Tips for Your First Semester of Library School

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 19, 2015.

Starting library school this semester? We’ve been there! Here’s our advice on everything from scheduling to technology to maintaining a social life.  


One thing that really helped me when I started library school was becoming familiar with the technology ahead of time. Many schools offer webinars on skills such as using Blackboard and presenting in class. I attended a few of these and they were very helpful. Also, if you’re in an online class, make sure you have a headset and you know how to use it!
I’d also recommend getting involved in a student organization. Most schools will have student chapters of the American Libraries Association (ALA), Special Libraries Association (SLA), Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), and more. There’s a group for every interest and it’s a great way to meet other students and connect.

One final tip for online students: make sure you attend live sessions somewhere with a strong, reliable wifi connection. On the first day of one of my classes my wifi decided to have an “off” day and I was kicked out of class about ten times throughout the session. It was embarrassing for me and probably distracting for others in my class! I attended class from the library where I work after this incident.


Meet new people! Library school is where you will build a social network that will help you get your first post school job. It’s where you’ll meet your new best friends. It’s where you’ll meet the rad person who will come up with the next great cataloging idea. The people you meet now will be the people you will be tapping for expertise in the next phase of your life.
So how do you meet new people? Get involved with your student organization. Student organizations are a great way to meet people with similar experiences, and often provide opportunities for service and leadership. Conduct an informational interview with a local information professional. These are a great opportunity to meet people with experience in the field. Finally, attend a professional meeting or conference. A lot of state and regional conferences are happening this fall. Meetings and conferences are a great opportunity to meet people, and when their local events you get to meet other people from your area.

Samantha A.

Photo from user Moyan Brenn on Flickr Commons. Licenced under CC 2.0.

Photo from user Moyan Brenn on Flickr Commons. Licensed under CC 2.0.

Read – read often, and read a lot – and familiarize yourself with this profession and its people. Read work by those who have come before you, and read work by those who are currently working in the field, doing the jobs you want to do, and asking the questions you want to – or already do – ask. Read work from fields in which you do not personally work, but work with: get to know your peers and what they do. Build bridges between what you know, what they know, and what comes in between. And, remember: the answers aren’t always in books, they’re all over: read listservs, read Tweets, join Facebook groups, consult manuals, browse through catalogs. Read – and take in – as much as you can. And then keep going.


I have two tips (many which are similar to the ones listed above). One, talk to your peers! Especially if you’re in an on-campus program where you sit next to your classmates a couple of times a week. Get to class early, chat up the people next to you. Class becomes way more fun and interesting if you care and know about the people surrounding you (and these same people are your colleagues). My second tip is to maintain balance (this is STILL hard for me). You can’t do everything, and you will need nights where you don’t do classwork, and instead, hang out with friends, go to a movie, binge on Netflix, relax in your apartment, or sit in a coffeeshop and read a book…for fun. Grad school is challenging at times but when we give ourselves time to relax and refresh, then everything becomes a little bit easier.


Early on, I connected with local librarians who had graduated through my program 3, 5, 10, 20 years ago. It can be helpful to get perspective on your LIS education from people who have gone through it. Also, if you’re like me and you tend to overthink everything, those contacts might help to remind you that library school is just one step on your journey. There’s no way to really mess it up as long as you continue to do what you love.

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