Mid-MLIS – Successes, Failures, and Welcome Surprises

Cover Photo by Aubrey Young

I am about halfway through the number of semesters that I have come to commit to my MLIS program. Looking back, it is one thing to read advice, another to follow it, and yet another to be able to grasp and appreciate the tangible results; grown almost without your knowledge and far more useful than you would have thought.

Oftentimes, in a library science program, it is hard to keep the balance between work and school and all the rest; and it is only every few months or so that I add on yet another task to my career strategy: beginner steps of finding career pathway classes, intermediate ones of networking at a local conference, advanced levels of acquiring that longed for internship for one semester and being more than ready to find another for the next. I started some things too late, failed on certain others, and still do not meet and greet other professionals in the library science field nearly as much as I would like. Yet, I can see, even at the bare level of the projects I do for classes and the fieldwork I will be doing in the future, a coalescence of my past experience, present interests, and future hopes. I have my professors to thank as much as my own care in picking and choosing them, as following the course numbers laid out in a line is not much reassurance while picking over all the warning signs that what you take matters little, and yet I have come out with multiple working Library Guides, a solid collection of academic writing, and an overall better sense of what I will need to do to immerse myself in my chosen section of library science: a librarian dead-set on advocating for queer people in her community, whether it be public or academic.

This crowning summation is not something I came up with overnight. Rather, it started more as a fallback to as to speed up the process of deciding on various projects: what information community to write about; what LibGuide to center information needs around; what research to fuel various discussion posts with, whether it be a solid 800-900 word post, much as is this entry consists of, or a succinct Instagram post promising bigger and better things. Eventually, I came to realize the usefulness of all this work, ‘evidence’ if you will, familiar to anyone who is checking off the various skillsets inculcated by varying classes in hopes of not having to scramble too hard to put together one’s ‘e-Portfolio’, thus justifying one’s receiving of a Master’s degree. It shows employers that I am serious about my passions, as my mentioning of my desire to make libraries more queer-friendly, especially for teenagers first exploring their identity, has already garnered me an internship. Equally important, if not more so, are that these assignments are exactly what I can start putting into those dusty LinkedIn categories when it comes to project examples and profession related creations, as if there is one thing that a public or academic librarian needs to be familiar with, it is how to interact with the Internet and extract myriad informational somethings out of various blank slates, from Google Sites and Piktochart to Twitter and Pinterest. This entire path of realization is likely nothing new to many of you, and yet for many others not yet immersed, it may serve as a reassurance that even the simple following of a list provided by your chosen Master’s program may bear fruit, so long as one is constantly taking one’s balance of personal and professional seriously. Identity politics is a contested concept, and yet here I am, using every academic opportunity I get to build an educational portfolio that shows off my skills as much as it does my passions.

In the end, I am taking two semesters longer to officially enter the field of librarianship than first assumed, and I still have some balancing to figure out regarding my petition for advancement to graduate candidacy. However, I have big plans for the next three semesters, and I am more than excited to dive into my first real internship and get a more organic view of what it means to work in the public sphere, attend conferences, and keep generally abreast of all the latest trends, from the newest technology to most recent lobbying efforts for stronger library infrastructure. To all of you reading, does any part of my journey seem familiar? If so, what happy surprises have you experienced, and how do you plan on building on them?

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