You have probably heard the phrase “libraries are more than just books” uttered more than once. In fact, I have heard this cliché so often since I entered the library profession four years ago that I am convinced that it has become the 21st century mantra for librarians and their libraries. It is true that the growth of the internet and more recently, the rise of e-readers, have forced libraries to actively reinvent how the public perceives them. For many librarians, this means drawing the attention of their patrons away from the stacks of books and emphasizing the library’s computer stations, both which serve as the gateways to many online resources that those patrons could normally never access on their own home computer without going through the library’s website. However, there is a new trend in public libraries across the United States that is expanding what libraries have to offer beyond the realm of anything that is traditionally associated with libraries. Have you ever imagined a library that offers bike-repair sessions, electronics workshops, book writing and publishing sessions, or even 3-D printing and fabricating laboratories on a weekly basis? Well, you can actually find libraries that offer and host weekly activities like these and much more in the form of “maker-spaces;” a new invention that may revolutionize how libraries serve the public in the near-future.
Maker-spaces are not entirely without precedent. In 1905, Francis Jenkins Olcott, the head of the children’s department at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburg, assisted in the establishment of home libraries in working class houses within the surrounding communities. In these home libraries, Ms. Olcott organized crafts such as sewing and basketry for local kids. In 1976, the city of Columbus, Ohio used a federal community development block grant to start the Rebuilding Together Central Ohio Tool Library, which served as a tool-lending library. The Tool Library entered a second phase in 2009 when the organization Rebuilding Together Central Ohio took over the operation of the library from the city of Columbus. Today, this unique library continues to lend out tools to the people of Columbus and the other surrounding communities within Franklin County.
In 2011, the first true library maker-space, known as the “Fab Lab,” opened at the Fayetteville Free Library in Fayetteville, New York. The Fab Lab, short for “Fabulous Laboratory,” was the brainchild of Fayetteville librarian, Lauren Smedley. While still in graduate school, Ms. Smedley wrote a proposal calling for the creation of a “maker space” within a public library where people could collaborate, create, and make things. The Fayetteville Free Library was so impressed with Ms. Smedley’s idea that they hired her to make it a reality. As of today, the Fab Lab has expanded to offer Makerbot 3D-printers, video cameras, podcasting equipment, and other digital media equipment all for the purpose of providing members of the community of all ages with the opportunities to collaborate together with their creative ideas and make different things. Currently, the Fayetteville Library is remodeling a wing of its building so that the Fab Lab can have a larger space to offer people a wider variety of resources so that they can put their creative resources to use.
It hasn’t taken long for other libraries across the United States to catch on to the fact that Fayetteville Free Library might really be on to something. In April of 2012, the Detroit Public Library opened a maker space in its HYPE Teen Center located at its Main Branch. The HYPE maker space provides a wide variety of workshops featuring activities that teenagers can participate in such as bike repair, electronics, graphic design, sewing and crafts, and Arduino robotics. Cleveland Public Library and Allen County(IN) Public library launched similar maker-spaces of their own several months later. During the previous year, Chicago Public Library had launched its own unique collaborative learning center located at the Harold Washington Library Center known as YouMedia. YouMedia originally began as a vast learning space filled with computers and other digital media where youth could read, play games, and create their own media in many different formats. However, the Chicago Public Library recently received a huge grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a maker space of its own that will feature 3D printers just like the Fayetteville and Cleveland libraries. This addition of a maker space to YouMedia might just enable the Chicago Public Library to set the standard for learning and collaborative creativity for the digital age and the 21st century! Library maker spaces are by no means limited to public libraries or large cities. The University of Nevada Reno has opened a maker space in its DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and the Connecticut suburb of Westport has recently started a maker space at its public library.
The resources for any library aspiring to join the maker-space movement are quite plentiful. The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded grants to several large public libraries such as the Chicago Public Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia to start maker-spaces. There are even some private non-profit organizations such as the Maker Education Initiative that are attempting to start maker spaces at both libraries and other community gathering venues. In addition, there is even a magazine, Make, which has been publishing since 2005 and is entirely devoted to promoting science-based innovation and hands-on-learning in a collaborative environment. Many of the idea’s in Make could easily inspire the workshops and activities that many public libraries are currently hosting in their new maker spaces. In fact, around the same time Fayetteville Free Library was in the process of creating their Fab Lab, an article appeared in Make titled “Is It Time To Rebuild & Retool Public Libraries and Make ‘Techshops’” that outlined many of the basic ideas behind the public library maker space.
