(Well ok, it’s actually going to be five more things but the Columbo picture wouldn’t have made sense if I’d given it that as a title). So here we are, my final post for Hack Library School. It’s been a great experience, and fulfilled a bit of a dream in that I always wanted to be ‘a regular writer’. In this last post I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learnt in my time as part of the writing team, so before I get all emotional let’s quickly move on to them:
1. Reflection really helps
Having a recurring deadline in which to sit down and write about aspects of my MLIS for Hack Library School has made me reflect on pretty much every aspect of the course as well as wider issues – the content, the relationship to work, the impact on my life outside of work and study. And this has been good. This has enabled me to continually re-evaluate what I am doing, what I need to be doing, why and how, and not to be afraid to make choices and changes to get to where I want to. Whether you write for publication or for your eyes only, taking the time to practise this kind of reflective thinking can really benefit you and your progress.
2. “Networking” is not a dirty word
This has been one of the great revelations about belonging to this community. Not so long ago I though “networking” was a dirty word, with all it’s connotations of 1980s yuppidom and schmooze, but the reality from grassroots communities like Hack Library School and numerous others within the library profession is that networking in this sense is about people supporting one another, sharing, and working together, and that can only be a good thing.
3. Studying librarianship isn’t always the same as working in librarianship
There’s obviously variation depending on where you might work and the role you do, but studying librarianship can often seem like a different planet to the world of work. It can be a challenge to apply what you’ve studied to your work life if even possible at all, and this can feel frustrating and de-motivating. Sometimes you just can’t make the link and you just have to keep on going regardless and try not to get too hung up about this seeming disconnection. Alternatively you might be lucky enough to be able to apply things in the workplace, but this may mean a lot of pro-activeness on your part.
4. Library people are tough cookies
I don’t think anyone could accuse those who work in libraries or study librarianship as taking the easy option or choosing a ‘get rich quick’ career. It seriously can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that libraries are under pressure, but although it might in that case seem baffling to some people that anyone would still want to go down that career path, what it really shows is that people who chose library work have a true belief in the profession, are strong minded enough to stick with it, and have real tenacity. It’s not for the faint-hearted, despite all the meek and mild librarian stereotypes. And even in difficult times, libraries find a way, whether that’s a donkey or camel library, something like radical reference or the occupy wall street library. There’s that belief and commitment again.
5. Studying librarianship doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a librarian
Those of us studying librarianship have come to it for a variety of reasons, and we will each emerge with a variety of different options. There are numerous different directions we can take our next steps in, traditional librarianship is only one. Whilst I’ve been studying digital librarianship I can see so many more options open to me given the skills and knowledge I’ve gained as part of the course, both technical and theoretical. A lot of us will finish our courses highly trained and motivated and will find that dream job. Others of us will have emerged from the experience having reformulated our ideas and goals and will head in less traditional directions, as M Jay Granger wrote “We are here to hack library school.” We have options.
Wherever you are on your library journey, good luck for the future whatever that may be. Life as a whole is a journey, so give it all you’ve got and keep exploring, and thank you for making the Hack Library School community a great place to be.