Culminating Experience in Library School

There comes a time in the MLIS program where we have to face a scary and somewhat intimidating question:
Am I qualified for a job in the professional world?
I mean, the job market for (not only) libraries doesn’t look good right now even though we’re in the midst of an “information revolution”. When I read the news and see libraries closing and organizations “encouraging” retirements and not replacing employees, it makes me a tad bit worried.

At the iSchool we are required to complete a Culminating Experience before we graduate. This could be one of a few things:

  • a thesis – no explanation necessary — right?
  • a research project – working with a faculty member and his/her research team – designing, collecting data, evaluating data, writing reports, presenting information, etc.
  • a capstone project – this is a NEW option this year – it’s an integrated project (individual or team) where you bring in your skills and knowledge and apply them to a project (inside or outside of the iSchool). 
  • a professional portfolio – create a portfolio based on YOUR coursework and experiences to examine your qualifications in the professional world of librarianship.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m completing the Professional Portfolio to meet the requirement of the Culminating Experience. I think this is the most efficient and practical way for me to make good use of my time as I stretch myself thin by taking the last of my MLIS classes, work and search for a full-time position before April.

I’ve spent the past couple of days reviewing my work from the last 16 months and looking at Professional Standards and Qualifications in Librarianship. Here are a couple of documents I’ve been examining:
ALA’s Core Competences in Librarianship — these seem more theoretical to me and therefore more difficult to define assign specific pieces of my work to.
WebJunction’s Competency Index — these seem more tangible (is that the right word?) — they describe the qualifications of a working librarian. I feel like the work I am satisfied with from my classes and work experiences meet these in some ways.

I guess it really depends on what the wording of the actual qualifications in the job descriptions and the understanding of them by the people actually hiring me (us) are.

In any event, until I have a job offer, I don’t know if I’ll be able to super-confidently say I am qualified for a job in the world of libraries. So, keep these lists in mind when you’re preparing yourself for the future. And good luck!

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One Response to Culminating Experience in Library School

  1. The competencies are good things for library students to keep in mind – thanks for sharing!

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