However, perhaps the greatest contribution that the library maker space has to offer both libraries and the communities that they serve besides ensuring that libraries will be able to remain institutions of free education, learning, and inspiration for creativity into the distant future is the opportunity to promote community involvement in the education of their children and even adults. Yes, there are currently a number of federal and private funding sources that are available to assist communities that do not have the funds to start a library maker space with all of the latest digital and electronic technology. Nevertheless, in the case that a community is not able to obtain enough grant funding needed to create the most up-to-date maker space, there is still an opportunity for the members of the community to come together with the resources available to create a collaborative learning environment at their library that can still be of great benefit to everyone. While 3D printers and the most advanced forms of digital media may be too expensive for a library to afford in a community, or educational institution that is economically limited; a maker space that features bike repair, sewing and crafts, and even electronics is not out of reach if the members of the community are willing to come together to donate their time, energy, and even their own resources to make it happen. The internet and digital revolutions have brought us many new educational resources that have expanded our ability to learn and even expand upon our creativity. However, we have also entered an era in which people have become overly-reliant on the newest and latest digital innovations for both their learning and entertainment to the point where they may not know how to sustain themselves without their devices. Moreover, although the digital revolution has not replaced hands-on-education, it may be causing people to lose site of the value of hands on learning and the unique perspective that it brings to our lifelong educational experiences.
So for those of us in the library community, we have the opportunity of a life-time to take part in an educational movement and offer our communities a service that will enable us to prove that we are truly “more than just books;” re-engage our communities and get them involved in the education of our children, teenagers, and adults; and promote and maintain the value of hands-on-learning and education beyond the digital revolution and whatever other changes our future may bring. If your library does not have a maker space yet, now is the time for you, the librarian, to encourage them to start creating one and then go out there and help make it happen! Maker-spaces are the greatest innovation that has come to the world of libraries since Benjamin Franklin’s first book lending library and the invention of children’s programming. We have too much to lose if we as librarians even think of not joining in.
Good, T. (2013). Manufacturing Maker Spaces. American Libraries, 44(1/2), 44-49. doi: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/features/02062013/manufacturing-makerspaces
McCue, T. J. (2011). First Public Library to Create a Maker Space. Forbes. Retrieved from
Detroit Public Library. (2012). HYPE Makerspace. Retrieved from http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/hype/hype-makerspace
Institute of Museum and Library Services. (2012). IMLS Awards $249,999 to the Chicago Public Library Foundation to Create a Maker Space. Retrieved from http://www.imls.gov/imls_awards_249999_to_the_chicago_public_library_foundation_to_create_a_maker_space.aspx
Springen, K. (2011). What’s Right With This Picture?: Chicago’s YOUmedia reinvents the public library. School Library Journal, 57 (3). Retrieved from
Westport Public Library. (2013). Maker Space. Retrieved from http://www.westportlibrary.org/services/maker-space
K. Steele. (2013, February 28). The Free Library of Philadelphia: A Maker Corps Host Site Providing Meaningful Experiences for Teens [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://makered.org/2013/02/28/the-free-library-of-philadelphia-a-maker-corps-host-site-providing-meaningful-experiences-for-teens/
Maker Media. (2013). Management Team. Retrieved from http://makermedia.com/about-us/management-team/
Torrone, P. (2011). Is It Time to Rebuild & Retool Public Libraries and Make “TechShops”?. Make. Retrieved from
FFL Fab Lab [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaTC0s3PeI4
Detroit Public Library HYPE Makerspace [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Daq2x5kIY2I
3D Printers at the Westport Library – Dan Kain- CBS – Channel 3 Hartford [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA0uz36D_RM&list=UUXwRa0gwXtnPuxYlJnD_t7g&index=3
It is no new news that there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of individuals diagnosed with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) here in the United States. As recent as last year, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report stating that 1 in 88 children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. At the same time, colleges and universities across the United States are seeing a major increase in the enrollment rate of students with ASD, particularly individuals with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (Asperger’s). While there are currently no statistics with exact numbers pertaining to the increase in the enrollment rate of college students with ASD, disability service providers in a number of colleges and universities are reporting an increase in the number of students with ASD—particularly Asperger’s—requesting accommodations for their disability.
