The Joy of Working with LIS Students

I spent some time over the weekend finalizing my responses to the questions that Hack Library School sent to the ALA President candidates and so I’ve been thinking about LIS students and LIS education. It is one of the absolute joys in my professional career to work with LIS students, particularly those here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), but also the students in other programs who I have been fortunate to get to know through social media, involvement in professional associations, accreditation visits, etc.

I’ll warn now that this blog post is going to get long because I love this part of my work so much and I have gotten to work with so many great students that I want to tell about as many of them as possible!

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With Sarah Crissinger (GSLIS Convocation 2015)

I started teaching in GSLIS-UIUC shortly after I graduated and was recently appointed as  affiliate faculty in the school. Over the years I have taught a variety of courses:

  • LIS450AC: Library Use Instruction,
  • LIS458 (formerly LIS316): Instruction and Assistance Systems,
  • LIS590HEL: Information Professionals in Higher Education (now LIS567 Academic Librarianship), and
  • for the first time this summer, LIS590IIP: International Information Associations and Policy.

The later two courses I co-created with Melissa Wong and Clara Chu, respectively, when we saw student interest and each time we received enthusiastic support from GSLIS. I enjoy teaching both in-person and online and appreciate the benefits that each mode offers to students and instructors. (More than once I have set my alarm for the middle of the night to get up and teach when traveling overseas!)

As a reflective teacher, I have also been an active participant in ALISE conferences and WISE workshops. I served for more than a decade as the co-coordinator of the GSLIS/Library Teaching Alliance, a professional development academy funded by the Office of the Provost, which culminated in a year-long focus on Cultural Competency in LIS Education in 2014.

I am fortunate to be able to hire one graduate assistant each year through the Office of Information Literacy of the University Library and also had funding for a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow for a year. I also hire a number of additional students on an hourly basis each year to work on projects, which are varied work and have included user studies/library assessmentcatalog/discovery system analysisstrategic planning process support, and establishing a publication series (project in progress). I have also supervised practicum field experiences, internships, and independent studies, with the particular format chosen to best meet the needs to each individual student, and served as a mentor in the Dr. E. J. Josey Spectrum Scholar Mentor Program.

I’m so proud of the work that each and every one of these students has done and am
particularly pleased that they are able to leverage their experiences in their job search and eventual career.

In addition to the pre-professional librarianship experience that students gain by working in the Office of Information Literacy, I also encourage them to join me in presenting at conferences and publishing about our work. Here are a few of the citations from over the years:

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With Lauren Kosrow (Charleston Conference 2014)

We have a very active ALA Student Chapter at GSLIS and, in partnership with them, I give advice to students on attending conferences and getting involved in the professional associations. My favorite presentation is Did You Know “Conferencing” is a Verb? Strategies for Surviving and Thriving at Library Conferences – it is so much fun to give away the “conference survival-pack” at the end to a lucky winner! When it is time for the job search, I review resumes and cover letters and provide coaching for interviews. Last week I gave a workshop on Preparing to Present: The Job Interview Edition! (the recording is openly available for any LIS student who might find it useful).

Finally – last but definitely not least – I want to mention how much I learn from the students with whom I work. It is very common to think about new librarians learning from more experienced ones in mentoring relationships. Sarah Crissinger (formerly a graduate assistant in my unit – I mentioned what great students I get to work with, right?) recently wrote about the value of peer mentoring on ACRLog. I have been the newer librarian in traditional mentoring relationships and I am very grateful for my peer mentors; however, what I have gained through “reverse mentoring” has been particularly valuable. The insights and perspectives of LIS students and new professionals challenge me to think about my assumptions and look for innovation and more effective practices.

I was particularly impacted by attending the student-led Symposium on LIS Education at UIUC last spring (as a result some new opportunities for students to work with me starting this summer are in development – to be announced soon!). I wish I could attend the DERAIL Forum at Simmons on March 26 and Social Justice and Libraries on May 14 in Seattle as well. If anyone is able to attend these or any other student-led events, I highly recommend going!

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With Emma Clausen (Seattle 2014)

A thank you to all of the students who have gifted me with your conversation, engagement, and perspective over the years. And, who continue to do so once they have graduated and moved into professional positions; thankfully social media and conference travel make it easy to keep in touch. No matter where my career takes me, staying connected with LIS students is a top priority for me!

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