarian at The School at Columbia University, in Harlem, New York. Though I think these observations are standard for most School Media Specialist programs, I wanted to highlight this experience because of how beneficial I felt it was. The librarian I observed was incredibly innovative in implementing new technology in her school library. Watching her changed my view of how school librarians can be leaders and innovators within their schools. This observation also cemented for me what has been echoed by many other library students and bloggers; classes alone cannot provide the experience and knowledge that a MLIS student needs. Because of the nature of information and librarianship, observations, internships and volunteer opportunities are vital!

Are you finding your coursework helpful in that position? In what way?

This observation was part of the Introduction to Organization of School Media Centers class I took, so it was interesting to see how concepts we discussed in class were being applied in an actual school library. As I’m sure other people have noticed through their own internships, there can be a wide gulf between theory and practice, so it was helpful to be involved with both ends of the spectrum at the same time.  I hadn’t taken it at the time of my observation, but I’ll be taking an Instructional Technologies for Information Literacies class this semester.  I’m interested to see if there is any overlap between approaches to teaching information literacy given in this course and what I saw during my observation.

What would you say are the lessons you’ve taken away from the internship?

The librarian’s use of technology during instruction was something I’d really like to take to my own school library. She introduced me to some great iPad applications for educators like Explain Everything, Skitch and Story Robe. Because the technology used in classrooms and school libraries is constantly changing, I’m not sure if this is something I could have learned from my classes alone. The librarian I observed also stressed that a school librarian shouldn’t completely forgo teaching print literacy for teaching information literacy. Read alouds, author studies and reader’s advisory are still an important part of the job and a good school librarian should use print literacy to support information literacy and information literacy to support print literacy. The librarian was involved in curriculum planning and grade-level meetings with teachers, which gave me some ideas about how school librarians and teachers can collaborate.

How do you think this will help your career?

I am excited to have some specific ideas and concrete examples for how to teach information literacy. I am also happy to have some experience with iPad apps and computer programs that I talk can about during a job interview. This observation has made me see that being able to discuss some practical instruction methods and achievable ideas I can implement in a Media Center is going to be incredibly helpful. I’ve already been able to use some of these ideas in the school I currently teach at, which has been very exciting. Though I grumbled about the extra time commitment at the beginning of the semester, I have come around to seeing the importance of this observation and why it is required by my school.

Interested in sharing your internship experience? Contact us at hacklibschool@gmail.com.

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