Going to college can be a major life changing experience for anyone. However, for individuals with Asperger’s and other forms of ASD, making the transition from high-school to college can be especially challenging because of some of the unique difficulties that individuals with ASD face particularly in the areas of communication and socialization skills. Many individuals with ASD also have different kinds of visual, auditory, and physical sensory problems. Unless they receive therapy to help them overcome their sensory problems, these sensory problems can present them with as much of a challenge as their social skills difficulties; which makes adjusting to any kind of new social, living, or work environment nothing short of daunting. The college campus and classroom environment is no exception.
I can say this from a first-hand experience because I myself am an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome who has just graduated from Wayne State University with my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. Because I was fortunate enough to receive a diagnosis at an early age, I was able to receive many of the necessary therapies needed to help me overcome a number of my different sensory and communication problems during my childhood. By the time I reached college, I no longer struggled with any serious sensory challenges. However, I still struggled with some difficulties in the areas of social skills. Although I am a very outgoing individual, there were times when learning to adapt to the college campus and classroom environments could be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, I knew that there was a place at every college that I attended where I could always go in between classes to relieve myself of any social, emotional, or academic stress that I might be experiencing. For me, that place was the college library; also known as the academic library. Within the four walls of the academic library, I found a world that was generally quieter and less stressful than the rest of the campus environment. Moreover, the library was full of books and other media on almost all of my favorite interests. I found that there was nothing more soothing and intellectually stimulating in the middle of a busy, stressful college semester than to read through a book on my favorite classical-music composer or architect. If that wasn’t enough, the library was staffed by some of the most laid-back, intellectually open-minded, and knowledgeable people on campus; the librarians. If I had a question or needed more information to help with a subject that I might be struggling in, I could always ask the librarian at the reference desk and he or she would patiently help me find the best sources available on the topic that I was trying to learn more about without making me feel stupid in any way. While social interactions with college peers and even professors required me to learn a whole new series of social rules; at the library, all I had to do was be polite, pleasant, and keep my voice down in order to win the respect of my new librarian-acquaintances. This sense of familiarity in a world that was completely new to me served to remind me on a weekly basis that I belonged at college regardless of how difficult it sometimes was for me to fit in anywhere else.
I must admit that I would have never turned to the academic library as my place of sanctuary if it hadn’t been for the fact that my mother took me to the library on a weekly basis as a child and instilled in me a love for reading at an early age. Later on, as a teenager, I continued to visit the library on my own as often as I could to entertain myself by reading about my favorite interests. So by the time I reached college, it was only natural for me to head straight to the library as soon as I set foot on campus. This was not just because I was curious to discover the resources that it might have on my favorite subjects but because the library has been such a mainstay in my life.
As a graduate student pursuing my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science so that I myself could become a librarian, I often wondered how many other college students with Asperger’s Syndrome or other forms of ASD viewed their college library as a sanctuary of quietness and familiarity from all of the confusion and challenges that college life must present to them. Many of my peers with ASD that I have met over my twelve-year span of college life were not blessed with an early exposure to their local library or the love of reading from childhood as I was. Furthermore, many of these same peers—especially those with Asperger’s—were not diagnosed until they were almost adults. Consequently, they were not able to receive all of the therapies that I received during my childhood and teenage years and many of these individuals still struggle with some of the sensory problems that plagued me as a child along with their communication and social skills difficulties. Almost coincidently, because my peers with ASD did not frequent libraries when they were younger, they did not have the opportunity to master their “library etiquette” during their childhood and teenage years as I did. Because I knew my “library etiquette” inside out by the time I reached college, I was able to quickly gain the respect of all of the librarians at every college campus that I attended because they saw me as an eager learner rather than a nuisance. Many of my peers with ASD who struggle just as much with knowing the proper behavior skills expected of patrons in a library setting as they do with other basic social skills might find the academic library to be equally as unwelcoming as the rest of the college campus.
