A Week in the Life

Way back in the day, when I was a future library school student, I was always interested in what the daily life of a MLIS student looked like. With that in mind, I’ve decided to break down my typical week for you! I drafted this a month or so back, roughly halfway through my summer semester, and it’s a fairly standard portrayal of how I spend my time in library school. Enjoy!


4am. My alarm goes off… just kidding! I’m still awake at 4am, putting the finishing touches on an information needs assessment for my special libraries course. I had meant to fall asleep several hours ago, but I became too engrossed in my work—it turns out the information needs and behaviours of different types of artists is a really interesting subject. My paper is a page or two over the limit when I finally stop and go to sleep.

Noon. I wake up. After doing a final read-through of my paper I submit it, then spend a half-hour or so tidying my apartment; after that, I settle back down at my computer to work on my online course on collection development. I took the previous week off from participating in the forums, so I need to make sure I do that this week. I skim the readings, and watch the lecture that the professor has posted online, jotting down notes about how I will connect these concepts with the discussion questions my classmates have posted in the forums. I make some brief posts, with the intention of posting more in-depth contributions over the weekend.

5.45pm. I leave my apartment for my evening class, which isn’t ’til 6.30, but I need to grab a coffee on my way (and there’s always a line!). Tonight’s class is Special Libraries, yes, the same one I just submitted my assignment for. This class is fantastic; over the course of the semester, we are all creating our own libraries from scratch—everything from collection development policies, to space planning, from budgeting to staffing. It’s a really interesting and practical way to spend a Monday evening. Tonight, though, it’s 33 degrees C, and the air-con is broken. The professor brings ice cream to class while we talk about collection management. It’s still sweltering hot when he ends class an hour early, at around half-past eight.


7.30am. I’m up at a normal hour today, as I have work at 8.30. I am a graduate assistant at my faculty’s special library, which houses a collection of materials focusing on libraries, information, and media studies. As it’s summer, most of the current library users are MLIS students, as the majority of programs in the faculty have the semester off. We’re in the middle of a heat wave (and, as mentioned above, the AC is broken) so it’s a pretty quiet morning. I run through the usual opening routine, field a few basic reference questions, polish off some cataloguing I was working on last week, update our social media feeds, and get to work on a new display.

11am. I leave work, heading home via the campus student centre to grab a bagel from one of the student bars (best bagels ever, I swear!). I then head home to get a bit more work done. Since I submitted a large assignment yesterday, I get to work on ‘lighter’ coursework today: reading! I’m taking a readers’ advisory class this semester, which means I get to read novels for my coursework. Can’t say I have too much of a problem with that! I read for an hour or two, making notes as I go about the mystery genre and its appeal factors.

5pm. The book was better than expected; I’ve read the day away, quite without meaning to. Put book away; shower, eye makeup bag warily, shove hair into a bun because it’s too hot to deal with. Take way too long leaving the house, because it’s cool inside and roasting outside.

6.30pm. Arrive at the restaurant only a little bit late. Several friends have had birthdays recently, so we’re having a night off to celebrate. Coursework is important, but so is having a night off and relaxing!


7.30am. Get up. I grab an iced coffee on my way to class, because, well, of course I do. Class starts at nine, and to everyone’s great relief, someone has finally decided to move our classes to a building where the AC is not broken! This morning’s class is on materials for older children, and it’s definitely one of my favourite classes. Today, we talk about problem novels, stories of everyday life, collection tools like NoveList K-8, and indigenous stories.

12.15pm. Class is finished, and I head back to the sweltering heat of my faculty to talk to my advisor. I’m working on a guided research project next semester and she’s currently helping me iron out the details. Research papers aren’t a required component of my MLIS program, but it is an option, and I’m excited to get started on it next term. In essence, my project is on depictions of non-traditional families in picture books, in public libraries across the province. We spent about half an hour discussing my plans, how to limit the project, and how it will be assessed, then proceed to spend another fifteen minutes talking about my potential PhD plans—potential schools, potential research, potential advisors, and the practicalities (aka money). This is all a ways away, but I’m glad to get her advice on this as she is retiring next year—so I’ll have to look for an advisor elsewhere!

