Office Hours Extra: Great Advice from Mr. Library Dude & Graham Lavender

Graham Lavender points to a post by Mr. Library Dude concerning the realities of libraries school and the job market. Mr. Library Dude offers a few points to be considered:

  1. I don’t really care what library school course grades/GPA you have. Just get your degree and focus on getting some experience.
  2. Get a mentor! Someone who is a working librarian. Not a library school professor who hasn’t worked in libraries for 20 years.
  3. Geographic flexibility: I understand that not everyone can (or wants) to move across country for a job. Just be aware that you may be severely limiting your options. Again, you need to decide if the expense of library school is worth it, if you are not geographically mobile.
  4. You need to market yourself. Librarians/librarians-to-be need to stop thinking of marketing as an “icky” term. You need a web presence 
Graham offers his own advice as well in a well-thought post:

I hope no one believes that earning an MLIS is the most challenging part of starting a library career; on graduation day, there will be no line-up of employers begging you to work for them. This is not your school’s fault. It is simply the way the job market works (as is the case with most careers). But I also hope no one is discouraged from starting an MLIS because of what they’ve heard about the library job market. As long as you’re willing to put in the extra effort (and often patience), you will find an appropriate job eventually.

In fact, many of Mr. Dude’s points are the same ones I’ve made before (don’t neglect to read the comments on his post for even more tips). Gain experience while studying, find a mentor, and don’t be shy about marketing yourself.

These words ring true. I do believe having an LIS educator as a mentor can be useful though for both the student and the faculty member. I’ve been lucky to mentor a few students over the years who have taught me a lot about the current state of things in libraries and I hope I’ve helped them too find their way. It does concern me that I haven’t worked in libraries for a while – Remember – my SJCPL days are over five years ago! I try my hardest to stay in touch with practicing librarians as I speak here and there and participate in various conferences. A good LIS educator will actively seek ways to remain current. My advice would be for students to seek not only a practicing mentor but that “up to date” prof as well.

What are your thoughts about these important topics?

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3 thoughts on “Office Hours Extra: Great Advice from Mr. Library Dude & Graham Lavender”

  1. I think that for prospective academic librarians it’s important to have both a professional and research mentor. A professional mentor could be another academic librarian with similar job responsibilities who is NOT a supervisor, but a research mentor could certainly be an LIS instructor or researcher. I think that one of the biggest challenges for academic librarians interested in publishing interesting work is finding a theoretical basis and framework for everyday practices. A research mentor could help with this as well as with finding appropriate research methodologies for different projects.

  2. Michael, I know that you are extremely down to earth and I applaud your efforts to stay in touch with working librarians but I’m afraid this might be the exception rather than the norm. University professors tend to be so busy with their course load, research, faculty obligations, etc. that unfortunately despite their best wishes they might have lost touch with the reality of issues that librarians are faced with daily. Luckily McGill University is very good about hiring sessional lecturers who are currently working in libraries. During my MLIS, I took several interesting courses that were taught by sessional lecturers. Being taught by these professionals was especially insightful for more specialized courses such as Children and Youth Services, Government Documentation, and Business Information.
    Having said that I highly respect the professors that I had during my MLIS and if someone finds a professor who they admire and they feel that this person can provide them with guidance then they should definitely not hesitate to ask them to be a mentor!

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