By the time I reached my final year of graduate school, I could no longer simply reflect on how my fellow college students with ASD might view the academic library; the place that had come to be such a critical and integral part of my college experience. As an aspiring librarian, I begin to feel as if it was my duty to play a role in ensuring that students with ASD would have the opportunity to experience their college library in the same pleasant and rewarding manner that I had experienced libraries throughout my life. But how could I do that most effectively? Sure, I could go out of my way and try and give every college student with ASD that I met a good thorough tour of their college library along with a crash course in “library etiquette” prior to the tour. However, I do not recall as a college student meeting new students with ASD on an every-day basis. Of the students with ASD that I did meet, very few of them would have been interested in me giving them a personal tour of their college library even if they had never visited it themselves yet. Nevertheless, if students with ASD are enrolling in colleges and universities across the nation at an ever increasing rate as I mentioned earlier in the article, librarians at the academic libraries of these institutions must be encountering more and more of these students both inside and outside of their libraries on a regular basis. So really, the best way to make academic libraries a welcoming and resourceful environment for students with ASD is to educate the librarians about these students and their unique needs. The question is: how many academic librarians are aware of the existence of students with Asperger’s and other forms of ASD within their institutions and how well equipped do these librarians feel that they are to meet the needs of this unique population of students?
During my final course in library and information science, which was a course on research within the library and information science profession; I had a chance to turn my concern into a research proposal for my final assignment. The purpose of my research proposal was to survey reference and information services librarians at various colleges and universities throughout the state of Michigan. The survey itself consisted of a questionnaire with five open-ended questions followed by nine multiple-choice questions. Both sets of questions ask the survey participants if they have any experience working with students with Asperger’s or other forms of ASD and if they are familiar with the social and communication skills problems that students with ASD may have. Finally, the participants are asked if they feel that they would be able to respond to these students in spite of their social and communication difficulties and provide them with the assistance that they need. Based on the answers provided by the participants of the survey, I hoped to get a good glimpse of how familiar academic librarians are with ASD and in what areas could they be better educated about the difficulties that students with ASD face in an academic library or even a college campus environment.
One of several important components of a research proposal is the literature review. The purpose of the literature review is to give the individual writing the proposal the chance to review any major literature that has been previously written about the topic that the individual wishes to research. A lack of literature on a given topic or proof that the existing literature written on the topic is inadequate provides a great argument for the need for further research on that particular topic. In my literature review, I reviewed all of the literature that I could find on ASD relating to libraries. I discovered that while there have been articles written about how public libraries and school libraries can serve individuals with ASD and articles and even research reports on how academic libraries can serve individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities; there has been no literature at all written about academic libraries and how they can serve individuals with ASD. Hence, if my research proposal is ever carried out, whether it is in Michigan or any other state; my research survey will be the first study ever that attempts to evaluate how well prepared and equipped do academic librarians feel they are to assist students with ASD at their academic libraries.
In the meantime, librarians at academic libraries are left by themselves to try to assist these students as best they can on an individual and daily basis. However, I did not spend four years of going to graduate school to earn my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science so that I could join that profession while leaving all of my life experiences as an individual with Asperger’s behind me, never to be mentioned or revisited again. No, I intend to use my experiences as a former college student and frequent college library patron to help my colleagues in the library and information science profession better understand other individuals with ASD and how to better serve these individuals in spite of their unique needs. So I am going to make the following suggestions as to how academic librarians can better meet the needs of these unique students that they encounter within their libraries whether or not they fully realize that the individual has some form of ASD. These recommendations are based on my personal experience and observations from four years of library and information education, five years of working at three different academic libraries, and almost thirty years of being a regular patron at my local public libraries.
1) Be patient with any student that appears to have difficulty verbalizing or clarifying what they are asking for or struggles with processing multiple step instructions.
2) If a student asks you to repeat the answer to an obvious question several times, be willing to repeat it until it is apparent that the student understands your answer.
3) If a student that you are assisting appears to be too shy to follow your instructions, offer to break down your instructions into simpler steps and offer to personally show them how to find whatever they are requesting.
4) Do not take it personally if a student asks for help and gives you the impression that they are intimidated by you. In fact, be especially kind and understanding to these students because one compassionate and understanding librarian can often help them overcome whatever phobia they may be experiencing (including the fear that they don’t belong in college).
5) If a student in your library appears lost and at the same time too afraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to walk over to them and nicely ask them if they need any help finding anything.
6) If a student is engaging in disruptive behavior or behavior that deviates from the established social norms of “library etiquette,” try advising the student in a nice way about acceptable behavior rather than immediately reprimanding them. Only if the student continues to be disruptive to others around him or continues to break important library rules should you begin reprimanding them and reminding them that they will be asked to leave if they do not change their behavior.