1pm. Work. I get there early, as it’s roughly forty steps from my advisor’s office to the library. I’m still working on the display mentioned above; it will be a large, long-term display near the library’s entrance, is likely to stay up for 4-6 months, and is tentatively titled “the truth about libraries.” It’s a fairly large project, creating a cohesive and yet diverse representation of libraries and librarianship. I also want to make it stand out a bit, using some of the tools from our makerspace such as the button-maker and the 3D printer, so today I spend some time figuring out how to work the latter. I need to complete this by the end of next week, as there is a faculty event being held in the library at that time.

4.30pm. I’m the event coordinator of one of our student groups, SLACYS—Student Librarian Association of Children and Youth Services (yes, quite the mouthful). We have our meeting at one of the on-campus pubs, as our faculty is still much too hot; over the course of the hour we discuss some of our ongoing projects, such as lemonade sales and book drives, as well finalising our schedule for guest presenters over the next few weeks.

5.30pm. Head home with the intention of working on an essay or two. I read instead.


8am. Wake up and head to work. One of the full-time staff is away and I am taking on another 8.30 shift, bookending my regular 10-12.30. I spend the morning working some more on the display, while also getting started on a proposal to produce #libraryswag—my next project, once the display is complete. A perfect excuse to play with the makerspace some more! And I actually have the energy to do it, as the AC is finally back on!

12.30pm. Quick lunch break; sit and chat with people in the grad lounge for twenty minutes, scoffing down a bag of chips because I forgot to meal prep this week. I’m a super-healthy adult.

1pm. Time for another favourite class (yes, okay, they’re all my favourites): Readers’ Advisory. There’s a lot I love about this class—not least that it allows me to spend my afternoons reading, guilt free! We talk about reader theory, and break down appeal factors, genres, and all sorts of other reasons why people enjoy the books they enjoy. Prior to taking this class I never knew how much went into helping someone choose a book, and I’m already excited to try and put it into practice. Honestly, the only downside to this course is that the professor doesn’t seem to be much a fan of eBooks, which I swear by!

4pm. Class finishes. With two and a half hours before my evening class, I go to dinner with some friends, then return to campus to get a bit of reading done. I get a coffee right before class—essential!

6.30pm. Head to my evening course, which is Introduction to Archives. It’s my only course this semester that runs lecture-style, with minimal discussion or group work, which is honestly quite relaxing at the end of the week!

9pm. We finish class a bit early, and I head home with the intention of getting an early night. Instead, I spend a few hours prepping for my interview the next day.


9am. I wake up earlier than intended; I’d originally planned to sleep in until 10, because being up too soon before my interview will just give me more time to be nervous. I spend the morning continuing to prepare for my interview.

12.30pm. I get a phone call from the person interviewing me, informing me that they’re having audiovisual problems and I’ll now need to both skype and conference call with them. This eases my nerves a little; at least the technology problems aren’t on my end!

1pm. I have my interview. It is for a work placement, an internship position at a library in my hometown, which is going to involve training in a wide range of departments, as well a crash course in management, as I’ll be supervising library assistants. Generally, my MLIS program connects students with potential work placements/co-ops, but I’ve arranged this one myself as it allows me to live at home, saving money as well as spending time with my family (I have a beautiful baby nephew and I hate being half a country away from him!). I’m lucky that my program is really flexible as it allows me to complete my self-arranged work placement while I continue my studies.

1.45pm. Towards the end of my interview, I am verbally offered the job. I’m warned not to make any firm plans until they have the paperwork for me, as it has to be filtered through the various departments for approval—it’s a large system, so hiring can get a bit complicated. Still, internships are generally approved relatively quickly. [And, posting this over a month later, I have in fact started said internship!]

At lastthe weekend!

My weekend essentially stretches from Friday morning to Monday afternoon, which allows me a pretty good work/life balance. Unless I have a particularly crazy workload, I generally take Friday off to run errands, spend with my friends or, in this week’s case, interview for a job. The remainder of my weekend consisted of contributing to forum discussions, getting readings done, a bit of Netflix, a lot of working on my next big project (a pathfinder for my children’s materials course—fun but time-consuming!), and, of course, celebrating that tentative internship.

And there you have it! This was a relatively low-key week for me; I only had two assignments due and neither were too terrible. There are certainly more stressful weeks, but I survived those, too, and so will you, dear future library school student!

And for you current students– what does your typical day/week/month look like? I’d love to hear about it, so drop me a comment!

Featured image by STIL

Kait is an MLIS student at Western University in Ontario, an intern librarian at her local community library, and an avid traveller. Currently, she feels very strongly that she should be swimming in the Adriatic Sea, rather than getting eaten by mosquitos next to a campfire. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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