Giving Yourself Credit(s)!

As my previous HLS posts have urged, it is important to take it easy on yourself, stay grounded, speak up, and trust the process. Well, in this post, I am going to talk about giving yourself credit for what you do while you’re in library school! And, for once, I’m not speaking metaphorically. However, I think you should also give yourself metaphorical credit too!

Library school can get really busy and really overwhelming. We want to learn so much and do so many things, but we also have to simultaneously manage work, classes, and a semblance of a personal life. Some of us are able to work in a library setting while we are in school, but not everyone gets that chance. These suggestions may depend upon your program, but here are some really great ways to get credit for your workin library school:

Practicum

The iSchool at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a practicum option where you can basically propose a project and pursue it for school credit. I know other programs do this as well as is described in some other HLS posts. I was able to do this over this past summer, focusing upon collection development for Dalit-related resources. I wanted to better understand what resources the University of Illinois had about Dalits, the untouchable caste within Hinduism. I also wanted to create a resource guide to highlight what we do have for anyone researching this marginalized population. A great part of this was that I was able to take this research and present it in a poster for the National Diversity in Libraries Conference this past August. AND the school is having a research showcase on campus this month where I will present the same poster but to a different audience. AND I also took Reference this past summer with Melissa Wong (who is FABULOUS, btw); we had a final project to create a LibGuide, and I was able to use my Dalit LibGuide for this project. It did feel like I was double dipping, but I was putting my heart into this work, and now I had better assignment guidelines to create the guide! This practicum may have just been for 2 credits, but I feel like I got SO much more out of this experience than a single summer project. I gained experience creating a poster, creating a poster proposal, presenting at a conference, presenting in the upcoming research showcase, and creating a structured LibGuide.

Independent Study/Thesis

This past summer, I co-founded the Human Library Champaign-Urbana. I did this because I volunteered with the Chicago chapter before I started school, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to start it in Chambana. I was honestly just going to do this with my own time, but someone suggested I do an independent study, or even a thesis, to get some credit for it. Again, this provided me an opportunity to have some structure around what I was planning to do anyways and get credit for the work I was going to put into it! I decided to go the Independent Study route for four credits, but this could easily become a thesis (for up to 8 credits) for those that have the option to do so. Again, this is something I can also use as material for a class project or even to submit as a chapter to a book or journal! Yes, we are students, but we CAN publish now. If you’re already putting the work into it, might as well put your feelers out. The worst that can happen is that you are denied. But now you have the experience submitting scholarly work and can ask faculty, advisors, or classmates for any feedback. Library school provides great access to mentorship, and everyone should take advantage of this!

Class Projects

I have alluded to this already, but class projects are a great way to further explore areas of librarianship that are of interest to you. For example, I am taking a foundational course called Information Organization and Access right now that has a final project where we need to investigate a research question, create an annotated bibliography, write an abstract, and present our findings. I also work at the Communications Library on campus, and I am very interested in creating a zine collection here. So, I took the opportunity to research zines for this class assignment! I will eventually use the information I discovered for the initiative at the Communications Library. I am also taking History of the Book, and I am strongly considering looking at zines from its historical perspective for the final project for this class. This will allow me to look at zines through a different lens. Regardless, both of these projects are allowing me to be better prepared for a practical application based upon research. I would like to think that I am implementing Freire’s theory and praxis. And as I mentioned above, I was able to use the LibGuide I created for my practicum for my Reference class. So there are a lot of ways to use projects in a holistic manner in library school.

School Organizations  

Last but not least, we have school organizations! If your school has a local library organization chapter (like ALA, PLG, SAA, etc), these are also opportunities to get credit, especially when you view it as a type of library outreach. Maybe you decide to set up a speaker series or co-sponsor an event with another organization. Or maybe you decide to have a workshop through one of your organizations. Think of ways you can embed a school project into a project in a school organization. OR vice versa. Maybe you write about your experience in a library management class or another related class. The possibilities are endless.

So, overall, give yourself all the literal credit you can while you are in school. It will be a more holistic and fulfilling experience! What types of projects have you done and received credit for?

4 replies

  1. GREAT post, and these are all excellent ideas. Publishing is valuable experience, and some students have success co-authoring with a professor. Along with student chapters, attend state and national conferences if/when you can. They usually have a lower fee for students. You can also present at these–excellent and valuable experience (and gets you out there, so people know you when you’re job hunting.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an University of Illinois alum, I can’t stress the value of a practicum enough. While the credit points are low (2), the contacts and real world experience are authentic. This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to new collaborators, to demonstrate your work ethic, and even to make mistakes within an environment and institution that won’t fall apart based on your experimentation. I also second Nisha’s advice regarding an independent study. My first was on the translation of children’s literature and that experience was very enriching. I’d add a recommendation of taking at least one course outside of the LIS discipline. This allows students to create networks across campus and to potentially expand one’s impact.

    Liked by 1 person

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