7) If you see a group of students bullying another student because that student is behaving or handling themselves in a manner that is social awkward, do not hesitate to intervene in the situation and tell the students involved in the bullying to stop or leave the library. If you are forced to order the antagonizing students to leave the library, make sure that you tell the student who was the victim that they are welcome to remain in the library and ask them if you can help them with anything.
8) Make sure that you have at least one or specifically several quiet areas or rooms in your library that students with ASD who have sensory problems can go to in order to study or spend time in an environment that is free of distractions and annoyances. Make sure that these areas of the library are kept free of things that might annoy these students such as flickering fluorescent lights, excessive noise, and strong smells.
9) If you notice something in your library that could potentially bother a student with ASD who suffers from sensory problems, try to have it fixed or remedied as soon as possible.
While I acknowledge that these suggestions above do not fully cover all scenarios in which academic librarians may assist students with ASD, hopefully they will help lessen some of the challenges that academic librarians assisting these students may find themselves facing. Another wonderful source that librarians should consider consulting is People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): What You Need to Know by the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library (ASCLA) Agencies, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). This recommendation-sheet is one of fifteen online pamphlets that the ASCLA has published on library accessibility for individuals with disabilities and it does a wonderful job of covering other important areas in making libraries more accessible and welcoming for students with ASD. Most importantly, however, we in the academic library field must remember that we are not merely here to assist students with ASD with finding the resources that they need. As with public and school librarians, academic librarians too have the capability to help these students discover themselves, their interests, and their ability to overcome their challenges so that they can excel both as college students and as individuals within our society. I know that I would have never gotten to where I am today without my school libraries, my local public libraries and the academic libraries at all three of the institutions of higher learning that I attended. Together, each of these libraries and their librarians kept me in touch with a world of information resources that never failed to remind me that I could achieve anything that I set my mind to and that with hard work; I could overcome my challenges in life to become a respectable contributing member of our society. We in the academic library field have the opportunity to make the same difference in the lives of other individuals with ASD and other disabilities.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Community Report From the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network: Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) Among Multiple Areas of the United States in 2008 ADDM Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network-2012. Atlanta, Georgia.
VanBergeijk, E., Klin, A., & Volkmar, F. (2008). Supporting more able students on the autism spectrum: college and beyond. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1359–1370. doi: 10.1007/s10803-007-0524-8
Graetz, J., & Spampinato, K. (2008). Asperger’s Syndrome and the Voyage Through High School: Not the Final Frontier. Journal of College Admission (Winter 2008), 19-24.
Zupon, P. (2012). Assisting Students with Asperger’s Syndrome and HFA in an Academic Library. (Unpublished research proposal). Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.
Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies. (2010). People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): What You Need to Know Library Accessibility Tip Sheet 6. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ascla/sites/ala.org.ascla/files/content/asclaprotools/accessibilitytipsheets/tipsheets/6-ASD.pdf
Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies. (2013). Library Accessibility–What You Need to Know. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ascla/asclaprotools/accessibilitytipsheets
Practicums! Career Experience for You!
There are many reasons why I chose the Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science over fifty-five other American Library Association (ALA)-accredited Master’s programs to acquire my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS). One of the main reasons was because the Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science offers its students the opportunities to take practicums. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the term practicum as follows: a course of study designed especially for the preparation of teachers and clinicians that involves the supervised practical application of previously studied theory. At the School of Library and Information Science, practicums allow students the opportunity to gain a hands-on learning experience by working in a library for a semester while earning the same number of course credits that they would earn by taking a single course. The practicums are divided into categories based on the different fields of library science such as public libraries, academic libraries, school media libraries, and archives. Students can sign up for one practicum each semester in a field of their choice. Upon completing their application, the School of Library and Information Science will find a library in the particular field that the student has chosen and is located in the area where the student resides to host the student as an intern for the semester. As a student, I have always learned as much if not more from being able to apply the academic principles that I have learned than from just simply studying them. I knew that I was entering a profession that was highly competitive and that jobs and internships in libraries would have more candidates than positions that they could fill. So I welcomed the opportunity of being able to do practicums because it would enable me to gain experience working in different types of libraries during my four years as a graduate library science student.
