Dance with Them that Brung You [Introduction]

Hello everyone! This is my first post as a new writer for HLS, and I am very excited to be writing for y’all! I wanted this first post to act as a way for all of you wonderful HLS readers to get an idea of who I am, as well as a way for me to share the biggest Library School lesson I have learned. So, let us get down to it.

Like a good percentage of Library School students, I did not go directly from undergraduate to Library School. I did actually go directly to graduate school, but that was for mathematics. After finishing up my first foray into graduate school with a masters in mathematics I have led multiple lives. I have been a podcaster, a mathematical communicator, a data analyst, and a barista trainer among many other things. Suffice it to say I had a lot of varied experiences before my first day at the University of Wisconsin’s iSchool.

It did not take long before those experiences started paying dividends in Library School, in fact I was able to start cashing them in well before classes even started. Most notably I was able to find an awesome assistantship with PodcastRE thanks to my experience as a podcaster and my knowledge of database design from my time as a data analyst. After school started the examples came thick and fast. In group work my mathematics knowledge was valuable as it meant I was able to take on any quantitative analysis needed. In my metadata class I not only helped create a project about podcast metadata, but also a podcast to go with it. In my instruction practicum my training and communication work meant I was comfortable in front of students. This list could go on for a long time, but I will not bore you with hundreds of examples.

At the heart of this experience is the lesson I wanted to share. There are many ways to say it from the colloquial version I used as a title, dance with them that brung you, to the buzz word bingo version, best practice is to leverage your existing skill sets, but really it all boils down to this: use what you know. One of the true joys of Library School and the information professions are their width. It has a space for people of all kinds of backgrounds with all kinds of skills doing all sorts of tasks, and what I have found this too mean is that no matter what skills and experience you bring into Library School there is a place for you to use them. While I have found my mathematics and podcasting background to be absolutely integral to doing well in my studies, I am confident that law clerking historian or miming Russian literature major or gender studying bike courier would all find the exact same thing.

More than any other area I have been involved in the world of libraries and information studies provides people with the ability to create the path they want to trod. So, do just that. Take your skills and you experiences and create the path you want to take, the one where you get to dance with them that brung you.

Cover photo by Liezl Estipona showing Samuel literally dancing with those that brung them at MaxFunCon 2014. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Samuel Hansen, is a student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison iSchool studying to become a mathematics librarian. Samuel also hosts and produces the podcast Relatively Prime: Stories from the Mathematical Domain. You can find out more about Samuel at their website.


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