It’s that time of year when a professional association I belong to, the Special Libraries Association Boston Chapter, organizes a day-on-the-job event for local library and information science students. I’ve hosted students ever since I’ve had this job and have made arrangements for three students to visit me so far this month. The first one comes on Friday.
I host students for a number of reasons.
- A lot of students are fantastic people.
- I miss being able to work with them like I could in previous jobs.
- I learned a lot about librarianship, especially nontraditional and special positions, through opportunities to meet with working professionals. I found many of those encounters to be very valuable, even if I walked away from meeting someone thinking, “I don’t want her job.”
- Many people know nothing about news librarianship. I certainly didn’t until I was in grad school. I’ve been teaching people about the profession ever since my first news librarian job. Now I have a terrific opportunity to show, not just tell, some students what news librarianship is all about.
- I have a really funky, nontradtional job they won’t learn about in class.
- I’ve learned a lot from students I’ve hosted in the past.
- They ask really good questions and have good ideas.
- One of the best ways to learn about someone’s job is to shadow her/him.
- When I was in grad school, I would have loved to have had this opportunity.
- I had a great mentor in library school. I feel like I’m repaying that mentorship by making myself available to students.
- It’s a lot of fun.
Honestly, it can be a little awkward at times. I’m shy; and, sometimes I have no idea what to say. I’m a solo librarian, so the student has to spend the entire time with me. (Granted, she can choose to make it as long or as short as she wants it to be.) That means that the entire time, she only gets to visit with one person. In libraries with several staff members, the student may be able to spend time with many people on the staff, not just one person. It can also be a little tiring. And it might mean that I don’t get much accomplished at work tomorrow. (Luckily, things aren’t very hectic right now.) What matters to me is that when the student leaves, she leaves knowing a little bit more about things she can do with her library degree and she knows a little bit more about one job in the great big world of librarianship.
Addendum 3/20: The student on Friday was awesome: a former nurse who is now the head of reference at a New Hampshire public library with a Japanese garden. (Field trip!) She’s doing a lot of neat things at her library. They surely appreciate her good energy and enthusiasm.