I’m finishing my second quarter at Drexel and here are some things that you should know before you start your first quarter in library school. Not all of these will apply to all people.
- Talk with financial aid and ask if there are any corporate or association discounts (Drexel offers 20% off for ALA membership). These discounts are not always advertised so if you don’t ask you will not receive. Remember that all discounts must be applied to your account before your tuition is paid. There are no retroactive tuition breaks.
- For those who have lost their job or recieved a pay cut, after approximately 12 weeks out of work most financial aid offices can review your status. It might not get you more aid but you may get a better mix of subsidized v. unsubsidized loans.
- Make sure and check your program website weekly as you lead up to the term, they don’t always remember to announce everything in an e-mail.
- Organization is the key to doing well in library school. Buy an organizer, get out your chalk board; use whatever helps you to stay focused and on track. The classes go by fast and if you get behind it’s almost impossible to catch up.
- Participate in school message boards and talk with fellow classmates at school mixer events, grill them about the professors who are teaching the classes you will be taking. Not all professors teach equally well in all environments. Some professors excel online and not in the classroom and vice versa.
- Classes will take more time than you originally thought if you haven’t been in school for a while. I remember reading a couple different time estimates 8-10 hours, 10-12 hours, reality was 10-18 hours depending on the course.
- If you are unsure about anything ask your professor or counselor. They are there to help you. If you aren’t sure who to ask about something start with your counselor they can always direct you to the right person.
- Think about whether you want to work in a corporate or academic/public library. The classes you need to take are slightly different. With all the flexibility of the programs being offered comes a greater responsibility to do your research, ask for advice, and plan your own custom curriculum. Even if you don’t want to take them I recommend taking Cataloging & Classification, Collection Development, and a Management course. A lot of librarians work alone, or work with a part time assistant. If you have no web development experience, or minimal web skills, take a class!
- Start looking at job listings now. This will give you ideas about what skills are in demand and what types of jobs are out there. I follow Libgig on Twitter.
- Arrange an internship. Your school may be able to help you with this depending on the area you are in. If you have to arrange one on your own don’t be discouraged if some places don’t take interns. This lack of interns seems to be some sort of policy matter (I suspect it’s a union matter but I could be wrong). Look for a non-profit special library. They are almost always understaffed and grateful for any help they can get.
- Now that you are focused and working hard at your studies remember to take some time off at least once a week! Read a book for fun, go for a run, whatever floats your boat. Remember all study and no play leads to burnout and you are spending too much money on your degree to burnout!
This list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to post anything you’d like to add!
Due to excessive spam in the comments, 200 in one hour, I have had to close the comments to this post.