My first practicum was at the Brighton District Library; a medium-sized public library located in Brighton, Michigan which is a semi-rural suburb forty-five minutes north of Detroit. I had become well acquainted with the Brighton Library director, Dr. Nancy Johnson, over the previous few years. She had always been helpful in providing me with advice in planning my career and choosing my course of study as a library science student. So when I applied for this particular practicum, Brighton District Library was on the top of my list of libraries that I wished to intern at and I felt very lucky when the Brighton Library agreed to host me. Both Dr. Johnson and the other librarians at the Brighton Library were wonderful hosts to me. All of them worked together to provide me with as many different experiences as possible working in and observing the different daily functions of a public library. Since I had expressed a particular interest in learning more about reference and advisory services and working with the library’s historical collection, I spent half of my internship days at the Brighton Library observing the reference librarians at the adult services reference desk as they assisted the adult and teenage patrons. It was interesting to see the many different areas of advice in which people still sought help from reference librarians. We got a wide variety of questions ranging from readers’ advisory to property and zoning ordinances within the local and surrounding township areas. I spent the other half of my days working with the library’s historical artifact collection located in the Brighton Library’s history room; also known as the Brighton Room. Everything from obituary indexes on microfilm to historic maps of Brighton and the surrounding towns and townships can be found in the Brighton Room. My primary project with the historical collection involved cataloguing two scrapbooks of local obituaries known as the “Whalen Scrapbooks” using a Microsoft Access-based database. When I was not observing at the reference desk or cataloguing the Whalen scrapbook, I had the opportunity to participate in other routine library projects such as weeding the popular fiction section.
My second practicum was at the Ennis and Nancy Ham Library. The Ham Library serves as the main and only academic library for Rochester College; a small private four-year liberal arts college located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. While I could have interned at a larger or more specialized academic library at a larger public university nearby, I chose a smaller library at a smaller college because I felt that I could get a better overall view of all of the many different roles that an academic library serves in a college campus environment. The staff at the Ham Library was equally as hospitable to me as the staff at the Brighton District Library. However, because the Ham Library had a much smaller staff than the Brighton District Library, they had certain important projects that they needed me to help them complete because they had no other way that they could hire anyone else to do them. My previous job and volunteer experience at other libraries enabled me to help them with these projects without them having to train me extensively. One of the biggest projects that I helped participate in was updating the online catalog records for the Ham Library’s print and microfiche periodical collection so that the library could participate in MeLCat’s new Article Reach program. I also ran the circulation desk during some of the weekly evening shifts so that the reference librarian on duty could focus on her reference work and collection development projects. Nevertheless, all of the staff went out of their way to find time to show me some of their daily projects. The library director let me sit in with her on one of her morning cataloguing sessions, one of the reference librarians let me observe her while she taught an information literacy class to students, and one of the other reference librarians allowed me to participate with her on her inter-library loan projects for the day and also showed me her collection development project for the Ham Library’s history collection.
In the end, my two practicums proved to be my most beneficial experience throughout my whole course of study as a library science student. They provided me with the opportunity to apply the different skills that I was learning in the courses that I was taking in a real-life setting. You can learn and study the theories and skills required for your profession for as long as possible. However, if you do not have a chance to put what you have learned into practice in a real-world environment, you will never be able to see how your newly-learned skills apply to different situations and you may not retain what you have learned. Thanks to my two practicums at a public and an academic library, I have been able to put-to-practice what I have learned in my courses and I now truly feel prepared to begin my career as a librarian. So my advice to all of you prospective library and information science students and aspiring librarians is to make sure that you include at least one practicum in your course of study. More importantly, when choosing your MLIS program, make sure that you choose a school that is both ALA-accredited and offers practicums as part of its featured courses; such as the Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science.
Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science. (2013). Practicum. Retrieved from http://students.slis.wayne.edu/classes/practicum.php
Merriam-Webster Online. (2013). Definition of Practicum. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/practicum
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Library, B. D. (2002-2007, June 10, 2010). “Brighton Room.” Retrieved from http://www.brightonlibrary.info/brighton/index.html.
Rochester College. (2012). Promo – Rochester College Photos. Retrieved from http://photos.rc.edu/2009-2010/Marketing/promo/8037785_VVzRxW#!i=769942160&k=qSQpQtD&lb=1&s=M
Rochester College. Location of Rochester College. Retrieved from http://www.rc.edu/about-rc/location-of-rochester-college/
Rochester College. RC at a Glance. Retrieved from http://www.rc.edu/admissions/undergrad-admissions/rc-at-a-glance/